Malaysia’s Island Sanctuary Returns With Upgrades
Situated right smack in the heart of a 10 million year old virgin rainforest that overlooks the Andaman Sea is a luxury island resort like no other: The Datai Langkawi. First launched in 1993, it has gone on to be called one of the foremost, if not, one of the best island holiday destinations in Southeast Asia and the world. It has garnered its legendary status over the last 25 years by virtue of its natural flora and fauna, its famous hospitality, exceptional accommodation and the stunning, picturesque views of the Andaman. We from The Grid have been privileged to frequent this place on a few, rare occasions, and hence, we can vouch for its highly-anticipated re-opening.
The luxury island resort has been closed now for some months, since September 2017 for some much-needed refurbishment and upgrades. While we didn’t think it was necessary to begin with, the arrival of some competition in the likes of St. Regis Langkawi and The Westin Langkawi in recent times means that The Datai had to indulge in a proper makeover. So, the island resort has spent a good part of 10 months being worked on by some of the industry’s most skilled architects and professionals, some of which were the geniuses who worked on The Datai prior to its launch in 1993.
Following an investment of USD60million for this facelift exercise, some of these images provide a taste of what’s to be expected come its reopening this coming July. This sprucing up project is definitely the most substantial enhancement since the resort’s inception.
Led by Didier Lefort of award-winning Paris-based design studio DL2A and Australian architect Kerry Hill, this refurbishment exercise has some new treasures for visitors to the island resort. In fact, the team that is helming this facelift have an unrivalled knowledge of the estate, its structure, history and unique surroundings, having worked on the original layout previously back in the ’90s.
The remodeling works include a re-working of the interiors of the guestrooms, suites, villas and public areas. As has been the big theme around The Datai Resort, Lefort’s uses a concept of marrying and mixing simplicity, modernity and creativity that use complement the local environment, culture and materials.
From what we’ve been told, the general accommodation theme is going to be refreshed with things like lighting enhancements and a new warm, sophisticated colour palette. With these, there’s also definitely going to be the addition of some latest gadgetry to keep in touch with today’s digital/WiFi world.
Among the major differences is the addition of three new Rainforest Pool Villas to the existing five, all of which are located along the Datai River. They are the among the most-occupied Villas at The Datai, featuring a deck and pool overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Andaman. Besides that, there is also the 3,500 square metres ‘The Datai Estate’, a new, five-bedroom villa to join the lineup of accommodation at The Datai. It is among the largest of its kind in Asia, because itprovides humongous living rooms, games rooms, 24-hour butler service and a private chef even. But truly, one of the reasons we love The Datai is its nature-themed ambiance and we are thrilled to find out that it now has a dedicated Nature Centre!
This dedicated Nature Centre is aimed to offer an isolated and an even more intimate opportunity for guests to immerse themselves in nature.The centre will be run by a team of naturalists and marine biologists led by Irshad Mobarak, The Datai’s resident naturalist, a man who is worth flying all the way to The Datai to meet. It’ll also house a library as well as a tea corner offering a range of wild traditional Malay tisanes too and get this, it will also have a mini laboratory to enable guests to discover more about the marine and rainforest environment that surrounds them when at The Datai.
Things like The Datai Spa have also been worked upon, with a new air-conditioned treatment room that now supplements the existing four open-air spa villas, and a dedicated Bastien Gonzalez manicure and pedicure studio. This spa draws heavily on local traditions, and includes a treatment list based on the Malay concept of ‘ramuan’ or ‘potions’, made by infusing oils with hand-picked medicinal foliage from the herb garden and surrounding rainforest. The list of treatments includes The Ramuan Ritual and Ramuan Massage as well as Tungku Batu, performed by highly trained and skilled therapists.
The word ‘legendary’ is often times thrown about quite easily these days, but to my mind, when it comes to The Datai Langkawi, the adjective cant me more on point. To those of you who have visited this exceptional island resort before, you know what we’re on about. There is of course, so many other options on to where to retreat and unwind on Langkawi Island alone.
Aforementioned places like The St. Regis Langkawi and The Westin Langkawi come to mind and having been to both resorts before, we can tell you that it’s no less a grand occasion at either, with both having their unique offerings. To date though, The Datai Langkawi is THE best island resort we’ve had the privilege to set foot on in Malaysia, and we’re eagerly just as excited as some of you, to visit this beautiful, beautiful place again soon.