Dream Suite: Away from the crowd at Four Seasons Langkawi Royal Villa
Set at the secluded end of Four Seasons Langkawi’s mile-long beach is the suitably palatial Royal Villa. Spread across three pavilions, it's serene and supremely spacious, but what makes it really special is its location at the interface of deep, white sand and weathered cliffs that rise out of exuberant jungle.
Tucked beneath a towering, tree-topped limestone pinnacle, this grand, two-bedroom residence is the property's biggest and best. Extending to 1,400 square metres (15,078 square feet), its three free-standing, polished wood pavilions come with full-height, sliding glass doors that keep occupants connected to and mesmerised by the view towards outlying islands.
The first pavilion houses a guest suite with twin beds, study and a separate treatment room. Connected to this is a larger structure whose enormous, double-height living space - with service kitchen and table for 10 - is the villa's entertainment hub. There's further dining space outside, along with a table-tennis table, lounging areas and a 13-metre infinity pool, plus daybeds in thatched shelters that effectively harness the gentle sea breeze.
Beyond is the master suite: an uncluttered space featuring king-size bed, a study and tasteful objets d'art. Behind this, a doorway leads to a bathroom of ecclesiastical proportions whose centrepiece is a huge marble tub. To either side are vanities and dressing areas, plus there’s a massive, walk-in shower built for two.
Cobbled paths through jungle and gardens connect the Royal Villa to the rest of the resort. Here, guests can greet the day with sunrise yoga by a lotus pond, or lounge by one of two large pools (one of which is adults-only). The Geo Spa provides further space for relaxing among Moorish arches and pools, all shaded by tropical greenery. Signature therapies include a tension-relieving Urut Malayu massage using local spice poultices, or a Rainforest Face Therapy that rebalances the skin.
As part of an extensive update (completed this summer by designer-of-the-moment, Bill Bensley), Four Seasons Langkawi's three restaurants have been thoroughly refreshed. There’s Malaysian restaurant Ikan Ikan, Mediterranean-inspired Serai or toes-in-the-sand beachfront dining at Kelapa, preceded by cocktails at chic and casual Rhu Bar.
What to expect
The Royal Villa is ideal for sharing quality time with an intimate entourage. The sense of peace is amplified by the infinity pool's pleasant tinkling, which drowns out ambient noises except for the buzz of passing motor boats. Lounging areas in sun or shade (or hammocks strung between palms on the beach) are vantage points for spotting squirrels, langur monkeys and tropical birds.
Service is generally faultless, but it would have been better if the gardeners visited when the suite was unoccupied: the incessant whining of strimmers one morning forced a retreat to the communal pool.
French windows from the master suite's bathroom lead onto a secret garden, where a rustic-looking outdoor shower is tucked right under the cliff. Waves breaking onto the beach atmospherically echo against the sheer limestone, adding to the faraway sense of seclusion.
Not so keen
The Andaman Sea views may be exceptional, but the volume of plastic and floating detritus in the water makes the prospect of swimming here completely unappealing.
The resort is on Langkawi's north shore, about half an hour from the airport. Langkawi itself is the largest island in the Langkawi archipelago, west of Peninsular Malaysia and within sight of southern Thailand. Much of Langkawi's unspoiled scenery is protected as a UNESCO World Geopark, part of which almost abuts the hotel. Tours can be arranged via Four Seasons' Nature Centre (ideally accompanied by Aidi Abdullah: Chief Naturalist and something of a Malaysian Attenborough) to discover the mudskippers, monkeys and eagles that live among the mangroves.
The Royal Villa costs from $7,000 (around £5,355) per night, including breakfast. Garden view pavilions cost from $650 (£500), including breakfast; fourseasons.com, +60 (4) 950 8700.