Scaevola taccada is a native Langkawi plant that’s important to the ecosystem because it prevents the erosion of sand into the sea. The plant, also believed to have healing properties, is where boutique Ambong Ambong takes its Malaysian name.
I found myself at the foot of a steep thickly forested hill waiting to be escorted to one of three suites perched atop the rainforest retreat. Like having a private driver, I was then given a phone to contact the sweet attendants whenever I wanted to come back down or be collected from central Pantai Chenang five minutes away.
Life-long conservationist and manager Anna Hue didn’t want to adopt the usual architectural building plan of removing trees and levelling the land: “Whatever we did had to be based on minimal intervention, adapting ourselves to the terrain and existing environment.”
As my first luxury destination from roughing it up in India, you can only imagine how excited I was to open doors to a spacious, impeccably clean outdoor deck high up in the canopies overlooking the Andaman Sea. The real win perhaps was a wooden bathtub calling out for a wine session while watching parasailers glide across the horizon.
“Oh, cute!” I said, grabbing the large crocodile plushie from the kitchen bench, later learning its practical purpose of warding off monkeys. Yup, those cheeky buggers like to come say hello.
Slide open your bedroom door and you’ll find a boastful king bed drenched in natural lighting. After a glorious cat stretch, I laid still as my romantic bed canopy softly blew in the air-con breeze around me. The bathroom with its huge mirrors and rain shower head beside an open window was no less of a high modern standard.
Every slow morning was a full hearty spread of continental or traditional Malaysian breakfast with fresh watermelon and pulp-licious orange juice on the balcony.
Onsite, there’s yoga classes tucked away on a beautiful airy deck and the award-winning Japanese restaurant Unkaizen – a place you might just visit more than once.
The WiFi was spotty but a quick phone call sends a helper to reconnect the wires as the disconnect is usually due to menacing monkeys. How could you be mad at monkeys?
After all, “The monkeys are the original residents and we are the interlopers!” said Anna, having lost count of how many times they needed to fix their damaged rooves, TV dishes and other furniture.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Uniqueness: Thoughtfully designed modern simplicity, 4/5
Sense of place: Langkawi nature integration, 5/5
General vibe: Tranquil and private, 5/5
Room comfort: It was difficult to leave the suite, 5/5
Service: Personal and caring, 5/5
This experience was independently paid for.
Some images kindly provided with thanks to Ambong Ambong.
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Ambong Ambong Rainforest Retreat, Pantai Tengah, Langkawi. Suite, from MYR 1180 per night, inclusive of continental breakfast. Other rooms from MYR 828-1600.