Private Island Retreat: Pangkor Laut

Imagine the warm breeze rushing through your hair and the waves lapping either side of you as you arrive via speedboat at your private island retreat. This heaven-like vision becomes a reality when you stay at the Pangkor Laut Resort – one of the leading hotels of the world.

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Located in the Strait of Malacca, three miles off Malaysia’s West Coast, Pangkor Laut is a picture of castaway beauty. Its serene setting and untouched wilderness combine with an abundance of luxurious amenities and a world-class spa. It’s no wonder it joins the most treasured luxury hotels of the world.

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In fact, this island retreat is so special, the word hotel doesn’t do it justice. The founders of this luxe resort had so much respect for the two million-year-old rainforest it sits upon, they made sure the architectural design allowed for the various rooms to appear as discreet as possible against the natural landscape.

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The result is a series of luxury villas, camouflaged into the gardens and hillside plus traditional wooden stilted houses that punctuate the shoreline. Some residences have been designed with such a strong environmental focus, you wouldn’t even know they exist upon the verdant hilltop.

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Many were also built with the discerning traveler in mind. They come with full butler service and are so private that guests need not even leave their abode if they so wish. With blissful infinity pools, various private nooks and pagodas and dreamy vistas out to sea, it’s understandable why many celebrities flock here and authors have penned their novels here.

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The levels of luxury are apparent in every detail at Pangkor Laut. Staff work away in such a discreet manner, it’s like they’re performing magic. Gardens are constantly preened to naturally wild perfection. Cooling towels are offered as respite to the intense midday heat. And guest rooms are sprinkled with endearing magic touches like night-time poems.

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The island itself is swathed in almost 300 acres of natural jungle. So on arrival, you’re handed a map that helps you navigate the various winding paths that span from one side of the island to the other. As you cross rope bridges and paths strewn in dense foliage, you hear monkeys and tropical birds overhead. You then emerge to the spectacular crescent that is Emerald Bay.

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Aside from the resort’s various dining areas, it’s easy to feel like you have this island to yourself. On the sands of Emerald Bay you can swing in a hammock listening to the sounds of the sea – your only disruption might be the occasional Macaque monkey or monitor lizard that walks by.

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As one of the leading hotels of the world, the cuisine at Pangkor Laut is nothing short of spectacular. You’ll find seven restaurants and bars offering a range of Asian cuisine. So one night you could be indulging in sweet and sticky Chinese-style fare at Uncle Lim’s, the next you could be delving into an Asia-Pacific style curry or freshly steamed seafood at Feast Village.

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The sweet yet salty squid salads on Jamu Bar’s lunchtime menu are a must. And for a special evening, the private dining experience at Chapman’s Bar offers one of those bucket-list moment. Cue succulent barbequed lobster, coconut-rich soups and fresh-from-the-sea shellfish. Under a starry night sky, this is where you can’t help but feel you’re a million miles away from the hurried life.

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The award-winning spa is one of the biggest talking points of Pangkor Laut. The late opera singer Luciano Pavarotti was such as fan, you’ll find a plaque here in his honour.

Treatments can be carried out in various spa huts and gazebos dotted around the gardens, or the Bath Houses, where physical and spiritual healing is guaranteed through a range of Ayurvedic, Chinese and Malay treatments.

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Whichever treatment you choose, the spa begins with their signature Bath House Ritual. From the invigorating foot bath and foot pounding to the circulating bath and soothing Japanese Rotenburu pool, you’ll drift out of this spa – and step back onto the speedboat homeward bound – stress-free and feeling like a new person.

Lucy McGuire

Lucy is an award-winning journalist and founder of the travel blog The Travel Journo. When she's not hunting down the latest luxury spa or London food trend, or jetting off somewhere for a travel assignment, she's drinking lattes and tapping on her laptop from the cafes of South London. Her favourite travel destinations are New York & the Caribbean.

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