What tourists are saying about the Riders Lodge, Kulai, Johor
We were looking for an easy escape from Singapore where we could all relax, enjoy some riding and the kids could freely roam.
From the moment we arrived, Agnes and her team made us feel so welcome…our girls left their shoes by the front door and settled in as though it was home! Nothing was too much trouble….from dietary requirement requests, to finding the right sports channel to watch the rugby for my husband, to keeping watch on our kids while we went for a birthday ride in the morning.
The food was great and plentiful….the rides were 100 times better than anything we had experienced in Singapore and the overall weekend was a real treat for us all.
The accommodation is not luxurious but it was perfectly comfortable and good value for money. We will certainly be back…the kids have already said they would rather live in Riders Lodge than in Singapore!
Thank you to Sennett, Agnes and their team for making it such a fun filled weekend
Stayed August 2015, travelled with family
“Feels like home!”
Stayed there over the recent Labour Day weekend. Nice and homely feel to a well-run place, and kids absolutely loved the horse riding.
Well structured lessons that by the 3rd day had my 15 year-old, who has never been on a horse in his life, riding a full-size horse independently on a guide-led trail ride. We will remember the visit for a long time to come.
Thanks much to Agnes & Sennett!
PS. Please do consider making your internet connection speeds much much faster – it definitely does keep the parents a little bit more cheerful…
Stayed May 2015, travelled with family
“Easy weekend away from Singapore”
I regularly go to the Riders Lodge in Malaysia with the kids and I can only warmly recommend it as a great escape from Singapore.
For kids who are interested in horses, this is a great destination. We usually take a few lessons, preferably first thing in the morning or at night.
For parents who enjoy horse-ridding, it is really important to state if you’re beginner, intermediate, novice etc. as some horses will be really active and it could get tricky, especially on trails. As long as you are clear about your ability you will be fine.
I love going back – Agnes makes the whole atmosphere stand out with her presence and attention. The food is great, I love the breakfasts.
Remember to try Agnes’ cocktails and ask for her home-made jam!
Stayed April 2015, travelled with friends
“Excellent all round horse experience.”
Our family thoroughly enjoyed our stay. The staff were great and no request was met with anything other than a willingness to facilitate it. The food was fab and they catered well for adults and children alike.
The care and consideration shown to both horse and rider was a pleasure to experience and see. Great hands on experience for the children, they didn’t want to leave.
Many thanks to all the Riders Lodge Team. Hope to see you again.
Stayed July 2014
“Great Horse Riding Learning Experience”
You like horses? Do you like to be outside and relax? This is the place.
Riders lodge is a throw back to colonial times with a gracious old home, charming host, good food and service and riding. What more do you want
Stayed July 2013
“Horse and Sky”
This is a long overdue review but still want to share the good experience.
Bf and I didn’t stay at the lodge but attended the two days riding session.
Our instructor was really patient in guiding us and his love for the horses is contagious. The owner of the lodge always give us a big smile during session breaks.
V welcoming,The ride into the nearby forest on day two and the chance to groom a horse were especially memorable for me.
About the Riders Lodge, Kulai, Johor
There’s a cosy lodge deep in a plantation where horses graze, the food is great and staffs are friendly. It also feels like Dallas here.
Nestled deep within a plantation in Sedenak, Johor, is a hidden treasure not well known among Malaysians called Riders Lodge.
It can be a bit tricky trying to locate the place because the road signs are not very good, but look out for The Legends Golf & Country Resort turning on your left, if you are coming from Kuala Lumpur — the resort is situated within their grounds.
What to expect at the Riders Lodge
The first thing that hits you as you approach Riders Lodge is a sense of deja-vu.
The resort, standing majestically in a wide, open field framed by stables, bears a strong resemblance to Southfork Ranch, the Texas ranch that was home to the Ewings, the wealthy, squabbling family of the hit TV series Dallas.
The resemblance is entirely intentional.
This was exactly the effect desired by Filipina Agnes Tolentino and her American husband Sennett Tzinberg, who own the place together with Janet Yeo and her family.
“The design of the house is very personal. We wanted a southern feel to the front of the house, much like the ranch in Dallas, and an Australian feel at the back.
Our verandas are very similar to the ones found in Australia. Lots of homes in the bush have it,” explains Tolentino, 57, who has lived with her husband in Malaysia for 18 years.
Origin of the Riders Lodge
The resort is their retirement dream come true after the hectic years in the corporate world. Before moving to Malaysia, the Tzinbergs used to live in Australia, where they would go on long rides during the weekends.
“We are members of Bukit Kiara Equestrian and Country Club, and our 17-year old daughter has represented Malaysia in various equestrian competitions. It was our dream to build a ranch when we retired, but for it to be sustainable, it had to be a working one.
“There were several places in KL that we looked at, but it was hard to find a place where you don’t have to go through traffic jams to get there. We decided to target the Singaporean market instead, as there are not many riding centres in Johor.
“We found the perfect place within The Legends, which just began operations. The plantations offer huge areas of jungle trail rides, there are good cross-promotion opportunities and security is good. You can even see Singapore from the top of a hill here,” smiles Tolentino.
Attractions at the resort
It’s love at first sight for me. The dreamy 27-room resort looks absolutely lovely in white. It feels unpretentious, friendly and welcoming. The place has a lived-in feel to it, and everything is beautifully maintained.
Imagine my surprise when I discover that the house was only built in 1998 and completed a year later.
The building is actually smaller than it looks from the outside, and exudes a cosy and intimate ambience. There’s an inconspicuous reception area on the right as you enter and a waiting area with lots of riding-related materials.
It feels more like someone’s living room than a hotel reception.
Rows and rows of the guests’ pictures and comments adorn the walls, just like how one would hang family pictures and artwork around the house. A few of Tolentino’s own paintings are among them.
What to see inside the Riders Lodge
A little further in is the patio where guests dine. The tables, decorated in green-and-white checks, have a very relaxed feel to it. The staff will replace the tables with white tablecloths for dinner.
The patio overlooks a small Jacuzzi where young children splash happily under the hot sun. A few expatriates lie on deck chairs, working on their tan.
Towards the left of the house is where the 14 Veranda Rooms are located. There are two chairs and a table outside each room where guests can relax or sip tea in the afternoon. There’s even a rocking chair for you to take a nap in.
The main building is where the 12 deluxe Manor Rooms (usually booked by families) and the resort’s one and only Executive Suite are.
“We take pride in knowing our guests personally. They are mostly regulars, and we are on first-name basis with most of them. Feel free to make this your home for the duration of your stay,” says Tolentino.
I notice that most of the guests are Singaporeans from the many Singapore-registered cars in the parking lot. There isn’t a single Malaysian in sight.
“Yes, 95% of our guests are from Singapore, with about 65% of them expatriates and 30% from the island. The rest are from countries like India and Hong Kong, and some Malaysians,” says Tolentino.
Horse riding experience at the Riders Lodge
Riders Lodge has 52 modern stables that are exceptionally clean. They have more than 30 horses at any one time and a few privately owned horses. Their instructors are all professionally certified.
“Riding is such an elitist activity mainly due to the cost of maintaining a horse. We want to make riding affordable to everyone with packages for total beginners as well as experienced riders,” says Tolentino.
Beginners can take up Learn to Ride programmes where you will be instructed on how to care for, groom, saddle, mount and ride a horse in two days. A unique programme is their two- to seven-day Riding Camps for both adult and children aged eight and above.
Besides riding lessons and trail rides, the camp incorporates lots of additional activities like team building, craft-making and cooking.
Many corporate companies book the place for staff team building.
Many of the horses here are thoroughbreds, with most of them former race horses that have been rehabilitated.
“My daughter, who has been riding since she was six, wishes to give former race horses a second chance because they would be discarded if they didn’t show promise in racing.
“It takes about seven months to a year to rehabilitate a horse, and it’s not an easy process, but if you take the effort to love and train a horse, it is capable of delivering.
We have a few former race horses that are now champion sports horses for dressage and show-jumping,” says Tolentino with pride.
Dining experience at the Riders Lodge
Besides riding, Riders Lodge prides itself on the great food based on Tolentino’s own recipes.
“We have really good food here, especially our European fare which uses Asian spices. And our portions are very generous. We serve Devonshire Tea every afternoon together with my home-baked scones.
I make them Australian-style as that’s where I learnt it!” reveals Tolentino.
Riders Lodge celebrates various cultural events for the benefit of their non-Malaysian guests, among them Chinese New Year, Deepavali and Hari Raya. They also organise batik painting workshops and kampung visits.
Riders Lodge will be celebrating Christmas this July 25 (Australia experiences winter in July) with a Christmas tree, presents, roast turkey, chestnut stuffing and the whole works.
There is a promotional offer to stay for free on July 24 if you book the “Christmas Celebration in July” package.
“This is the perfect life for me. Whenever my sister in the US calls to ask what I’m doing, I say that I am watching the grass grow,” smiles a contented Tolentino.
Popular attractions in Johor that you might be interested
- Desaru – Near the peninsula’s southeastern tip is a 25km beach resort for Johor folk and neighboring Singapore. The waters here are often conducive for swimming, waterskiing, canoeing and catamaran sailing. Enjoy recreational activities such as go-karting, golfing and ultra-light aircraft flying.
- Pulai Desaru Beach Resort – If you think 22km of beach is fabulous, just wait till you have a taste of the watersports, kampung food, types of fruits, fireflies and crocodiles at the Pulai Desaru Beach Resort.
- Nasoha Spices and Herbs Paradise – This 1,000ha spice and herb farm is home to hundreds of medicinal plants. There is also accommodation and a restaurant at the farm.
- Adventure at Gunung Lambak – The Gunung Lambak Eco Resort in Kluang , Johor is ideal for jungle trekking and those who want to be close to nature and hold their various company events.
- Mersing Islands – The state’s beautiful offshore islands, Sibu Besar, Sibu Hujung, Sibu Tengah, Sibu Kukus, Rawa, Aur, Pemanggil and Tinggi are accessible from both the Mersing and Tanjung Leman jetties. Aur Island, along with Dayang Island, Lang Island and Pinang Island, are rated among the best diving destination within the Johor Marine Park Area.
- Tanjung Piai – This environmental sanctuary is also the southernmost tip of mainland Asia. It is made up of coastal mangroves and is home to many species of birds.
Photo credits: Christopher Hamilton.