The Datai Langkawi
How does one prepare for your wife 50s birthday?
That’s the million dollar question all of us will ask when that day comes around.
I found myself facing such important question this past March for my wife 50’s birthday. I figured I could either shower her with an expensive gift or throw the biggest blow out party of the year or surprise her with a romantic getaway to rekindle our romance.
Romantic getaway always sound fantastic, even with hundreds of luxury resorts to choose from, I know one luxury island resort that always has a special place in our heart.
The Datai Langkawi, Malaysia is such place, a uniquely design and beautiful property sit in the middle of millions years old rain forest it was a perfect setting when I proposed to my wife 17 years ago. Now this wonderful place once again has become the ideal destination to celebrate our journey as life partners and her special day.
When I first met my wife, we were living in Belgium and I wanted to introduce Malaysia to her in a way that is memorable and would make her burst out laughing again to see where we live!
I had slyly made arrangements for a stay at The Datai Langkawi without telling her where we were headed except to say that it was to somewhere nice and that she would love the place.
When we arrived, our hearts warmed to bask under the hot tropical sun with clear blue skies above. I told her the hotel is a surprise as we climb into a waiting limo from the resort, we took a slow drive through quintessentially unspoilt rice fields, forested winding roads without another vehicle passing by for long stretches, looking out the window, my wife taking photographs with her trusty Leica. She was making pictures of our memories together.
After about an hour later, with the last leg of the journey on a steady elevated climb, we pulled up to the lobby.
The entrance is theatrical; large and illuminated by ancient torches. Two huge elevated and enormous horses stand guard ceremoniously. They face each other ready to charge under a canopy of exposed wooden beams, rafters, ceiling and struts. Massive spears in the lobby point skywards reminiscent of warrior demi-gods of ancient civilisations lost. We had taken a step back in time to a magnificent surprise for both of us.
We looked out the airy wooden terrace overlooking a designer pool and over tree tops, semi-consumed by the jungle, the horizon opened up to a view of Datai Bay; a crescent of a white sandy beach, accessible via a steep slope. Our eyes picked up details through the thick of the forest.
We have entered 10-million year old wilderness with white-bellied eagles circling above our heads in the distance.
I remember our villa vividly; it was rustic and lonely, hidden amongst the trees, very private and quiet. We were literally swept off our feet with the distant views to a private beach and the complete privacy. The warmth of wood enveloped us; the perfectly detailed and articulated interior is chic and well-mannered with the environment. Everything was in its place and felt centred, peaceful and right.
Young and in love, we were totally besotted with each other. We were more than happy to be in a world of our own. Spending our first holiday in the very heart of the rainforest, sleeping below a canopy of trees, embraced by lush jungle foliage, thrilled by cicada serenades.
More than two decades have passed since the night I proposed to my wife after a romantic dinner the rustic Gulai House. We sat on cushion seats on hand-woven pandan mats at quiet corner choosing to dine in traditional Malay kampung style, hidden in an alcove shielded by airy organza drapes.
We return for the third time this year to celebrate her fiftieth birthday. Amazingly the resort had made arrangements for us to stay at our original villa. We were astounded at the precision and care taken in their record keeping.
Everything remained as it was twenty years ago; The Datai Langkawi still looked new but settled in. The wooden floor and furniture have the glow of time worn patina emanating depth and beauty. The natural aging process allowed a sense of belonging, history and permanency that made our presence like a third homecoming and a good night's rest.
We had a divine dinner at The Pavilion Restaurant, savouring deliciously authentic Thai cuisine floating up on 30-meter high stilts over the rainforest!
We woke up late to a leisurely drawn out signature bubbly breakfast and had a lazy morning swimming in our private pool. Sometimes we read, lying back on mock planter's chairs as we unwind on our balcony.
We were blessed to have spotted squirrels and dusky leaf monkeys peeking curiously at us from nearby trees.
It was easy to make our way down to the main pool or beach in the still of the afternoon to sun bath and relax to the sounds of rolling waves.
We took a walk on the wild with the ruggedly handsome Irshad Mobarak, a famed naturalist who was extremely passionate about nature and conservation. Mobarak showed us the mysterious virgin rainforest at dusk with unique sounds as we looked out for flying foxes, flying squirrels and the astoundingly rare Colugo or Flying Lemurs!
We returned to our villa excited and happy with the animals that we spotted and slept beautifully that night.
Our treat the next day was the signature Datai Spa ritual which was sheer bliss. From the moment we entered the Spa, we were treated like royalty.
The treatments were holistic and based on Malay Ramuan teachings which used healing medicinal plants to balance and restore. We chose the Tungku Batu treatment which was renowned for its ability to increase blood flow and improve circulation.
A river stone is heated and tied into a cloth pouch with herbs and used to gently press and rest on tired muscles and pressure points of the body. The radiating warmth felt hot at first but after a short while, we learned to relax as the masseurs' tungku our limbs, shoulders and backs, resting and pressing down on our tummies repeatedly to expel wind from our abdomens.
It was such a sweet pampering and gloriously relaxing. The deliciously wicked massages left both my wife and I at the masseurs' mercy. We must have let out moans of pleasure as we dreamily doze off when the masseurs gave us an aromatic oil massage. The oil is infused and scented with a blend of local herbs including Ginger, Cinnamon, Lime, Screw Pine Leaf and Black Cumin.
After our massage, we felt so relaxed and sleepy and enjoyed a well-deserved nap in the late afternoon before waking up to a sunset BBQ dinner cruise.
We joined other guests as we clambered aboard the ship, chatted and grabbed thirst quenchers and some munchies to enjoy as we sailed off.
When we were out a fair bit, we disrobed into our swimming trunks and swimsuit as the deck hands lowered a trawling net attached to the side of the ship for a dip in the 'saltwater Jacuzzi'. We lazed back as the ship headed out, laughing as we sipped our drinks, throw back our heads and watched the skies change colours from vermillion to an orange glow. We caught a brilliant sunset in the middle of the Andaman Sea.
It was absolutely the best way to enjoy the archipelago of Langkawi.
My wife and I are enchanted by The Datai Langkawi breath-taking beauty and know that we will keep returning, unable to resist the charms of her pure mountain air and delight in the peaceful breath-taking scenery of the rainforest leaving us wholesome and rejuvenated as we headed home with beautiful memories.