Every time I see a rickety old building, I am reminded of our incredibly relaxing stay at Temple Tree…
Of all the hotels in all the cities we have visited, we have never stayed anywhere quite like this resort. The property consists of eight antique villas from various Malaysian states, which were meticulously taken down piece by piece, sent to Langkawi and rebuilt here on site. The collection of houses are as multicultural as Malaysia itself – with representations of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian styles. Each villa is individually designed, with a rough-luxe style that left us giddy when we first walked in to our loft in the Oriental building.
After a few weeks of heavy travel, we arrived here with an ever-growing list of things to get done – write posts, edit video, and then there’s that business I want to get to launching…Instead, we drink a delicious Chardonnay and take baths side by side in two wooden tubs in our bathroom.
Next door, there are two showers in the wet room – complete with rain shower heads, organic exfoliating soap and a clay jar with shampoo (refilled daily). After the baths and the white fluffy towels, we climb into a device which, disguised as a bed, could also be some top secret experiment to create the deepest night’s sleep possible. We are enveloped by fluffy white pillows and several smaller colorful ones, and need only a crisp high thread count sheet to cover up in the humid Malaysian night.
The deep trance, otherwise known as nine entire hours of uninterrupted sleep, ends only by the piercing call of an unfamiliar exotic bird hanging out just outside the window. Breakfast is brought in each evening for the next day, so that in the morning we can grab it out of the fridge, make coffee and tea, and dig in on the fresh bread, jams, butter, fruits, yoghurt and two big pieces of spiced pineapple rum cake. Cake…for breakfast? Nom…nom…nom…nom
Sure, we could have held off and had the cake after lunch, but the entire experience felt so decadent that we devoured it on the worn-in red leather couch while we watched a DVD on our 42-inch flat screen TV. Cake and a film for breakfast? Paradise! Without even mentioning our work needing to be finished, we followed the beckoning of the long, luxurious lap pool when the film ended. Here we read, felt the breeze through the palm trees and the long reeds in the fields behind us. We are served ice water in large tumblers, slice of lemon and all.
Eventually, we figure we’ve got to go explore the island, and so we manage to pack up and leave for the beach, a five minute cab ride away. We eat, we lay, we swim and frolic and couldn’t be happier to be in Langkawi. And yet the only place I wanted to be was back at home…at Temple Tree.
Not everything is perfect, of course, but the problems are predicted and dealt with before we even have time to notice. Take for example my arch-nemesis – the mosquito. Because the buildings are very old, there are plenty of open spots for mosquitoes to get through – but we are bitten less here than anywhere else we have stayed in Malaysia, thanks to the mosquito zappers that the staff plugs in each evening at dusk when they come in and pull down your mosquito net and bring your breakfast for the next day. The room also comes equipped with all-natural bug spray, a local all-natural antihistamine, called Gamat, which reduces swelling and itching if we had been bit. We also find flashlights, international adapters, and a pool buddy – a wooden box to carry sunscreen, water and books back and forth to the pool each day. Beautiful typically Asian sarongs hang in the closet and are free for us to use both at the pool and even to bring to the beach. We can purchase them at the end of the stay for only $8 each…a fair price, but we don’t as we both already have our own.
The price of the sarong represents a wider aspect of Temple Tree that we love, and that is that the Value For Money factor here is fabulous. The room rate starts at just under $200 a night, but what would you pay to feel entirely carefree? Both Temple Tree and the neighboring Bon Ton resort (same owner, same general design concept) have top-quality restaurants with both Malaysian and the Mediterranean options. We opted for Mediterranean the night we ate Bon Ton, including goat cheese and eggplant bruschetta, four cheese pizza tapas, and a spinach, rocket, olive and Halloumi salad with chunks of fresh avocado and pistachios. As we watched the fire red sunset, we calculated the bill: under $30 for two at a luxury resort. Not bad… We were too full to sample the dessert plates, something we now regret when thinking about the chocolate plate, the cheese plate, or the more creative desserts like the ‘Ice Cream Sandwich Duo’ – a gingerbread sandwich with local Kaya ice-cream in the middle and a brownie sandwich with chocolate ice-cream and caramelized bananas.
It should be noted that Temple Tree/Bon Ton is located 10 minutes from the airport, and take-offs and landings are a part of the stay here but there are so few that this is more of an interesting novelty than anything bothersome. Something had to break up the blissful solitude, like a little ‘pinch me’ to make us realize just how lucky we were to have been here…Some people have mentioned on Tripadvisor that Temple Tree should be more open about the number of cats that live on site. The owner, Narelle, is an animal lover, and has opened up a shelter on the island, LASSie. Some of the cats and a few dogs live here on site. The others are located at a nearby shelter. Although I am allergic to cats, between the breeze and the open windows, I had no problems and Dani (our resident cat-lover) was in heaven, of course. In fact, having our pet cat hop through the window made Temple Tree feel even more like home.
Stand Out feature – Take me to my Villa, darling
We love the antique vase on the antique chest of drawers, that bed, the showers and did we mention the incredible lighting that makes just about any mood possible? There were so many stand-out features here, but the overriding feature is the feeling of having our own loft inside of a three-loft Oriental villa. For the money, you do not get a standard (however creatively designed) hotel room. At Temple Tree you get to live inside of a colonial Malaysian villa and feel absolutely at home.
The truth is, that while we loved the breakfast that first morning, it would have gotten boring to eat this every morning throughout a week’s vacation. Guests might prefer a bit of choice or varied choices each day. An easy solution might be to offer a slip of paper with a limited menu (fruit, instant oatmeal, hard-boiled eggs, toast and/or yoghurt, plus fruit and that delicious cake) that guests fill out which is picked up in the evening during turn-down service.
Temple Tree is easily the best option for a stay on Langkawi, and we would go so far as to call this resort a destination itself. You may come for the island feeling, but you will stay (or at least want to) for all the luxury minus the stuffiness.
Location: Temple Tree at Bon Ton, Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, 07000, Malaysia
Price: From RM650 / $200
LGBT Friendly: yes
Digital Nomad Friendly: Yes/No Wi-fi is a bit patchy and temptation to relax is irresistible…
Amenities: Complimentary in-room breakfast, free wi-fi, two on-site restaurants, DVD library
You can book your stay at Temple Tree via Booking.com.
For more information about Bon Ton’s LASSie Animal Shelter, visit langkawilassie.org.my.