If the background of any novel included a former leper colony turned German submarine base, then Russian cemetery and finally a penal colony, which has seen its share of hardship and pain, most editors would suggest a serious re write. Langkawi, a pulau (an island) off the large island of Penang in Malaysia has a history that would certainly raise eyebrows. However these days it’s a swanky adventure and pampering oasis. Jerejak Resort and Spa may have been the forgotten tropical island but now offers unforgettable holiday and a different experience set in a virgin jungle. The resort offers the serenity that one expects in ths pristine rain forest where the chirping of birds and the strange noise of monkeys are the only distraction.

LOCATION
With 14 superior and 6 executive chalets in the spa area of the resort, (the other part of the resort is devoted to the Adventure Village..more below), this 362 hectare island is just a 10 minute ferry ride from Penang, an island on the west coast of the Peninsula of Malaysia.

Tourists who feel they’ll have a hard time with their baggages before the ferry ride can obtain the services of www.perfectcarhire.com companies in Malaysia. Car hire company personnel in this country are courteous and well-trained to give their clients utmost service. With this option, first-time goers will surely be thrilled with diverse Malaysian cultural heritage which is coupled with delicious foods and ancient festivals. Traveling in Malaysia will surely give tourists a vacation experience they will never forget.

CLIENT
In just under 2 years, the spa has attracted many mainlanders for weekend getaways who have travelled outside the country and have decided to stay close to home. However, they still feel they’re heading to an exotic destination. Jerejak Resort is still in the throes of being touted by international travellers. As word spreads, tourists, like myself, who are enchanted with the island’s history as well as the abundance of activities and the unique spa offering, are discovering this exhilarating but leisurely destination. Given that not everyone loves spas and not everyone likes hiking and biking, Jerejak is the type of resort where a couple with completely different inclinations can decide not only on the accommodations but the recreation. There are no age demographics, only choices. Eco tourism is especially attractive as there are many protected species including white eagles, reptiles bats, lizards and flora and fauna. In fact, some trees are so old, tree huggers needn’t have been worried about their being chopped down. They’ve been incorporated into the architecture.

TREATMENTS
The spa staff includes three masterful, tiny female Indonesian aestheticians who are very shy. However, they have more than a smattering of English and were very keen to discuss the skin care products which they make. Their philosophy incorporates the ultimate pampering of mind, body and soul- a ‘ back to basics’ concept.

Freshly laundered kimonos and cloth panties are offered before the treatment however, you can say no as did my companion. But with the side slits of the underwear, during the massage, modesty was kept in tact. The gentle sea breeze had the see-through white curtaining flowing, the ceiling fan creating cool air, the soothing music very Zen.

Aromatherapy massages are their specialty. My session began with soaking my feet in a basin of warm water to which Yani, my esthetician, added drops of antiseptic. Then onto the table, where for twenty minutes I suffered the rigors of reflexology, where the pain on one of my arches had me eliciting a loud ouch. Yani announced that I have stomach and kidney problems. I promised to look into this diagnosis when I return home. Yani, then prepared potions to apply to my body. Balinese and Indonesian essential oils plus soya oil, considered a rejuvenating elements, was rubbed onto my back and with her firm hands she kneaded my neck and shoulders like a baker over dough. My roommate had chosen another body massage which she said, was too gentle.

The room has two treatment tables and luckily the other client happened to be my travelling companion. If there is one downside, it was the lack of privacy. Both of us were aware of not being alone and would have preferred our own room. There is a single open sided treatment room but a male guest was being pampered after trekking through the pristine forest.

No part of the body or head was left untouched. My scalp and face were massaged giving me the look of someone with a really bad hair day. After showering in the adjoining outdoor shower, I felt for the first time in days, agile and jet lag free.

DESIGN
From the deck off the ferry, the large foyer building is prominent among the very green area. There is an emphasis on luxury at the resort and although it’s located on some rough terrain, the hotel grounds have well manicured gardens.

Both the reception area and the restaurants are designed in an open sided style. Keeping with their mandate of ‘eco and green’, trees are incorporated into the buildings, where in the restaurant a large old tree is plunked almost dead centre.. Where necessary some villas have been built around a few ancient trees on the property.

Two great pieces of furniture are featured in lobby. Large hand crafted benches with curved ends are each made from one piece of wood, designed and made by a local artisans.

The two thatched roof treatment rooms, again open sided, are away from the accommodation part of this complex. Another swimming pool separates the treatment rooms. The chalets have a back to nature feel and were inspired by local ethnic cultures. Some have single bedrooms and other units offer double accommodations. Well aware of ailing backs, each mattress has a special spine-support.

FOOD AND DRINK
In the casual atmosphere which exists throughout the resort, the open sided large, Santapan Restaurant where all the meals are served, is another example of simplicity with very high cathedral ceilings under thatched roof. Buffets are de rigueur and throughout the trip, most of my meals were from a buffet. It was no different here at lunch. However, there is a limited a la carte menu with well prepared and beautifully presented meals. Since there are no other dining options on the island, the owners were intelligent enough to hire a fine chef.

THINGS TO DO

With the all-action Adventure Village on the other side of the resort, there are the usual activities like swimming, volley ball, etc. But for those wanting more, there are mountain bike trails, signed jungle hiking trails, an obstacle course with ‘flying fox’, wall climbing is a big attraction as is the rock climbing. Then there’s the flying fox, a classic outdoor ride that allows kids (big and small) to glide back and forth along several metres of sturdy steel-stranded cable while clutching a plastic trolley. In Jerejak, it’s beside a swinging bridge.

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