PRICE: Worth maxing out for
If The Datai’s considerable reputation has passed you by, then believe us, you’ve been missing out. It is situated deep in lush rainforest on the north-western tip of Langkawi in Malaysia and totally rewards the travelling. It’s a Yonder smash hit.
Since 1993, The Datai has been the Langkawi standard bearer of utter hedonism and its reputation stretches far and wide (as, indeed, does its beach). The 45-minute journey along the winding coastal roads can seem never ending. But the sudden change in scenery as you glide below the tall canopy of the rainforest is the moment you realise you’re arriving somewhere very special.
In brochure speak, The Datai Langkawi allows you to ‘fully nurture the wellbeing of your mind, body and spirit’. But boy, is that true. National Geographic has rated Datai Bay as one of the top 10 beaches in the world, while the surrounding rainforest – it’s a mere ten million years old, just think about that – plays host to a wealth of wildlife. You may well spot dusky leaf monkeys, tokay geckos or Sunda flying lemurs during your stay. Each of the 122 rooms, suites and villas enjoys the embrace of the rainforest and offers stunning views from private verandas of the breathtaking Andaman Sea.
This is not a small hotel in terms of room numbers or grounds. But it feels like a small hotel. The reception staff will remember your name. The beach bar staff will remember you like your rosé served super chilled at 4pm, and the turn-down maids will remember you are partial to a sweet treat before bed, leaving a double helping on your pillow.
The accommodation options are numerous. There are hotel rooms adjacent to the reception, main restaurant and pool. And there are villas of varying categories scattered through the rainforest on the way down to the beach. We would describe the rooms as traditional – ok, perhaps not cutting edge but superb nevertheless. The villas can be reached by riding golf buggies, although the slightly more energetic will find walking through the rainforest magical. And whilst all are magnificent, beachfront villas not only have direct access to the fine white sand but also have their own pools.
Breakfast overlooking the Datai’s main pool is amongst the best we’ve had, while heading down to the beach along the rainforest paths with monkeys playing overhead is memorable. When you hit the beach and bathe your toes in the crystal clear shallows, time seems to stand still and you will feel you’re king of your own island paradise.
So, be warned: If you get us talking about this place on the phone…. you’ll just have to tell us to shut up when you’ve had enough!
The Gulai House restaurant serves the best Malay cuisine on the island. We’ve eaten here a lot and every dish is as tasty as the last but we do have a special soft spot for the Rendang Daging – a delicious beef curry with blue ginger and coconut served in a clay pot.
On your doorstep
A blissful yoga session overlooking the rainforest is a magical memory that will stay with us for ever. Down-facing dog has never felt so good.