A review of Langkawi's Four Seasons resort
If you’re looking for the perfect do nothing beach retreat (as a couple or with kids) you may want to consider the four seasons hotel in Langkawi, a small Malaysian island.
How to get there?
From Singapore, it’s a very short direct flight (1h15) and a 20 min drive from Langkawi airport which makes it the ideal weekend get away.
From Europe, you will likely need a connecting flight from KL and considering KL is already a 13 hour flight from London / Paris you will likely be there for more than a few days. For a ten / two week holiday, an option might be to spend a few days in KL, a few days in picturesque Penang and finish off with a relaxing few days in Langkawi.
On arrival at the hotel, you will be taken through a maze of Moroccan blue corridors before you are seated in a very tranquil space overlooking a pond with a silt house and a junk in the distance, to do the hustle-free check-in.
What to expect?
The setting: Malay style villas in the middle of a tropical rain forest and overlooking the Andaman sea and a couple of deserted, leafy islands where the sun sets. While it is a very serene, immaculate, soft-sand stretch of private beach, do not expect clear turquoise waters. There are a few spots in Asia where you can find postcard perfect waters but they are not that common. If that’s what you’re after, you may want to try Koh Samui in Thailand, Palawan in the Philippines, or the south beaches of Bali (Uluwatu) instead.
The resort: the four seasons Langkawi boasts 68 pavilions (suites) and 23 villas combining traditional Malay style and Mauresque design, all of which are dispersed in the resort's tropical gardens along the beach. Some will have direct views / access to the beach, others will be a bit more remote with a jungle surrounding feel (you will often come across a few cute monkeys playing in the high trees). Depending on where your room is located, you might choose to cycle around the resort, walk along the beach or if you’re feeling terribly lazy, get buggied around.
The rooms: we had initially booked a pavilion with sea views. These rooms are quite spacious (around 70 sqmt), with a very large indoor bathroom and an outdoor bathroom, and also benefit from a large terrace. But we asked to see the villas when we arrived. Don’t do that if you’re not prepared to spend more than double the price of the pavilions (standard rooms), which are already pretty expensive, at US$600-800 per night) because that will spoil your stay. But the villas are definitely the highlight of the resort: huge space (230 sqmt), with a variety of outdoor and indoor space. Inside, the main room is organised in two spaces, a living area (with a lovely library) and a sleeping area (queen size bed). There is also a private separate room and bathroom for kids (two beds), large walk in wardrobe, inside jacuzzi and shower, and outside shower, a private outdoor pool with a lovely terrace, direct access to the beach (each villa also has its own hammock and two sunbeds on the beach) and unobstructed views of the sea and sunset. Once you have set foot in one of the villas there is no way you will be able to stay in one of the pavilions without feeling that you’re missing out on the best that the resort has to offer… If you’re intending this trip to be a couple’s retreat, the spare room in the villa will be used as a private massage room and you’ll be located in the part of the resort that’s more adult oriented. Problem is the villas are very pricey, around US2,200 per night. But if you want a unique experience, I would definitely recommend staying in the villa.
Dining options: there are three main restaurants in the resort.
- Serai, a casual Mediterranean restaurant (which is also where breakfast is served) serving a range of Greek and Turkish type dishes. This was my least favourite. Not because of the food but because in the evening the ambiance is just a bit off: bright lights and weird latino music. I found this restaurant much more enjoyable in the morning for breakfast.
- Kelapa, grill place on the beach where you will be served both fish and meat on the grill. Simple but efficient food. The best tables, at the edge of the restaurant, with sunset views, get booked pretty quickly so I would recommend enquiring early to make sure you don’t end up in one of the middle tables which are pretty unremarkable.
- Ikan Ikan, a Malaysian restaurant. My favourite. Both because of the setting and the food. Set in a large teak house on the beach with a candle lit atmosphere and lovely beach views from the terrace. The food choice is also extremely wide and varied, vegetarian options, meat, fish, spicy/mild etc. And it also has a kids menu which adapts traditional Malaysian dishes for them.
- There’s also a sunset bar (Rhu) which looked quite nice but we did not try it as instead we had our evening drinks on our terrace.
- Finally, another very nice option is in room dining on your own private terrace if you’re after a quieter, private dinner.
- Two main pools: a family one and an adults only one. Expect very different vibes! The former is made of a number of different pools of different shapes, sizes, depths, with views on the sea. The idea being for kids to run around from one pool to the other. Great experience for them although as a parent I struggled to be able to see my daughter at all times in this maze of pools which is also in places hidden by vegetation. The adults pool is a large infinity pool with private two lounger cubicles. Perfect for enjoying some peaceful private romantic time, sipping on fresh cocktails and reading books. Don’t worry if you have come here with kids, you will still be able to enjoy this pool while the kids are the kids club…
- A kids club, running from 10am to 5pm if I remember correctly: the club itself is a lovely little house with fatboys, tables, ball pool, soft toys etc. and an outdoor space with a tree house, slides etc Activities range from henna tattoos, to batik painting, beach activities, treasure hunts. At lunch time, the kids can enjoy any of the options from the kids menu watching a movie.
- Water sports centre: the resort offers a range of water sports experiences which we managed to book on the day, jet ski, paddleboard, catamaran…
- Geo Spa: is an absolutely gorgeous place. And I would definitely recommend booking a treatment for the atmosphere only. The common area is set on water with sunbeds dotted around and amidst lush greeneries. And the treatment rooms won’t disappoint. Starting with a foot massage on the terrace which feels lost in time in the jungle, followed by a massage in a high ceiling, large bay windows room with a subtle Moorish décor.
- Shopping: there a number of different shops in the resort, from traditional souvenirs from Malaysia, to the finest swim and beach wear (brands included beach gold, maryisia, etc.), flip flops, even cocktail evening wear etc. So don’t worry if you have forgotten to pack most of your beach essentials (or maybe just forget on purpose!). And you can also obviously also find mosquito repellents, sun cream, basic pharmacy products. The spa also has a shop where you can find gym / yoga wear as well as beauty products, incense and jewellery.
- Everyday some excursions outside the resort (mangrove trek, fishing trips, birdwatching, south island tours, waterfalls etc) or specific activities (morning yoga, beach football and volleyball, and there is of course a 24hour gym) are organised, most of them for free. But considering we were only staying for a few days, we did not venture out of the resort so I would not be able to give you an opinion on those. Generally, my understanding is that there is not much to see in Langkawi so you’ll be in heaven if you’re after a quiet pause by the beach where your only concern is to book a spa treatment and decide which restaurants to go to in the evening but if not, you might feel frustrated.
The bottom line
Whether you’re looking for a short escape from the Singapore concrete, or a longer sunny beach break from the hustle and bustle of Europe / the US, the four seasons Langkawi is a great place to experience a Robinson Crusoe, edge of the world feeling in the most luxurious and serene way. But this obviously comes at a price though and it can be an investment, particularly if you’re looking to spend more than a few days there. If, on the other hand you’re looking for a more on the ground, local experience, you will for sure be disappointed. Staying at the four seasons Langkawi will not get you any close to the real Malaysia. But after a few days in KL and a stay in more vibrant places such as Penang, it might just be what you need to relax before going back to your everyday life.