Because heaven is a place on earth… and it is not all that far away. The dream tropical escape to Langkawi with AirAsia.
It is about time that I shared with you more on my trip to the stunning island of Langkawi in Malaysia. The unexpected trip which you may recall seeing on my Instagram or Snapchat (@jenellewitty) was thanks to Monique who invited me to be her photographer on a trip to Malaysia with AirAsia. You can read and check out my city guide to Kuala Lumpur here, which was the first part of our trip before heading to the lush Langkawi.
We travelled with AirAsia on a super quick flight- from KL to Langkawi, touching down not long after we had taken off and headed straight to our destination on the other side of the island. The flight was comfortable, quiet and fast with stunning views as we flew across Penang and the island.
While there are a number of good hotels and even some relaxed looking backpacker options on Langkawi, we were headed to The Andaman. Cosily tucked away between a 10 million year old rainforest and the tranquil Datai Bay and an 8,000 year old fringing coral reef, The Andaman is ideally located. This is the stuff that tropical dreams are made of!
More than a resort with a couple of epic pool choices, The Andaman boasts natural beauty and wildlife that I would say is not commonly found anywhere else.
THE ANDAMAN RESORT
I have to preface by saying that although many years ago at 21, I stayed at a resort in Penang with a friend, it was NOTHING like this experience. We stayed in a Beach Resort which I recall looking good in photos but I have vivid memories none the less of horrible smells from the lifts and bathrooms and freezing to death as I tried to sleep each night in the hotel room -which did not have temperature controls. I remember that on the first day of that trip we had eagerly walked down to the beach only to be hassled by people trying to sell us something (waterski rides??) before heading to the pool, never to venture to the beach again. I also recall the food being super average and the hotel itself being dated.
Arriving at The Andaman having only ever had average experiences at a resort I felt like I was in some sort of dream! The car pulled up and we were greeted with a banging of the welcome gong to announce our arrival as we walked into the giant open reception.
THIS IS INSANE! I recall thinking loudly in my head. Places like this exist!!?!
Suddenly I ‘got’ the whole tropical holiday luxury resort dreaming that everyone in the world already seemed to ‘get’.
After being served tea in the foyer as we greeted the hotel staff, we were shown to the Jentayu Lounge where we had a signature cocktail overlooking the bay and pools below. Datai Bay is recognized as the 9th best beach in the world by National Geographic, so suffice to say it is one of the best views in the world.
Our room was one of the incredible ground-floor Executive Pool Suites boasting a partial sea view from a 34 to 52-square-metre patio, which comprises a private plunge pool, a cabana daybed, and a private garden. I had never even heard of a plunge pool before our arrival. COOLEST THING EVER!!
Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors led inside to the living room allowing plenty of natural light while the dark wooden floorboards added an earthiness to the open and airy rooms. I have to say that waking up to look out over a pool which then overlooks the ocean is pure heaven. The master bathroom featured soft, neutral tones which were happily minimal and relaxing. (Nothing like the multicoloured interiors of the resort I had stayed in years earlier in Penang!). The bathroom though was probably my favourite part, with a separate rainforest shower, a HUGE beautiful free-standing bathtub, a separate water closet, dual vanities, and a dressing table with a mirror. This was what my dream bathroom would look like, although I think it was actually bigger than my bedroom at home!
One of the incredible attractions to the resort is the access to wildlife. When I say that it is literally on your doorstep I am not exaggerating. The island had two types of monkeys- cute black fur ones which left you alone and cheeky greyish ones who were super naughty. Their tricks included putting one of the baby monkeys on the porch step which most curious people will open the door to look at before the Mum monkey would swoop down, collect its baby and climb away while the Dad monkey made its way inside, shutting the door and ransacking the room for food. The hotel staff said they would get a call everyday to come to one of the rooms to clean up after the monkeys.
Besides the monkeys (we awoke to one peering at us over the roof on our first morning), the resort was home to so many unique and stunning creatures. On our tour of the grounds we saw monkeys, giant lizards, squirrels, birds and flying Lemurs (which were a rare sight to be sitting low on the tree, with babies and with two females together- apparently this was unheard of!). As the resort backed on to the rainforest and overlooked the reef, with vegetation all over the grounds, I could see why the animals felt so at home. The resort offer a range of nature walks in the area, which are an excellent excuse to explore the forrest.
THE ANDAMAN REEF
The Andaman Reef is composed of a thin veneer of living coral ‘heads’ on top of the limestone skeletons of millions of their coral ancestors. The reef parallels the shore (a fringing reef) and is at least 50 meters thick and believed to be about 8,000 years old. Sadly, the 2004 Tsunami resulted in the destruction of thousands of coral-colonies on the Reef. The dead corals that were detached from the reef by the impact of the Tsunami now move around through wave action causing further destruction to living corals and inhibiting re-growth.
Once or twice per month, at times of low tide, guests and resort ambassadors gather to clear away the dead corals from the reef, giving the living corals a better chance of survival. The dead coral material is then be ‘recycled’ at the Coral Nursery where its minerals will be used by propagated corals to speed their growth. The low tides also permit specially curated Guided Reef Walks – an opportunity to learn more about this fascinating ecosystem and the many complex relationships that exist here.
The resort opened its own Coral Nursery, believed to be the first of its kind in South East Asia, with accolades in recognition of its commitment to environmental practices. The nursery is a purpose built facility that allows guests to learn more about our Coral Reef without having to wait for low tides.
We were lucky to spend some time speaking with the in house marine biologist Dr. Gerry who gave us a look at some of the rehabilitated corals and wildlife while talking about the conservation work he does and future sustainability projects. One of the main projects are building small artificial reef modules (mini-ARMs). These small artificial reefs are made from broken corals washed ashore by the 2004 tsunami. The broken corals are bonded to concrete blocks along with transplanted small living corals onto mini-ARMs already cured and ready to be placed in the nursery before being relocated to the Andaman Reef.
MUST SEE / DO
Of course one of the most relaxing things to do on a luxury resort stay is to book in for a spa treatment. I have been lucky to experience some pretty amazing spa massages over the years and I have to say that this was the best I have ever experienced. The V Botanical Spa is set up on the rainforest hillside offering open-air spa villas with breathtaking views overlooking the Datai Bay. We began with a beautiful ginger tea before heading up to our treatment villas with the magnificent natural rainforest surrounding. I looked up during the massage and lemongrass scrub (it smelled incredible) to see the amazing horizon during a stunning sunset. After a long, peaceful and amazing massage, it was beautiful to slip into the outdoor shower and rinse off under the stars. Thinking back, I actually can’t really believe that this happened as I type this. There are yoga and other wellness options available as well.
One of the coolest things about The Andaman is the number of water sport activities and excursions on offer. From stand up paddle boarding, snorkelling, windsurfing, kayaking and sailing, there is a lot to do. On our second day we boarded a sailboat and took to the water for a half day cruise across the bay to one of the Thai islands. The resort provided meals and drinks on board, catering for a beautiful lunch after a swim in the warm waters of Thailand. We watched as flying fish swam out of the water skipping alongside the boat, while chatting to a few other guests. The sailing trip is a must do, this was one of the best days and now I can say I have been to Thailand! Later on we made use of the resort pools and may have had a turn on the waterslide.
THE ANDAMAN DINING
On our first night we decided to eat at The Japanese Restaurant on the first floor. We chose to sit at one of the Teppanyaki counters, which was new to me and a lot of fun to experience. The chef was entertaining and the food delicious, you may have spotted a little of this in my last travel video on our youTube channel.
Each morning we had breakfast outside overlooking the pool choosing from a huge range of fresh and delicious options. Both Mon and I tried a few traditional Asian breakfast meals and plates of fresh fruit (though admittedly Mon was more keen for the Congee than I was!). There may have been a glass of sparkling wine as well because when on a tropical island… why not?! The resort offers another beach front bar for casual dining and drinks with another incredible ocean view.
Jala is the latest addition to the restaurant collection at The Andaman. With the utmost respect for the local community and the inspiring natural environment, the chef has created an exciting à la carte menu of Malay and Western seafood, complimented by a extravagant fresh seafood display. On our last night we made our way along the sand (leaving the shoes behind) up to the restaurant where we could view and choose from the seafood selection or take recommendations from the lovely staff. We shared an avocado and seafood starter and fish of the day for mains before a beautiful dessert. The staff even got us the last bottle of wine we wanted to try from the Nappa Valley and we managed to finish it while watching yet another insanely stunning sunset.
Last by not least…
My final word on Langkawi? We did not have long enough to go and explore the rest of the island (or rather, we had a couple of hours here and there but we were too absorbed with the facilities at the resort that we did not venture out) but I would love to return and check it out. I read a bunch about Langkawi before we left, I know there is a lot to see and do. The Andaman is a stunning resort, we felt so welcome, I slept very well on the super soft bed, I lost count of the cool animals we saw and I could take a massage treatment and wake up to that view everyday. I really hope to return someday and explore more of this beautiful place. If you ever wish to take yourself to an isolated and peaceful resort surrounded by stunning rainforest with one of the top ten beaches in the world… actually, do I really need to sell this to you?
Just put it on the bucket list and book when you can.
Thank me later.
If you missed my posts from Langkawi on swimwear (featuring more of the hotel and the plunge pool, find them here and here as well as a story on my skincare routine while on the island and some dancing on the bay.
PHOTOGRAPHED BY: JENELLE WITTY
Written in collaboration with AirAsia and The Andaman Resort