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December 31, 2015updated 01 Mar 2016 12:49pm

The Datai, Malaysia

By Spear's

The Datai makes the most of the rainforest surrounding it — a unique setting.
The grande dame of Langkawi, the Datai has been winning awards almost since it opened. Its location is magnificent, as it is surrounded by tropical rainforest which curves down on three sides and faces miles of pale golden sand, reputed to be the best beach in the archipelago. For, in truth, Langkawi is not one island but 99 of them which constitute the archipelago.
The forest is not so much a dramatic backdrop as an integral part of the resort, with rooms, villas and suites all built into it. Guests can look down through the treetops from their verandahs or from one of the swimming pools to the beach below (it’s 100 steps down, so exercise is a built-in offering). Plus wildlife is all around, with chattering monkeys swinging on to balconies, hornbills hovering above and the occasional monitor lizard nestling among the strangler figs.
Five-star luxury is also everywhere, from the furnishings to the restaurants, including one in the treetops which adds drama to the night skies and the sounds of the jungle, while the amenities and service are unsurpassed. There is the spa, too, hidden in the jungle, waiting to pamper the stressed and revive the tired.
The website, an online platform endorsed by Tourism Malaysia, acts as a medical, spa and holiday consultant, with extensive knowledge and connections throughout the country. The company offering this unique personal health concierge service also partners with leading hospitals, clinics and tour operators to provide to provide travelers with a near hassle-free service.

An international clientele has made this hotel one of the most desirable holiday destinations in Malaysia. Couples and families come from Europe, and expats from Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok. Honeymooners love it, while locals return year after year.

High season, when the weather is warm and dry, is from November through to March, but even when it does rain it is tropical, so the sun comes back quickly. Humidity is at its highest in July and August.

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Set to one side of the hotel, the spa offers a plethora of scrubs, wraps, facials and massage as well as a full beauty service, while recognising the holistic and healing principles of the traditional Malay Ramuan culture. This encompasses a unifying treatment of mind, body and spirit, using some indigenous plant ingredients, such as stems, bark, roots and fruits of the rainforest, in the baths, scrubs and lotions.
Treatments can take place in open air salas, with just the sound of birdsong and the whispering of leaves to accompany the soothing strokes and emollients of the therapies.
There are a number of treatments which can be enjoyed by couples, including the Ramuan Ritual — three hours of pampering from head to toe which concludes with a hibiscus bath and a coconut milk rinse. And should you wish for more, you can book an entire day of treatments in your own dedicated suite, including lunch and other refreshments among the wraps, massages, facials and manicures.

Take time to see the island — in fact you can see it in one fell swoop by taking the cable car high over the treetops for a bird’s eye view.
Botanists and nature lovers can enjoy guided walks with local naturalists, while for the more active, divers and snorkellers can head for Pulau Payar Marine Park; watersports enthusiasts have everything on site at the resort’s beach club; and golf and tennis are also available.

The spa’s signature treatment, Tungku Batu, in which a river stone is heated and tied in a pouch with rainforest herbs and plants and then massaged over muscles and pressure points. This is followed by an oil massage, where the oil is infused with ginger, cinnamon, pandan leaf and lime, among other plants. The therapy reduces any tension and aches in the body as well as increasing your circulation.


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