I had big plans for Langkawi. I was going to go kayaking in the mangroves, ride a jet ski (on my bucket list), take the SkyCab cable car for a panorama of the area, visit the waterfalls, take a boat trip… I did none of these things.
Langkawi is known as the Jewel of Kedah, Kedah being the state at the north end of Malaysia, bordering Thailand. It’s an archipelago but only two islands are inhabited, Pulau Tuba and the main island that I visited, Pulau Langkawi. I did a lot of research when choosing which of the beaches I would stay at: Pantai Cenang (gorgeous beach but busy and the most developed), Pantai Tengah (upscale, smaller beach), Pantai Kok (beautiful bay, but overdeveloped), Teluk Datai (beautiful and secluded but very expensive resorts), Tanjung Rhu (wide beach, upscale resorts).
After all this research, I settled for Bon Ton Resort, named by my Lonely Planet as one of “our favourite places on Langkawi, if not in the region” with Trip Advisor also identifying it as one of the top resorts of the island. It’s luxury and rustic at the same time, with eight individual villas dotted about a green area by a lake; we had planes flying over us as we were right by the airport, and what I think were buffalos wandering past the restaurant every evening. Breakfast is put into your fridge the night before so that you can eat breakfast at your leisure – I kept the cake for an afternoon snack, yum. You also get a complimentary cocktail every day. Lovely.
Another feature of the Bon Ton Resort was of a feline nature: the hotel is also a cat sanctuary. Now I’ve developed strong allergies to cats since having two fatties living with me for three years a while back, but the reviews on TripAdvisor assured me that people with allergies had no problems staying there. On arrival, as the friendly manager was telling me about the resort, I sat stroking one of the lovely little kitties, and then made my way to my cabin. Within hours, my hand was covered in big white welts, my eyes were welling up and I was sneezing non-stop. Suddenly the little monsters were everywhere. On the floor next to me, on the chair opposite me, on the sofa behind me, on the balcony, by the pool… it was like Hitchcock’s Birds but with cats instead. One of the staff kindly went to the pharmacy and got me tablets and eye drops, which I promptly over-dosed on. They also offered to move me into their sister resort, Temple Tree, where the cats were less prolific; after the first night, though, I was feeling much better so I stayed on at Bon Ton.
I blame the quadruple dose of anti-histamine for my sleeping late and spending most of my time at the pool. It was great to have some relaxing down time instead of my usual sightseeing – in fact, on future trips I plan to schedule a few more beachy stops, also to make sure that I’m topping up my tan! My other big activity was a pedicure at the Satkara Spa attached to the Casa del Mar Hotel, much needed after all that walking in flip flops.
The practical bit:
Bon Ton Resort: Bon Ton is about ten minutes from the airport, you can buy the voucher at arrivals and then the taxis are out in front. It’s a good half-hour walk from Pantai Cenang, the town and the beach itself, and it’s hot and a little with no pavement part of the way (I also got a few whistles as I walked alone, even during the daytime) – but you can rent a bike or a scooter to take you there and beyond. Bring earplugs if you’re a light sleeper or you’ll be struggling what with the dogs, the planes and various other neighbourly noises. Breakfast is bread with jam/honey, yoghurt, cake, juice – so if you’re allergic to gluten or on a low-carb diet you’ll need to tell them or buy your own. And, if you have cat allergies like me, I’m afraid I strongly advise you to choose a different resort….