From colonial houses turned hotels, to small buen retiros on the islands.
In Malaysia, Heritage Boutique Hotels tell the story of the country’s most authentic atmosphere. From colonial buildings turned into hotels, to small ‘buen retiros’ on islands, or on top of cool hills, here are some of the most beautiful facilities to experience a dream vacation.
Penang – Cheong Fat Tze
Also called the “Blue Mansion,” it’s probably the best-known colonial-era building in all of Malaysia. Today it stands out as a landmark of Penang’s bustling capital, George Town, being a historic attraction and an incredibly charming boutique hotel. The history of this mansion began in the late 19th century, when Cheong Fatt Tze aspired to give himself, his wife and his descendants a place that personified the essence of majesty and elegance. Determined to use only the best materials for his mansion, he also imported some from Scotland. At the height of its glory, Blue Mansion was the beating heart of the city. The space served as both home and office and was the base for Cheong Fatt Tze’s business enterprises. In 2000, The Blue Mansion was awarded the title of UNESCO’s Most Excellent Heritage Project in Pacific Asia. Today the Blue Mansion is a beautiful boutique hotel, with a few rooms and lots of charm.
Villa Samadhi, Kuala Lumpur
Considered one of Kuala Lumpur’s best-kept secrets, this boutique hotel offers a unique experience for those seeking a private retreat within walking distance of the city’s chaotic center. Here you’re immersed in a luxurious atmosphere inspired by traditional Malaysian country village houses (kampung), with furnishings of reclaimed lumber, polished stones, bamboo and natural elements. The entire structure of the villa is paved with vegetation and lanterns along the walkway, which opens to its beautiful pool.
Japamala Resort, Tioman Island
Located on the southern coast of Tioman Island, the resort owes its name to the colorful beads used for prayers in mantra meditation, a symbol of peace and serenity. Surrounded by lush tropical wilderness and with its breathtaking private beach, Japamala gives the feeling of being away from the rest of the world, in absolute relaxation. I wooden bungalow, the “sarang” (rooms) on the hills, sprout out of the green like nests and are built and designed to preserve the beauty of Tioman Island without spoiling its magnificent natural scenery and taking up the original structure of local homes, respectful of and in tune with the surrounding nature. Each room is different from the other and well hidden from the neighbors, for a romantic and peaceful vacation.
The Majestic, Kuala Lumpur
Built in 1932, it has become one of Kuala Lumpur’s great hotels, a venue for glamorous events, parties, government receptions and the residence of important international visitors. It’s inspired by a mix of neoclassical and art déco styles: the main building has tall classical Roman columns; the orchid greenhouse is dedicated to the most special events, from afternoon tea to social gatherings; a roof garden with a dance floor and seating for 350 guests are also found. Artists from around the world have performed in this prestigious hotel, now converted into a luxury boutique hotel.
Gaya Island Resort, Gaya Island (Sabah)
The splendor of the Gaya Island resort is nature itself, untouched as it has always been. This resort is located on one of the protected islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, hidden by mangroves, sheltered by coral reefs and surrounded by the pristine sandy shoreline of Malohom Bay. From the resort you can explore and discover an ancient rainforest with Mount Kinabalu on the horizon. The Gaya resort blends harmoniously with the natural environment characterized by a “chain” of hillside villas. The interiors are contemporary and elegant, but still respectful of the Sabah elements and essence. Indeed, the resort is committed to ecologically sustainable practices to minimize its impact on the environment.
Terengganu, Terrapuri (The Land Of Palaces)
A project to preserve and restore classical Malay houses in Terengganu. The layout of the resort is inspired by the 17th-century Terengganu Palace and its surroundings. Featuring 29 houses dating back between 100 and 250 years, Terrapuri consists of more than 20 exclusive restored villas surrounded by the picturesque fishing village that still shows its original 17th-century architecture. The houses have triangular-shaped gabled roofs made of Cengal wood, where the panels are interlocked without the use of nails. Terrapuri is located on land flanked by the South China Sea on one side and a mangrove river on the other, giving breathtaking views of the Pulau Perhentian, Lang Tengah, Pulau Cepu, Redang and Bidong islands. Turtles can be seen from May to September, thanks to the Malaysian Tropical Forest Conservation Project (MTFCP), which runs a sea turtle protection plan.
The Majestic Malacca, Melaka
The riverfront Majestic in Melaka is a restored 1920s mansion that retains its original porcelain tile floors and teak wood fittings. The rooms and suites, as well as the spa, reflect that era, blending luxury, modernity and tradition. The origins of The Majestic Malacca began in 1929 as the private residence of a tycoon named Leong Long Man. His son, who was entrusted with the family property, sold the mansion in 1955 to a businessman named Lim Heng Fang who turned it into a hotel. Stying at the Majestic became a “status symbol” in the 1950s and 1960s, even hosting the Prime Minister of Malaysia when he announced the independence of the former British colony in 1957. The hotel was closed in 2000 until YTL Hotels Group stepped in and the historic building was fully restored and reopened as The Majestic Malacca in January 2008.
Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor Island
A stunning resort built on a private island hemmed in by fine sandy beaches and emerald waters, nestled in a lush rainforest facing the Straits of Malacca, three miles off Malaysia’s west coast. To preserve the natural environment, only part of this tiny island has been developed to house this quiet luxury resort. Here the wooden buildings blend with the forest-their structure is designed to be part of the existing environment, and the materials used are natural and designed to blend with the surrounding flora. Not only is the island home to one of the best resorts in the world, but also to a wide variety of wildlife.
Cameron Highlands Resort
Nestled in a lush forest on the Cameron Highlands, the Cameron Highlands Resort was built on an existing 1930s cottage. The interior recalls its grand colonial heritage and impeccable friendly service greets guests with traditional English charm blended with understated Asian hospitality. Due to the cool climate of this picturesque plateau and its hilly vegetation, the Cameron Highlands are known as the “little piece of England in Asia”. Among these rolling mountainous landscapes are golf courses, tea plantations, farms and gardens, Tudor-style cottages and you can indulge in afternoon tea with butter cookies, just like in an English estate.
Credits: Tourism Malaysia