It was that time of the year again when I would start thinking about a beach holiday. It was a time to unwind – unwind from the stresses of work and the city life, and believe it or not, also to unwind from all the stuff related to heritage and culture that are prevalent in my travels. Yup, you read that right! No, travelling is not stressful but there are times when I just want to do nothing but relax. A beach holiday is always perfect for me to chill out, sleep, read, swim, drink and probably sleep more.
It was the long weekend in Malaysia – Eid celebrations – and I took the first flight out from Kuala Lumpur (KL) to Langkawi Island via Malindo Air. The flight was only an hour and I arrived in Langkawi in time to catch a speed boat transfer to Rebak Island. Rebak is one of the many islets of Langkawi and is home to the only resort on this island of 390 acres: Vivanta by Taj Resort. Vivanta by Taj is part of The Taj Hotels, Resorts and Palaces group and is the group’s first landmark in South-East Asia with the island specifically chosen for exclusivity.
A complimentary airport transfer drove me from the airport to Port Cenang where I would be seated to wait for the speed boat to whisk me (and a few holidaymakers) to Rebak. According to the shuttle boat schedule, I would have to wait for 45 minutes but much to my delight, I didn’t have to wait too long as one boat arrived to drop off guests at the port and the hotel staff decided to let us board the boat ahead of schedule.
Within ten minutes, I was welcomed by yachts docked at the marina of the resort, and buggy carts were waiting to transfer us and our bags to the hotel reception area. Check-in was smooth and immediately I was whisked again to my room which was the Superior Charm Garden View Room.
Vivanta by Taj Resort has 94 rooms and suites nestled in wooden chalets designed in traditional Malay architecture. My room was at ground level and it was very spacious. Reviews about the rooms in Tripadvisor were mixed: some guests loved the design while others didn’t as they had expected a modern and stylish design which is typically found in a 5-star resort. I liked my room because of the very fact that it took on a traditional rustic theme as if to pay tribute to our Malay culture.
However, if I were to criticise, I do agree with reviewers that some furniture in the room were a little worn and there was a musty smell upon entering the room. Rest assured, the musty smell disappeared as soon as I lit the incense sticks which were provided in the room.
As soon as I had unpacked my bags, the first thing I did was to have lunch at the Senari Restaurant, an all-day dining restaurant by the pool side, serving Malaysian, Indian and continental cuisine. I could have tried the Straits Grill Bar which is right smack on the beach serving grilled seafood (prawns, lobster, fish) from noon till 4pm but they were not set up yet and I was starving from not having any breakfast earlier at the KL airport.
By that time, I had “switched mode” from the fast pace of KL to the slow and languid pace of the beach. The rest of the sunny afternoon was spent chilling out by the pool, swimming, reading, drinking Pimm’s at the Celsius Pool Bar and snoozing a little 🙂
Some guests might grumble about the resort being right in the middle of a flight path. Planes could be heard flying above the resort but I, personally, did not have an issue with it because firstly, the planes do not fly that low till the earth rumbles or shakes violently, and secondly, there are not too many flights. In fact, zero flights in the late hours of the night. It’s just the occasional aviation noise that lasts only 5 seconds.
Because Vivanta is the only resort on Rebak island, the private beach is absolutely clean with light brown sand and clear blue waters (the Andaman Sea). I had spent the better part of the second day exploring the resort’s grounds, and here are some of the photos:
There are a couple of activities available for guests: nature/jungle walks, cooking, kayaking, adventure sports, etc. The tour desk is also available for guests to sign up for sightseeing in Langkawi, mangrove tour or sunset cruise experience.
I had actually wanted to go for the sunset cruise experience and had paid the deposit but changed my mind a couple of hours before the cruise was scheduled to start. I knew the reviews about the cruise were positive but was too lazy to do anything that weekend, and I instinctively felt that if I wasn’t too keen about something, then I should not proceed with it…even if it means nothing to write about in the blog. That was when I reminded myself that I should experience travels for myself, and not for the blog, that includes not doing anything but laze around the beach. As for the spectacular sunset cruise, I wouldn’t write it off completely…it will have to be some other time.
The rest of the second day spent in Vivanta was reading, sleeping and eating. Furthermore, it rained heavily and continued to rain the following morning when I left the resort.
Some people may find the experience of staying at Vivanta isolated as there is nothing else to do on Rebak island except for the activities in the resort. Or some wish that the resort would extend the time for the last shuttle boat to return to Vivanta at a much later hour in the night, so that they can enjoy having dinner in Langkawi rather than dine at Senari Restaurant every night in the resort.
However, I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the resort, a well-deserved break away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and it was an opportunity to rejuvenate myself (I had achieved reading over 300 pages that weekend!) Staying at other resorts on Langkawi would have been just as stressful (and noisy) as staying in KL during the Eid holidays because Malaysians would have thronged to Langkawi too. And the other private luxury resorts are too expensive for my budget. Hence, Vivanta by Taj was my perfect match.