The flight to The Datai Langkawi on Malaysia Airlines, which we were guests of, was a pleasant and comfortable one. Before the smooth landing we could already see the lush rainforests of Langkawi below from the plane’s windows. Editors and journalists from many parts of the world had been invited by The Datai Langkawi to take a look at the recently reopened luxury resort.
It was a scenic drive from the airport and when we reached, we were greeted by friendly and attentive staff. Everything was done to perfection and as we headed to the rooms, it was with the lifting of our hearts and anticipation of a wonderful experience over the next few days. After 25 years in a huge site of more than 46 acres, we were glad to see that following a 12-month renovation programme, The Datai Langkawi’s newly refurbished interiors and facilities were fabulous and all done without compromising the Datai’s DNA.
Situated in the heart of a 10-million-year-old rainforest, the late Australian architect, Kerry Hill envisioned The Datai Langkawi’s main building on a forest ridge 40m above sea level and 300m back from the ocean. This idea was initially met with bewilderment, but luckily he stood his ground, determined to preserve the pristine beauty of the coastline and unveil hidden treasures of the rainforest. At hand to assist him was acclaimed designer Didier Lefort of the award-wining Paris-based design studio DL2A.
Today, The Datai has been reimagined into a global icon for new generations since its inception in 1993. The refreshed look and feel of the resort offers guests nature and culture-based experiences, to promote Malaysian hospitality to the world and reaffirm The Datai Langkawi as an unparalleled luxury destination.
“The vision was very clear from the start,” says Arnaud Girodon, General Manager. “We wanted to refresh the spaces whilst maintaining the signature Datai DNA. We made sure local materials and inspiration from the environment, surroundings and culture were used so our regular guests will still feel very much at home when they return. We have ensured to preserve what our guests have always loved about the resort but also to create incredible new experiences for them to discover. We are ready to embark on a new chapter for The Datai Langkawi and are looking forward to the journey.”
Interior designer Didier Lefort adds, “It was important to maintain a deep connection to the original vision of a luxurious retreat seamlessly integrated into the 10-million-year-old virgin rainforest. The approach marries simplicity, modernity and creativity with inspirations from the local environment, culture and materials. Accommodation is refreshed with lighting enhancements and a warm, sophisticated colour palette; the addition of the latest technology ensures the ultimate in contemporary comfort, with the signature ‘Datai DNA’ still evident throughout.”
There are 121 rooms, suites and villas, all with amazing views of the lush tropical rainforest, some with the breathtaking view of the beach and Andaman Sea with Tarutao Island on the horizon. The Canopy Collection is situated in the main buildings, and its lovely views delight the heart. The Canopy Suites offer rare rainforest opulence from their spacious balconies, and also feature a separate living room with dining area and a very large bedroom.
The Rainforest Collection makes you feel like you are really living inside a forest. Tucked deep inside the lush tropical rainforest, the villas, including some with 10m infinity pools, are architecturally designed to be naturally at one with Mother Nature.
The Datai Estate Villa deserves a prominent introduction as the resort’s newest addition; with its expansive five-bedroom facility, spanning 3,500 sq m. The exclusive space features neutral tones with modern furnishings, living rooms, game rooms, two 20m connected pools, 24-hour butler service as well as a private chef.
The Beach Collection is like paradise on earth for those who love the sun and the sea. Just walk out and you are there below the blue skies. Located directly on the pristine white-sand beach of Datai Bay, the One-Bedroom Beach Villas and the Two-Bedroom Beach Villa are fully enclosed with serene garden views and inviting private swimming pools.
The food at The Datai is world class too. Dining is helmed by Executive Chef Stephen Jones and Executive Sous Chef Jérôme Voltat. The Gulai House serves authentic Malaysian cuisine while The Pavilion is a signature Thai restaurant overlooking the serene tropical atmosphere.
At The Dining Room, a lavish spread for breakfast awaits diners with a juice bar, freshly made pastries and breakfast specials. Lunch is served à la carte. The restaurant transitions into a romantic venue in the evening, serving French fine dining. This is where the exclusive dinners with Chefs Michel and Sebastien Bras were held in celebration of The Datai’s reopening.
As for The Beach Club and The Beach Bar, it is a casual venue to enjoy fun gatherings. Spend the day sipping signature cocktails and savouring fresh seafood, served from an outdoor show kitchen and an open grill, while sunset lights up the horizon with red and orange. At dinner, The Beach Club restaurant transforms to an elevated seafood grill restaurant.
The Lobby Lounge overlooks the Andaman Sea and the rainforest and this open-air lounge is the ideal place to relax in. What’s wonderful is that for private dining to celebrate a special occasion, the resort can create a bespoke dinner experience, surrounded by the lush rainforest as your backdrop or directly on the beach.
When at the resort, check out the superb spa and the completely new Nature Centre too. Led by renowned naturalist and author Irshad Mobarak, many unique experiences await. On a night walk we were shown flying colugos and flying squirrels.
Seriously, The Datai Langkawi gives you unique experiences and these pages are not enough to write about everything. It’s best to just head to this marvellous resort that is unlike any other. Visit www.thedatai.com for more information or to book rooms, contact email@example.com.
A highlight of the grand reopening of the Datai was the hosting of exclusive eight-course cocktail dinners called Rhythms of Nature with the award-winning father and son duo, Chefs Michel and Sebastien Bras of famed restaurants Le Suquet in Laguiole, France, as well as Toya in Hokkaido, Japan.
The esteemed Le Suquet, described as “spellbinding” in the Michelin guide, has held three stars for 19 years, while the two-starred Toya is where “father and son Bras faithfully recreate the cuisine of their hometown of Aubrac by using the rich bounty of Hokkaido,”(Michelin Guide Japan 2018).
At an interview, we learnt that their concept is that they are surrounded by nature and the food that they cook is made using the ingredients they are surrounded by. After reaching The Datai, they went on foraging trips and discovered something new which is a type of ginger flower. They used that to season the turbet served during the the exclusive dinner for The Datai guests. They also found another ingredient when they went with a resident naturalist of The Datai and he cut a palm tree and produced what is called the heart of the palm which they used for the amuse bouche.
For the menu, they consulted with each other and it was a combined effort. Their original restaurant was started by Michel’s mother and it basically had a simple concept. When Michel who is self-taught got involved, he created his own concepts of which he has passed on the DNA to his son. Now his son has his own creative concepts as well.
What Sebastien learnt from his father. “ Is to always be inquisitive. Always be looking for something … never sort of just settle. Look for next course of inspiration.” He gives a quote, “He who does not have the taste for the ultimate, for the absolute, is content enough with a simple sense of mediocracy.”
What Michel’s learnt from his son is, “The beauty of youth. He brings a new freshness to the restaurant and a change of dynamics”. Also, he feels his son is constantly seeking what’s next and what’s great is that he does it with the amazement of a child.
When asked when they are satisfied with a dish, Michel said, “When I’m happy with it.” Sebastien laughs and shares, “For me, I’m happy when the client is happy.” Both want to be able to bring happiness to the table and respect the true nature of the products they work with. In the near future, they want to return to nature, with the freedom of creativity with no constraints.
There is always a delicious burst of flavours in what this duo cook up. The dinner they prepared was exceptional and we hope to see more of them in the future to be able to enjoy more culinary marvels.