The Pearl of the Orient – our own Shangri-La
Our first experience of Malaysia came in 2003. On that trip, and the 10 we have enjoyed since, we have stayed at their wonderful Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, located in the Batu Feringgi district of Penang.
Part of the renown Shangri-La group of hotels & resorts; (its name taken from the fictional lands described on the pages of the 1933 novel ‘Lost Horizons’ by English novelist James Hilton), the Rasa Sayang has been a place where we can truly relax & recharge.
Penang is an Island state of Malaysia, sitting in the Andaman Sea, 8.5km from the main Malaysian peninsula. It’s capital, Georgetown, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, famed for its colonial architecture and street art. The island is a melting pot of cultures and religions which sit harmoniously side by side.
Asides from a wonderful climate, culture & history, Penang is home to a wide variety of foods, often served at Hawkers markets in the form of street food. From local delicacies like beef randang and Nonya food, to breakfast dishes of Nasi Lemak. The Indo-China-Malay-Thai mix of flavours tantalises your tastebuds at every meal.
What has drawn us back time after time is the wonderful hospitality of the Malaysian people. ‘Hospitality from the Heart’ is a cornerstone of the Shangri-La philosophy and this mantra is far more than just strap line when you stay at the Rasa Sayang – it’s a reality, and one that seems effortless. We’ve been fortunate to have travelled extensively over the years and we can honestly say that the genuine warmth of the Malaysian people makes them complete naturals in the hospitality industry.
With two distinct wings of the hotel, the Garden Wing which is more family orientated and the Rasa Wing with it’s adult only pool and added touches like complimentary afternoon tea & a 90 mins cocktail & canapé each evening … you can guess where we return !
Lush tropical, manicured gardens (covering 30 acres), a 9-hole par-three golf course, 11 spa ‘villas’, three restaurants, two huge pools – and the most stunning of sunsets – aided by a sea breeze and the occasional pool-side cocktail, it is just the tonic for us after a busy season at La Villa. It’s restorative; relaxing and also inspirational – many of the ideas we’ve put into place at La Villa emanating from our experiences here over the years.
The Rasa Sayang is one of the original properties of the group, originally built in 1973. Following a 20 Million Euro refurbishment in 2005/06, the resort has become one the Malaysia’s most iconic, respected and awarded.
When we mention to family & friends that we are returning to Penang – they always say, again? Why do you go back to the same place? You really need to experience it for yourself to understand why…. and sitting by the pool, typing this Blog post for our E-Newsletter, one can’t help but wonder if James Hilton could be here now, he would see that his fictional land of Shangri-La had actually come to life.
(Footnote – the dictionary definition of ‘Shangri-La’ is “a remote beautiful imaginary place where life approaches perfection” – we would certainly concur!)