“The entire mirror is made from silver”, says Sofhian, my butler (because that's how I roll), referring to the 30-something foot burnished mirror that dominates the Drawing Room at the brand-spanking new St. Regis Langkawi.
“In fact, what the creators did is crush the silver down to a fine powder, that's what gives it the brushed look”. I'm impressed, not just with the opulence surrounding me – the room oozes the uber-cool of a New York loft combined with a flourish of pared back European style – but also with Sofhian's knowledge. For a hotel that’s only just opened (the King of Malaysia dropped by apparently), the staff are on point.
The St. Regis Langkawi is the brand's 37th address worldwide and its first in Malaysia. The property is also a new and visible symbol of the Malaysian Government's commitment to develop the 99 island archipelago, South East Asia's first UNESCO Geopark, with the country's Ministry of Finance holding a stake in the joint venture.
A new Jewel on the Andaman Sea
When St Regis founder John Jacob Astor IV opened his original Manhattan hostelry in 1904, no expense was spared in making it a paean to the gilded age. The St Regis Langkawi’s interiors in many ways reflect Astor’s legacy and philosophy. For starters, globally renowned architecture firm Gensler designed the structure. Wander inside and the eye drinks in the distinct rainforest-meets-Moorish, Middle Eastern feel. High windows in the main 'mansion' building offer uninterrupted views of the dramatic landscape – the emerald green of the Andaman Sea, nearby islands and surrounding lush vegetation tightly packed on the hills of rich basalt soil.
The resort boasts eighty-nine suites of blissful tropical luxury. Inside mine, the pale marble and rich, soft creams give way to a bold and striking outdoors. Step through the Moorish arch of the secluded patio into a personal, blue and white cloth-shaded dip pool and private garden. The rustically Arabian back gate from the ground floor pool villas steps leads out to the resort's private beach and swimmable lagoon.
The butler service runs 24/7 and includes standards such as garment pressing, shoe shine and a morning beverage service upon waking. The in-room, private dining delivers dishes from the resort's signature restaurant, L'Orangerie.
Wine and Dine St. Regis style
St. Regis's pedigree as a food and wine lover's destination continues at the Langkawi address. Whether you're a dedicated, gastronomically inclined bon vivant or a casual diner, there is a wealth of variety, flavours and styles to sample.
St. Regis Bar and Decanter
A floor to ceiling triptych made from carved Banyan tree wood dominates the shaded, refined St. Regis Bar – it feels as if the rainforest is cascading down the nearby hills and inviting itself inside. St. Regis's illustrious history with the Bloody Mary continues with the resort's signature drink, the Lang Mary – hints of Tamarind and pandan leaf add complexity and a tropical edge to an old classic.
The Bar 's Decanter room – a stacked collection of over 500 of the finest wines from around the globe - features complimentary wine tasting from 6:30pm daily. It's a great spot to meet and get to know the other guests over a glass of wine.
The Bill Bensley designed Kayuputi (or “White Wood” in Bahasa Indonesian) is fast becoming a sub-brand within St. Regis itself – those familiar with the St. Regis's Bali will know of Kayuputi’s haute-Asian theme and the same is true here.
The restaurant is a study in white and exudes a relaxed charm. Outside, diners can lounge on the unique hammock net seating that hangs over the lagoon's waters – the ideal location to take in the sunset over the peaks and the glistening stillness of the Andaman Sea, or to just idly graze across the menu.
Lunch consists of a five-course degustation menu. Unsurprisingly seafood features heavily – after a refreshing appetiser of tuna tartar with mango salsa, a pan-seared scallop in light broth with handmade pumpkin ravioli and caviar is deliciously smooth and subtle – the scallop is cooked just a hair's breadth on the side of firm.
Next - a substantial wagyu sirloin with king mushrooms, broccoli and a rich, well-balanced jus. Served rare, the wagyu's heavily marbled flesh delivers a succulently smooth, sweet taste. Of special note is the Panko-fried whole egg with white truffle oil, hollandaise and steamed spinach. Its deceptively simple appearance is testament to the technique at play – the whole egg is flash fried, encased in Panko. My knife cuts the crust and the soft centre of the egg cascades onto the greens, simple yet full of flavour – delicious.
L'Orangerie provides all-day dining for guests and visitors alike. The menu, infused with French inspiration, also offers some of the hotel's signature dishes. A must-try is the hotel's not so humble take on Malaysia's national dish, Nasi Lemak. Aromatic coconut rice is accompanied by a trivium of a rich lamb-shank rendang, butter-grilled Andaman lobster and fermented squid sambal. Each element is expertly done – crushed Panko adds texture to the salty buttered lobster, the squid sambal delivers a balanced heat and the lamb shank falls apart in the mouth.
Breakfast is a rolling feast of small bites and culinary flair. The signature lobster omelette comes steaming hot on a cast iron grill plate, sitting in a fragrant lobster broth. The single serve bread and butter pudding with a slightly sweet, cinnamon infused cream poured over the pudding at the table is a heart-startlingly scrumptious guilty pleasure to start the day.
The morning isn’t complete without dropping into The Gourmond Deli for a shot of espresso, a cup of cha from the selection of TWG teas as well as one of the exquisitely colourful house-made pastries. Guests with children will soon have the option of sending their kids to the Deli for interactive activities such as cupcake and sandwich making – it will keep the kids occupied (and fed) while you splash about, read or watch Netflix ... and chill.
After an overindulgent morning and a late lunch on day 2, we head to Iridium spa for some pampering. It's a good thing we've nothing on until dinner, at 120 minutes the spa's signature Malaya treatment is an exercise in deep relaxation. Using local botanicals and inspired by royal traditions, our therapists scrape, scrub, massage and wash us into a deeply relaxed mix of hedonistic pleasure and contentment.
Back and forth
The resort provides guests with the option of a chauffeur service to and from Langkawi's airport. I choose to travel in the brand new, rev-head inducing BMW 7 series. For a truly decadent 30-minute drive, take the house Bentley. Request some smooth lounge or jazz tunes and get into the spirit of luxury island living.
The luxury treatment continues right up until we board our flight – the airport features a dedicated, opulent lounge specifically for St. Regis and Westin guests. Grab a pre-flight coffee and choose from the free, resort-made pastries and sandwiches.
At the end of a few days sunning and sating the senses, it's the perfect exit.