It’s been more than a couple of weeks since I was at The Datai, Langkawi and I am still experiencing its rejuvenating effects on me. It’s true that when you step foot into this amazing resort, you tend to slow down and life takes on an unhurried pace. It’s the place, I tell you.
How else can you explain the immediate sense of relaxation which sweeps over you the moment you walk through the main entrance guarded by two magnificent giant horses. The breeze that blows in from the azure Andaman Sea is uplifting and I just had to stop by the lotus pond to gape at the blooms and shiny green frogs frolicking among the leaves. And this was just at the lobby area.
As I sipped my “welcome drink” – refreshing lemongrass tea, I found myself peering through the canopy of tree tops trying to catch a glimpse of the shimmering ocean beyond. More of Mother Nature’s magic have yet to unfold.
While waiting for our villa to be ready, I took my time absorbing the stunning views around The Datai, just from the Lobby Lounge. Looking down at one of the swimming pools where guests were chilling out, I couldn’t help marvelling at the rainforest canopy that surrounds the resort as far as the eye can see. It’s a 10 million-year-old rainforest, by the way.
The Datai is set in a vast estate – all 750 hectares of it. Designed more than 20 years ago by renowned architect, Kerry Hill, the 124 accomodation choices were built with great care and respect of the natural formation of the land. This iconic property pays timeless homage to its breathtaking natural landscape. In maintaining the natural beauty and harmony of the place, The Datai’s 54 well-appointed rooms, 40 villas, 16 suites and 14 beach villas were built to blend with Mother Nature’s creations.
Our villa is located deep within the rainforest. The buggy ride there from the main lobby takes about 5 minutes. The villas are all built to fit into the natural landscape and to connect these with the main lobby and other outlets, there’s a maze of narrow roads (big enough for buggies) that wind up and down the forest slopes. Honestly, I couldn’t find my way around and would have got hopelessly lost if not for the buggies!
Oh don’t fret, service is excellent and I didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes for the buggy whenever I requested one, during my entire stay there.
When I stepped into my villa, I didn’t feel like leaving it at all. I wished I could stay in it all day and all night! The smooth parquet floor, the super high pyramid-shaped ceiling, the day divan, the divinely comfortable bed – everything was luxurious in a rustic charming way.
Connecting to the main bedroom is the bathroom and dressing area. Right in the centre is a sunken bath tub, flanked on both sides with sinks and full sets of toiletries. The spaciousness is impressive. If luxuriating in a bubble bath is not your cup of tea, then use the strong jets of the rain-shower, like I did. Pamper yourself (like I did) with an unhurried pace of life – after an invigorating shower, I took my time in the huge dressing area (there’s a very comfortable stool provided) getting ready.
While the room may reflect a rustic traditional charm with the wood theme, the amenities are modern and top-notch. In addition to a flat-screen tv, there’s a DVD player (if you really have time for that), iPod complete with a docking stand and Bose speaker. Sad to say, I didn’t have much time to enjoy these as most of my time was spent outside with Mother Nature.
In the time leading to bedtime, I loved lying in that deep comfortable king bed listening to the jungle symphony of cicadas and bullfrogs (among many other nocturnal creatures) and on another night, the lulling rain beating down on the villa during a tropical rainstorm.
Oh I must say the wifi in The Datai is excellent – it’s superfast and available at just about every corner of the place! And you don’t even have to key in a password or log through any site.
The following morning we joined Jonathan Chandrasakaran, the resort’s resident Marine Biologist for an educational walk “Life on the Edge” on Datai Beach during low tide. This complimentary 75-minute excursion is available on certain days of the week. There’s so much interesting stuff to learn during that on-foot oceanic journey of little discoveries. Now I know to look out for the little crabs, snails and shrimps that make the beach their habitat and be mindful of their life activities – things which I never took notice before.
After sundown, there’s also an Evening Nature Walk “Rainforest Afterdark” a Naturalist-guided exploration to unravel some of the virgin rainforest’s mysteries, its enigmatic animals and their unique calls, including bats, flying squirrels and flying lemurs. This is a “must-do” thing for all nature lovers!
STEPS LEADING TO THE HEALTH CLUB
Time at The Datai is sometimes “forgotten” and a clock is really not a necessity there. Just go with the flow and tides. Join the activities offered in the resort or just lie back and do nothing. We did a bit of both. The idyllic environment: sun, sea, forest posed the best platform for rejuvenation and what took it a bit further was The Datai Spa.
When I first spotted the Datai Spa, coming from the long wooden bridge close to the Beach Club, I couldn’t help gasping in delight. Beautifully integrated into the backdrop of an ancient rainforest, The Datai Spa looked so serene in its tranquil kampong-like surroundings. Fronting a chuckling winding stream, the four open-air villas beckoned with welcoming charm.
Local rituals and traditional herbal remedies, known as “ramuan” – made from rare ingredients gathered in the surrounding rainforest are the order of the day which are all meant to relax, rejuvenate and reconnect with nature.
We chose our “essences” for our massage therapy – I had the relaxing “serai” (lemongrass) based oil while D took the invigorating “halia” (ginger) oil. When asked what level of pressure we preferred, both of us opted for the deep muscle massage pressure. After a footbath, our therapists got to work on us. Their fingers and arms did their magic and before long, we lost ourselves in the soothing rainforest sounds all around us.
Inspired by Malay healers of old – who believed inner and outer beauty to be interdependent – The Datai Spa experience is designed to nourish and strengthen body and soul and to invigorate the mind. After our spa session, I could feel my muscles nicely stretched and my feet lighter. And sleep later that night was deep and sweet.
The Datai Spa offers a range of Ramuan massages, body and beauty treatments which combine the very best of indigenous rituals and ancient healing traditions while harnessing the healing power of jungle plants and herbs.
With the abundant plant and animal life in the rainforest, there’s plenty to discover here. The unique surroundings, the wonderful service and savouring the culinary creations in their award-winning restaurants will take up every minute spent at The Datai.
When hunger hits, there are several dining outlets to indulge in. My dining experiences will be covered in a separate post, so watch out for it. Join me when I share some of Executive Chef Richard Millar’s amazing food at The Dining Room, my favourite bites at The Beach Club, familiar local Malay & Indian favourites at the Gulai House and The Pavilion’s Thai delights.
Stay tuned for my upcoming post on “Dining at The Datai” 🙂
Jalan Teluk Datai