West Malaysia is a resource rich expanse that has been evolving for hundreds of years as a regional polity before the advent of colonialism altered its core into what it is today - a fascinating multicultural land rich with history and heritage. We traversed the peninsula from north to south to bring you our inaugural Malaysia FAB List.
FAB Hotels (Kuala Lumpur)
The Old New Divide
Many of Malaysia's most notable hotels are confined within its capital Kuala Lumpur which in recent years have seen an exponential increase in the number of luxury brands entering its precincts. The distant wave of impetus for growth was tagged to the development of KLCC which saw renowned properties Mandarin Oriental and Grand Hyatt take root in that side of town where they are still thriving today. The last spur of super growth was over 2019 that saw no less than 8 international luxury hotel brands opening, with Four Seasons, Banyan Tree and W Hotel being some of the more notable ones. Post 2020 and the capital welcomed more new entrants like Parkroyal Collection and Pan Pacific Serviced Suites. More high profiled openings are expected in the coming years, especially with the impending opening of Park Hyatt KL which is perched on the upper floors of Malaysia's opulent new babel Merdeka 118.
North to South
With the peninsula so blessed with scenic coasts and verdant islands, Malaysian resorts are amongst the region's most visited. Geo-haven Langkawi is the country's premier resort hotspot with the legendary Datai singled out as one of the island's best on our honour roll. Further down coast in Penang our pick is the boutique heritage establishment The Edison which despite being small, is big on style and service. Nestled amongst the geothermal patch of Ipoh is the sensational Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat which a criminally overlooked treasure belonging to industry titan Sunway Group.
When it comes to pampering treats nothing beats the healing power of nature so not only is the spa at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat an intimate escape, the entire resort, with thermal hot spring water piped into every villa, is also a fabulous wellness enclave. The Mandarin Oriental Group is an old hand at delivering decadent spa moments thus The Spa at MO KL. remains till this day one of the city's premier wellness address. At the southern tip of the peninsula the relatively new Spa at Anantara Desaru, with its expertly delivered massages is one of the resort's best selling points. For the ultimate spa experience in the country one will have to journey to the primordial recesses of The Datai Spa for a truly unforgettable initiation into nature's healing powers. We have personally fended off murderous macaques to make good our spa appointment there and live to report that it was all very worth it indeed.
Melting Pot Street Up
The glorious cultural diversification that makes up the Malaysian social fabric is the reason why food remains one of Malaysia's best attractions to travellers everywhere. Not only is the sheer variety of cuisines in the country mind boggling, the pride and mastery of these heritage keepers have kept the taste of yesteryear so intact and delicious, we worry constantly if any day soon things would take a turn for the worse and commercialism would ruin the Makan culture here forever. For the moment fret not for the the looks and tastes of Malaysian cuisine from the street scenes are still tempting as ever, as we have happily reported in our inaugural Malaysian Gourmet Bulletin.
Culture History FOOD!
A food obsessed citizenry like the Malaysians know too well that their shared culinary heritage is one of the strongest unifying factors for the country, as is their respect for each other's culture and heritage. The scenes of such harmony play out daily in some of the country's most popular attractions like the historic enclaves of Malacca and Penang, the Makan haven of Ipoh, the mysterious and verdurous island of Langkawi and even some quaint pockets of bustling Kuala Lumpur. The harmonious, earthy laid-back atmosphere of these heartlands will resonate with hearts of discerning travellers more keen to explore and discover than just sight-see.