A patch of green amid the hus­tle and bus­tle


The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Asia - MICHELLE ROWE

I AM in the heart of bustling Kuala Lumpur, but have a strange sense of dis­lo­ca­tion. The ex­pan­sive la­goon pool at the cen­tre of Villa Sa­madhi, my lux­ury bolt­hole in this fre­netic city, is rem­i­nis­cent of a Thai beach re­sort, with grass-thatched roof, wood-framed pool­side ca­banas and gi­ant Bud­dha heads.

But this is no beach­side get­away. The low- rise, 21-room prop­erty is set in an up­scale neigh­bour­hood that is home to em­bassies and chic con­do­mini­ums.

I feel far from the madding crowd as I take break­fast at the airy Mandi Mandi all-day din­ing pavilion be­side the pool. A squir­rel is mak­ing a good at­tempt at break­ing into a co­conut in a nearby palm tree as I tuck into a gen­er­ous serve of roti canai, a de­li­cious In­dian pas­try pan­cake with a side of curry for dip­ping.

The kitchen staff make al­most ev­ery­thing from scratch, in­clud­ing de­li­cious jams (pineap­ple, mango, pa­paya) and flavoured but­ters. I am just a lit­tle ob­sessed with the orange muffins.

That the food is im­pres­sive is hardly sur­pris­ing. The own­ers of Villa Sa­madhi — Italy-born Fed­erico Asaro and his Malaysia-born dancer and ac­tress wife Maple Loo — run restau­rants in the city, in­clud­ing the pop­u­lar Thaithemed Neo Tamarind and Tamarind Springs, an In­dochi­nese din­ing spot set against a lush trop­i­cal back­drop about 15 min­utes’ drive from Kuala Lumpur. They have also re­cently opened two restau­rants in Sin­ga­pore.

Af­ter the light and bright trop­i­cal ex­te­rior, my room, fea­tur­ing wooden fur­ni­ture and dec­o­ra­tive pieces sourced from South­east Asian hill tribes, is some­thing of a con­trast. Dark pol­ished-con­crete walls and wooden floors, sal­vaged from old kam­pung houses, cre­ate an al­most cave-like feel.

I close the heavy cur­tains in the mid­dle of the day and find my­self in near dark­ness. The bath­room, through slid­ing bam­boo doors, fea­tures a deep plunge tub, twin basins and a rain shower, and is also ‘‘mood­ily’’ lit. It’s all a lit­tle dis­con­cert­ing at first, but makes for an ex­tremely cosy nest at night; I won­der if a gi­ant has de­signed the su­per­comfy king-sized bed, which is so high it al­most needs a foot­stool.

I climb the stairs to Sa­madhi’s open- air rooftop Bum­bung Bar, which of­fers ex­pan­sive views of the neigh­bour­hood. I can even see the fa­mil­iar peaks of the Petronas Twin Tow­ers, if I crane my neck (tak­ing care not to spill my G&T). A cool breeze tick­les my face as I sink into a ban­quette and con­tem­plate what I might do to­mor­row — if I can bear to leave this oa­sis in the heart of one of the re­gion’s busiest cities.

Michelle Rowe was a guest of Villa Sa­madhi.

main The ex­pan­sive la­goon pool at the cen­tre of Villa Sa­madhi far right The prop­erty’s rooftop Bum­bung Bar

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