With endless skies that change colour from a brilliant blue to green shades akin to aurora at night, Langkawi is the island holiday you didn’t know you needed. As our plane descends onto the rainforest-covered island surrounded by crystal waters, I can’t help but stare in wonder. Living in an island country like Singapore, such a view outside my aeroplane window should have become commonplace by now.
But Langkawi has a special charm that goes beyond the beautiful water surrounding it. A lush green centre that looks like its natural beating heart fringed by white sand beaches and turquoise waters, I’m already in love with Langkawi and I haven’t even landed yet.
A quick exit from the airport and a warm welcome by the hotel’s representative later, we’re on our way to experience the luxurious Ritz Carlton Langkawi. Merely ten minutes later, we find ourselves turning into the gates of this paradise. Hello Langkawi.
After check-in formalities, and welcome drinks offered by the crimson-clad dayang or handmaiden, we are whisked away by an electric buggy to our room, or should I say palatial villa. The Ocean Front Villas are dreamy, to say the least. Generously spread over 200 sqm of space, the villas have their own 19.5 sqm private pools, a poolside deck from which to catch the stunning sunrise, and an additional deck with a daybed a few steps down, right by the beach. In fact, there are so many spots where you can just lie back and read a book or catch a tan, that you may be tempted never to leave the villa at all.
I daresay, that would be a mistake. As we found out during our packed itinerary, Ritz Carlton Langkawi has a multitude of experiences to keep you busy and ensure that everyone in your group has a great time. There’s the Ritz Kids club for families, a complementary inclusion for every booking, where children aged 4-12 can be left unsupervised here while parents go kayaking, get a tan at the beach or indulge in some spa time, and toddlers aged 1-3 need child-minders to experience the club.
As Ellen Franke, General Manager of Ritz Carlton Langkawi pointed out, “Our amazing treehouse-inspired Ritz Kidz facility is a big hit. The program encourages children to interact with their surroundings following the four pillars of the program: Nature, Exploration, Responsibility, and Culture. Activities include creating their own Wau – the traditional Malaysian kite, a treasure hunt, learning traditional Malay dances, our pirate-themed treasure hunt, kid’s spa treatments, Plant a Tree, and our Eco-Discovery Center, where the little ones will meet and learn about the importance of our local marine life, such as the ‘gamat’ sea cucumber, crabs and more. We encourage children to start learning about wellness, with our Mini Yoga and Meditation session run by our in-house yogi, Budi, Ritz Kidz also has its own Kids Pool, but we also have our stunning family pool beside the Beach Grill.
Parents also have a chance to enjoy and experience activities with their kids, such as our cozy bonfire on the beach complete with marshmallows, outdoor movie nights, beach picnics and for those looking for a little respite, babysitting services are available.”
Meanwhile, those travelling only with their partners are sure to love the spa with overwater cocoon-shaped treatment pavilions that bob above the sea, strikingly designed to resemble ‘Malay Bubus’ - intricately woven fish traps used for centuries by local fishermen. We tried the Mundi Bunga ritual, a royal Malay ceremony that uses flowers and fragrant oils to ward away bad energies. Another intimate and once-in-a-lifetime experience was the Turkish Hammam, the only one of its kind in Langkawi.
After a relaxing spa treatment, we headed to the adults-only bar - Horizon (main image above). With a stunning infinity pool that seemingly dips into the ocean, the bar is aptly named and the perfect place to sip a cocktail as the golden sun dips into the ocean far away on the horizon, setting both the sky and the ocean aflame. The mixologist at Horizon deserves a special mention, unique as each signature creation is.
Travel Editor Harnoor Channi-Tiwary (Left)
There’s the Instagrammable Hornbill, featuring vodka infused with star anise and cinnamon, that comes in a birdcage; or the refreshing gin-based Botanist that uses herbs grown in the hotel’s own herb garden. Mocktails for the teetotalers and classic cocktails for traditionalists - at Horizon bar, there’s something for everyone.
With the sun down and green lights from squid fishing boats lining up on the horizon, we headed to the island’s only fine-dining Chinese restaurant, Hai Yan (pictured above). With a dim sum chef who crafts unlimited dim sum lunches, contemporary interiors and breathtaking 180° views of the Andaman Sea, I could see why people come from all over Langkawi to eat at Hai Yan.
For dinner, the Executive Chef presents a menu with Cantonese sensibilities and lends them his own personal style. You’ll find crowd favourites like Peking Duck as well as elevated cuisine such as a flaky Marble Goby with Crispy Scales in a soy-garlic sauce. With private dining rooms and a wraparound terrace for clicking photos, Hai Yan makes for a classy and intimate dining experience.
If you’re the adventurous sort, you would love the nature walk that the resort’s naturalist took us on early the next morning. Langkawi, a UNESCO Geopark, has rainforests that are 10,000 years old.
The biodiversity of flora and fauna is stunning, and Ritz Carlton has an entire team to protect and showcase this. The naturalist acquainted us with flora native to this land as we walked through the thick jungle.
Though we picked an easy 200m walk, there was another lovely 1.4 km trail that ends at a private beach where the staff can set up a special picnic lunch for you on request. The nature walk is complimentary for all Marriott Bonvoy members. We ended that with a view into the sea cucumber conservation efforts by the resort
The marine biologist explained to us how sea cucumbers are a fascinating species that can reproduce both sexually and asexually by dividing their own body into half. This is also a great program for kids, besides their plant-a-tree initiative and the nature discovery walk that brings them up close and personal with butterflies.
There was plenty of time for sand and sun, whether it was (very affordable) kayaking in the bay, sunbathing on the beach, or just sipping a refreshing beverage by the kid-friendly poolside at the Beach Grill (pictured above).
The chef here does a great job of fusing Malaysian flavours with western techniques crafting dishes such as a lip-smacking Rendang Pasta or a refreshing Mango Avocado Sushi with Prawns.
The open-sided restaurant was perfect for a light lunch, in sharp contrast to our extensive dinner buffet at the Langkawi Kitchen which specialises in Malaysian delicacies and serves up the most delicious, fall-off-the-bone rendang from the Berak region.
Being the nearest five-star hotel from the airport, Ritz Carlton Langkawi’s location couldn’t be more ideal. The town is a quick 20-minute drive away where you can catch a fire show on the beach or watch real-life transformers dance to the latest tunes on the sidewalk. It’s also a pleasure to just sit back on your pool terrace and watch planes land on the runway on the horizon. Front row seats to an aviation show? Yes, please.
Langkawi is the perfect long weekend getaway from Singapore. With direct flights plying every day, it’s a quick 1.5-hour journey and you’re in an island paradise. As for me? I came back happy, content, and with a gorgeous golden tan. The Ritz Carlton Langkawi is high on my list for when I need a dose of the sun, sand, and ever-friendly hospitality.