Hotel Review: Movenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach Phuket, Thailand

Hey, guys!

I recently had the pleasure of staying at Movenpick Resort and Spa Karon Beach, a leading luxury resort in Phuket, ie Thailand’s largest island. They were kind enough to host me for several nights in exchange for a review (while I ran around the island sniffing out stories for work), so a big thank you, especially to the marcomms team!

PS: Since I’ve already published the hotel review for my magazine, this will be an honest review of my experience in my own style of blog writing + unfettered by print limitations like word count or whatnot. Let’s hop into it! 🙂 

CHECK-IN 

1 Hotel Lobby

Checking in at the lobby, N and I were welcomed by a warm and inviting space – modern with an open layout but with Thai touches. As most of you might already know, Movenpick is a Swiss brand, and the Karon Beach resort prides itself in “Swiss efficiency, with Thai hospitality”. Check in was seamless, and we were given welcome drinks to cool off from the sweltering Thai heat, then shown to our room, which was a short walk away from the lobby.

ROOMS & AMENITIES

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There are various configurations to suit different budgets and needs, from Family Suites to Deluxe and Superior rooms, all furnished in a modern, contemporary style. Despite it being high tourist season, they managed to get us a Plunge Pool Villa (thank you, Ryatt!), which was extremely spacious and cosy.

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I loved that they used lots of wood, from the lanterns to the work desk, walk-in wardrobe and furniture, which really added to the tropical resort vibe. Do note that because there are so many trees and plants within the resort grounds, there are also lots of mosquitoes (!) An electric mozzie repellent device is provided, but I recommend closing the blinds and doors when you’re in the room. The bathroom features a window that you can open and close for privacy, making it perfect for couples and honeymooners (winkwink).

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A bathroom that’s larger than my bedroom at home, lol. Shower aside, there was an extremely large stone/marble tub that could easily fit two people in it, and a closet on the right.

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Luxury shower amenities.

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We also got a welcome basket of tropical fruits, and Movenpick’s signature chocolate cake. PS: If you don’t already know, Movenpick started off as a chocolate company, and they are world renowned for their exquisite chocolates!

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And then of course I made a beeline for the outdoor plunge pool. This became my go-to place throughout the stay – whenever I wasn’t exploring the island, I’d go back and take a dip with a book (yes I brought a book with me into the pool). I think N got tired of having to call me to get out so we can have lunch/dinner or whatever, lol.

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Is this not the life?

DINNER AT ORIENTASIA

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Food options aplenty at Movenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach, most of them facing the beautiful Karon beach front. On our first night, we dined at OrientAsia, which serves authentic Thai and Indian cuisine. Warm shades of red and beige, coupled with low ambient lighting made for an elegant and intimate setup.

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Maybe I’m not looking in the right places, but it’s hard to find good shrimp pakora back in Malaysia. The version here was nicely battered and seasoned, with large, juicy and sizable chunks of fresh shrimp which went well with the mint dip. Despite being deep fried, it was not greasy at all – perfect appetiser!

 

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Stuffed crab shells with a sweet and sour dip was excellent as well.

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Chicken Vindaloo was a tad too oily for my liking.

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The star of the night was the Tom Kha Gai, ie chicken in coconut milk soup. Milky and savoury with a spicy kick, the flavourful broth paired really well with rice. The lemongrass flavour stood out to give it a sour note which was very appetising. The fact that N and I finished it to the last drop is testament as to how delicious it was. 11/10!

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Finishing off the meal on a sweet note, we tucked into a scoop of Movenpick’s signature chocolate ice cream. Just the right amount of sweetness and creaminess to end the night.

BREAKFAST AT EL GAUCHO 

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By night, El Gaucho serves up hearty cuts of steak and grilled items, but they also serve buffet breakfast for resort guests during the day. The restaurant’s outdoor seating offers beautiful views of the beach front, so you can dine with a view.

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Sandy white beaches and swaying palm trees – a scene straight out of a postcard.

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A respectable selection of breakfast items, with local and intercontinental dishes: Salads, fresh fruits, cereal and juices, cold cuts, pastries, and Asian staples of rice and noodles.

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Cheeses and cold cuts.

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Malaysian hotels have to adhere to halal standards, so whenever I’m travelling overseas, I load up on the bacon! PS: I like mine soft rather than crispy. 😛

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FACILITIES

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Movenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach spans a hefty 9 acres, with beautifully landscaped grounds that take luxury resort living to heart. Tropical palm trees line the paved avenues, and there are lovely gardens at every corner, interspersed with buildings featuring traditional thatched roof designs. In total, the resort boasts 362 rooms, suites and villas. It’s also kid-friendly, with facilities such as a Little Birds Club that has a large play area and a range of programmes and recreational activities to keep the little ones entertained.

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The grounds are so massive it takes a good 15 minutes to walk from the lobby to the beach front! Fret not though – they’ve got buggies at the ready to take you where you need to go.

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For those who want to go swimming, the resort has three pools. The main one is near the lobby and comes with a waterslide for the kids and a swim-up poolside bar. The Coconut Grove Pool (pictured above) is exclusively for Villa guests, but it’s also super deep and does not have lifeguards on duty so I’d suggest going only if you’re a strong swimmer (I’m not. lol). Alternatively, you can work out at the well equipped fitness centre next to the lobby, where there is also an area with a pool table.

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Garden Villas. 

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For an indulging experience, head on to their spa for top-to-toe pampering. N and I were ushered into a couple villa for our one-hour full body massage. The couple villa was beautifully furnished, and our skilful and professional therapists were so good at kneading out our tired muscles that we both fell asleep during the treatment.

MOVENPICK CHOCOLATE HOUR! 

 

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A fun signature activity at all of Movenpick’s hotels and resorts is the Movenpick Chocolate Hour, where guests are invited to indulge in a free flow of snacks and chocolates at the lobby. It was just what we needed after our massage. It’s a small gesture, but such a significant one as it shows their brand of warm hospitality.

LIVE MUSIC, DRINKS AND FOOD AT MINT 

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There is no shortage of things to do at night in Phuket, but if you’re not looking to explore, you can wile the night away at MINT, which serves drinks and dishes such as pizza, pasta and snacks. The atmosphere is relaxing, as the resto is located just steps away from the beach and they have a live band playing music.

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One does not simply say no to wood-fired pizza, and they had my favourite – parma ham with arugula. 

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The buffalo wings were nice, but the scallops were overcooked and rubbery.

All in all, we had an awesome time at Movenpick Resort & Spa Karon Beach – at times, we didn’t even feel like leaving the resort at all! Ideal for families and leisure travelers alike, it’s a great place to unwind and conveniently located just across the street from one of Phuket’s most beautiful beaches. Service is warm, friendly and personalised, the food is good and there are plenty of top notch facilities to enjoy.

MOVENPICK RESORT & SPA KARON BEACH 

509 Patak Rd, Tambon Karon, Amphoe Mueang Phuket, Chang Wat Phuket 83100, Thailand

Reservations: Website or call +66 76 683 350. 

Prices start at RM440 (USD100) per night.

 

 

 

Travel Guide: What To Do In Phuket, Thailand – A 12-Hour Itinerary

Surrounded by the azure blue waters of the Andaman Sea, Phuket is the largest island in Thailand, and one of the country’s most popular tourist spots, renowned for its resorts, beautiful beaches and gorgeous diving and snorkelling spots. My first visit was back in 2015, and it was one of my most enjoyable trips – the island has something catered to everyone, whether you like partying, beaches, culture or food.

Four years later, I’m back for work – tasked with writing an article on what you can do in Phuket when you only have 12 hours. I’ve re-purposed it a little for this blog, so I hope you’ll find this guide useful when planning your own trip.

8 AM – Breakfast 

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Throw a rock anywhere in Thailand, and you’ll probably hit a 7-Eleven. They’re found at almost every street corner, and they take their ‘convenience store’ label very seriously. Thailand’s 7-Elevens are foodie heaven, with a MASSIVE selection of snacks, beverages, cakes, hot meals and whatever else you can think of.  I can think of nothing better to start the day off than with a bowl of Mama instant noodles, a bottle of Betagen (their version of Yakult) and a CP Shrimp and Fish burger. If you’re pressed for time, you can eat at the store itself, where the workers will even heat up your burgers/whatever hot meals you need for you. Talk about service!

9 AM – Karon Viewpoint 

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Known locally as the Hill of Three Beaches, Karon Viewpoint is one of the must-visit spots on any tourist itinerary. From a small area atop a hill, visitors will be able to see three of Phuket’s main beaches on the west side, namely Kata Noi, Kata Yai and Karon, which form a fork-like shape when viewed from a distance. Of course, you’ll be getting panoramic views of the sea and lush green hills as well. Entrance: FREE 

9.30 AM – Windmill Viewpoint 

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A short drive away is Windmill Viewpoint, so called because of a giant windmill that powers electricity around the island. This viewpoint is not as popular as the other, but no less breathtaking, which makes it ideal for photos (if you wanna capture a shot without crowds). There’s a gazebo here if you need to shelter from the hot tropical sun. Entrance: Free.

10 AM – Promthep Cape 

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Welcome to the southernmost tip of Phuket. Promthep Cape is particularly popular for its sunset views, but visiting during the day offers a different experience. There’s a lighthouse-cum-museum that you can explore, a shrine surrounded by elephant figurines, a restaurant serving seafood and Thai dishes, and a large old Bodhi tree within its grounds.

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Hundreds of elephant statues and figurines both large and small, surrounding a four-faced Buddha shrine. Apparently the locals leave their own figurines here for good luck. Entrance: FREE. 

11 AM – Big Buddha 

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Moving on to one of Phuket’s main attractions, the Big Buddha on Nakkerd Hill is one of the island’s most iconic fixtures. Towering 45 metres high atop a hill overlooking the entire island, the statue is made from Burmese white marble, which glitters as the sun reflects off its smooth surface. When I last visited four years ago, the place was still pretty quiet – but now there are hordes of tourists, so there goes the tranquility. It’s still worth visiting; just don’t expect to meditate in solitude here. There have been a couple of additions, such as a wide marble staircase flanked by nagas, and two stone Buddhas at the back of the main statue, which remind me of the temple of Abu Simbel in Egypt.

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N in the corner for size comparison, lol.

12.30PM – Lunch at Mor Mu Dong 

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Before the trip, I scoured the Internet for local places to eat at, and one of the suggestions that popped up was Mor Mu Dong. Apparently the place has a Michelin Bib, and even had celebrity food host Andrew Zimmern visiting it once. It still isn’t super well known among tourists, so come for an authentic experience. What makes Mor Mu Dong unique is the setting, as it sits next to a mangrove swamp, and you basically dine in these little huts by the water. They also have tables in larger elevated huts with super quirky ceilings – they seem to have stitched blankets/bed covers together to keep out the heat. I think the resto warrants a separate review on its own, but definitely try the stuffed fried mackerel if you can take spicy food! Prices are also very affordable.

2PM – Cashewnut Factory 

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Cashew nuts are grown in Phuket and the southern provinces of Thailand, and they make for great souvenirs to take home (if you’re from a Western country, they’re much cheaper here too). Phuket’s largest cashew nut factory is the curiously named Sri Bhupara Orchid Co Ltd. Owned by a Thai Chinese family, the business started off as an orchid farm, hence the name. You get a sticker when you enter and there’s a corner with staff skilfully removing the shells (they’re poisonous). It’s a lot of work, which is why cashew nuts are pricey. Aside from the original cashews, there are also loads of flavours such as wasabi, chocolate coated, lightly salted, honey glazed, tomyum, BBQ (my personal fave!) and more. Do all your shopping in one go as they also carry other products, most notably local snacks. PS: Prices are fixed, so no haggling. 

3PM – Phuket Old Town

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The best place for a dose of culture and heritage is at Phuket’s Old Town, which comprises several streets and alleyways. Like Penang and Ipoh in Malaysia, Phuket prospered because of tin mining in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. which drew Chinese immigrants to the area. As such, Chinese names are common for businesses here, and the Sino-Portuguese architecture featuring bright, vividly decorated facades are prominently featured in its buildings. In recent years, the old town has become a hodgepodge of old businesses, hipster cafes and artisan coffee places, with plenty of stalls selling everything from jewellery to cheap clothing.

5PM – Karon Beach

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You can’t go to Phuket and not experience at least ONE of its famed beaches. Patong is the beach for partygoers, but if you prefer a quieter, more family-oriented beach, Karon Beach is a much better alternative. White sands and crystal clear waters await! Because there aren’t many boats here, it’s much cleaner and safer as well. Entrance: FREE. 

7 PM – Karon Temple Night Market 

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Plan your visit to fall on either a Tuesday or Friday, because that’s when the Karon Temple Night Market takes place. Located within the temple grounds, the market features stalls selling cheap goods such as T-shirts, souvenirs and snacks. Of course, being the foodies that we are, we made a beeline for the food stalls, which sell everything from grilled pork skewers to halal food by Muslim traders, padthai fresh from the wok, and bugs. Tried some and it was surprisingly not as gross as I thought it would be – quite tasty, even! Entrance: FREE. 

8 PM – Drinks and Live Music 

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If you’ve had your fill of snacks and food at the market, then adjourn for drinks along Beach Road in Karon, which is lined with pubs, bars and eateries. We spent the night enjoying the sea breeze and live music at MINT by Movenpick (where we stayed – review up soon!), which serves cocktails and good wood fired pizza. Alternatively, head on to Karon Bazaar down the road for seafood fresh out of the tank and grilled over a charcoal fire.

OTHER TIPS  

  • Public transport in Phuket is not very convenient, so I suggest engaging a local driver for the day (average price 250 – 280 baht for 8 hours). Alternatively, if you know how to ride a scooter, most hostels/resorts offer scooter rental services for much cheaper. Tuktuks can also be quite pricey for short distances (average about 200 baht from Patong to Karon, which is just a few minutes away from each other). 
  • Weather in Phuket is cool and dry from November to February, which is high season. Hot season is from March to May (during our visit temperatures hovered above 30 degrees and can get very humid. N and I are both from tropical countries and even we had a hard time being out in the sun for too long), while rainy season is from May to October. PS: If you’re visiting the waterfalls, rainy season is ideal because they dry up in the hot season.  
  • Currency is Thai baht. Money changers are available throughout the island. 
  • Be mindful when visiting temples and sacred sites. Most temples will loan you sarongs at the entrance to cover up before entering if you’re wearing shorts or sleeveless shirts, but your own scarf will come in handy. 

Happy travels! 

Review: 9 Reasons Why Dash Resort Langkawi Is The Beach Holiday Of Your Dreams

Langkawi – the ‘Jewel of Kedah’ of Malaysia –  is known for its beautiful sandy beaches and amazing tropical scenery. While resorts and hotels are a dime a dozen on the island, those looking for the beach holiday of their dreams will find it at Dash Resort Langkawi – a four-star boutique resort that’s quirky, laid back and endlessly fun.

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Part of the Ri-Yaz Group, which also manages the Dash series of hotels in Cyberjaya and Bali, design plays an integral part at Dash Langkawi, with the entire setting inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. True to their tagline ‘Down The Rabbit Hole’, a stay here will take guests on a whimsical journey.

Here are nine reasons why I think you should book a night (or two. or three!) at the resort:

1 ) Insta-worthy shots EVERYWHERE. 

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It is clear from the get-go that this is a hotel designed for the young and young at heart, with Instagram photo opportunities at every turn. Bright, colourful and cheery, the outlandish designs feature everything from oversized furniture to gold-framed portraits of superheroes in Victorian-era costumes. The lobby itself has polished marble floors, soaring pillars, an opulent chandelier and mismatched (but not clashing) sofas, puffy couches and cosy seats.

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CatWoman reimagined. See if you can ‘collect’ photos of all the different superheroes within the resort ! There’s Captain America, Batman, Spiderman and a bonus Chewbacca (it’s pretty hidden).

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The centrepiece of it all ? A giant 9-metre tall blue Dash rabbit, the resort’s mascot.

2) The beach looks FANTASTIC 

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When our group first approached the Beach Club area which faces part of Pantai Cenang, a collective oooh was heard. White cabanas, sun deck complete with glittering DJ booth, endless blue skies over the azure blue waters of the Andaman and soft white sand –  the scene looked more akin to the beaches of Mykonos or Crete in Greece. Who says you need to travel far to experience natural beauty?

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3) The food is pretty awesome. 

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The quirky, fun design extends to the restaurant / bar area, aptly dubbed Dash Beach Club. Instead of buffet-style which is the norm for many resorts/hotels, dishes are ordered ala carte, and are an eclectic mix of East Meets West with flavour influences from around the world. Afternoon fare is more burgers and pasta, while night offers heavier, more substantial meals and local dishes. What you can’t miss is breakfast:

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Nothing like waking up to a gorgeous spread of pancakes and toast, or ham and sausage with a side of mushrooms! The real winner though, is this:

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Eggs Kejriwal. Would honestly travel back just for this. Originally an egg, cheese and toast snack from Mumbai which features grated cheese and green chillies, red onion and cilantro on a piece of toast, Dash’s version switches it up with a crunchy fried filo pastry with crisp layers. Works really well, especially when you cut into the egg and it oozes golden gooey goodness. Not too spicy either!

Fun fact: The Beach Club is open to the public (for a fee) so you don’t necessarily have to be a guest. Still feels plenty exclusive though.

4) Their rooms are spacious and comfy 

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Still with the Alice in Wonderland theme, rooms follow the same quirky concept with fun patterns and unique pieces of furniture. Stayed in a Deluxe Room, with a comfy queen-sized bed, dressing table, TV and a Dash bunny to snuggle with. No bathtubs, but there is a nice shower, a wardrobe with bathrobes + slippers, as well as coffee and tea making facilities.

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5) You can unwind at the spa

What’s a beach holiday without a good massage? Unwind at the Rabbit Hole Spa, which offers a variety of pampering treatments and luxurious pick-me-ups. Granted, the space was a little bare/basic and prices are steep, but I enjoyed my quick 30 minute massage to smoothen out tired knots and muscles.

6) They’ve got an awesome infinity pool + ‘sunken’ cabana area

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The pool has got to be one of the resort’s highlights, as it is right by the beach and looks out to the sea. There’s a pool bar for when you need a drink after the swim, and a cosy ‘sunken’ cabana area right in the middle of the pool, so you’re literally surrounded by water.

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7) You can get (cute) limited edition merchandise

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There’s a shop within the resort called Dashoppe, which sells cute resort-themed merchandise you won’t find elsewhere. There is the blue bunny mascot native to Dash Langkawi, but they also carry the green and red ones from Dash Bali and Cyberjaya. Other items on sale include designer clothing, swimwear, bathrobes, shoes, and souvenirs.

8) The sunset is GORGEOUS 

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One of my favourite things to do at the resort was just sit by the beach at sunset with a cold glass of smoothie and watch the sun set. Nothing like the sight of islands amidst a backdrop of cotton candy sky, listening to the sounds of waves lapping against the shore.

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9) It’s a great place to chill at night 

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Unlike other island places like Phuket in Thailand, Langkawi is pretty quiet at night – so if you’re expecting crazy nightlife with booze and bars, then it’s probably not the place for you. If you want a quiet place to relax, however, it’s perfect. The pool at Dash is not open at night, but guests can still chill on the patio with some drinks and finger food. Occasionally you get local performers putting up a fire show by the beach – just remember to tip them!

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DASH RESORT LANGKAWI

Jalan Teluk Baru, Jalan Pantai Tengah, Mukim Kedawang, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah

Phone:+604-955 7171

Website

**Note: I was invited to DASH Resort Langkawi for a hotel review for work. Views here are entirely my own. 

Hotel Review: Lanjut Beach & Golf Resort, Kuala Rompin, Pahang

Think weekend getaway, think places like Penang, Malacca, Ipoh or Langkawi.

Kuala Rompin probably wouldn’t be on top of the list –  but this laid back town in Pahang is inherently charming and full of hidden gems. Being close to the sea, river and forest, there are loads of activities to enjoy, and the best thing is that the area is not over commercialised (yet) –  so it’s perfect for a quiet, relaxing family getaway or a couple’s retreat.

Tucked by the beach within the idyllic Kampung Lanjut village is Lanjut Beach & Golf Resort, which opened its doors in July 2018. The 196-room resort boasts a contemporary design, with plenty of facilities and its own 3.5 km private stretch of beach where you can – get this – see dolphins (if you’re extremely lucky) !

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Upon entering, visitors are greeted by an expansive double height lobby and tasteful interior deco that blends the contemporary with traditional Malay elements. Just next to the lobby is Cafe Strada, which carries freshly baked pastries, snacks and coffee. 

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Rooms are set surrounding the main courtyard, which boasts two swimming pools – a half Olympic-sized one for the adults and another one for children, with slides and fun water fixtures. There are a variety of rooms to choose from, such as the spacious Junior Suite or the Superior Twin Room, which comes with connectivity options for families.

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My superior triple room with a pool view came with a double bed and a single bed – ideal for small families or a group of friends. The room was cosy and comfortable, with sleek wood furniture, TV, dressing table and cabinet.

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Welcome chocolates and cakes! + tea and coffee making facilities.

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Toiletries. No tub, but there was a nice shower.

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Tea time! The Anjung Brasserie Coffee House offers a mix of mouthwatering local and international favourites. Our tea time spread consisted of various sandwiches, pastries and finger food. 

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The mini mushroom/chicken pies were deliciously addictive! Food was fresh and tasty.

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After the meal, we were taken on a tour of the facilities. Aside from leisure, Lanjut also caters to business travelers, with meeting rooms and spacious ballrooms that can be set up for anything from weddings to corporate events.

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Take a stroll at the resort’s private beach, which features a unique ‘mirror’ phenomenon at certain times of the day. Reminiscent of the Salar Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia, the sand has a reflective quality at low tide, mirroring the blue sky on its surface. The results are mesmerising, to say the least.  

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Although the beach is not suitable for swimming, beach side activities such as volleyball can be arranged. The manager also told us that on certain days and if you’re very very lucky, you might see dolphins frolicking about in the waters around dawn!

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Come evening, tuck into a scrumptious seafood dinner buffet at Anjung Brasserie and have your fill of fish, shellfish, shrimp, squid and more, fresh off the ice, straight onto the grill/into the wok, and onto your plate. The chef will prepare it to order and in a variety of sauces. There is also beef, chicken wings, sausages and other meats.

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Assortment of pate + cold boiled mussels and shrimp/crabs.

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Had my fill of squid and bamboo clams in black pepper sauce. Seafood was fresh and cooked just right. Clams were very meaty as well.

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Range of pastries and desserts.

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Went to bed stuffed and had a good night’s rest listening to the waves lapping on the shore. 😀

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The next morning we were up bright and early for an excursion to the golf course, where we drove ourselves around in buggies. Golfing enthusiasts will be delighted to know that the resort has an 18-hole par-72 golf course located just steps away from the resort’s accommodation. The wide green is well maintained, with different types of terrain. 

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Caddy showing the member of the group how to swing. Needless to say there was a lot of laughter and a whole lot of thwacking the golf club into the ground.

Even without leaving the resort premises, there are loads of activities to do within Lanjut, such as beach sports, swimming and golfing. A spa and gym is slated to open in 2019. Other fun recreational activities, such as fishing, jungle trekking, firefly watching and clam picking can also be arranged at request. 

Rooms start at RM220+ per night.

LANJUT BEACH & GOLF RESORT

Kampung Lanjut, 26800 Kuala Rompin, Pahang, Malaysia

Tel: (+609) 415 8888 or email infolanjut@pnbcommercial.my

lanjut.my 

*I was invited to review the hotel as part of a media trip for work. Views here are entirely my own. 

Review: DoubleTree by Hilton Penang – Day 2

Rise and shine, folks! It’s our second day at DoubleTree by Hilton Penang, and you know what they say about great mornings – it always starts with a great breakfast.

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Makan Kitchen is DoubleTree’s signature restaurant found at all of their hotels in Malaysia, and it serves mainly authentic Malaysian fare. The dining area is spacious, with plenty of seats and an alfresco dining area with views of the pool.

Breakfast featured the usual Malaysian favourites like roti canai, nasi lemak, char koay teow (wok fried glass noodles) and dimsum, but they also had a small selection of Western items like chicken and beef sausages, cold cuts and toast.

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Breakfast of champions. 

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It was time for the official opening ceremony. The VIPs were welcomed with an energetic drum performance at the resort’s entrance.

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Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng (centre) and senior management of DoubleTree Resort by Hilton, accompanied by the brand’s Cookie mascot.

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We then went on a tour of the resort’s facilities.

(Above) the children’s pool, complete with slides and water fountains. In the background is the bridge leading to the beach across the road.

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The resort prides itself in catering for families. Just next to the pool is the bright and cheerful-looking Kids Club, where the little ones can take part in activities, games and classes to keep them occupied while mom and dad chill out. Don’t worry – there is a member of staff on site to make sure things don’t get rowdy.

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Business travelers can utilise the quiet space near the Axis Lounge to do some work or surf the internet, if they ever need a break from being cooped up in the rooms.

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The resort has 316 rooms and suites in total – but the grandest has got to be their King Suites, available in one or two bedroom configurations. The one that we toured had a giant (very comfy looking) king-sized bed, a lounge bed for an extra guest, a separate living area, kitchenette and a swinging TV in the middle (so you can turn it to either the living area/the bed. Pretty neat!)

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Bathroom had a bathtub with a clear window.

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Seaview from the terrace. The terrace is large enough to fit a dining table for six with room to spare. Great for parties.

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For all the fitness enthusiasts, being on holiday doesn’t mean you have to give up on your routine, as the resort has a well-equipped gym – with a gorgeous sea view to boot.

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Took a dip in the pool in the afternoon. I liked that they had these large shaded cabanas where you can just chill and lounge around with a book and a drink. There was a sandy area with beach chairs as well.

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Before dinner, also paid a visit to the spa! It feels exclusive and tranquil.

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Very large room, complete with shower and toilet.  The spa faces the sea, which you can catch glimpses of through the bamboo shutters. However, it is also close to the children’s pool, so you will hear children giggling and splashing throughout the spa session. I suggest coming in the afternoon when people are less likely to be outside due to the heat.

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Items to pamper yourself.

My massage session lasted just over an hour. Before going in, they ask you about your strength preferences (how hard you want the masseuse to go) and any injuries that you may have. My therapist was good and professional, and really loosened up the tight knots I had in my shoulders.

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Finished off with a spot of warm ginger tea.

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Dinner time at Makan Kitchen. I felt like they could do with a bit more variety, but if you’re tired after a long day and don’t want take a bus to Georgetown or Gurney Drive, the place offers typical Penang street food (like assam laksa, curry mee) in a nice and comfortable setting. I really enjoyed the pasembur (below)!

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All in all, DoubleTree by Hilton Penang is well catered to families and leisure travelers. Although their location is a wee bit aways from the central hub of Georgetown, it’s still easy to get there via free bus services provided by the hotel. Even if you’re not doing any sightseeing, it’s nice to chill around the hotel and enjoy its facilities, from the gym and spa to the pool. Also, don’t forget to check out the TeddyVille Museum, located within the resort.

Rooms average about RM300 for a one night’s stay.

doubletree3.hilton.com/penang

The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort – Day 3: Snorkelling!

The past two days at The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort was spent stuffing my face with delicious food – so it was high time for some exercise! Woke up early in the morning and headed to the Taaras Villa along with another blogger. There was nobody there so while he took pictures for his social media, I went for a nice swim in the infinity pool. An hour later, still in swimwear, I went down to the beach and soaked in the azure blue waters.

Then it was snorkel time! After the safety briefing at the hotel, the boat took us to a spot with pretty coral reefs and lots of fish. We got some bread to feed the fish and they swarmed around us in colourful swirls.

Ignore fat face.

On the way back to the resort.

The hotel invited some guests from an arts/culture club to show us the traditional way of making Batik, which uses wax to create patterns on fabric. We also tried our hand at painting some sample pieces! 🙂

Bought several sarongs (wraps) for only RM10. 

Terengganu style keropok lekor (fried fish paste snacks) with sweet chilli sauce for an afternoon tea time snack! 🙂

Had BBQ dinner at night, and it was just R&R for the rest of the trip.

Bye Redang! 

for more info, head on to http://www.thetaaras.com

The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort Day 2 – The Taaras Villa

Second day at The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort on the scenic island of Redang, off the East Coast of Peninsula Malaysia!

Woke up early and headed to the Asean All Day Dining restaurant for a good ol’fashioned Western breakfast – sunny side up egg, baked beans, beef ham, butter on toast, chicken and egg sausages, with a glass of cold fresh milk.

Headed to the beach. The skies were a clear blue, the hills were illuminated in sunshine, and the sea was a beautiful shade of turquoise. There were guests sunbathing, and even some surfers, since the waves were still quite strong. I sat in the shade and listened to the ocean lapping against the shore, before heading back to my villa to sink into the soft bed and watch TV. Now that’s what I call a holiday.


Later in the afternoon we attended a signing ceremony between the hotel proprietor, Berjaya Group and Prima Air. Under this partnership, Prima Air will provide chartered flights in s Cessna plane that accommodates about 10 guests, directly from the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang to Redang, three times weekly. The flights will be packaged with accomodation at The Taaras. This service is expected to start in April.

Our dinner that night was at the exclusive Taaras Villa, the most expensive accommodation available at the resort. Apparently the Princess of Jordan and HK superstar Andy Lau stayed here during their visits! 🙂 The bungalow is perched atop the hill, with expansive views of cliffs, ocean and parts of the island. The living room even has its own karaoke system.

Dining area. Guests will be privy to private chef and butler services.

Perhaps the star attraction is the 16m infinity pool, which offers gorgeous views while you’re taking a dip. I got to swim in it early the next morning (since the rest of the group weren’t there, I had the whole pool to myself!)

Exploring the five bedroom villa. The house was very big and can easily fit 10 – 20 guests. In each room there were soft beds and couches along with TVs, large closets and bathtubs.

There’s even a basic gym in the basement, complete with treadmill, exercise ball, bike machine and yoga mats.

View from one of the rooms on the first floor. 

The jacuzzi area was hidden in a vast room that looked like an art gallery, before opening up to this space with glass partitions and the tub.

The sea was a stunning dark teal/turquoise.

Our dinner that night was a traditional Malay meal – sambal squid, beef rendang, mutton kurma, fried shrimp, stir fried veggies and meat stew. Everything was excellent.

I’ll make it my dream one day to be able to afford such a place on a holiday. Not a bad thing, to dream. 😛

Last Day in Phuket – Jungceylon, Bangla Road and Patong Beach

Time sure flies when you’re having fun! It was already H & I’s last day in Phuket. Since our flight was only at night, we planned to make the most of our time on the island. On we hopped onto our bike again!

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First order of the day was brunch! We returned to Thanon Ratuthit Songroipi Road to get some lunch at Jungceylon Shopping Center. It was much quieter during the day.

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Since it was our last day, we were running low on funds. We decided to get a cheap meal at the mall’s underground food court. Purchase a reload card at the cashier and simply swipe it at the food stalls. The balance will be refunded at the end of your meal.

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The place was nice and clean, with a big selection of food to choose from.

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I was curious as to what Deep Fried Godzilla was, but I didn’t get to try it. 😦

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Chicken and fries for 90B. The chicken had a teriyaki flavour, but was a tad too sweet.

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Shared a fried oyster omelette with H. It had a mushy, gooey texture – quite different from the Malaysian Chinese version – but was loaded with ingredients. Almost every mouthful had oysters in it! It did get overwhelming halfway through as the item is quite greasy. 100B.

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My last Thai Milk Tea in Thailand. 😥

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After brunch, we decided to walk through Bangla Road again. The place was a shadow of itself in daytime, devoid of dancing girls, street walkers, loud techno music and flashy lights. The clubs were replaced by souvenir and clothing stalls.

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A few bars were open but you can tell that there was no life to the party..

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Just a short distance away was Patong Beach – one of Phuket’s most famous (and most commercialised) beaches. If you’re looking for calm and tranquility, this is not the place for you. The beach was crowded with tourists from all over the world and water sports enthusiasts. Although relatively clean, it lacked the pristine clear blue waters we saw at Phi Phi Islands. 

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Beach was occupied with umbrellas and mats. There were many white tourists. Let’s just say I don’t envy how they burn in the sun. Some were really sunburnt but were still lying there to tan like there was no tomorrow.

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Patong Beach was one of the worst hit areas in Thailand during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but has bounced back with tourists flocking to the place. Looking at the line of hotels, hostels, restaurants and bars lining the beach, it’s hard to imagine that this was all almost flattened by natural disaster and has seen many lives lost, once.

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After chillin’ on the beach for a bit, we made our way back through Bangla Road to where the bike was parked.

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Stopped by for some fresh fruits from an Indian peddler.

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Wanted to get these as souvenirs, but was really running low on money by then..

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Said goodbye to Thailand’s unique tuk-tuks.

We got back to the hotel and waited for our taxi to pick us up and drive us to the airport. The sun was setting as we drove past the winding, hilly beach roads, casting a beautiful orange light across the island.

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Goodbye, Phuket. It has been amazing.

 

 

PS: H & I thought we had set aside just enough for our taxi trip, but it turns out we mistook some other currency for Thai baht ! O-O Good thing we had just enough money to pay the taxi guy, or we’d be in trouble… but that meant that we had no money to eat dinner (there were no money exchange booths in the airport wut??) until we got back to Kuala Lumpur. We were left with just 70B, and the cheapest food there (instant noodles) cost 80B.

Interesting experience, to say the least.