I’m going to make a big statement in my introduction and say that The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi is currently my favourite resort on the island.
Only two months old, the resort has recently opened after comprehensive work. In the construction of 70 guest rooms, 15 suites and 29 villas, meticulous care was taken to have minimal impact on the extensive natural beauty on which the property is built. Structures were erected around trees and in cases where there was no other option than to cut a tree, it was replaced by another somewhere else on the grounds. Besides the incredible effort made in preserving this ancient piece of forest, the location, rooms and service are some of the best around.
The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi is a short ten-minute drive from the airport. In between Telaga Harbour Park and Pantai Cenang it’s separate enough from the busy-ness of the main tourist areas, yet still within easy reach. The property sits on its very own tropical garden of Eden. Towering trees shade the buildings with their lush foliage, and vibrant native blooms line the walkways. On a slight slope, the estate rolls down to a private bay and out to the Andaman Sea.
Rooms at The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi
Blending seamlessly into the natural surrounds, thoughtful design by Philippe Villeroux of Kuala Lumpur-based Tropical Area Architects, sees spaces that are contemporary while maintaining references to Malay architecture. Large windows, gabled roofs and ornate wood trimmings integrate harmoniously with the environment.
Our Junior Suite is simply stunning. Every detail is taken care of with a sense of style and purpose. A neutral palette and natural woods are showcased in upholstery and furniture and given space to shine with high ceilings and full-length windows. Blinds open; everywhere we look is peaceful, leafy green. Blinds closed; it could be any time of day – much appreciated for holiday sleep-ins.
An enormous bathroom with double sinks, rain shower and a gorgeous tub can again be made extremely private, or opened up to vistas of treetops, with the flick of a switch. Quality Asprey bath products lush up the bath experience and a fancy Japanese-style toilet (the type with a heated seat and a myriad of buttons on the side) does not go unnoticed. Light marble counter tops, with a fleck of green amongst white and shades of grey, finish off the room with a sense of timeless class. His and hers open wardrobes, plenty of storage space, a dressing table and fully-stocked mini-bar (nice gourmet goodies too, with TWG tea and an espresso machine) complete this section.
The bedroom boasts another generous area with a daybed, desk, massive TV, and a stack of plugs for charging devices and bedside control panels. The TV not only has cable but is also an interface for the hotel’s electronic information book (reducing unnecessary printing), web browsing, Instagram, Facebook, Netflix and a whole lot of other stuff. And, the bed… it’s oh so soft. I feel as though I’m snuggling in a giant cotton ball.
At first, we think that’s it for the room, but hidden sliding doors reveal a separate living room with couch, a dining table for two and another humungous TV. My favourite spot, however, is the balcony that leads from the sitting area. Furnished with a daybed, coffee tables and chairs, a ceiling fan and splendid views of the sea framed by the rainforest’s canopy, it’s a happy place. It would be very easy to order in-room dining and have no plans to leave (ever), but there are some fantastic food and beverage options within the resort, so I drag myself away to investigate.
Dining at The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi
All with stunning views over the Andaman Sea or surrounding jungle, The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi houses four distinct dining outlets.
Similar in structure to that of a Sarawakian longhouse, local recipes are celebrated in Langkawi Kitchen where Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisines are the highlight. This is also where breakfast is taken and shiny counters framed by ornamental wood carvings hold an array of both local and international cuisine. The made-on-the-spot noodles seem to be hot selling items, but we’re western in our brekkie preferences and so the a la minute eggs, fresh fruit and yoghurt are our choosing.
The Beach Grill sits on the sea’s edge with a lovely family swimming pool beside it. This is the spot to satisfy western cravings and we see orders of burgers, salads and fries exiting the kitchen routinely. Our pick though is the seafood skewers. The daily catch from the sea is brought to The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi beach and chefs handpick and negotiate directly with the fishermen. Anything from the Andaman is bound to be a solid option. Find photos and more recommendations here.
The same goes for Hai Yan, the only fine dining Chinese restaurant in Langkawi. Capitalizing on the sea’s abundance, the team in Hai Yan cook up the best of the day’s catch in their Chinese kitchen. The restaurant is dazzling. Lit by 100s of small lanterns and furnished with dark wood decorative panels, it’s certainly a location to impress. Read our full review here.
But, perhaps our best-loved location in the resort is Horizon. Crowning the rocky cliff by the beach, the bar and Thai restaurant bestow breath-taking views out over the adults-only pool and further out to sea. An excellent music playlist sets a chic beat and the bar that juts out over the sea reminds me of some very cool rock bars in Bali. There’s a compact menu of tasty Thai dishes and a broad drinks lists with hand-crafted cocktails inspired by local ingredients. Follow this link to read about our full experience.
Cocktails, an abundance of food and long leisurely times on our bottoms need to be balanced with some physical movement, and thankfully, staying active is easy at The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi. The resort itself, with plentiful pathways shaded by tropical giants, is a happy ground for brisk walks or short runs. Two beautiful infinity pools, that seem to drop down to the sea, keep swimmers cheery, and the fitness centre is decked with the latest Technogym machines, a decent selection of free weights and supplementary equipment such as mats and balls. “Everything that’s new is nice,” hubby says and in this case, he’s absolutely right. The screens on the cardio devices are connected to high-speed Internet allowing fitness enthusiasts to plug into the Cloud and keep track of their training, or for those less serious to watch cable TV, Netflix, Ted Talks, Instagram, web browsing and much, much more.
Receiving another thumbs-up from hubby is the outdoor tennis court. Unfortunately, during our stay, the rain prevents him from using it, but he’s already given The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi his approval for a return visit (almost solely based on tennis court facilities I presume). Various activities are offered depending on the season such as indoor and outdoor yoga and nature walks. Gear for non-motorized water sports, including paddle boarding and kayaking, is provided too.
The Ritz-Carlton Spa
After all of that eating and working out, we think we deserve a spa treatment and the spa at The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi has a lot to offer. Connected by circular platforms, five spa pavilions resembling jumbo-sized Malay fishing traps offer a peaceful cocoon from which to relish The Ritz-Carlton Spa’s extensive range of relaxation and healing treatments. The menu draws inspiration from native healing and aesthetic practices of local shamans dating back thousands of years.
Full spa services of a steam room, sauna and so on are provided as expected from this standard of hotel. What stands out above the rest though is the resort’s hammam – it’s the only one on the island and, as far as I know, only the second in Malaysia. Here bodies are exfoliated, cleansed, steamed and soaked in marine mud leaving the skin soft and smooth. The most heavenly part of the experience though is the hair wash. Warm tubs of water are tipped over the head and combined with gentle massage. The room, including the beds, is heated making the session very comfortable. The therapists at The Ritz-Carlton Spa are highly skilled. They’re communicative, have clear routines and rituals in place and adjust their therapies to tune into each of our bodies. Thrilled with this visit, next round I plan to explore more of the menu.
Even with all of these incredible facilities, the stay would not have been as enjoyable as it was if weren’t for the staff. The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi employs some of the kindest and friendliest people we’ve come across. In line with the hotel’s concept of celebrating local, the staff made us feel part of the family, The Ritz-Carlton family, and that made our getaway even more memorable.
Reasons to visit: easy access from the airport and tourist areas yet far enough removed to feel like a private island sanctuary; beautiful and expansive tropical grounds; contemporary and stylish rooms; excellent facilities; the spa; sunset drinks at Horizon; dinner at Hai Yan; private beach and bay; some of the best views you’ll find on the island.