Tales of af­ter­noon tea and a host of other Bri­tish tra­di­tions at Cameron High­lands Re­sort

YTL Life - - Contents - Words DIANA HUBBELL

From home­made straw­berry jam to af­ter­noon tea, Cameron High­lands Re­sort takes guests on a step back in time with all the mod­ern com­forts of the present.

Though only a few hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur, Cameron High­lands might as well be in another world. Here, 1,500 me­tres above sea level, the cooler all- year- round cli­mate was what first drew Bri­tish colo­nial­ists, who were re­minded of re­fined English coun­try­side es­capes. They left be­hind a land­scape spot­ted with rose gar­dens, quaint cot­tages, and rolling tea plan­ta­tions. The re­gion’s straw­ber­ries, as lus­cious and sweet as any in the world, are so renowned that fam­i­lies come from all over just to pluck them. The colo­nial legacy runs deeper than mere aes­thetic shifts in scenery, how­ever, and tall tales of the hill sta­tion have en­thralled gen­er­a­tions of his­to­ri­ans.

Nes­tled among the ver­dant hills lies Cameron High­lands Re­sort, a rus­tic- chic lodge built out of a 1930s English- style cot­tage. With its hand­some French doors, tim­ber­beamed ceil­ings, and fur­nish­ings cov­ered in richly pat­terned tex­tiles and silks, the place mar­ries clas­sic colo­nial grandeur with mod­ern­day com­forts. Opu­lently out­fit­ted rooms with canopied beds and luxe ameni­ties would be rea­son enough to pay a visit, but what sets the place apart is its con­nec­tion with the sur­round­ing area’s sto­ried past.

More than a few tra­di­tions from the Bri­tish up­per crust live on through the ho­tel. Dur­ing the af­ter­noon, guests gather in the Jim Thomp­son Tea Room, named after the leg­endary silk mer­chant and man of mys­tery, for a proper af­ter­noon tea. Served on bone china and tiered plat­ters, the sump­tu­ous spread in­cludes a deca­dent ar­ray of pas­tries, sand­wiches, and, of course, warm, but­tery scones served with clot­ted cream and the re­sort’s own jam made from lo­cal straw­ber­ries.

As cosy as it is to curl up in the

THE RE­GION’S STRAW­BER­RIES, AS LUS­CIOUS AND SWEET AS ANY IN THE WORLD, ARE SO RENOWNED THAT FAM­I­LIES COME FROM ALL OVER JUST TO PLUCK THEM.

grand room, some guests pre­fer to ven­ture out­doors. In such cases, a pri­vate but­ler pre­pares a lav­ish pic­nic right in the heart of a tea plan­ta­tion. Since the re­sort has ex­clu­sive ac­cess to the lo­ca­tion, there is noth­ing to in­trude upon the nat­u­ral seren­ity. It is ideal for cou­ples who can bask in the sur­round­ings while be­ing served course after course of bite-sized nib­bles while re­clin­ing on cush­ions.

Back at the re­sort, guests con­tinue to be spoiled for choice when it comes to fine din­ing. Though en­tirely dif­fer­ent, both of the pri­mary restau­rants at Cameron High­lands Re­sort turn to re­gional tra­di­tions for culi­nary in­spi­ra­tion. Gon­bei cel­e­brates the lo­cal love of hot pot, also known as steam­boat, a Chi­nese spe­cial­ity that pairs per­fectly with the crisp evening air. In this stylish, ca­sual eatery, guests gather around steam­ing pots filled with broths rang­ing from Ja­pane­ses­tyle seafood to spicy tom yum to beef-bone with Chi­nese herbs. Farm-fresh veg­eta­bles, springy noo­dles, beef, chicken, shell­fish, and tofu all sim­mer right at the ta­ble, mak­ing for a whole­some, restora­tive meal that din­ers of all ages can en­joy.

Mean­while, the Din­ing Room chan­nels the apex of Bri­tish colo­nial re­fine­ment. In the morn­ing, a break­fast spread adorns the space and waiters of­fer guests their first cup of cof­fee or made-to-or­der brunch favourites such as omelettes and waf­fles. In the evening, can­dles cast an ethe­real glow as guests savour con­tem­po­rary ren­di­tions of Con­ti­nen­tal fare such as soup made with lo­cal toma­toes crowned with golden puff pas­try or melt­ingly ten­der braised lamb shank.

The recipes may have evolved over the years, but the en­chant­ing at­mos­phere is the same one that has lured gen­er­a­tions of trav­ellers to this es­cape.

WITH ITS HAND­SOME FRENCH DOORS, TIM­BER­BEAMED CEIL­INGS, AND FUR­NISH­INGS COV­ERED IN RICHLY PAT­TERNED TEX­TILES AND SILKS, THE PLACE MAR­RIES CLAS­SIC COLO­NIAL GRANDEUR WITH MOD­ERN-DAY COM­FORTS.

Din­ing at Cameron High­lands Re­sort sees tra­di­tional English cui­sine meet­ing the many tastes of Asia in a mouth-wa­ter­ing sym­phony of flavours and ex­pe­ri­ences.

Cameron High­lands Re­sort’s ar­chi­tec­ture dates from the 1930s; the el­e­gant dé­cor of the Jim Thomp­son Tea Room em­bod­ies the old­world charm and gen­til­ity of the colo­nial plan­ta­tion life­style from a by­gone era.

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