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THE WESTIN RESORT & SPA
 

Langkawi Resorts
The Westin Resort & Spa
The Datai
Berjaya Beach Resort & Spa
The Andaman
Mutiara Burau Bay Resort
Langkawi Lagoon Resort
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Langkasuka Beach Resort
Geopark Hotel
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LOCATION:
The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa is located some 30 minutes away from Langkawi International Airport (LGK). There are two choices of transportation to get here. One is by hiring a taxi from the airport (a rather costly option for the one-way trip) or by hiring a self-driven car from the many car rental companies operating right outside the arrival hall. As a rule of thumb, a 24-hour rental should cost anywhere between RM50 to RM100 for a normal sedan, ranging from Proton Wira, to Nissan Sentra or even Toyota Camry.

As the resort is relatively close to Kuah where the island ferry terminal is located, you can also get to the resort via the frequent boat services plying between Kuala Perlis or Kuala Kedah to Langkawi. From the ferry terminal, the resort is actually a short 5-minute away by taxi.

DESCRIPTION:
The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa has indeed undergone many changes through the thick of time. Just by looking at its relatively modern architecture, it is hard to imagine that the property dates back to 1973 when it was first opened as Langkawi Country Club consisting of a paltry 96 rooms. There were two subsequent changes before it is known as The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa of today ie: Langkawi Island Resort in 1986 which came with 200 rooms in total and Sheraton Perdana Resort in 1995 onwards. Ancient traveler's tales would often relate to the sight of its Minangkabau-inspired roof design as one of the first made-made structures to be seen as the ferries from Kuala Perlis or Kuala Kedah made their way into the Kuah ferry terminal. As air travel took a bigger slice of tourist arrival to Langkawi, the sight of what was previously known either as Langkawi Country Club, Langkawi Island Resort or Sheraton Perdana Resort is being less and less romanticised.

Sheraton Perdana Resort only stood for a good 11 years before The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa was unveiled to the tourism market in December 2006 with bold changes in term of overall layout and more importantly, the room pricing. Previous hotel patrons, including yours truly of course, were presented with a stylish and brand-new property with room rates that are double or triple of what they (and we) used to pay in the previous Sheraton Perdana Resort. Indeed, our last visit to the property was in 2002 when it was still under the Sheraton umbrella and our previous write-up in malaysiahotelreview.com was fit for the purpose. Fast forward some 5 years later, we received a number of emails from the hotel representatives requesting for removal of our outdated write-up on Sheraton Perdana Resort. We eventually obliged to as we were unable to re-visit the new resort mainly due to time and economic constraints (OK, actually it was only the economic factor since we always make time for hotel travels!). Only in 2009 that our chance visit The Westin Resort & Spa materialised and the rest as they say, is history.

In its entirety, the resort blends in a respectable 104-acre of forest-clad hills and undulating terrains. As you enter the resort from the main guard house, the road splits into two; one goes to a parking spot adjacent to the meeting & banqueting facilities, and another one takes a right-hand ramp into the main lobby proper. The first welcoming gesture is by way of a gong sound played at the concierge desk to symbolize a subtly Malaysian way of hailing a respected guest. While the main lobby itself splits into a two-tiered portion of meeting & banqueting facilities at lower lobby and hotel reception at upper lobby, the latter is very much where each guest will head to. The reception area is done in an open-air setting with a plunging view of the ocean as well as the pool area. In anticipation for a fairly humid environ throughout the day, the resort offers a dosing selection of rejuvenating drink mixtures as well as frequent dispensing of cold towels. The open-air setting is hard to be faulted in term of interior design selection and the overall resort ambiance by way of allowing natural breeze to be absorbed by incoming and ongoing guests. Careful placement of stylish ornaments, wood-carved sculptures, neutral-colored sofa sets and freshly-picked flowers certainly adds a touch of modernity amidst the otherwise traditionally tropical resort setting.

Checking-in process, at least in our case, was a breezy affair. Unlike 99% of hotels out there that are so accustomed to taking their sweetest of time, the reception did not leave a guest standing unattended for a long time. Instead, an incoming guest will be ushered by a reception staff almost immediately to a quiet seating place where he or she will be made to wait for a few minutes before the personnel comes back with all the required check-in details. Overall, we felt that the whole checking-in process was flawless, an exemplary system that should be transplanted into many hotels in Malaysia .

In total, there are 222 rooms and suites at The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa, an increase of 22 units when compared to Sheraton Perdana Resort, most of which are a constellation of private villas. Officially, the resort provides a whopping 13 room categories that range from the rudimentary Deluxe, Deluxe Garden View, Deluxe Ocean View, Ocean Front Suite, Renewal Suite to 1-, 2- and 5-bedroom Pool Villas. Each unit size varies from a respectable 38 sq-m for basic Deluxe category to a jaw-breaking 52 sq-m for higher Deluxe categories. The suite and villa categories perhaps require no amplification in term of their sizes; this might sound like a cliché but you get what you paid for. As for the standard amenities, all the units provide all the usual trappings commonly associated with any five-star establishments. Each room or suite is equipped with 42in plasma TV with high-quality satellite channels, DVD player, IDD telephone with bath extension, hair dryer, mini bar, electronic safe, iron with ironing board, writing desk, espresso machine, walk-in wardrobe and others. There are of course additional items provided only to higher room categories such as outdoor day beds, lounging sofa, etc, and for the purpose of this write-up, the review was conducted on the Deluxe Ocean View room category.

Satisfied with the smooth check-in process at the reception area earlier, we headed to our Deluxe Ocean View room with great anticipation. Upon entering, we were taken by the overall spaciousness of the room although it was meant to be expected at a generous built-up size of 52 sq-m. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the king-size Heavenly Bed as fresh rose petals were arranged into a WELCOME sign (hint: we were NOT on a honeymoon but it was still a nice gesture by the resort). A bountiful basket of fresh fruits and a bottle of grape juice served a la champagne-on-ice were placed on a coffee table in the lounging area. We were somewhat shell-shocked that we immediately asked a housekeeping staff whether the room was really ours and indeed it was.

Anyway, back to the room description (we could brag about the room "extras" until the sheep come home but that's not our main purpose here). The bedding area is furnished with Westin's signature Heavenly Bed, famous for its seven layers of crisp bedding material. The king bed directly faces a widescreen 42in plasma TV which gives off much better picture quality than regular LCD ones. Next to the Heavenly Bed, lies a lounging space which features a wide two-seater fabric sofa, a standing lamp and a coffee table. As are the case with "most" Deluxe rooms in the resort, ours comes with an outdoor balcony that opens out to a partial view of the ocean, jagged island peaks and the resort jetty. The outdoor balcony is fitted with two wooden chairs and a ceiling fan (somewhat unnecessary but well ..). Coming back into the room, a writing desk is provided with a welcome letter from the General Manager with hand-written signature (as opposed to generic, machine-printed in other hotels). Generosity is further displayed by way of providing an additional quantity for basic room items; for example, there were 4 bath towels, 6 bottles of mineral water and one extra comforter in the walk-in closet.

We may seem to forget to describe a thing or two about the bathroom. Fret not, the four-featured bathroom deserves a paragraph of its own, to say the least. The bathroom is generously built at about one-third the size of the room. A four-feature design may sound commonplace but a long bath with see-through glass window does not. The modern wash basin area is particularly worthy of a mention with unlimited supply of aromatherapy candles and essential oils. It wasn't exactly a gimmick as the smell did work with a tinge of mentholated floral sensation which emanated throughout the room. As expected, a Heavenly Shower is featured in the bathroom in a partial glass cubicle form. There are dozens of online article which describe the whole concept of Heavenly Shower by Westin but it is suffice to say that the experience is none to be faulted at. As an added sweetener to our pleasant stay, two housekeeping personnel dropped by for the usual evening turndown ritual to hand us a gift back consisting of Westin Langkawi's hats and T-shirts, the latter nicely bearing our names. In short, all the little stuff really count for something, and as the case with The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa, it really tries to win the heart of every guest.

Our write-up on the room experience was somewhat longer but we believe we have lined up all the extra mileage taken to please us (and hopefully others too). That doesn't mean the rest of resort facilities aren't given the time of day. On the contrary, we found that the resort offers a respectable collection of business and leisure facilities, with the latter being put more emphasis on. So now we've come down to the most recognizable feature of the resort which without any shadow of doubt goes to the infinity pool area. Spanning across the resort's two wings, the pool area sprawls as an ocean-facing oasis. There are three pools in total but the main highlight is the infinity-pool which overlooks the azure-blue ocean and nearby islands. What used to be a typical free-form pool under Sheraton Perdana Resort has been transformed into a fantasy-like object of interest with two bodies of water seem to match each other. A generous number of sunning beds are lined along its perimeter except at the section where it drops down to the view of the magnificent open sea. Seats might be filled up fast around here as everyone tries to soak up to the view as soon as the sweltering sun comes out. Next to the infinity pool lies a kid's pool which is done in a more or less generic fashion but is still nice regardless. There are more sunning beds provided here should you miss the prime spots along the infinity pool.

At a walking distance away from the kid's pool lies a beautiful rock pool (or as the resort calls it an 'ocean pool'). Well-suited for its name, the rock pool faces a wide expanse of the open sea and as to emulate a true ocean experience, it is awashed with freshwater spray amidst boulder rocks. If you fancy the real deal as opposed to freshwater rock pool, a few steps away lies the private beach which seems to be open only to resort guests. Truth be told, the beach is not as beautiful as it cracks up to be, what more with your heightened expectation after seeing some real magical ones in Pulau Redang, Pulau Perhentian or even Pulau Tioman. The beach is at least 1 km long and there are plenty of spots to call your own. On the beach also lies two other recreational facilities namely a water sports activity centre and some massage huts. Other recreational facilities available at the resort (but we did not manage to visit) are fitness centre which is complete with high-end gym equipment, sauna and jacuzzi (all being under the signature Westin Workout), tennis courts, squash courts and a spa outlet aptly named Heavenly Spa that is sited in one of the luxurious pool villas.

Moving on to F&B outlets, The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa hosts five of them. Before going into the details, we wish to point out how creativity comes into play in naming their restaurants and bars. The names picked are short, precise and thematically oceanic i.e.: Taste, Breeze, Tide, Splash and Float. The main dining outlet, Taste, is located on one floor down from the main lobby. As expected, the restaurant interior is done in light tones to complement the commanding ocean view through its wide see-through windows. Taste opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner (0700-2230 hrs) and prides itself with Westin's signature SuperFoodsRx breakfast menu. If you are wondering what on earth is SuperFoodsRx, it is a nutritional concept which contains a concoction of plant-based food items coined by an entity called SuperFoods Partners LLC. OK then, so what? Well, SuperFoodsRx claims that a certain food item can enhance its nutritional value when eaten with a specific complement (some examples: spinach, tomatoes eaten with avocado; beans, berries, broccoli sprinkled with black pepper; whole grain cereals eaten with cinnamon). Without going to rocket-science details, the combination is conceptually termed as "food synergy", which in layman's term indicates that the food work best together than they are eaten on their own. As an alternative to Taste for lunch and dinner, Tide is a beachside restaurant that offers mostly Mediterranean fares in an open-air setting and it opens from 1100-2230 hrs. On the main lobby lies Breeze which protrudes out to the wide expanse of the ocean. It features comfortable cushion sofa, wood-carved seaters and bar-style chairs that are arranged to cater for everyone's need; to unwind, to enjoy some music or even tête-à-tête. True to a typical Westin tradition, the lights are dimmed throughout Breeze (as well as the main lobby) with plenty of decorative candles taking the limelight, so-to-speak. Breeze opens from 0900-0100 hrs and serves drinks, cocktails and light snacks. Splashing its way by the gorgeous infinity pool is Splash pool bar which opens from 0900-2000 hrs. Sandwiched between the infinity pool and the open ocean, Splash serves cooling drinks (the mojito was cracked up to be its best-selling item). Completing the oceanic sensory journey is Float which lies quite some distance away from the resort lawn, creating an impression of remoteness in a wide, open sea. It is not a full dining outlet per se as Float is marked as a boat jetty in the resort map (whether or not boats actually land there, we are not sure), hence advance reservation is requested by the resort for any romantic dinner or private function that you may have.

Departing guests via Langkawi International Airport (LGK) are presented with The Westin Lounge at the departure hall. As the official checkout time is at 1200 hrs, the airport lounge could be a decent joint to stretch a leg or two while waiting for your flight. Truth be told, the lounge was not as impressive as we initially thought but it was a good place to relax, regardless. Unfortunately, most of the amenities are not complimentary for regular guests as the internet PC, drinks, pastries and massages are only offered to SPG's Gold and Platinum members. Additional fees need to be forked out should you wish to enjoy these offerings.

To wrap things up, we feel that the overall experience of staying at the resort was honest-to-goodness pleasant, relaxing and next to flawless. The resort management seems to have its house well in order, leaving no stone unturned in their endeavour to please their guests. Well-appointed guest facilities are evenly matched with friendly services and fantastic natural backdrops. In the end, The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa receives our 5-star accolade in less than a heart beat.

REVIEWED ON:
August 2009

MY VERDICT:
One of Malaysia's best beach-fronting resorts. Fantastic rooms, stunning scenery, fabulous infinity pool, delectable F&B outlets and friendly staff. Pricing is really on the high-end spectrum but you should get what you paid for.

MY RATING:

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