Antonia Pearce samples eco-luxury at its most divine, with a percentage of your room fee going towards saving the rainforest.
The Datai Hotel, on the island of Langkawi, has all the hallmarks of an imperial residence. For over fifteen years, the hotel has been a beacon of luxury, a jewel off the Malay coast that counted Baroness Thatcher as a fan. Away from the dynamic yet increasingly western magnetism of Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi is an island with a gentle almost mythical appeal. Few locations in the world can boast such an exotic mix of virgin rain forest and tranquil beach. However, this is exactly the juxtaposition that has made The Datai the place to visit.
It is quite extraordinary that a place as beautiful as Langkawi is not completely overcrowded with tourists. Instead there is a quiet, loyal (albeit, rather glamorous) visitor who returns year after year. Romantics and nature lovers should stay in the villas nestled deep within the rainforest. Standing high upon wooden stilts, with cosy interiors and dark wooden shutters.
To get a feel for the landscape and culture of Langkawi, guests are encouraged to immerse themselves in the islands two great passions; nature and gourmet cuisine. For the natural world, visitors turn to The Datai’s resident naturist: Irshad. He is a man adept at inspiring wonder in even the most cultivated of urban dwellers. With a hypnotic tone he makes the rain forest come alive with colourful birds, numerous creatures and tales of miracle plants.
One of the hotel’s greatest joys is the spa. Located deep within the rainforest and by a freshwater stream, lose yourself in tranquility baths filled with rose petals and enjoy an expert Abhyanga massage. Bliss achieved, set off for a walk on The Datai’s private beach and delight in a paradise found.
In February 2016, Michel Roux will bring a taste of his highly acclaimed three-Michelin-starred restaurant The Waterside Inn to The Datai Langkawi. Accompanied by chef Simone Tricarico, pâtissier Stephanie Aubriot and Jordi Fumado from his front of house team, Roux will host three five-course dinners and a masterclass. These exclusive showcase events will enable guests to meet and learn from one of the world’s most celebrated chefs and indulge in the very best food and wine in one Southeast Asia’s most exotic locations.