The old Sheraton Perdana Resort was beginning to show its age...particularly in the rooms. Although they were always nicely done...the floors, carpets, draperies, furniture were all beginning to show the signs of wear after 10 plus years of service to their customers. The new Westin Langkawi Resort and Spa has picked up on those things and upgraded the rooms impressively.
The bathrooms are bright and light. Nearly the same layout as before...they just seem a little larger and more inviting with stand alone tub and sinks. The old rooms had the tub on a wall that separated it from the rest of the room. That wall had a large opening with shutters...in case you wanted to bathe in the openness of your room. The kids loved this, because they could have their bath and watch cartoons on the TV in the room too. Well, they added glass this year...so, expat son could still watch, but couldn't hear anything.
The beds are a major upgrade. Anytime you go from standard Asian bedding to the Starwood Heavenly Bed...well, there you have it. Very restful sleeps in these beds. One problem we experienced was the inability to order an extra bed; they are no longer available for standard rooms. This is really unfortunate for those families with 1 child that is older (maybe 8 to 15 yrs old). The resort is essentially wanting those families to pay double for an extra room for the extra person. Or you have to travel, as some friends of ours do, with an air mattress and bedding in your luggage. We settled for a double room, with expat son alternating sharing with tai-tai or myself. The ensured both tai-tai and I of at least one restful sleep every other night.
The last major upgrade to the room was the addition of a massive 42 inch plasma TV. Pretty cool and impressive when you are in such a small room. They also offered DVD players in the room as well. The TV was really nice...but...the selection of channels are still the same basic channels they have always had. Why spend thousands on flat screen plasma TV's, when all you have to show is standard TV (no HD??). And, I don't know about you, but when I travel to a resort, I don't think to bring my collection of DVD's along with me to watch in the evenings (as I couldn't find a list of available movies to borrow/rent from the hotel). While the TV was a cool addition and upgrade...what use is it at a tropical resort? I'm there for the pools and the beer...not the TV.
Other changes throughout the resort reflected the same sort of feeling in the rooms. Beige colors...muted tones...subtle lighting. The Breeze lounge was decked out with fluffy pillowed sofas. The lobby had a big tree branch as its display with candles attached (tai-tai's mother would be impressed). The Tide restaurant was painted silver and had a sea blue, wavy wall. All of it something you would expect to find in a Wallpaper* magazine, not something you would expect to find in Malaysia. Gone were the wicker chairs. Gone were the wood grains and stone. Gone were the Malay names of the restaurants. If I had arrived in this resort blindfolded...I would have never known I was in Malaysia.
Perhaps the style has passed me by. Perhaps this is the target of the hotel...to become more like Bali. But, I say, the whole reason we would go to Langkawi year after year, was precisely because it wasn't Bali. If I wanted to go to Bali, I would go there. Langkawi provided for a much different atmosphere and experience than Bali ever could or did. Langkawi was always a place we felt that didn't feel 'touristy'. Bali is all about tourists...not so in Langkawi. But the old Perdana never gave us that feeling.
The biggest change at the resort has been the incredible addition of several 1 and 2 bedroom villa's around the hotel's grounds. You see, in the old days, even before the Sheraton Perdana, the hotel was the Langkawi Golf & Country Club with a 9 hole course on site. When the Sheraton took it over, they let the golf course overgrow. As a result, over the years, the abundance of wildlife to come into the area was short of amazing. Monkeys, iguanas and Langkawi's famed bald eagles began flocking to the area. The iguanas would occasionally stroll under your pool bed, so they could swim to the other side of the pool. The monkeys would come down from the hills and storm the resort and feast on the shell fish at low tide. The eagles still soar overhead now and then. All of that is changing as the villas completely fill these empty spaces from the golf course.
We had a tour of a 1 bedroom villa and they are very nice. These villas have more of a Malay feel than the rest of the hotel...and with the addition of a private swimming pool, garden, deck and butler service it is a very attractive place for a longer term stay. The downside is, they have taken away from the solitude and serenity of the grounds that surrounded the resort. If you are wanting a very private holiday and you don't mind plunking down a load of cash...these are for you.
However, my ratings are pretty good for each of these...
- Room. 5
- Big upgrade to the previous rooms. The Heavenly Beds are just that...especially when you are used to sleeping on Chinese/Asian beds for most of the year.
- Broadband internet access is a good plus...never had that before.
- TV is cool...but, why not upgrade the channel selections and offer free DVD's to use in that machine??
- Lobby. 4
- Tide Restaurant. 2
- I'm giving a special mark here for our favorite restaurant. The old Sambar Ria reflected its name...it had a Malaysian grass hut feel to it. Now? I felt as though I was on the set of an old, original Star Trek show. Remember those...in which the set designers were only given 3 colors of paint and 10 hrs to prepare? Silver, black and blue. Nothing like watching the evening sunset from a landed flying saucer.
- Hook the bad 70's music. Sounds like a piano bar from hell.
- Villa. 4
- The actual rooms are very nice. Bathroom is gigantic. The private pools are large enough to waddle in...but not to swim in. Maybe 1 stroke and you are across.
- The prices of these villa's are a bit steep. Rack rate for a 1 bedroom villa is RM4000.00 (exchange 3.5 to 1 USD), the 2 bedroom is RM7000.00. Although that is for peak season...you can probably still get into the one bedroom for RM2250.00, I think. Compare that with the RM1700.00 we used to pay for the massive 2 bedroom suite (without pool)...and the price is considerably different.
Overall, the changes were pretty good...with the exception of the Tide Restaurant. They really need to rethink the decor and the direction (causal dining vs fine dining) they want to take this place. Personally, it seems completely out of place for where it is located and the potential behind it.