You Can Sleep in a Luxury Room Built on Stilts in This 10,000-year-old Rainforest in Malaysia
It’s the wet season in Malaysia and the morning rain pours down on my villa from the canopy of one of Asia’s oldest rainforests. I can hear a black giant squirrel scampering across the roof of my home, built on stilts, as Langkawi Island’s wildlife and I slowly start to wake up.
The Datai Langkawi has been Malaysia’s premier luxury resort since it opened in 1993. In 2017, it underwent a year-long, $60 million refurbishment led by Didier Lefort, the resort’s original interior designer. The renovation stays true to the resort’s initial goal to blend into the rainforest and its surroundings by using natural woods and patterns.
There are three types of accommodation at this five-star getaway. The Canopy Collection overlooks the jungle and the ocean in the distance, while the Rainforest Collection is hoisted on stilts next to a slow-moving stream inside the ancient rainforest. The Beach Collection is adjacent to the pristine Datai Bay beach, arguably the best beach in Malaysia. The accommodation types are unique, with some offering pools and dedicated butlers, but all come with spacious, modern bathrooms, comfortable bedding, and luxury amenities.
A few new features to the resort include the sprawling, five-bedroom "The Datai Estate," which includes a 24/7 butler and enormous, elegant bathrooms. The tranquil spa boasts a new manicure and pedicure studio led by the podiatrist to the stars, Bastien Gonzalez. After a clinical, no-polish manicure and pedicure, your nails will take on a natural shine you didn’t know was possible.
The last addition to the updated resort is the nature center. Inside this towering bamboo hut is a nature library, lounge area with local teas, and an education center for the resort’s team of naturalists and marine biologists to meet guests. Throughout the day, guests can sign up for various activities, like an afternoon journey through the jungle to the newly built, 20-meter-high canopy walk, where they can see local butterflies, indigenous birds, and ancient trees.
However, visitors returning for their sixth or seventh trip to the resort report that the heart The Datai Langkawi has stayed the same. The enormous breakfast buffet with a mimosa and Bloody Mary station still impress guests every time, as do sightings of dusky leaf monkeys and the great hornbill.
After deciding between a Bloody Mary or mimosa, the hardest decision to make in this peaceful paradise is whether you’ll spend your day on the plush lounge chairs by the beach or by one of two pools.
I opt for the beach, and after the day winds down, I try the fine-dining experience at The Dining Room. The croaking frogs at The Lobby Lounge’s water lily pool are calling me for a nightcap, and I succumb, watching as another lightning storm rolls in over the Andaman Sea while I sip on a cocktail aptly called “When in The Datai.”