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Hotel review: Four Seasons Langkawi (Malaysia)

Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel and/or flight review.

Today (April 9, 2014): Four Seasons Resort Langkawi (Malaysia).

With artful design and all-pervading serenity, Four Seasons Resort Langkawi presents a tranquil retreat in the Andaman Sea. Langkawi is an archipelago made up of 99 islands on Malaysia’s west coast, where towering granite cliffs, UNESCO-protected mangroves and precitious rainforest showcase labrynthine adventures between land and sea.

In this review (more info and photos below my slideshow and youtube clip):

  • Pros & things I like
  • Cons & things to know
  • My verdict
  • Tips for future guests & save money
  • Comparison with other Langkawi luxury hotels (The Datai)
  • Best time to visit
  • How to get there

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PROS & THINGS I LIKE
  • The resort is located along a beautiful, wide, white sand beach, backed by limestone cliffs that are covered in dense tropical vegetation. The beach is definitely one of the best, if not thé best, on the island of Langkawi.
  • The resort features a striking Moroccan/Moorish architecture. The grounds itself are well-kept and the gardeners (of which there are many) are constantly racking, planting and generally maintaining the lush gardens.
  • As you would expect from a Four Seasons hotel, the service is excellent and all your needs will be catered for. The staff and management are well-trained, courteous at all times, and eager to make one’s stay enjoyable. The attention to detail is flawless and by the end of the second day the entire staff will know your preferences and names, and will anticipate your needs perfectly.
  • The resort faces the west, so you can watch gorgeous and romantic sunsets from the beach, your villa, or the sunset bar.
  • There are two pool areas: one family pool (actually 4 pools in one) and an absolutely stunning adult quiet pool. The latter is a blissful retreat for those guests desiring additional tranquility and privacy, and comes with 8 private walled cabanas for couples to hang out. Amenities at both pools include sunglass polishing, suntan lotion, iced water, cold towels, freshly sliced tropical fruit, and water spray.
  • The property has three restaurants: the signature restaurant Ikan Ikan (my favorite) serves delicious Malaysian food, the Kelapa Grill is ideal for fresh seafood and steaks, and Serai features Italian cuisine. Meals are delicious and prepared with fresh quality ingredients. Breakfast buffets are impressive with several food stations where you can find everything you want.
  • Accommodations are housed in pretty stunning Melaleuca pavilions or private pool villas, which both seamlessly blend Arabian influences with tropical woods and marble. The expansive marble bathroom are especially impressive, offering “his and hers” wash basins, a walk-in wardrobe, a curtained shower alcove and a bathing area featuring a terrazzo soaking tub for two.
  • The resort has a wonderful Geo spa offering a range of treatments. Do check out the spa even if you are not booking a treatment. It’s a very tranquil area and they allow guests to relax in the 3 gazebos and lounge area inside, even if you are not doing a treatment.

CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
  • A lot of reviews on the internet complain about a cement factory that is facing the beach and ruins the view at the horizon, while others state that is hardly noticeable from the resort unless you are intentionally looking for it. The truth is somewhere in between. The factory sits to the southwest at a distance, whereas the resort is primarily situated to the northeast. While the factory is not an issue in the northeastern part of the resort (watch my youtube clip above), you can’t really miss is from the southwestern part of the resort and at sunset from the Rhu bar. So the message may be to request a room/villa in the northeastern part of the resort.
  • At certain times of the year, jellyfish are the in the waters around Langkawi and they may cause serious health and safety issues. The watersports staff flags for ocean conditions.
  • The (imported) sand is a little rough (not powdery white sand) and waters are not clear (not good for snorkeling). This is not the Maldives or Seychelles after all, but nevertheless, it does feel like a tropical paradise.
  • The property is very large and spread out. You can hire bikes (complimentary) to get around the resort during day time. At night, bikes are not recommended due to safety issues. The very efficient buggy service is always a phone call and 3-4 minutes away.
  • Some ”partial sea view rooms” are tucked away deeply into the Malaysian jungle, allowing only limited views of the Andaman sea through the vegetation.

MY VERDICT
  • Location: 8/10
  • Design: 7/10
  • Rooms: 9/10
  • Food: 8/10
  • Service: 9/10
  • Overall experience: very good: 8,2/10

TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
  • Request a hotel room/villa in the norteastern part of the resort (to avoid views of the cement factory).
  • Save money: read my tips for getting the best deal at at a luxury resort like Four Seasons Langkawi and/or how to receive free perks.
  • Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.

COMPARISON WITH OTHER LUXURY HOTELS ON LANGKAWI

The Datai (read my review here) and the Four Seasons are hands down the best hotels in Langkawi. Comparing them would be unfair since they both offer a totally different experience, more focused on the rainforest at the Datai and on the beach and Andaman Sea at the Four Seasons. Nevertheless, you may want to take into consideration the following facts when you do not know what resort to choose:

  • The Datai is less expensive as compared to the Four Seasons, while the overall experience in terms of service, food and luxury is marginally different (my room rate at the Four Seasons was twice as expensive as the Datai for the lowest room category).
  • The colour of the sand at the Datai Bay beach is a tad less white as compared to the white sand at the Four Seasons Hotel (the latter is my favorite beach in Langkawi, also from an aesthetical point of view).
  • The jungle surroundings of the Datai are way more impressive than those at the Four Seasons, with the added spectacle of wildlife.
  • The rooms at the Four Seasons are larger and more luxurious (especially the bathrooms), but they feel less authentic.
  • Service at the Four Seasons is (slightly) superior to the Datai.

In summary, when travelling to Langkawi, I would recommend to stay a few nights at both resorts to take in the best from the rainforest (Datai) and beach (Four Seasons).


BEST TIME TO VISIT

Langkawi has one of the more stable climates for an island in Malaysia. Located on the northwestern coast of Peninsular Malaysia in the Malaccan Straits, it is shielded from major winds and storms by the mainland on one side and Sumatra on the other. This makes Langkawi suitable to be visited all-year-round, with never too drastic weather. The rainy season is from September until mid November, during which time on average, there are about two hours of rain per day.  Note that an hour of this precipitation usually comes during the night-time. Even during rainy season, the mornings are usually filled with sunshine, with the rain coming during overcast afternoons. The mid-season (neither dry nor rainy) is from mid April until August.  The mornings are again sunny, but the afternoons can be overcast.  The dry season is from mid November until mid April, during which time there is very little rain.


HOW TO GET THERE

The following airlines (click here for direct links to their websites) serve the small Langkawi airport (a 20 minute drive away from the resort):

  • Malaysian Airlines: via Kuala Lumpur
  • Malindo Air: via Kuala Lumpur, Penang
  • Fire Fly: via Kuala Lumpur, Penang
  • Silkair: via Singapore
  • Tigerair: via Singapore
  • Air Asia: via Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuching, Singapore

CHECK IN AREA

CHECK IN AREA

WELCOME DRINK AND COLD TOWEL

WELCOME DRINK AND COLD TOWEL

LOBBY

LOBBY

RECEPTION

RECEPTION

LOBBY

LOBBY

LAWN

LAWN

SPA

SPA

ADULT POOL

ADULT POOL

ADULT POOL

ADULT POOL

ADULT POOL CABANA

ADULT POOL CABANA

ADULT POOL CABANA

ADULT POOL CABANA

ADULT POOL

ADULT POOL

ADULT POOL

ADULT POOL

ADULT POOL

ADULT POOL

BEACH (TOWARDS NORTHEAST)

BEACH (TOWARDS NORTHEAST)

BEACH (TOWARDS NORTHEAST)

BEACH (TOWARDS NORTHEAST)

BEACH

BEACH

BEACH (TOWARDS SOUTHWEST)

BEACH (TOWARDS SOUTHWEST)

BEACH

BEACH

SUNSET BAR

SUNSET BAR

SUNSET BAR

SUNSET BAR

LOBBY AT NIGHT

LOBBY AT NIGHT

SUNSET

SUNSET

ROOM PAVILLION

ROOM PAVILLION

ROOM PAVILLION

ROOM PAVILLION

STAIRS TO ROOM

STAIRS TO ROOM

BEDROOM

BEDROOM

BATH

BATH

BATHROOM

BATHROOM

BED- AND BATHROOM

BED- AND BATHROOM

ROOM TERRACE

ROOM TERRACE

BEDROOM

BEDROOM

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST BUFFET

BREAKFAST AREA

BREAKFAST AREA


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