Turning into E22 of the Senai-Desaru Highway is definitely a pleasure because I know I’m about to embark on a luxurious journey to Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas (Anantara) where paradise awaits us.
Upon arrival, my son was thrilled to hit the big gong with an Anantara staff who was in all smiles to greet us. I was then ushered outdoors for the check-in process; overlooking the beautiful resort and the natural sea with my welcome drink and kuih ros snack before being shown to our Deluxe Sea-View room where my family and I will be spending the next two nights.
The Deluxe Sea-View room is extremely spacious with a sitting area in the balcony that overlooks the pool and the expanse sea.
The bathroom consists of large mirrors (my favourite part), and double sinks for convenience with a touch of thoughtful amenities including two types of body lotions that smells heavenly. After settling down a bit, we were looking forward to meeting our naturalist, Along, for an evening nature walk.
Come along with Along on a nature trail
Along, Anantara’s Naturalist met us out front at the lobby geared with a sun hat and a wealth of knowledge. A few guests of the hotel joined us on this walk and we were definitely awed by the various plants and species found on the resort that not only looks pretty but equipped with medicinal properties. Along, who hails from Langkawi, is extremely passionate about nature and she can provide insightful details about plants and other wildlife in the vicinity. We discovered that Bauhinia flower tree helps predict the weather – for instance if there are no flowers on the tree means we are in for a dry spell, and that Red Button Ginger plant work wonders as a mosquito repellent! Our walk ended by the beach where Along shares a beautiful love story about ‘Pokok Penawar’ (Scaevola Taccada) in which the town of Bandar Penawar is named after. For those who are unaware, the flowers of the penawar plant are symbolised in the Desaru Coast logo and a corporate identity. The nature walks are available complimentary for the guests either in the morning or evening, and you can obtain the timings at the reception.
Sea. Salt. Fire
After our informative walk with Along, our tummies were rumbling and we were ready for another short walk to Anantara’s signature seafront restaurant that serves fresh seafood and premium meats.
Sea. Salt. Fire is all about serving customised culinary finesse from cocktails to seafood platters served on Himalayan salt blocks. The choices are fresh, and the taste is a constant blend of spices, salt and sweetness.
We had a curated menu that started off from the Cold Kitchen with fresh Rock Oysters served on ice with Homemade Ponzu, Salmon Roe and Pickled Ginger followed by thinly sliced Scallop Carpaccio that comes with Mango Salsa, Caviar, Radish and Gremolata. Our third appetiser was art on plate – Creamy Smoked Duck that was not only pretty to look at but absolutely delicious.
For our mains, we had their signature seafood served on Himalayan Salt Brick which was real feast for the eyes and palate. Our platter consisted of Rock Lobsters, Prawns, Scallops, Seabass, Calamari, Soft Shell Crabs with sides of Truffle Fries and Salad served with House Wagamama Dressing and Lemon Butter Sauce to complement the seafood. As we can’t consume beef, the chefs were happy to curate a chicken dish as a replacement. We ended our meal with one of their signature desserts chicly named the Mont Blanc that consisted a rich chocolate Manjari block, Mango Brulee and Cinnamon Gelato.
The lavish line up of meals and the experienced and friendly staffs made the dining experience a memorable one.
Sunrise Dong Stick, Desaru Beachlife & Tidepool Discovery
The next morning I woke up early to meet Nuri, a Naturalist from JungleWalla Desaru Coast, who was going to teach me the Dong Stick exercise. Originating from Vietnam and occurring at sunrise from Monday to Friday for about 40 minutes, this exercise requires a lot of flexing with a long bamboo stick. Brought to Anantara for the in-house guests by JungleWalla Desaru Coast, this exercise movement, supported by a bamboo cane develop agility, joint strength, flexibility, stress reduction, and mental stability. Coupled with the sound of waves and cool breeze, I felt at ease trying out the motions which were relatively new to me!
As we had a good weather and fairly low tide, Nuri took us on an interesting journey along the coast to discover hidden sea creatures such as the Sand Dollars from the sea urchin family, Cuttlefish bones, Corals and Sea Sponges, Barnacles, Hermit Crabs, Worms and loads of different shapes and sizes of Seashells that we have been probably collecting but have no idea about it. We also discovered beautiful patterns made by the Sand Bubbler Crabs, and thanks to Nuri we learnt a lot and will never take nature for granted again. This walk which is subject to weather and tide conditions is a must do at Anantara as you would be surprised by the rich biodiversity and the many secret creatures that lies between the tides.
When we think of turmeric, we know it’s an essential spice used in both Malaysian and Thai cooking. Turmeric restaurant in Anantara is quintessentially their all-day-dining featuring the best of local flavours and from Thailand. After my Dong Stick session and Beachlife walk, I was famished and was looking forward to having my breakfast here which has Malaysian classic dishes such as Nasi Lemak, Kway Teow, Roti Jala to Roti Canai, Dim Sums and some Continental selections.
Time for Some Family Fun
As I had some time with my family before our next activity, we explored the resort in bicycles that are conveniently parked downstairs near the villas for guests to use. We headed towards the Layang Layang Kids Club and my son was delighted to do a bit of rock climbing while I popped over next door to Luncur Ombak Teens Club where even adults can have a round at the arcade games, play foosball or try a hand at the PlayStation.
Every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the Kids
Club team hosts ‘Cinema Under the Stars’ with bean bags sprawled on their lawn playing family friendly movies with popcorn and juice served. However, do take note that this movie night is subject to weather conditions and if there are no Dining by Design (private dining experience) scheduled at the Herbs Garden.
Adventure and Spice Spoons
At Anantara, you can never feel bored because the environment here is gorgeous with serene views of the 13 kampung style villas facing the river, and you can either take a pick of swimming at two of their pools, or at the beach.
For the adventurous junkies, you may try out some water sports offered by DASH Watersports (chargeable). But if you want more excitement for the family, the resort has the right sort of activity to get everyone involved through food!
It’s no secret that Malaysians are foodies and enjoy mixing flavours, so take it a notch higher by recreating dishes under the expert’s eye through Anantara’s Spice Spoons cooking classes with their in-house chefs. My son started off first with Chef Nabila who is an expert at making Roti Jala. She patiently taught my son the steps, and donning his apron provided by Head Chef Mizan, he was able to create a few pieces flawlessly!
Next up, my husband and I had our cooking turn with Chef Jasper who taught us a luxurious take on Kari Laksa consisting of Tiger Prawns! We ended the cooking class with Pastry Chef Amirul who showed us how to make Kuih Ketayap and plating it in the fanciest possible way ever! Who would have thought that the good ol’ kuih can look so exquisite! To complement our dishes, we were served with coconut water straight from the source with recyclable straws. We chose to dine in the comfort of our room and with the wonderful breeze going around the entire resort; we dined at our balcony facing the sea – a perfect way to relax in the afternoon.
In the evening we went for a swim to burn off some calories before our Thai-Laysia Buffet dinner at Turmeric. For those who’d like to have a drink before their meals, look no further than the Observatory Bar which has 360° views of the resort and great drinks.
The Thai-Laysia Buffet is indeed lavish and you’d be spoiled for choices. Outdoors, the chef will be grilling Satay and you will find a variety of grilled food here including Grilled Seabass, Lamb, Prawns and so on. Indoors, there are a variety of Thai options as well as classic Malaysian food that makes you wanting for more. Do save space for Chef Amirul’s Thai Tea Crème Brulee which is totally out of this world!
On my last day here, I decided to stick to lighter options at the breakfast buffet as I was scheduled to experience their signature massage at the Anantara Spa. Just a few steps away from the main entrance, be transported to another world of tranquillity. Originating in Thailand, traversing the globe, Anantara Spa’s award-winning touch heals body, mind and soul. Upon arrival, I was given a welcome tea and guided to choose the right sort scented oil to be used on my body, and to choose soothing music for my ears during my massage session.
My massage therapist Rahana, is well experienced and I was treated to their Signature Swedish Massage for 60 minutes. Rahana was gentle yet firm with her strokes, giving me good tips along the way as well. I felt blissful and completely stress-free after my session and I highly recommend booking in advance to get a much needed pampering for your body and mind!
Alas, it was time to say goodbye but leaving with pleasant memories of Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas. Whether you’re planning an outdoor wedding by the beach, or want to celebrate special occasions or looking forward to some quality time with your family and friends, Anantara is the place to be as they can curate it especially for you at any of their rooms, villas, residences or outdoor spaces. Rates may fluctuate according to season, do browse their website for promotions at www.anantara.com or call +607 8280888.