So, if you read my previous post, I mentioned we had to “localise” our travel plans due to COVID19. And with that, we managed to save up quite a bit on our travel budget (since I managed to also get a good deal at my company’s owned bungalow at Cameron Highlands). So, we decided we could splurge a bit on Pangkor and booked ourselves in the luxurious Pangkor Laut Resort by YTL.
Once voted “Number One in the World” by Conde Nast Traveller, Pangkor Laut is a private island, not to be mistaken with its neighbouring Pangkor island. Upon arriving, the first thing we noticed is how much greens still remains. Compared to other commercialised resorts which aims to maximise room counts for business, Pangkor Laut Resort has only 140 villas (plus 8 estates) over the privately owned 300 acres island!
How to book
You can either book through their website or by phone. If you are Malaysian, you really must take advantage of its Residents’ package, which starts at RM1,900 (400 EUR) per room for 2 nights (weekdays rate), and effective 1st March 2020, Pangkor is duty free, and hence exempted from Sales & Service Tax (SST).
You can still be eligible of the Residents’ package if your spouse/ partner is Non Malaysian, as long as the booking is made under a Malaysian. The package includes room AND meals for 2 pax throughout the stay! It is a pretty good deal, considering the normal rate for foreigners is the same but does not include meals!
First, you need to find your way to Lumut. You can get there by bus or car. Once at Lumut, find your way to Marina Island Pangkor terminal, which is the main ferry terminal/ jetty with ferries leaving for Pangkor island.
If you are driving, you can park your car at the Marina. Covered parking is available at RM 15 a day.
At the Marina, find your way to the Pangkor Laut Resort office, where you will be greeted by refreshing lime juice. You want to be there early before your boat departure time as they will be processing your check in and payment here. From here, you will be taken care of by the resort staffs, from your luggages to getting on and off the boat, until you are all checked into your rooms on the island!
Where to stay
The lowest tier is Garden villa. These are double storey villa, walking distance to the swimming pool and Royal Bay Beach Club. You can choose either upper or lower room. The lower room has an open air bathtub, while the upper room has its tub indoor.
The next tier up is Hill villa. These have similar design to the Garden villa but as its name suggests, it is on a hill. The view is stunning of course, nestled within the jungle. However, it is not the most accessible to the restaurants and amenities. You need to take an elevator to reach the hills, and more steps to reach your room. You do get more privacy, but not especially disable and elderly friendly.
Beach villa has single storey design and of course just in front of the beach. However, it faces the beach front where the jetty is as well. And this beach is not commonly used, as there is another private beach front at the back of the island (accessible by shuttle bus).
Sea villas are those on stilts above water. It is farthest from the restaurants but gives you most privacy.
Spa village is after the Sea villas, and children are not allowed. It is sanctuary for patrons to relax in peace. If you are not a resident of Spa village, you are not allowed to use the swimming pool, but you can still patronise the restaurants (not included in Residents’ package) and book spa treatments.
The next level up is the suites. The Suria and Purnama suites starting at RM 2,590 (550 EUR) a night, pre-tax which are above water; and the Pavarotti suites starting at RM 3,690 (780 EUR) a night, pre-tax (fits 4) on the hills.
This is not the end of the list. Pangkor Laut Resort also offers for the most elite, The Estates, which are private sanctuaries with up to four bungalows, with private swimming pool, outdoor jacuzzi, and dining area. I did not have the privilege to see it, but you can check out the stunning photos on the website!
What to do
Being on a private island, we first had concerns whether we have enough things to do to keep us occupied. We even considered taking a boat to the neighbouring Pangkor island for an excursion, only to be laughed at my friends how putting the good money I paid for this luxury to waste.
You want to check out Emerald bay, the beach at the back of the island. There are many benches there to relax over this long stretch of white sand beach. As soon as you set foot on the beach, you will be greeted with a towels, and a bottle of chilled water. The staff will even help you with the bench, laying a towel on it, and another rolled up as a head pillow.
We brought our own books, I managed to catch up on some of overdue readings. If you had not bring your own, the resort has a decent collection of books in their library.
There is so much greens on this island, you really should take the opportunity to immense yourself in the nature. The virgin rainforest jungle on this island is said to be over 2 million years old. You can join a free guide trekking with the resident naturalist. Check with the concierge on the time.
Otherwise, you can just walk along the pavements, instead of the taking the shuttle bus. We did the walk along the coastline from the main lobby area to Spa village. The terrain is considerably flat. Another option is to walk through the jungle from main lobby area to Emerald bay. This route can be slightly more challenging as it is quite hilly.
The resort offers many watersports activities as well, which includes, kayaking, and paddle board. There are not free, and we did not see anyone doing it during our stay.
Otherwise, you really want to just dial down your energy level, and just relax. We spent hours just laying on the bench next to the swimming pool, with a book and a cocktail, occasional dip in the pool or jacuzzi. Anything to just keep my mind away from my busy city life!
What to eat
With the Residents’ package, you get breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every night stay. Breakfast is buffet style, international cuisine, served at Feast Village. I particularly liked the Indian corner, with different varieties of Indian bread, chapati, naan, thosei etc.
For lunch, your options are either Royal Bay Beach Club or Chapman’s Bar (at Emerald bay). Royal Bay serves club food, like burger, pizza, and some good selection of Malaysian dishes. With the Residents’ package, you can order 1 mains and 1 entree/dessert. We particularly liked the deep fried squid served with sambal mayonaise, and tom yum soup. The satay pizza was a pretty interesting dish too.
For dinner, your options are either Feast Village or Uncle Lim’s Kitchen. Feast Village serves Malaysian cuisine for dinner, while Uncle Lim serves Chinese (more Nyonya) cuisine. Uncle Lim is pretty popular, we heard so much of it even before we planned for this trip. And we were told the good tables (on the big rocks, facing the waters) are always taken if you have not made early reservations. So, we booked a table as soon as we were done checking in. Dinner at Uncle Lim’s was definitely one of my highlights! Perhaps, I am still very Chinese, always craving for wok fried dishes, and double boiled soup. With the Residents’ package, you can order 1 vegetable, 2 meat dishes, and 1 dessert. Some of our favourites, Calamansi chicken, Salt & pepper prawns, and Uncle Lim’s signature fish steamed in banana leaves.
TL:DR and my 5 reasons why you must visit Pangkor Laut Resort
1. Lots of privacy
My first concern when I was getting myself to pay so much for a 2 nights stay is whether I can truly get the privacy I was expecting. After all, it is an island, and I was concern about large tourist crowd of all things. However, to my surprise, the island is big enough for everyone! There are more than enough restaurants to cater for the resort at full occupancy! The times we were in the pool, there was never more than 4 people!
2. Comfortable bed
Rarely I get myself a bed (other than my home bed) where I can get proper rest. It is always either too hard, too soft, or most of the time the linens that make me uncomfortable. W has another pet peeve, i.e. lights! Anyway, let’s just say, we slept all the way till the next morning on this King size bed of premium linens!
3. Private bathtub
And if you prefer MORE privacy to the extent of having your own private bathtub, every villa in Pangkor Laut Resort has its very own tub!
4. Stress free
Let’s just say I am usually the type of traveller who plans everything down to the hour. I enjoy doing it to be honest, but I won’t deny that it does take a toll on me sometimes. This trip, I was never as stress free. Perhaps it is the thought that we are on a private island, everything is paid for, we don’t need to carry our wallets everywhere we go, there are shuttle services to anywhere you want to go …
I actually managed to silence myself from all OCD voices in my head, and just waste time drinking and reading. It was blissful! The only decision we had to make everyday was where to eat!
5. Uncle Lim’s Kitchen
Lastly, we would definitely return for Uncle Lim’s. I know I can get food as good in KL, but it is a combination of good food, beautiful setting, sounds of waves crashing the shoes in the background .. there is nowhere I would rather be now, as I am imagining my next island vacation!