Poised elegantly in the heartland of Perak, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat brims over with languid charm amid lush tropical rainforests and majestic limestone hills.
Thriving on a plush 8.98ha valley, this award-winning luxury wellness cocoon is a 15-minute drive from the bustling city centre of Ipoh and a 10-minute drive to the sleepy hollow of Tambun town.
Much like its stately honorific, The Banjaran exudes a pervading gracious hospitality that has nudged the control freak in me to pirouette back in again for more of its luscious warmth in the very near future.
Being a perfectionist, I started out on this getaway with high expectations, calibrating my travel plan against an impeccable six-star value-for-money benchmark.
The day before the trip, the multitasker in me went into a frenzy of improvising a rotating sprinkler to water my pet plants at the right frequency and ration and packing my many must-have creature comforts into a 10kg suitcase and then downsizing to a 3kg backpack with just the bare necessities.
And so, after the frenetic activities at home, a fitful night’s sleep and an energy-sapping three-hour bus journey from the further side of Kuala Lumpur, I found myself that late twilight afternoon at the foot of The Banjaran, transfixed by its surreal calm.
I knew at that instant that my utopian odyssey was about to begin and that The Banjaran would unravel before me a zootopia where anyone can be anything and the idyll pace to do it is sloth-ly, with The Banjaran weaving its magic, moment to moment, letting heaven and Earth move in unison to cuddle you.
The natural thing to do after checking into one of The Banjaran’s cosy villas is to shed all baggage and tip-toe over to your private villa’s hot spring pool.
Remember the sloth mode – use it to filter out shocks by first dipping two or three toes (depending on what type of sloth you choose to be) into the pool to test the water temperature. Then gently drape yourself on one side of the pool and just chill in its bubbling warmth.
For those who fancy a bite before dinner, have the welcome fruit basket at forelimb’s reach and nibble on a morsel or two in your comfy nook.
After the restorative bath, spruce up a mite and mosey along a short trail to a pre-booked gourmet dinner at Jeff’s Cellar, a cavernous splendour that was named by CNN Greece in July 2018 as one of the five most magnificent wine bars in the world, along with the others in Germany, Namibia, South Africa and Jamaica.
Wine and dine with finesse as your senses come alive amid the chandelier stalactites and cooling stalagmites.
With each sip of your chosen wine, see its crystalline sparkle, hear its lilting swirl, smell its distinct aroma, taste its intense flavour, feel its velvety texture and capture its heady sojourn from the year of its make in its home country to the lingering after-taste on your lips.
With each bite of your food, let it melt in your mouth and savour its journey through each path of your sense faculties. After the regal feast, the king-sized bed in your villa beckons with wide open arms.
Go with the flow
The Banjaran offers many more luxuriating escapades on-site but should the gregarious animal in you need to crank up the action a decibel higher, go for the jungle walk with complimentary access to the Lost World of Tambun theme park.
Meet the guide at The Banjaran’s lobby at the appointed time and he will lead you through a 20-minute trail to a private entrance of the theme park. From this point, you are left to soak in the psychedelic offerings of the family-friendly eco-adventure park at whatever pace you choose.
I decided to go with the flow and it swept me to Juwita, the 21-year-old coy hippo that captivated many a heart with her buoyant beauty as she reigns supreme in the underwater nub of the park. It was here that I adopted the hippo mode a la the bountiful Juwita.
Other fun activities included feeding the porcupines at the Petting Zoo and being greeted by the bewitching tree lady Mother Sophea in the quiet of the night at the Luminous Forest.
I came back to KL, much gratified and raring for another Banjaran experience, where I can be anything I want to be and be at peace with it.
The Banjaran offers various retreat packages ranging from RM2k to RM10k per package. To maintain the promise of tranquility and exclusivity, The Banjaran welcomes guests 12 years and above. For details, call 05-210 7777, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.thebanjaran.com.
Geothermal Hot Springs Dipping Pools
Thermal Steam Cave
Garra Rufa Doctor Fish Pool
Jungle Walk and Rainforest Trail
Spa and Wellness Centre
Geothermal Heated Swimming Pool
Lake, Water and Garden Villas: Each private villa features a master suite with a king-sized bed, ensuite bathroom, seating and dining areas, an outdoor terrace with a plunge pool, private outdoor rain shower and a sunken Jacuzzi with natural geothermal hot spring water and aromatherapy body care amenities.
The Pomelo: This restaurant presents indoor and alfresco dining within any of the three gazebos that extend over the hot springs.
Theme park features
Jungle Wave Pool
Dulang Tea House
Pencil Rock, The Needle of Tambun
Hot Springs and Spa Night Park
The Geyser of Tambun
Lost World Hotel