ISLE OF PLENTY
Escape city life for mojitos on the beach, a villa over the ocean, buffet breakfasts and an unsurpassed spa
THERE’S something to be said for taking a holiday where you can post photos to Instagram with barely a filter and still witness the digital steam billowing from friends’ ears via a green-tinged comment or two. Not that this was my first priority when I booked my trip to Pangkor Laut in Malaysia, a privately owned island 1.5km off the west coast of peninsular Malaysia, but it was a satisfying bonus.
For a few weeks pre-trip, I made sure anyone who happened to approach my desk to chat was coralled into viewing a small bombardment of images from Google of the YTL Hotels Pangkor Laut Resort, where I would be checking in come countdown’s end.
Let’s be honest, there’s nothing like a good holiday brag. Nobody really cares about someone else’s holiday snaps unless they induce a good old-fashioned measure of jealousy, and the Instagram-worthiness of this spot did not let me down.
In case you are now wondering at my lack of humility… there was a moment when I was humbled.
It lasted at least a good couple of minutes, you’ll be glad to know, as we arrived via speedboat and the first glimpse of the island resort caressed my retinas. A short-lived breathless moment, before I whipped my phone out for the first time with the devious intentions mentioned above. Judge me if you can honestly say you wouldn’t do the same.
We’re talking tiny little ripples playing across the surface of blue water, which joins the edge of the quintessential white sandy bay, punctuated only by technicolour bursts of tropical foliage. Yep, this is the island that dreams are made of and cameras were made for, my friends.
You step off that boat and into the arms of luxury. An ice-cold towel is offered for you to pretend to be genteel as you dab delicately at your face, and a pretty pinkhued juice is taken as you walk toward your check-in point.
But let me scoot you on past that initial detail to the Sea Villas – the signature Pangkor Laut accommodation option and your priority number one for Instagram.
These timber huts sit stilted above sea level, so picturesque you almost weep upon seeing them for the first time with your own eyes. Although they are grouped in villages of sorts, they are certainly separate enough that you have your own tranquil space and are positioned so you can’t see your neighbours from your balcony (perfect for a cheeky nude sunbake, no?) or from your bathroom… which brings me to my next point.
No sooner had I stripped down and jumped under the fall of the rain shower than I discovered, to my fascination, that the large casement windows in front of the bath, could be swung outward completely, leaving nothing between your rudely nude bod and nature itself.
After feeling a little shy at first (what if a fisherman drifts past?), I quickly got into the swing of this unfamiliar state of bathing and the natural world and the natural I got acquainted. I’m still unsure why this was one of my favourite parts of the trip – something to do with the calming picture of serenity outside as you dreamily go about your ablutions. That’s how I’m justifying it so far.
Now, I had a very clear mission here. My aim was to clad myself in a bikini and get my backside ensconced on a sun lounger, with a mojito in hand, as quickly as humanly possible. And make no bones about it, I am a woman who typically achieves what she wants. That day was no exception.
Given, the mission was never going to be difficult with two poolside spots I could choose, where no sooner had I discreetly slurped the last of my cocktail than a smiling staff member would appear to help me conquer my next.
My top advice for those looking to follow my lead in terms of “leisure” activities would be to stick to the spirits and beer – wine is generally more expensive and coming from SA, I know you are a discerning customer – keep it for dinner and choose well.
The usual slew of island-relevant acitivities is, of course, available. If you’re not one of those people who enjoys lying around “taking the sun” and reading for hours on end (seriously: I talk about those people as if I don’t know them because, truth be told, we were never going to end up friends) then you ain’t gonna be bored.
There’s fishing, water sports, cruises on yachts, sailing boats and teakwood Oriental junks. There’s golf, jogging trails and hiking trails all over the islands (there is nothing else besides the resort