The island of Langkawi, off the west coast of peninsular Malaysia, has been developing fast over the past 15 years. It's been waiting, though, for a resort to challenge the Datai's position as the hotel most able to pamper the visitor to the island who wants every luxury to be no more than a phone call away. With the opening of the Four Seasons last May, the competition has arrived.
The design combines standard Western comfort with Moorish influences. But Malay style is also evident, for example the Ikan-Ikan (fish) restaurant, was built like a kampong (village) house using no nails.
The resort is spread out, but buggies stand by to take guests from the 180ft lap pool to the gym, or to the family pool with its Jacuzzi jets, or to the spa. Here there are private suites for couples to enjoy massages, and sheltered daybeds off walkways in the middle of a cloistered pool to relax afterwards.
Most of Langkawi is still rainforest, mangrove and paddy. Excursions to the interior or to the marine park south of the main island (Langkawi technically comprises 99 islands, but most are tiny and uninhabited) are available.
Four Seasons Resort, Jalan Tanjung Rhu, 07000 Langkawi, Kedah Darul Aman, Malaysia (00 604 950 8888; www.fourseasons.com/langkawi). The resort is secluded in 48 acres on the northern shore of the island.
Time from international airport: 30 minutes' drive from Langkawi airport which has direct flights from London.
The 68 pavilion rooms are huge and high-ceilinged, the upper ones with Turkish baths crowned by a skylight, the lower ones with outside as well as inside showers. The marble bathrooms are almost as big as the bedrooms. All have terraces or verandas with daybeds and outdoor dining areas, and are surrounded by gardens. The villas have separate living rooms and plunge pools. Larger ones have lap pools, while the Royal Villa has an art collection.
Freebies: Free internet in the library. Overnight shoeshine. Mineral water, and a bottle of red wine on arrival. A cocktail party thrown to welcome guests.
Keeping in touch: Plasma-screen televisions, DVD players, direct-dial telephones with voicemail, high-speed internet access from the rooms.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Doubles start at $495 (£275), room only.
I'm not paying that: Tanjung Rhu (00 604 959 1033; www.tanjungrhu.com.my) is so close to the Four Seasons that you could transfer by kayak. Although it is also a five-star resort, the rooms are nowhere near as luxurious. But it is the sole occupant of the island's most beautiful bay. Doubles available from $245 (£136), including breakfast.