24-Hour Room Service: Elegance and luxury in an idyllic setting

Tanjong Jara, Malaysia

The east coast of the Malaysian peninsula is washed by some of the most pristine waters in the region, containing spectacular marine parks, turtle hatcheries and coral reefs. Tanjong Jara, the jewel in the crown of the luxury YTL Resorts group, is the only hotel for hundreds of miles to match natural with man-made splendour – the quiet state of Terengganu has not yet made it onto the mass-market tourist map.

First opened in 1979, Tanjong Jara was bought, then comprehensively refurbished and renovated by YTL a decade ago, its design based on the 17th-century palaces of the Malay sultans. It was way ahead of the trend for incorporating local rather than international style into its design and won an Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

Although the steep pitched roofs, gables and intricately carved fretwork echo the heyday of the Malay rulers, it is doubtful that they ever lived as sumptuously as guests at the hotel do now, especially so after the resort opened its award-winning Spa Village. Here, traditional Malay treatments all begin with being bathed and blessed seven times with Mandi Bunga water, which is paraded to the spa in jars with trays of flowers each morning, accompanied by a slow drum beat which was originally part of a sultan's coronation ceremony.

This procession happens just around the time late-risers finish breakfast, and is about the only sound to break the silence of a resort where the tempo is determinedly slow, the evening lights are dimmed, and the only drama comes from the occasional tropical storm.

Visitors (such as the actor Sam Neill, who was there when I stayed) who are content to laze at such a pace may have to stir themselves from the shade of a beach-front sofa or pool-side lounger, so beguilingly calm is the atmosphere. Watersports, a gym and tennis courts are there for the active, although few availed themselves of these on my visit. Most took it easy with a book by the two pools, the larger of which has a built-in Jacuzzi and easy access to the fresh catches and grilled meats served at Nelayan (Malay for fisherman) restaurant.

At the other end of the sprawling site, by the main entrance, Di Atas Sungei is built over a river channel. Here you discuss your dining requirements with a "talking menu" waiter (you can have pretty much anything you like, cooked however you want it) as the sound of the gamelan drifts over from the poolside Teratai Terrace bar. The only slight annoyance is the lack of a proper room service menu for those too relaxed to walk to a restaurant.

Location

Tanjong Jara is eight kilometres from the coastal town of Dungun and one hour's drive south of Kuala Terengganu airport, which is a 45-minute flight from Kuala Lumpur. Set between tropical rainforest and the South China Sea, the resort has no neighbours; sandy beaches stretch to the horizon to the south, while a small promontory marks its limit to the north. For those who choose to explore, there are plenty of diversions: the chef accompanies visitors to the morning fish market in Dungun, a nature cruise travels up the nearby Marang river, and trips are available to the 200m-high Chemerung Waterfall, to the traditional artisans and shipyard in Kuala Terengganu and to the fabulous coral gardens at Tenggol Island, 45 minutes away by speedboat.

Comfort

The low-lit rooms echo the colonnades of the main reception, with a series of dark wood arched panels covering the white walls of the main bedroom. A large double bed faces a TV and sound system built into a wooden pillar. Behind that, almost separating the room into two, is a lightly draped four-poster day bed, desk and chair. The wardrobe is a room in itself and the bathroom is enormous, fitted out with two washbasins, separate shower and large bath. Most of the hotel's 99 rooms are in two storey wooden chalets. Serambi rooms come with private verandas, Bambung without; single storey Anjung rooms have sunken baths and their own garden and the vast Anjung Suite has a bar and powder room.

Tanjong Jara, Batu 8, Off Jalan Dungun, Dungun, Terengganu, Malaysia (00 609 845 1100; tanjongjararesort.com )

Rooms 5 stars
Value 4 stars
Service 3 stars

Double rooms start at $403 (£268), room only.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £32,000 Uncapped

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £10,000 Uncapped - Part Time

    £7500 - £10000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness chai...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Digital Marketing Executive (CRM, Eve...

    Recruitment Genius: Receptionist / Sales / Customer Service Assistant

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: The role is likely to be 4on 4 off, days and ...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea