Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Serenity Now! - The Danna Langkawi, Malaysia

A supremely serene family holiday destination by Steven Macarounas.
I am a resort ‘junkie’! This condition is unequivocally a result of both my wife’s and my stressful and ‘taxing’ working lives.

I don’t doubt our readers have even more deserving reasons for craving regular rest, relaxation and rejuvenation – I can only speak for the absolute necessity, within our household, for at least one 5 star resort experience every year – somewhere warm, tropical, exotic and comforting.

That’s not to say that we don’t appreciate more physical, adventurous or even sporty vacations – keep an eye out, in future editions, for our Escape article on Christmas in Lapland – but every now and then we need an environment that imbues serenity.

More spiritually evolved people might argue that calm and tranquillity is a function of ones frame of mind and don’t require poolside, languid, cocktail punctuated days, fuelled by indigenously accented fine dining with a backdrop of swaying palm trees, architectural excellence and mindreading service.

My response is: whatever floats your boat!
Each of us has (or should have) a clear picture of what our ideal holiday looks like, and for our family, following a very hectic year of deadlines, targets, endless business travel, client demands and exams the Danna resort on the tropical island paradise of Langkawi was just what the doctor ordered.

Lying off the north western coast of the Malaysian peninsular, Langkawi, officially known as Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah, is a district and an archipelago of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea – the largest of which is also known as Langkawi – a land steeped in legends and shrouded in mysteries, it is known to be the habitat of spirits, and Garuda the mythological giant eagle.

A little digging in to the history of the region and you will uncover tales of wronged maidens and lovelorn princes, surprisingly prophetic multi-generational curses, Siamese invasions, piracy, British colonisation an aerospace beacon and now a destination for the discerning traveller housing some of the finest multi-starred hotels and resorts in the world.

In contrast to some of its South East Asian neighbours, Langkawi is totally and supremely serene – not just pockets of tranquillity, the whole island is stunningly still and peaceful. Our own slice of this haven, The Danna, beautifully exemplifies the casual, tropical, colonial sophistication of the island.

Nestled alongside the romantic, yacht filled Telaga Harbour on the Western side of the island, ones first impression of The Danna is it’s colonial heritage design and character – I love this style of hotel; think Raffles on the beach!

Super high ceilings, polished wooden floors, columns, colonnades, intricately patterned Portuguese tiling, floor to ceiling French doors opening out to the harbour or pristine infinity pool and welcoming palm tree lined beach beyond - it feels more like a tropical British expat country club than a hotel/resort – something about this exclusive ‘vibe’ really appeals to us.

We’ve stayed at more modern hotels with state of the art facilities built to attract architectural aesthetes, design aficionados and gourmet travellers – minimalism with Michelin stars!

But none of these come close to the warmth and sense of belonging, or the exclusive club atmosphere exuded by the Danna – there’s something very comforting about this place. Perhaps it’s the magnificent, impressive main hall where guests are welcomed with a cool drink and relaxing shoulder massage.

Or maybe it’s the effortless hospitality and service that is natural, innate, an expression of confident and friendly professionalism and experience – as opposed to the overzealous, ‘in your face’ engagement from less experienced hotels and staff.

Possibly that feeling of returning home (even though you’ve never been there before) comes from the extremely spacious sun-filled accommodations – The Princess Beach Villas, (at 490 square metres, nestled amidst lush vegetation, with their own 60 square metre private pool and unobstructed sea views), certainly provide the experience of a tropical holiday home rather than a hotel room – as the Danna’s marketing people put it: “Our newly constructed villas are well equipped to provide a fortress of solitude”... surrounded by the warm waters of the Andaman sea Details can make all the difference between a great holiday and an absolutely unforgettable experience that stays with you well after you’ve come home, unpacked and had the family and friends over for ‘slide night’.

I’ve already raved about some of the Danna’s stand-out details, others are: Geographic – you can’t beat a resort with a private beach – so much more inviting and restful than jutting up against kilometre after kilometre of beach front shared with other properties.

Gastronomic – the many restaurants draw on the mouth-watering, excellent Malaysian cuisine as well as Mediterranean and European classics. Rather than focussing on nouvelle/fine dining inventiveness and re-interpretation, our meals at the Danna are delicious, nourishing, comforting, hearty and plentiful – think high end Malaysian restaurant with an extensive menu, the freshest ingredients superbly prepared by International 5 Star resort Chefs.

Champagne for breakfast – always a great way to start the day. When I see a few bottles of French brut on ice at the breakfast buffet I can’t help but feel truly understood. Over the years my travel writing has evolved from pages and pages of detailed description to more of a prologue, an entrée if you will for the images that accompany it. The images really tell the story, and I’m hoping will attract you to consider The Danna at Langkawi for a future destination for your hard earned relaxing time in the sun.

Steven Macarounas, Head of Education & Managing Editor, The Private Practice 

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