Weekend escape: Hop across the Causeway for an indulgent timeout
Anantara Desaru Coast, which opens this Sunday (December 1), is located just a stone’s throw away from Singapore, and offers island-hopping by luxury charter yacht as well as the opportunity to zip around in supercars.
Singaporeans who just can’t resist a quick getaway, it’s time to pack that weekender. This time, all you need to do is head across the Causeway to Desaru Coast, the latest luxury resort destination in Johor.
Yes, we are referring to that Desaru, which used to be a popular retreat for families a few decades ago but gradually lost its lustre as people began favouring destinations further afield like Bali and Phuket.
In recent years, however, in an attempt to get back on the radar of today’s luxury holidaymakers, developers are pumping US$1.1 billion (S$1.5 billion) into Desaru Coast to build a host of new attractions and properties.
Anchoring this 16 sq. km stretch of prime beachfront property are four high-end hotels, of which Hard Rock Hotel and The Westin are currently in operation. This Sunday (December 1), Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas will also launch, marking the hospitality brand’s debut in Malaysia. The fourth, One & Only, will open at a later date.
Christian Gerart, general manager of Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas said, “Desaru Coast is a new premium integrated destination resort and one of Malaysia’s most anticipated new tourism developments, and Anantara believes that Malaysia has a vast potential for growth in the tourism sector.”
It certainly helps that Desaru is fairly accessible from the little red dot – it is only a two-hour drive or a 30-minute ferry ride from Changi Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Belungkor Ferry Terminal, followed by a 45-minute drive.
To cater to a variety of travellers, from families and larger groups to couples and even those going solo, the low-rise resort – all the better for enjoying the views of the beach – comprises 123 keys across various categories. Ninety guest rooms overlook the gardens, ocean and lagoon. There are also private stand-alone one- and two-bedroom pool villas as well as three- and four-bedroom residences for guests traveling in larger groups. The latter two categories have their own infinity pools, full kitchens as well as chef and butler service.
The resort, which is designed by Singapore architect firm WOW Architects & Warner Wong Design and features interiors by Environment Design Consultants from Malaysia, takes architectural cues from traditional Malay buildings. To complement the design, the space is adorned with indigenous materials and fabrics such as woven textiles, wicker elements and traditional Malay crafts.
For example, the pool villas, which are located around a lagoon, draw heavily from the design of a traditional kampong house to suit the tropical Malaysian climate with floor-to-ceiling windows; slanted carved wooden panels; louvres and vents under the roof; and wide-open doors that allow natural airflow to cool the interior. But don’t worry, there’s air-conditioning too.
The resort will also offer a range of activities for guests to explore the area, including diving and island-hopping by luxury charter yacht as well as the opportunity to zip around in supercars. The Els Club Desaru Coast, which comprises two golf courses featuring 45 holes in total, is also in the vicinity. Other attractions include an adventure waterpark, a waterfront retail village and a conference centre.
However, you might just be tempted to stay within the pampering confines of Anantara, especially if you are there for only a night or two. Food and beverage options include a grill and seafood restaurant, an all-day dining bistro and an observatory bar. The latter overlooks the resort and beachfront, and makes a great venue to admire the sunset from. Anantara’s signature private Dining By Design service will also be available in Desaru.
Parents will be pleased to know there are clubs to keep kids and teenagers occupied with high-tech games and cross-cultural educational activities. With that downtime, head to the Anantara Spa or fitness centre to indulge in a much-needed wellness session.
Sun, sand, sea and me-time? Now that sounds like a perfect combination for a weekend getaway from the madding crowd.