Pangkor Laut Resort, Malaysia
We were greeted warmly by Pangkor Laut’s staff in Lumut, three and a half hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur, and only had to wait a short time before speeding off in the slick speed boat to transfer over to the island. Even from a distance, we could see the silhouettes of the stilted overwater villas that jut out in a fan from the mainland. Pangkor Laut is the original blueprint for the one-island-one-resort concept – a private jungle-covered isle. We really wanted to stay in an over-water villa and had the choice between the Sea Villas, a stone’s throw from the main heart of the resort, or the Spa Villas, attached to the Spa Village of the resort. It was a tough choice but we opted for a Spa Villa on the promise of no television and no children in the swimming pool, which is for the exclusive use of Spa Villa residents (guests of the main resort can enjoy the lovely oceanfront pool). Happily ensconced in our beautifully decorated and spacious villa, we enjoyed the sound of the waves as they splashed into the stilts we were perched on. The bathrooms were equally inviting, with an oversized tub-with-a-view. Staying a short distance from the main resort creates a sense of remoteness without being too cut off: exactly what we were looking for. Getting around was easy enough on the island shuttle system: a sort of quaint country bus service, collecting guests from stops or picking them up en route. Reaching the lovely swimming beach, Emerald Bay, on the other side of the island, was an easy five-minute drive. Days were spent lounging at the beach followed by lazy evenings in our villa relaxing on the deck with the satisfying sound of the sea and the sultry breeze. Frequent visits to the Spa Village itself were unavoidable, as it was so close to our villa. But they were treats not to be missed, particularly the indulgent Couple’s Spa Experience – a series of treatments based on ancient Malay wedding preparation traditions. Dining at one of the seven wonderful restaurants never ceased to be a delight. And one evening, one of our neighbours alerted us to a sighting of six sea otters – an added bonus to an unforgettable stay.