Singaporebrides | Editors' Notes

February 2018

5 Things To Do While Staying at The Westin Langkawi

Looking for a quiet resort retreat where you can relax with daily yoga sessions, but don’t want to miss out on sightseeing and duty-free shopping on Langkawi? The Westin Langkawi is an affordable option, and is a popular choice for destination weddings too!

Langkawi’s official name is Langkawi Permata Kedah (Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah), and rightly so, because it receives over 3 million tourists a year. Langkawi’s 104 islands are a part of the state of Kedah and lies adjacent to the Thai border.

Historically home to the orang laut (sea people), pirates and fishermen, Langkawi is also well known for its myths and legends, the most popular one being that of a woman named Mahsuri. According to stories passed down for generations, in the late 18th century, Mahsuri was wrongfully accused of adultery and was put to death. With her dying breath, she cursed the island for seven generations.

Langkawi was relatively unknown until in 1987, when then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad decided to transform the island into a major tourist destination, even helping to plan many of the island’s buildings himself. In 2000, Wan Aishah, the seventh generation descendent of Mahsuri, returned to Langkawi from Thailand to a huge celebration marking the end of the curse, and henceforth beginning its emergence as a one of Malaysia’s most visited islands. A modest, marble tomb commemorating Mahsuri’s death can be found in the Cultural Centre, allegedly marking the spot where she was originally buried.

Another legend is about Dayang Bunting, the second largest island in Langawi’s cluster of 104 islands. The story goes that a man named Mat Teja met and fell in love with a princess named Mambang Sari at a lake on the island. They got married and had a son who did not live for long. They released the body of their son into the lake where they fell in love. Instead of cursing the gods, the kind princess prayed for all women having difficulty in conceiving to be blessed with a child once they take a dip in the lake. And so this island came to be named Dayang Bunting, the Island of the Pregnant Maiden. It is a now popular tourist spot and if you take a look at the hills that forms the backdrop of the lake, it looks like a pregnant woman lying on her back.

I didn’t get to visit Dayang Bunting but part of my stay at The Westin Langkawi included a short tour of the island, so I was excited to see other parts of the island. I had stayed at The Andaman up north of Langkawi, so I was well-acquainted with Datai Bay and the ancient rainforest beside it. I had heard that, since it was nearer to the airport, the southern part of the island had more tourist attractions.

The view of the Andaman Sea from the Breeze lounge at the lobby

After my stay at The St Regis Langkawi, I could have walked to The Westin because they share the same beach! However the atmosphere at The Westin was different; there was a clear emphasis on well-being. Apart from a three-hour spa session as soon as I arrived, included in my itinerary were also meals with SuperFoodsRx dishes, and yoga session in the morning at the Spa Deck. The resort was also noticeably older than the spanking new St Regis. I saw that there were more families at The Westin, and was told that the resort had just hosted a three-day wedding event over the weekend.

1. Swim Your Heart Out

The resort is divided into two sections, with accommodation being split across two wings. There are 202 spacious rooms and suites and 20 luxury Ocean View Pool Villas at The Westin. The main building meanders down the slope towards the beach with open terraces spaces on platforms at various levels, boasting different views of the Andaman Sea and nearby isles.

There’s not one but three adult swimming pools to choose from at The Westin. The fresh water Ocean Rock Pool is surrounded by lush tropical foliage, the infinity pool blurs the boundaries between the azure water and the deep blue sky, the spa pool is for a quiet soak away from the crowd. There is, of course, also the beach.

The terrace in my room with a view of the pool The view of my room from the pool side

My One Bedroom Suite was the last one at the wing, but next to it is a door that leads down to the beach and the pool, so no complaints. It also has a balcony that faces the pool but it wasn’t as private as I had hoped. What I really enjoyed about the room was the king-sized, award-winning signature Westin Heavenly Beds® with sumptuous pillow-top mattress, billowy down blankets, and soft pillows, which, according to The Westin, is “a combination so divine, you’ll never want to get out of bed.”

2. Check out the dining options with excellent views

I did drag myself out of the bed for breakfast at Seasonal Tastes, the all-day dining restaurant. The buffet breakfast in Seasonal Tastes is one-of-a-kind, because the buffet tables are lined with both local and international dishes rich in “Superfoods” – foods that are known for being health-enhancing and rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, such as salmon and yoghurt. I also spotted the free-flow of sparkling wine served during breakfast, but I opted for healthy juices and had a leisurely sober meal overlooking the stunning Andaman Sea.

Breakfast at Seasonal Tastes restaurant Pretty good satay from Tide beach cafe Tide’s customised tea menu from Ronnefeldt Excellent reading corner under the shade

For lunch, I headed to Tide, the beach cafe. The menu features favorites like pizzas, seafood such as the Andaman Lobster, a variety of pastas and authentic Malaysian fare. It was probably my favourite place at The Westin, because it has a really chill vibe with a gorgeous view of the sea. It is also relatively quiet, and there are shady spots around the cafe where you can sit down with a book and a pot of tea.

Image of Float in the evening, courtesy of The Westin Langkawi

On my last night in Langkawi, I met the amazing team from The Westin for dinner at Float, a private jetty stretching out into the Andaman Sea. It is definitely accessible by foot, but we took the buggy there because it was rather dimly lit by the time dinner came about. Float is usually a special venue for wedding ceremonies, but guests can book the sheltered jetty for a private dinner. It can hold about 30 people for a sit-down dinner, but I was told that Float has seen a lot of surprise birthday dinners and wedding proposals. With its privacy, great view of the sea, and the candlelights swaying in the breeze, I think it definitely is a better venue for just two people.

3. Make time for a spa session

The Heavenly Spa by Westin in the property is the only Heavenly Spa in Malaysia. It is in a building on its own away from the hotel building, and is a beautiful beachfront property. I had a morning yoga session on the Spa Deck, and what can I say except, the view really makes a difference.

The Spa Deck At the spa reception, I was asked to choose from one of these So this was what I saw whenever I opened my eyes during the massage Tea and chocs after the session Image of a treatment room, courtesy of The Westin Langkawi

The menu offers many treatments deriving from Malay, Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Turkish, Swedish and Indonesian modalities. The most popular treatment is the 60-minute Luxury Kese treatment, available exclusively at the Heavenly Spa Villa, equipped with a stunning outdoor heated marble plinth. The ritual begins with a kese scrub followed by a natural olive soap body cleanser. The finale is the continuous flow of warm water from a copper bowl over your body for complete renewal.

On my walk back to my room on the beach, I spotted a staff hiding behind a tree and wondered what he was doing. I saw a couple seated by candlelight on the beach and realised he was serving the couple dinner! I found out that guests can arrange for private dinners near the spa because it is more secluded and wouldn’t get interrupted by fellow guests. Most would call for a buggy from the spa because it is a long walk back to the main building, but I like to walk. Apparently, a proposal happened that night, and she said yes!

4. Get married on the beach

I had arrived at The Westin the day after a big wedding celebration but there were no signs of it left when I went searching at the beach. The resort is well-known for its unique venue Float, which boasts an excellent view. Another popular option for intimate weddings is to book The Westin’s five-bedroom villa. The wedding set up can be done within its compound and ensures privacy. Here are some images of a wedding set up.

Wedding ceremony set up at the beach in front of The Westin Langkawi A decorated wedding buggy the westin langkawiImage of an aerial view of The Westin Langkawi with the five-bedroom villa on its left, courtesy of The Westin Langkawi Image of the five-bedroom villa, courtesy of The Westin Langkawi Image of a wedding table set up, courtesy of The Westin Langkawi Image of a dessert table set up, courtesy of The Westin Langkawi

5. Go on a tour in a Mini Cooper

If you have a driving license, you can rent the hotel’s Mini Cooper Cabrio from the Concierge and start exploring the island! If you can’t drive, you can still book a tour with a guide.

We had to give Pantai Cenang a miss because the road leading to the beach were under construction and my view would have been obstructed. However, Cenang Beach is the liveliest of all the beaches on Langkawi, offering all sorts of water sports, restaurants, and beach bars. Although Langkawi’s nightlife isn’t as wild as its neighbours, you can knock yourself out with affordable alcohol here.

The Mini Cooper Cabrio that was waiting for me at the lobby Riding with the top down under the hot sun

We first drove to a picturesque harbour complex called the Telaga Habour located at the Pantai Kok area of Langkawi on the western coastline. It includes a full-serviced marina for yachts and sailboats and a shopping complex with a board walk that also has several upscale restaurants & bars. The Telaga Harbour Lighthouse is a 22-metre high stone building and is a great photo spot.

Docked at Telaga Harbour telaga lighthouseThe Telaga Harbour Lighthouse A pretty good place for a picnic

Right next to the harbour is Oriental Village, a open-air themed park with shops and restaurants. Langkawi’s famous cable car, SkyCab runs from the Oriental Village to the peak of Gunung Machinchang, the oldest mountain on the Malay Peninsula. Once you reach the last station, there’s a short flight of steps that lead up to the peak itself where there are outstanding views and many souvenir shops. From the top of Machinchang, you can also walk the SkyBridge, a 125-metre long steel pedestrian suspension bridge that stretches between the peaks. I didn’t take the cable car because of time constraints, but the SkyBridge is something I definitely want to visit the next time.

oriental village langkawiEntrance to Oriental Village SkyCab, Langkawi’s cable car Gunung Machinchang

What I did visit was the Seven Wells Waterfall. Known locally as Telaga Tujuh, Seven Wells Waterfall is so named because seven natural pools have been formed at different levels by water streams that flow down Gunung Machinchang. This is the most picturesque and undoubtedly the best waterfall in the island. The total vertical fall is 91 meters and the lowest pool is formed at the bottom. I climbed all 638 steps with the guide who promised me it wasn’t that difficult of a climb, and I had the photos to prove it. On a good day, you can spot lots of wildlife among the trees as you climb. If you like, you could bring your bathing suit for a soak in the pools.

seven wells waterfallI climbed 600+ steps for this view at Seven Wells Waterfall There were couples soaking in the water, which was very refreshing

After the driver had fully rested, we drove to the Black Sand Beach that is towards the north of the island. I had naively believed the sand would look at least grey, but it is in actual fact, more of a mixed sand beach. Unlike other black sand beaches that may have occured due to volcanic activity, the sand on this beach contains huge amount of minerals called Tourmaline and Ilmenite that had flowed down from Gunung Raya, the highest mountain in Langkawi. This is not really a beach for swimming at, but you can take really good photos here.

Anticipating the Black Sand Beach Trails of Black Sand flowing into the sea There are many water sports vendors here Not a beach for swimming, but it’s a rather long, quiet beach with soft sand

Our last stop was supposed to be Dataran Lang, or Eagle Square, with a statue of the island’s symbolic eagle, but I wanted to take a better photo of the statue, so the driver stopped at a vantage point near the square. Lang is an abbreviation of the old Malay word for eagle—helang. Kawi is the eagle’s distinctive colour. Adjacent to the square is Lagenda Langkawi Dalam Taman (Langkawi Legends in the Park). The garden, adorned with sculptures, will give you an insight into the tales of this legendary island if you wish to find out more.

View of Eagle Square

About a five-minute drive away from The Westin Langkawi is Kuah town, which is a shopping hub with numerous duty-free outlets. A popular place to start your spree is Langkawi Fair Shopping Mall featuring more than 100 stores. Other shopping outlets worth visiting include Langkawi Duty Free, Jetty Point Complex and Teow Soon Huat Supermarket & Departmental Store. Souvenirs, sports attire, audio-visual items, electrical goods, perfume, liquor and—get this—cheap kitchenware, are amongst the bargains to be had.

Driving on picturesque roads Spotted a monitor lizard in the wild, which are illegally hunted here and can fetch a high price

Although I spent a week at Langkawi, I really didn’t get much time to explore and shop. Fortunately, Langkawi has not developed beyond recognition for now, and is still a good place to enjoy a slow-paced holiday. The people are friendly, keeping the kampung spirit alive, its ruggedness is beautiful in its own way. Just being surrounded by ancient geological formations and rainforests alone is enough to rejuvenate your jaded soul. I would like to thank Marriott International for introducing me to beautiful Langkawi. It definitely was not my list of islands to visit, but I now recommend it to everyone who want a respite from city life and other heavily visited islands. And I’ll be back for the duty-free shopping, Langkawi!

Getting there:

I took a direct flight to Langkawi, which takes approximately 1 and a half hours. It is then a 20-minute drive to The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa.

Rates:

Room rates start from MYR 953 for a Superior Room per night to MYR 3280 for a Two-Bedroom Ocean Suite per night, including taxes.

The Westin Langkawi’s wedding packages start from only MYR 17,980 nett and it includes a host of benefits ranging from bridal decorations and specially decorated floral arch, to hair and make-up, a two-hour couple spa, as well as two complimentary night’s stay in a one-bedroom villa for the wedding couple.

For more information or to book a wedding package, please visit www.westinlangkawi.com or email westin.langkawi@westin.com.

Photo credits: All images copyright of SingaporeBrides.com unless otherwise stated.

Read about The Andaman Langkawi and The St Regis Langkawi.