The Datai

Langkawi, Malaysia Book from Book from £479 per night

Stunning rainforest resort with spa, nature centre, flawless rooms and villas on a private beach with views across to Thailand
This is a phenomenal place. The Datai has been carefully constructed on a hillside shrouded in 750 hectares of virgin rainforest, descending to a long stretch of pristine, powdery white-sand beach. Chattering monkeys swing around majestic trees, hornbills, kingfishers and squirrels fly through the branches, and giant monitor lizards hide among strangler figs and mangroves.

But this is no jungle camp; it's Malaysia's flagship hotel, on the unspoilt NW coast of favourite holiday island, Langkawi. On arrival we were greeted with jasmine-scented towels and fragrant tea in the airy Lobby Lounge, where the views stretch over the canopy to Thailand. Impeccably styled rooms, suites and villas come with daybeds and luxurious bathrooms as well as private terraces and balconies. There's a wonderfully soothing spa in the jungle, a state-of-the-art nature centre, open-sided holistic pavilion, and 2 pools - one for couples high up by the main building, and the other for families down by the beach. There are also 4 superb eateries and 2 bars on site, providing everything from fine dining to informal beach drinks. Don't miss the fascinating guided nature walks led by knowledgeable local naturalists; check out the 18-hole golf course (one of Asia's most dramatic). We absolutely loved it.

Highs

  • The iconic setting in virgin rainforest with a private white-sand beach for snorkelling, swimming, strolls and sailing - no motorised watersports allowed (sustainability is taken very seriously here)
  • Beautifully prepared food and delicious drinks in all on-site restaurants
  • The recent no-expense-spared refurbishment has delivered extremely smart yet understated design throughout, deploying impressive architecture, local natural materials and a technological upgrade
  • Abundant wildlife all around, protected by a hotel-funded conservation programme, oft-sighted on the grand staircase and its enchanting butterfly walk
  • Superlative friendly service

Lows

  • Leaving - we were quite bereft. And could see why so many guests return time after time (book ahead!)
  • Pricey, but seriously worth it!
  • Steep footpaths and steps lead from the main hotel rooms down to the beach, but there are electric buggies to whisk you around
  • As you're in the rainforest expect loud jungle noises, and you may come face to face with inquisitive monkeys, lizards and geckos anywhere on the estate
  • Inevitably there's a bit of a gated community feel; excursions to see Langkawi are easily arranged of course

Best time to go

At any time of year you can expect the temperature to be in the 30s C / 90s F, with humidity above 80%. The rainy season runs from July-October, when there is heavy tropical rainfall most afternoons or early in the evening.

Our top tips

The Datai is very relaxed, but some like to dress up a little for dinner. You’re fine with shorts and trainers for the guided walks, but if you intend to do some serious jungle trekking, bring good boots and tight-weave trousers;. If you've room in your suitcase (and money in your wallet!) the boutique has some great objets d'art, clothing and jewellery for sale, plus there's an Atelier showcasing the arts and crafts of Malaysia.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
Romantic
Spa
  • Luxury Resort
  • 121 rooms, suites and villas
  • Restaurants and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Tennis Court
  • Bicycles Available
  • Library
Room: Beach Villa Bedroom

Rooms

121 rooms and villas are divided into 3 categories: Canopy, Rainforest and Beach. In all, expect clean, classy design with lots of wood, blissful kingsize beds, own-brand sustainable toiletries and effective air-con. Luxurious cream terrazzo bathrooms have a double-ended bath, separate rainfall shower and twin sinks as standard. Other in-room extras include beach bags, binoculars, bathrobes and sandals, coffee machines and minibars with great complimentary goodies.

Canopy
In the 4-storey hotel building at the top of the resort, most rooms fall into the Deluxe or Premium Room categories, beautifully designed with hardwood floors and 2 daybeds. Canopy Suites are larger, with a separate living area with dining table and a more spacious L-shaped balcony with stupendous views.

For families or friends travelling together, the Datai Suite has its own mezzanine, with 2 double ensuite bedrooms separated by a generous living/dining area, surrounded by a gorgeous balcony looking towards Thailand.

Rainforest
Rainforest Villas nestle in the jungle as you approach the beach, and have a huge main bedroom, high vaulted ceilings, daybed and dining table. Double doors lead into a party-sized bathroom and dressing area, with basins and infinity mirrors on either side. Outside is a veranda with chairs. Rainforest Pool Villas also have a 10m swimming pool and a daybed on their raised terraces.

Beach
International superstars might prefer the stunning glass-walled, butler-serviced 1- or 2-bedroom Beach Villas, which open directly onto the beach - or the newest addition, the signature 5-villa 2-pool Datai Estate which comes with a chef. All are hidden in their own gated gardens and have vast bathrooms.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Cots Available
  • DVD player
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Pre-loaded iPod and Bose docking stations
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Seasonal fresh fruit bowl
  • Slippers
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is in The Dining Room overlooking the adults pool. Expect a beautifully displayed buffet of every breakfast variant, from Asian noodles to smoked fish to pancakes and eggs cooked to order, detox juices, roti channai, plates of fresh pomelo and mango, patisseries by the bucket load, sausages, cold cuts and cheeses. Come sundown, the restaurant transforms into an adults-only (12+) French fine dining venue.

In the main building above, with panoramic views over the jungle to Thailand beyond, the breeze-cooled Lobby Lounge offers tapas, fantastic cocktails and full afternoon tea.

On stilts among the tree canopy below, the signature Thai restaurant, The Pavilion, serves eye-wateringly authentic dishes. The chef can cook your catch after a successful day’s fishing on request. Even our simple duck red curry was a knock-out.

The jungle-immersed kampung-styled Gulai House serves delicious Malaysian food - we loved our fish presented inside a bamboo stick. Less formal is The Beach Club, where you can tuck into pizzas, nasi goreng and fresh seafood. Nearby is The Beach Bar, the perfect spot for daytime snacks and cocktails and canapés at sunset.

If you're out for the day, ask for a picnic basket. Staff can also magic up a candlelit dinner for 2 on the beach with petals strewn around.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: The Dining Room (Exterior)
Activity:

Activities

  • Nature lovers will be in paradise with over 200 bird species to spot (you get a handy guide in your room), including hornbills, sunbirds and sea eagles, plus exotic butterflies, mammals and (benign) reptiles. The dedicated state-of-the-art Nature Centre by the beach has a team of resident naturalists who lead guided nature walks. Expect colugos, macaques, monitor lizards, giant squirrels, kingfishers and monkeys; hope for flying squirrels and wild boar; listen for cicadas and frogs. Sunset prowlers include slow loris, dusky leaf and spider monkeys
  • There are hiking trails for independent explorers. The Rimba Trail goes through mangrove and jungle up to a canopy suspension bridge
  • The bay is fabulous for swimming and watersports; book a diving lesson, try windsurfing and paddle-boarding, kayaking and snorkelling
  • Sail Hobie Cats across the bay or join a day cruise (complete with butler) aboard the Naga Pelangi, the traditional 22m Malay junk schooner
  • Chill in The Spa beside the butterfly walk which offers traditional Malaysian ‘Ramuan’ healing rituals and couples' treatments; enjoy yoga and Pilates classes in the Holistic Pavilion
  • Take a mangrove cruise along the UNESCO-listed Kilim river; highlights include a bat-cave, million-year-old karst formations and Brahminy kites
  • Grab a mountain bike or rent a car or take a driver to explore Langkawi, the curved Sky Bridge and cable car are nearby
  • Play tennis on one of 2 tennis courts
  • The beautifully landscaped 18-hole championship golf course, The Els Club, offers lessons

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Stand-up paddle boarding
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Trekking
  • Well being
  • Wildlife
  • Windsurfing
  • Yoga

Kids

This is a tropical delight for families! The Datai is set on a gently shelving beach with soft white sand (perfect for sandcastles near the shore) and sand crab cities and rockpools to discover. The littoral forest which frames the beach provides much-needed shade. The family-friendly pool is just beside the beach with loungers and umbrellas, and also has a shaded toddler pool alongside. And, of course, the nature walks, bespoke canopy walk and wonderful jungle will delight older children interested in wildlife - sea eagles wheeled overhead all day when we stayed! And the staff are utterly charming with kids. Note that kids aged 12 and over are charged as adults.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Pleasingly, all accommodation works for families. All the Canopy rooms are ideal, each sleeping up to 4 in a kingsize bed and 2 single daybeds. Rainforest Villas each feature a queensize daybed that could sleep 2 children. Beach Villas have single day beds. There are also some 2-bedroom configurations. Note that no rollaway beds are available

Babysitting:

Available by arrangement; local nannies can be hired

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • Stokke high chairs are available in the main restaurants

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Children's meals are available at all of The Datai's restaurants

Kids Activities on site:

  • Large swimming pool with shallow end
  • Shaded toddler splash pool
  • Guided nature walks through the forest and mangrove, new canopy walk
  • Wonderful Nature Centre offering jungle-themed activities
  • Organised family treks
  • Kayak over to a nearby island and help clear the beach of plastic
  • Watersports
  • Find the frogs on the lily pads beside the Lobby Lounge
  • Learn about traditional arts & crafts in the Atelier

Kids Activities nearby:

  • The Sky Bridge and cable cars are nearby
  • Take a boat trip in the UNESCO-listed Kilim Geopark for bat caves, karst formations and mangrove wildlife

Families Should Know:

Children under 16 are not allowed to use the upper pool or lobby lounge, but the pool at beach level is perfect for apprentice swimmers and their parents. There's a full time doctor and nurse on the resort

Distances:

  • Airport: 40 minutes
  • Hospital: 45 minutes
  • Shops: 45 minutes - 1 hour
Kid Friendly: cut down Kids N/L May 2019

Location

The Datai is on the northwest tip of Langkawi, which is the main island of the Langkawi archipelago (99 islands lying off the northwestern coast of Peninsular Malaysia), close to the Thai border.

By Air:
There are daily domestic flights to Langkawi from Kuala Lumpur and from Penang. Flights from Europe usually go via Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. Click on the links below for a list of airlines.

From the Airport
The hotel will send a car or limousine transfer for the quiet 40-minute drive from Langkawi airport.

Detailed directions will be sent to you after booking through i-escape.

More on getting to Malaysia and getting around.

Airports:

  • Langkawi 30.0 km LGK

Other:

  • Beach 0.1 km
  • Shops 10.0 km
  • Restaurant 0.5 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
9/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
10/10
Overall

The rooms and overall facilities are very nice. Renovation is not complete, but it did NOT negatively impact our stay. Had some 'issues' in the beginning with our room and those were handled perfectly by management. Overall, a very well-run, high end experience, although Langkawi itself doesn't have a lot to offer (outside of this hotel, or other resorts). Also, the quality of water at the beach varied from day to day....not the fault of the resort, but something to be aware of.

9/10,

{{ review.rating }}/10, {{ review.firstName }}Anonymous{{ review.countryName ? ', '+ review.countryName : '' }},

Rates for The Datai

Check Availability