Lumut holds promise as a weekend getaway.
When people scout for holiday destinations at islands off the west coast, they usually head to Penang, Langkawi or Pangkor. But Lumut town, famed for its port and Royal Malaysian Navy base, is steadily drawing in tourists because it is just a ferry ride away from Pangkor.
On invitation to check out Lumut’s Swiss-Garden Golf Resort & Spa Damai Laut recently, I was expecting a laid-back place with few tourists but was I in for a shock as our chauffeur drove us into the hotel grounds.
Almost every vehicle in the car park had plates registered in Singapore or Kuala Lumpur! I half expected to bump into my neighbor or colleague at the lobby. (After all, I once stumbled upon a yoga student working in a cafeteria at a national park in Alaska!)
Since Lumut is only a three-odd hour drive away from Kuala Lumpur, city dwellers tend to flock here on weekends and during holiday season.
People arrived in droves and came armed with prams, milk bottles, wheelchairs, fishing rods . . .
But me? I brought along my friend Megan and a laptop.
Smiling porters and a gentle salty breeze greeted us as we stepped into the lobby. We completed the formalities and were whisked into our recently remodeled rooms.
Our balcony had a view of Pangkor Island, the Straits of Malacca and the two swimming pools. Ahhh, the serene blue sea and squealing kids . . . I immediately locked away my laptop.
The 425-acre (172ha) Swiss-Garden Golf Resort & Spa Damai Laut comprises the Damai Laut Golf & Country Club, Swiss-Court Holiday Apartments and Swiss-Villas, the latter being their bestseller.
At the Malaysia Tourism Awards 2008/09, the hotel walked away with Best Hotel Services 4-star (resort). Not surprising as the place is managed well and has a friendly appeal.
The hotel is in the midst of being refurbished in stages and the rooms exude a comfy tone with its soft hues and traditional fittings, which are reminiscent of its Perak heritage.
While the Holiday Apartments operate on a time-share basis and have their own pool and restaurant, the 10 Swiss-Villas act as a home away from home. The charming villas, complete with four bedrooms are tastefully furnished with attention to detail and overlook the golf course. It has all the amenities one would want in a city condominium minus the bustling lifestyle. Guests can choose from the contemporary pattern or resort concept but I found both equally inviting.
A walk in the grounds comes highly recommended because the landscaping is delightfully done. The premises provide the perfect backdrop for water and team building activities and there’s something for every age group. Work is also underway to build a jungle hut.
We tried the hotel’s latest addition — the eight-element rope course that runs along the fringes of the jungle and the 100ft (30.5m) flying fox, which was a real thrill because you had to catch the net at the end.
It is relatively easy if you’re reasonably fit but if you’re not a brave soul, opt for the four-element course instead.
Complimentary activities include movie nights, face painting, origami, mask making, hand printing, hat making . . . the list is endless. If boredom sets in, one can always venture into Lumut town to shop for some cuttlefish or hop on a boat for a quick tour around Pangkor Island and witness the fishermen bringing in the day’s catch. Or snorkel at a nearby island.
Golf enthusiasts can look forward to the award-winning 18-hole par 72, buggy-tracked golf course which overlooks the Malacca Straits and estuaries of the Dinding River. Many tournaments are held here, and there is also a pro shop selling golf accessories and merchandise. After a game, golfers can have a taste of Thai at the Thai Taste Restaurant.
Resort director and avid golfer Ian Riley gave us an express golf lesson. Needless to say, I won’t be switching professions anytime soon.
At the Samsara Spa, masseuses take you on a hedonistic voyage. The spa overlooks the sea although guests will probably doze off with the Balinese-style ambience.
We were treated to the Spa’s signature massage, which began with a foot ritual. Megan had a blind masseuse and I had a gentle local girl.
We were kneaded with long, therapeutic strokes and blended essential oils to invigorate circulation. Every few minutes the masseuse would ask: “Is the pressure OK?” Because the rates are so affordable, guests are advised to make reservations as the slots are constantly full, especially during peak period.
By the time we emerged from the spa, all we wanted to do was sleep. But no, we had to try all the eateries and add on the kilos. Diners can choose from the Garden Terrace, Swiss Deli, Noodle House, Gayam Seafood and Barbecue Bar, Blue Chip Lounge. Night birds can adjourn to the lounge for some dancing or to the karaoke outlet.
The hotel tries to capitalize on Malaysia’s heritage by using local products and adheres to environmentally friendly measures whenever possible. It has a herb garden and grows its own vegetables although produce isn’t enough to supply its restaurants. Most of the flowers and herbs used at the spa are picked from around the resort.
“We also make our own compost using kitchen wastes and use it as fertilizer for the plants. As you can see, they’re all healthy and green.
However, we have to use chemicals on the golf course to keep bugs away,” says Riley, admitting that the chemical-based soap in the rooms could also do with upgrading.
Meander around and you’ll see tons of coconut, papaya and mango trees everywhere. Unfortunately, Riley says, monkeys can be a pest especially when they know the trees are fruiting. He’s still trying to devise a way to keep them away.
Give Swiss-Garden Golf Resort & Spa Damai Laut a try for some fresh air, excellent service and abundant activities. And who knows, you might just bump into a long lost friend.
Swiss-Garden Golf Resort & Spa Damai Laut
Persiaran Swiss Garden
Jalan Damai Laut
Off Jalan Teluk Senangin
Tel: (05) 684 3333
Map, Location and Driving Direction to Swiss-Garden Golf Resort & Spa Damai Laut: