Langkawi; Only a few hours from Hong Kong and home to one of the best beaches in the world. We take a sneak peak at The Datai Langkawi to get your wanderlust flowing.
Granted, The Datai sits on a pretty curve of powdery sand measuring just over a kilometre at high tide, with an additional couple of hundred metres of hectic crab colony when the tide is out. And yes, it’s bookended by picturesque rock formations and looks out over an island-dotted Andaman Sea – but there must be hundreds of equally beautiful beaches in Southeast Asia alone.
Only when I register exactly who awarded this accolade to the beach – the venerable National Geographic – does the penny start to drop. Apparently, it’s to do with its juxtaposition to the 10 million-year-old rainforest rising from the coast; the island is home to around 226 species of birds, 500 species of butterfly and more other creeping, jumping and flying critturs than you can waggle a zoom lens at.
Admirably, when they built the villas more than 20 years ago, they preserved as much of the virgin rainforest as they could by bringing in comparatively nimble Thai elephants, instead of bulldozers, to uproot individual trees. The main building with its public spaces and Canopy Collection rooms and suites sits high up in the canopy, near the road, while the villas are judiciously spaced throughout the property. Located along the beach, by the way, are 14 reportedly splendid beach villas, for which you’ll pay a premium.
My job here is to immerse myself in the rainforest. To that end, I’m installed in solitary state in Villa 6, part of the rainforest collection. Luxurious and super-spacious, this low-lit teak nest has a verandah to the rear that looks out directly into the canopy. On my first afternoon, as I’m catching up with email from the comfort of my daybed next to the window, the furry face and knowing eyes of a long-tailed macaque appear.
Luckily, I’ve been warned to keep the doors locked and not just closed: the monkeys know how open them, raid the minibar and leave a terrible mess in their wake. Though I’m used to alpha males (being married to a prime example, after all), it’s momentarily disconcerting to be eyeballed and silently hissed at by a frustrated animal who’d been hoping today would be open house. Incidentally, the other name for this species is “crab-eating macaque”. The beach is heaving with crabs, no doubt because the resident macaques have become obsessed with minibar Toblerones.
There’s a big TV and a DVD player, of course, a (presumably loaded) iPod and dock and all the other equipment that guests are thought to want or need. At the end of my four days, I realise I’ve used none of them, except for putting the Lavazza machine through its paces and guzzling free-flow Badoit from the minibar (soft drinks are on the house).