Magical Majestic Malaysia – Fam trip hosted by If Only and BA

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Magical Majestic Malaysia!
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Day 1 BA Flight
We were all delighted to receive Club World upgrades on check-in and, after a short delay of 1 hour, we settled in to our very comfortable Club cabin with a friendly and attentive crew. The group were served two meals dinner and breakfast and in-flight ‘kitchen’ for snacks.
Tips: The seating configuration in Club World on the 777 means that window seats are rear facing, with the next seat front facing, but there is an excellent privacy screen. Clients in a window seat would need to straddle the flatbed of the next seat to get in/out. Central seats E&F have no privacy screen so good for couples, but may be slightly intimate for strangers, as almost like a double bed.
 
Arrival KLIA
KLIA is a modern, sprawling airport including a train to immigration but the route is well signed.
Tips: Nervous travellers can have airside meet & greet for a fee.
Business and First head left at immigration desks for own channels with minimal queuing – you are being directed right so you must look out for this and point out you are eligible!
 
The transfer to the city centre is 65 kilometres and around 1 hour & 20 minutes, dependent on traffic.
Tips: An alternative transfer is my train and halves the time!
Exchange rates have very little variance at banks, 6.2 during our stay, but hotels have lower rates.
 
Day 2 The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur
We checked-in for 2 nights and all allocated the original Majestic Wing and Governor Suites with living area, spacious bedroom and bathroom with claw feet roll top bath. Benefits also include full butler service, complimentary transport within 10 KM, with a mobile given for return journey! Free mini bar (wine, beer, minerals, nuts) 6-8 pre-dinner drinks.
Only 50 rooms are allocated in this adult only Majestic Wing. The building was bought by YTL 7 years ago, it took 3 years to renovate to its former glory days of 1932 and also to build the Tower Wing with a further 250 rooms – all rooms were beautifully appointed with classic styling and a contemporary flair including roll top baths and amazing Mangosteen toiletries.
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Room tips: We loved the Majestic Wing and its exclusivity but for the Tower Wing the lead in room was fabulous, and if celebrating a special occasion, then the Junior Suite was most popular with the group.
 
We had a buffet dinner at Contango, an amazing buffet with live, interactive cooking stations – Asian fusion, sushi and international choices priced at £15/£18 for lunch and £18/£20 for dinner (midweek/weekend).
Tips: Wine and beer packages with dinner buffets – £11 self-service and unlimited!
Amazing afternoon teas are served too they are the same tea but priced according to the location taken in from the Colonial Cafe at £9 up to the Orchid Conservatory at £17
 
 
Day 3 – City Tour
We started our city tour with a translation of Kuala Lumpur as ‘muddy estuary’, starting life as 2 trading posts in 1857 and grown with tin-mining success.
We visited independence square, the river point where KL began, The Palace, ASEAN park and memorials and the National Mosque. The morning was a great combination of historic buildings, botanical gardens and KL heritage.
 Shangri-La – Kuala Lumpur
Site inspection of this centrally located hotel which is 30 years old but was fully renovated in 2009. Great use of views to tropical gardens and cascading waters give the hotel an oasis in the city feeling.
 
City Tour PM
Despite the haze the Petronas Towers and KL tower were still impressive sights and made good photo opportunities. Highest twin towers in the world 480 metres sky bridge 41St. floor also 86th floor tour.
Tips: If you want to go up Petronas book ahead to avoid queues and also as daily visitors are currently limited to 500 – only currently £13
China Town – is a must do a very vibrant and colourful market. There are ridiculously priced ‘genuine fakes’ to be purchased from watches to bags and trainers to T-shirts.
Tips: Barter hard, we made most purchases at a third of the first price given!
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Back at the sanctuary of the Majestic we had pre-dinner drinks at Smokehouse – a gentleman’s club setting with cigar menu and smoking jackets! There was an amazing and unique cocktail list here, each with an explanation and a nod to the history of KL. There is also a Barbour shop, gentleman’s outfitter and a cinema room in this area.
 
We had dinner at the Colonial Cafe and were treated to a fine-dining 6-course menu with champagne and wine pairing. The food was delicious with family recipes from the YTL owner’s wife. Service was exemplary and Joel was magnificent. We were hosted throughout by Sharezal, Director of Concierge, who entertained us with stories of attaining his ‘Golden Keys’.
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Day 4
We visited Batu Caves a must see and highlight of the trip! Batu means rock and the caves were discovered in 1878. In 1900 a dream led to a shrine being built on the site and in the 1960’s the temples were created. There are three caves – able visitors should climb the 272 steps up to the ‘light cave’ with a further 100 steps within.
More intrepid cavers can book to wear protective clothing and have a guide to take them to the ‘dark cave’
Less able visitors can pay £8 to visit the ‘museum cave’ at the base.
Tip: Do not carry and bags, especially plastic, to attract the monkeys!
 
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We started our winding journey up to the Cameron Highlands, approximately 4-5 hour journey, with bamboo basket making, waterfalls and stunning scenery en route. We had a light lunch at the Golf Club – a three course lunch of soup, sandwich and fries, ice-cream and fresh strawberry juice or beer cost around £5 each!
 
Check-in Cameron Highland Resort
The history of the property dates back to 1938 when it was a base for the army generals to live. Formally the Merlin hotel until YTL bought it in 2000 and restored it to its former glory. It has a Tudor colonial, ambience with wood panelling, two open fires, china artefacts and heritage furnishings. The hotel overlooks the golf course but is also adjacent to the main road and some traffic noise can be heard in the room.
Dining choices are informal Gunbei which is Asian fusion Steam-pot style or fine dining in the Dining Room.
Rooms are all beautifully appointed with the only real differentials being size.
The Spa has an amazing array of treatments including a signature tea bath ritual before all treatments. We then had a little hike to see are area and called in at the oldest hotel in the region The Smokehouse for a cup of tea.
Tip: Clients with more time can play golf, do proper trekking with a naturalist guide, horse-riding and quad biking or just spend time visiting the strawberry farms and tea plantations.
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After a fire lighting ceremony, where we were given a torch flame to light the fire and make a wish, we then had a fine-dining dinner at The Dining Room which was superb! Starters were approx £8 and main courses ranged from £10 to £16 with some speciality dishes around £48, for two to share!
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Day 5
Breakfast was served in the Dining Room with a buffet selection for some continental elements. But juices, hot drinks, pastries were all silver service and hot breakfast was ordered. Over and above the usual breakfast choices included salmon and aged-brie omelette and corned beef hash, representing nods to the history.
 We set off after a seamless checkout with gracious porterage by the Nepalese staff.
 
Cameron Highland Tour
Cameron Highlands are Ideal for those with an interest in the history of colonial times – little England Tudor style architecture- stunning scenery – cooler climate – to see the garden of Malaysia & tea plantations.
Tip: Avoid travelling to/from CH during weekends – winding roads are very congested with local traffic. Look out for the ethnic tribal people – very short in stature, darker colouring and curly hair!
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Our first stop was the Time Tunnel – a museum of items through the years – from tribal blow pipes through to barbers chairs – quite a fun visit! We then visited a tea plantation, stunning scenery of the tea terraces. Kea Market a traditional local market mainly fruit & vegetables but also a chance to buy local strawberry jam and tea and a nice stroll through the hustle and bustle of highland life. Next stop an interactive visit to the Butterly Farm. The guide was passionate and wanted the experience to be very interactive!
Tip: Worth upgrading entrance to ‘close encounter’ but be specific what you do or DON’T want placed on you. As whilst some are happy with a butterfly on the arm they may not want a snake around their neck or a scorpion on their chest!
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Our winding route back down to Penang (4-5 hours) was broken with a stop for a traditional Chinese family style lunch. We had a banquet of delicious food washed down with some Tiger beer for less than £7!
 
Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Penang – this translates as feeling of love! This is a beautiful resort which is 44 years old but has been recently renovated. The star is the 150 year old gardens which encompass sprawling grounds, century old trees and has won many conservation awards. This makes this an oasis within the hustle and bustle of Penang. It even has a pitch and putt golf course on site! The gardens lead to the Batu Feringgi beach stunningly flanked by large granite boulders. All pools are salt water for their ‘green’ credentials. We were allocated well appointed, light and spacious Garden Wing rooms with pool/sea views.
Guests staying in the Rasa Wing rooms all have additional benefits of complimentary mini bar on arrival, own restaurant for a la carte breakfast or for purchased fine dining for other meals.  They also have access to a lounge for refreshments in the day plus pre dinner drinks and canapés 6-8, a designated area for children. This wing also has an adult only pool. We were hosted by Aida Rashid, Director of Sales.
Tips: Rasa lounge has both indoor and outdoor tables – a real KSP!
Room tip: There are smoking and non-smoking floors in this resort so a strong request is recommended for non-smokers
 
Day 6
After a refreshing 7am swim we had our breakfast in the Spice Market which is an all-day dining restaurant. Tables inside and out with a sumptuous breakfast buffet and interactive cooking stations.
 
Our journey from Penang to Pangkor Laut Resort started on the highways and then we were on country roads – journey time 4-5 hours. On arrival at Lumut we had welcome drinks and cold towels at the PLR marina terminal, a very relaxed way to await the boat transfer. Our check-in was also done here and cases tagged ready for delivery to our rooms and we were given a resort map.  What a stunning resort, arriving by boat you are blown away that this entire 300-acre island is your resort. Emerald waters lap beaches framed by granite boulders with a backdrop of ancient jungle, which is millions of year old. The jetties and over water villas add to the complete uniqueness that is Pangkor Laut Resort.
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The iconic Sea and Spa villas are all over-water to offer complete relaxation with a veranda and two sun beds. Another feature is the bath with 3 aspects to the sea. No over water villas have televisions but do have a music system and the option to have a ‘Hudl’ for mobile wi-fi access, if wanted. The 22 Spa villas are located at the far side of the resort for tranquillity and relaxation, with the 19 Sea Villas more central. The top suite is the elevated Pavarotti Suite – although there is an elevator to assist some of the climb guests would still need to be fit and also for that reason all 52 of the Hill Villas would not suit families or clients with walking difficulties for whom one of the 36 Garden Villas would be recommended. The 8 Beach villas have stunning views of the sea.
Tip: Beach Villas do currently have a large colony of bats roosting in the tree in front of them which is not for everyone!
 
All rooms are beautifully appointed, with huge bathtubs, signature Mangosteen toiletries, generous hospitality trays and complementary water.
 
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There are 7 restaurants The Straits – Asian fusion – Feast Village – Royal Bay Beach Club – – Jaman healthy salad bar, Uncle Lim’s and Chapmans Bar at Emerald Bay, reached by shuttle or jungle trek. There are also a myriad of private dining options.
 
Swimming pools are open 7 to 7 – one in front of Royal Bay Beach Club and another exclusively for spa villa guests. Gym is 24 hours plus yoga, tennis, non-motorised water sports and jungle trekking. Reception and the Library have Wi-Fi – plus guests can either escape Wi-Fi in their rooms or request a hudl mobile connectivity if required.

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On arrival we had a delicious lunch at Royal Bay Beach Club
Tip: The satay appetiser would feed a family! We also sampled a curry baked in a bread bun, noodles and even steak sarnies plus main wow was the view across the infinity pool to the palm trees.
 
After a quick freshen up we then had a tour of the estates and saw two of The 8 Estates – For clients who want complete privacy and discretion these amazing four room residences with 2 butlers, private chef for chosen cuisine preferences and private pool are the epitome of luxury for discerning travellers. We were spoilt to have a champagne drinks reception at one of the beach Estates where the GM Ross Sanders, hosted us like royalty. Ross then took us for dinner at Uncle Lim’s for a feast of delicious Chinese food and the honour of meeting Uncle Lim, who, aged 81, is employee number 001 and a legend in YTL and Malaysia! The food was fantastic and the setting and service sublime. We had a nightcap both nights at Royal Bay Beach Club where a very relaxed and quiet atmosphere prevails, so most guests most return to their villas after dining and perhaps watch the moonlit waters lap their villas from their bathtubs.
 
Day 7
Breakfast was an Asian inspired buffet with cooking stations. Speciality coffees were served and there was a juice station to make smoothies etc.
We then set off on our ‘Chefs experience’. This involves a boat to Pangkor and a visit to the local fish market, noodle maker and anchovy factory. There is a short opportunity to shop before returning to the boat to the fish farm. Here we caught our lunch by rod fishing 4.5 kilos of red snapper! We also fed some of the fish pens which could have over 200 in each net. On our return we were met on the jetty with cold towels and drinks. We then proceeded to the spa for a 40 minute bathing ritual to freshen up after our adventure. We then commenced our cookery lesson at The Straits. Our cuisine was Indian but, reflecting Malaysia’s melting pot of Asian fusion cuisines, this class can be Chinese or Malaysian too. We had a hands-on experience and then two private cabanas to dine on all our creations and our catch of the day, which had been cooked by the professionals!
 
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After lunch we returned to the spa for full body Balinese massages which were sublime and we all understood why the spa here is one of the world’s best!
 
Our next treat was a sunset cruise on a junk. We were served drinks and canapés throughout a wonderful cruise around the island and this was another highlight. We disembarked for a private flame-lit dinner on the beach at Emerald Bay. The sublime menu included steak & local lobster-divine!
 
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Day 8
After an amazing early morning Yoga session with resident therapist Widyawaty we then had another delicious breakfast.  Following our sustenance we embarked on our jungle trek with naturalist Aris who pointed out all the flora & fauna and resident wildlife. The islands is also home to Hornbills, Sea-eagles, 3-6 feet monitor lizards, snakes, bats etc.  
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We trekked through the jungle and arrived for lunch at Emerald Bay where our final private dining experience had been set up for us.  We all toasted an amazing trip and particularly our stay in paradise at PLR and returned to our villas to freshen up to leave. The whole staff came to send us off and every one of us prayed that they can return one day!
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On arrival back at Lemut Marina our trusty guide Jeffrey was ready to take us back to KLIA – a 4 hours journey by coach and approx. 3.5 by car.  We had a short comfort stop and arrived at the airport ready for check-in to open.  You check in at level 5 and after immigration you take the train to the departure gates. The gate was given at the time of check-in so this was quite relaxed.
 
Overview
Malaysia is a land of contrasts that has so much to offer and an abundance of natural beauty. The difficulties with the local economy and Malaysian Airways and the current exchange rate, makes Malaysia extremely good value and the standards of accommodation seen with both YTL and Shangri-La was fantastic.  YTL gained all of our admiration as a unique and empathetic brand, whether they are conserving the history, buildings, culture, people, wildlife, or nature at their resorts they seem to take extreme care and attention with every detail. Every property that we visited had its own character and the staff became animated with lots of stories attached to each property. We were all endeared by the brand and its duty of care as custodian of both the resorts and the comfort and service for the guests.
 
#Magical, Majestic, Malaysia!
Hannah Vincent
Director

 

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