Arriving after dark and facing a 30 kilometre road transfer north to the hotel I'd booked, the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, I did a fast check-in, showered for a bit longer than usual and flopped into bed.
It wasn't until the following morning, that I took time to inspect my room and its facilities. Having spent many thousands of nights in hotels across the globe, I have to confess that this was the best I'd ever come across.
The room itself was large (as was the bed). Double sliding doors led to its balcony. Not the usual type with a small table, a couple of hard-backed chairs and not enough room to swing the proverbial cat - but one sporting a huge (6ft x 5ft) glazed bathtub, an even bigger lounger bed complete with scatter cushions, a table, a pair of rattan ...
easy chairs, electrically operated privacy screens and an overhead fan that actually did what its designer had wanted it to. Sunset views were spectacular indeed.Read More
What came as a real surprise, was when one of the 'front office' staff introduced me to the room's facilities. She asked, Please select a preference from the Pillow and the Perfume Menus and I will instruct the housekeeper accordingly.
Oops! This was a new one on me. I admit now, to having asked her to explain?
As to the hotel's dining options, I was even more impressed. Housed in separate buildings and sited in various areas of the grounds, each catered for guest's preferences, Malay specialities, Japanese Sushi, Western A la Carte, Indian, Italian, Chinese, American and any combination requested.
I never heard a single complaint about food quality or presentation.
The hotel's staff outnumbered guests by three to one and that delivered impeccable service, no matter in what area a guest happened to be, by one of the three pools, near the beach, working out in the gym, partaking in a morning routine of Tai Chi, or lounging on one's own balcony sipping a G&T.
For the golf fanatics, the hotel's minibus can deposit them outside the entrance to the Dalit Bay Country Club (belonging to the hotel) in less than three minutes. The 18 hole course is sited among the most beautiful scenery, the backdrop to its signature hole for example, being where the azure blue of the sea, meets the gently flowing green of a river, truly stunning!
What else? Well, three swimming pools are on offer. A large (three section) one to the front of the hotel's Ocean Wing, another of equal size but furnished with an array of water slides for adults and children alike, near the Garden Wing, and a smaller (semi-hidden) one shaded with an overhead translucent sheet and sited in a manicured lawn for those who seek seclusion.
A fully equipped gym with expert staff, is large enough for the most nervous of patrons to exercise without being constantly overlooked by the more adventurous.
There's mini golf, tennis and water sports available too. Constantly evident was space, in fact acres of it. This meant, that whatever activity (or otherwise) one chose to indulge in, there was a feeling of freedom.
The highlight and real benefit of being a guest at this hotel, is the fact that it has its own Orang Utan Sanctuary located in the forest, which borders its northern edge. The jungle, its paths and canopy walks are maintained by full time hotel staff and inspected and certificated annually by the Malaysian Wildlife and Forestry Department.
On a closing note, as with any country, there are myriads of other things to see and do. I merely 'scratched the surface' during the 12 days I spent there.
What is certain however, is that I'll allocate more of them when I return.
November 20th 2011.