Malaysian holiday


I recently had the privilege of experiencing the St Regis KL’s newly-introduced Christmas Staycation with my 15yo daughter and 12yo son. I highly recommend this for families. It was so exciting for both me and my kids and is suitable for all ages of children.

This Christmas Staycation in Malaysia was whimsical and packed with fun and engaging Christmas activities including painting Christmas decorations and nutcrackers; writing a letter to Santa, wax sealing it and posting it in a special letter box; decorating a Christmas tree in our suite; icing decorating gingerbread men and Christmas story time.

These activities were all conducted with my children with our own butler, Alice, who is a gorgeous young woman who relates to kids very well.

A favourite activity was decorating gingerbread houses with a large assortment of lollies in a personal session with a highly-acclaimed pastry chef.

This talented chef also created a high tea for us, where we were each treated to a stand of carefully-curated petite sweet and savoury Christmas-themed delicacies including edible baubles, gift boxes, snowmen and Santas, as well as crab sandwiches, smoked salmon, and caviar.

Christmas afternoon tea

We had so many special treats delivered to our room, including delicious cups made of cookies to which we added milk.

So many Christmas treats!

We were treated to a mouth-water in-suite Christmas feast of Winter Truffle, Oscietra Caviar, Loch Duart Smoked Salmon, and Surf & Turf, which featured Boston Lobster, Black Angus tenderloin – the thickest, juiciest steak – potato terrine, violet artichoke and truffle jus. My 12yo son selected fish and chips from the children’s menu.

Christmas dinner delivered to our suite

The assortment of festive petite desserts included Madagascan vanilla ice cream and cheesecakes, chocolate brownies, red velvet cakes, and chocolates that looked too good to eat.

Arriving at our amazing St Regis Suite we were excited to find a Christmas tree made entirely of chocolate, as well as fresh fruit and a special St Regis gift box filled with activities to keep the kids entertained including a kaleidoscope, pencils, colouring-in activities, bath products, toys, and postcards.

Christmas delivery from Santa hanging outside our suite

My son was excited to discover a delivery from Santa hanging from a hook outside our suite – a Christmas stocking filled with lollies and quality St Regis teddy bears.

The entire hotel embraced the Christmas spirit with gorgeous decorations throughout, including a Santa-elf-type store with beautiful gift boxes.

Christmas gift display

St Regis Kuala Lumpur is suited to both the professional and family demographics with a brand-new Kids Club developed near the large rooftop swimming pool.

St Regis new Kids Club

This pool was a magical sight in the evenings with fairy lights and sweeping views of the KL city landscape. There was also a massive TV screen in the pool televising live sporting events to entertain the men.

The Crystal restaurant opened up onto the pool area, aptly named for its stunning chandeliers and lighting. We enjoyed a three-course dinner here specially prepared by the exclusive chef, the food was sensational.

Crystal Restaurant

We enjoyed an extensive, delicious breakfast buffet at the Michelin-selected The Brasserie restaurant. This included fruits, cheeses, cured meats, handmade pastries and cakes, eggs cooked on demand, Asian curries, dumplings, roast meats and the most delectable duck I’ve ever tasted. A la carte was also available which served steak, grilled Turkish sausages, pancakes with berry compote and Nutella and eggs benedict.

The Michelin-selected The Brasserie

There was a juice bar with staff creating personal juice combinations on demand.

The service was top-notch. Staff unpacked our suitcases in the massive dressing room (this was the most spacious I’ve ever seen) and offered to pack our belongings before departure. There was also a complimentary ironing service.

St Regis Suite

Our St Regis Suite was gigantic and opulent, with classy attention to detail. Christmas-themed balloons were arranged on the king-size bed.

It had a large entry, a powder room and toilet, a large study, dining, and living area with full-length windows that presented majestic views over the city.

There was a separate massage room set up for guests to indulge in private.

The bathroom was stunning – glamorous décor and lighting with a large bathtub that overlooked the city.

The toilet was interesting – a heated seat and digital settings for personal choice in ways to cleanse the backside!

There was 24-hour butler service too.

St Regis is an iconic hotel brand, first developed in New York by stock market mogul John Jacob Astor IV. The historic influence of 1920s New York was infused through the classy décor throughout the premises with black and white images, chandeliers, and old-style glamour throughout.

St Regis has a large art collection by renowned artists

A penchant for art pervaded the hotel with a large collection of celebrated artists including Andy Warhol, Fernando Botero, and Terry O’Neill.

The hotel included the Astor Bar, an old-school whisky and cigar lounge, which evoked images of 1920s glamour. There was a private circular room in which scenes from the recent popular movie Crazy Rich Asians were filmed.

I had an amazing massage at the Iridium Spa with a very experienced masseuse who incorporated traditional Malay and Chinese acupuncture. She also offered me helpful health advice based on what she could detect was stored in my body.

St Regis is ideally located in the heart of the business district of KL. Access to the monorail was a short walk.

The service provided by this hotel was standout; we were offered local advice for places to visit and shop, and transfers were complimentary.

The Westin Langkawi Resort and Spa was a favourite destination of mine, this place is amazing!

From our gorgeous One-Bedroom Villa to the expansive tropical grounds set on the soft powdery sands overlooking the Ardaman Sea, the exquisite fresh seafood and the extensive range of recreational activities, this resort has so much on offer, including great-value Family Packages.

After a simple and personalised check-in and a refreshing greeting fruit drink via a VIP separate lounge and buggy ride to our exclusive villa accommodation, I met the lovely Cluster Director of Marketing Communications, Pugeneswary, who treated me to the Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa’s signature cocktail Pandan Pine, comprising Pandan Gin, Triple Sec, coconut liqueur, pineapple juice, coconut water and pandan syrup.

Pandan is a local Malay herb used in many foods, beverages and massage oils, for its health benefits including relaxation and easing inflammation.

The Westin Langkawi Resort and Spa is very family friendly but also has an ethos of Wellness which underpins its intention for each guest to leave feeling better than when they arrived. The Westin has six pillars of well-being – Sleep Well, Eat Well, Move Well, Feel Well, Work Well, and Play Well.

Testimony to this was a special spa experience in their Heavenly Spa where I received a refreshing therapeutic beverage and was asked to select a stone with which the therapist would infuse these qualities during the massage. I chose Love – Hope and Gratitude were also on offer – I joked I’d like to be greedy and have all three!

The therapist included a traditional Malay ritual before washing and scrubbing my feet with lime and natural salts, giving me a 10-minute head massage and then a full body massage which was a powerful blend of traditional Indian and Malaysian techniques, and Chinese acupressure. It was heaven. I felt light and floaty afterwards, more relaxed than I could previously recall.

Batik painting in the Kids Club

While I was being indulged and pampered, my kids created Batik paintings in the Kids Club. The Club provides fun and interesting daily activities including sand art, mug painting, nail decorating, Master Chef and T-shirt painting.

The hotel supports local industry by sourcing nearby foods and ingredients, employing Langkawi artisans and recycling its linen, some of which is used in Batik and T-Shirt painting activities.

There were so many complimentary facilities and activities available including four swimming pools, a huge, modern gym and a jacuzzi and sauna separate for men and women.

We played table tennis, squash, basketball, pool and rode bikes; there was also netball and cricket available, all-inclusive for guests. Kayaking, SUP and the use of a catamaran were available for hire.

The grounds were lush, leafy and expansive. Two species of monkeys roamed the premises which were cute to observe.

We had a delicious seafood platter with fresh-from-the-ocean fish, lobster, prawns, octopus and soft-shelled crab at the Tide restaurant, from which we soaked in the fresh sea breeze and views.

This meal also included an assortment of dips and breads, salad and fries.

The buffet breakfast at Seasonal Tastes was immense – an extensive range of fresh fruits, a bar offering juices freshly made to order; a Western kitchen preparing food hot for the plate; oriental sections including spicy Malay fish, chicken and beef curries; Japanese sushi; pancakes and waffles; yoghurts; salads; cured meats; a cheese board; and even an ice-cream selection including purple popcorn-flavoured ice-cream which my kids thought was magical!

A favourite part of the Westin Langkawi experience was our gorgeous villa. It was up with the top places I’ve stayed worldwide. It was enormous and glamorous, offering stunning beach views. Style and class were infused throughout, from the fluffy towels to the chandelier in the living area and the decadent Welcome arrangement of fresh fruits, desserts and lollies in the dining area.

There was a full self-serviced kitchen including a stove, microwave, coffee machine and standard-size fridge with freezer.

A separate dressing room led from the main king-size bedroom, which flowed into the largest bathroom I’ve ever stayed in a resort. It featured a large bathtub, a huge shower with multiple showerhead options, a separate toilet and double sinks.

There was also a separate shower, toilet and powder room so we didn’t have to fight over who could use the shower first!

But the best part was the outdoor area. It was stunning with a sizeable private sparkling sapphire swimming pool, sun beds, a table and chairs and a cabana with a large daybed; all from which we could overlook the tranquil sea, and step out onto the white sands of the palm-lined beach easily through our private gate.

We had a BBQ outdoors in our villa on the first night which was magnificent – the flavours, freshness and quality were first-class. A chef and waiter transformed the space to decorate the outdoor table with matching serviettes, cutlery and candles, and cooked for us freshly caught lobster and king prawns, juicy steak and succulent lamb. They also barbecued vegetable skewers and provided three salads and an assortment of breads and dips.

The dessert comprised fresh fruit, apple strudel, chocolate brownies and vanilla sauce.

There was a wedding on the beach that evening – a perfect wedding and honeymoon destination.

As a Villa guest privilege, we were invited to the hotel’s premium lounge at the Langkawi Airport which was very comfortable and included TV screens, a private bathroom and tea, coffee, soft drinks, sandwiches and biscuits.

The resort also offers transfer services with a private driver to and from the hotel.

The Shangri-La Rasa Sayang in Penang lived up to the glamour of the hotel brand with luxury, open tropical gardens over 12 hectares, its grounds extending onto the soft white sands of Batu Feringgi Beach.

Attention to detail can be observed throughout the resort, in the exclusive Rasa Wing as well as the Garden Wing with classic Minangkabau style and elegance throughout. The pleasant staff were always available to address our every need.

The Shangri-La Sayang was the original Malaysian Shangri-La property, created in 1973 and was refurbished in 2005 to become an iconic Penang resort.

Shangri-La Sayang, Penang's tropical gardens which roll onto the beach
Shangri-La Sayang, Penang’s tropical gardens which roll onto the beach.

It had a great location, set on the edge of Feringgi township, a hub for tourists with a large offering of restaurants and shopping.

The resort included two parts of the hotel – the general Garden Wing and the Rasa Wing.

We had the honour of staying in the exclusive Rasa Wing which was a luxurious experience, offering exclusive privileges including access to the Club Lounge where afternoon tea comprising delectable savoury and sweet dishes was complimentary, as well as a complimentary cocktail session with a brilliant pianist, a plentiful range of hot and cold canapes, and various drinks available to order gratis, including cocktails, wines and non-alcoholic beverages.

Rasa Wing complimentary daily canapes and cocktails evenings.

The Rasa Wing included VIP privileges including a separate lobby and check-in area, a private swimming pool and Club Lounge access. Upon entry, we were warmly greeted by the General Manager, who kindly welcomed us to one of the three distinguished restaurants, where we were equipped with a menu housing a variety of delicious Western and Asian dishes.

In addition to access to an inclusive breakfast buffet at the main hotel’s Pinang Restaurant & Bar, Rasa Wing guests had the option of buffet and a la carte breakfast at the Ferringhi Grill, which was also a popular evening restaurant for non-resident guests.

Complimentary High Tea in the Rasa Wing Club Lounge.

The complex included two pools – an adults-only pool exclusively available to Rasa Wing guests and a huge winding lagoon pool in the Garden Wing, the main part of the hotel, which was set in leafy gardens with majestic ancient trees lining the perimeter.

Shangri-La Sayang Garden Wing lagoon pool
Garden Wing lagoon pool

In the stunning Shangri-La gardens, a massive 150-year-old tree stands, and vines from its giant branches, creating a magical fairyland when alit in the evenings with dangling lights.

We had the honour of staying in Rasa Junior Suite King, in which a gift box awaited us with an assortment of exotic, local, dried fruits.

The room took on a luxurious resort feel, with a constant theme of dark wood branching through the magnificent room. The spacious accommodation included a king-size bed, a large dressing area, a lounge setting where a roller bed was set up to allow for the three of us, and an incredible balcony with a table and chairs, a daybed and a huge marble bathtub, from which to relax and look over the lush, tropic gardens.

Shangri-La Sayang Rasa Junior Suite King
Shangri-La Sayang Rasa Junior Suite King

The large bathroom was glamorous with ambient lighting, double sinks, a massive shower and a separate toilet.

The linen was luxurious – thick, fluffy robes, soft toweling slippers and high threat-count, silky sheets.

Adjacent to Shangri-La Sayang was its sister hotel, Shangri-La Golden Sands, which accommodates families extraordinarily well with a great children’s swimming playground featuring a water slide and splash areas, a Kids Club, mini golf, and Adventure Zone Entertainment Centre.

Shangri-La's sister hotel Golden Sands children's swimming and splash areas.
Shangri-La’s sister hotel Golden Sands children’s swimming and splash areas.

Residents of the Shangri-La had access to this family wonderland also, with easy access via a natural stroll through the extensive plush Shangri-La grounds.

Shangri-La Sayang also included a comprehensive photo gallery illustrating its history and memorable events and an aromatic Spice Market showcasing the wide variety of flavours which make Penang so renowned for its delicious cuisine.

Majestic 150-year-old trees at Shangri-La Sayang, Penang.
Majestic 150-year-old trees at Shangri-La Sayang, Penang.

The was also a jewelry shop, a nail and hair salon, a substantial, well-serviced gym and the Chi spa where a range of massage, reflexology and beauty services were on offer.