If you are looking to unwind not far from the city, nothing beats the Avani Sepang Goldcoast, writes Loong Wai Ting
NOW, who can say no to an enticing invite for a weekend of sun, surf and beach? It’s even easier to convince my mum to hop into my trusty old car for the hour-long drive to Avani Sepang Goldcoast in Sepang, Selangor.
However, it isn’t until 10.30am that we begin our drive to the resort. My mother insisted that we have a good breakfast at home before we hit the road. And it would be good to beat the morning rush hour too.
As predicted, the road is clear and traffic is smooth. We rely on Waze for easy navigation; just punch in the resort name and it’ll take you right to the doorstep. So, with the radio turned up, we begin our mother-daughter road trip even though it’s a rather short trip.
When we’re near the Sungai Pelek town, we see vast dragon fruit farms flanking the trunk road. Not only that, farm owners take the opportunity to sell their fresh produce on wooden stalls along the road. Again, on my mum’s insistence, we stop a couple of times along the way so she can check out the fruits. As dragon fruit and pineapples are in season now, my mum buys a car-load of them and at a cheaper price too.
Our journey takes longer than what Waze indicated due to the pitstops but what’s a road trip if you don’t take the time to enjoy the drive, right?
WHAT TO EXPECT
It is around noon when we finally reach the resort situated near the Bagan Lalang Beach. Plenty of parking spots are available within the resort’s vicinity so you don’t have to worry about where to leave your car.
Stepping into the lobby feels strangely familiar. Ah yes, I was here many years ago when the resort first opened its doors to the public. Back then, the resort was known as Golden Palm Tree Iconic Resort and Spa. Since then, the distinctive resort has been rebranded under the Avaani flag and has gone through a two-phase refurbishment programme.
Just recently, it was named Outstanding Beach Resort Destination in Asia at the 2017 Asian Lifestyle Tourism Awards in Singapore. Not only that, the resort also bagged two awards: Best Honeymoon Destination in Southeast Asia and Best Spa Resort Destination in Malaysia.
A friendly employee greets us with welcome drinks and offers to take our luggage. The moment we step into the resort, everything is well taken care of. Now, that’s what a 5-star resort should be like.
Checking-in is a breeze and in no time we’re whisked to our water villa. As the place is quite big, you may want to take the buggy, with the staff happily driving you to your doorstep. But if you’re like me, and enjoy a leisurely walk, take a stroll. Sporty types can hop on a bike and cycle to their rooms.
Designed and built on the water, the resort fuses tradition with contemporary design, which makes our stay really comfortable. We stay at the two-bedroom villa, with room enough to accommodate of four comfortably.
The high ceiling with its palm leaf finishing adds a personal touch to the villa — it’s almost as if you’re staying in one of those kampung houses. The Polynesian-inspired villa is like a little house of its own. Two bedrooms on each side of the house, with the living room in the centre. There are also plenty of windows so you’ll get the amazing view of the sea anywhere you go in the house. Imagine waking up to the amazing sea view every day.
Mum and I waste no time and change into our swimsuits as we both decide on a quick dip at the pool. Luckily for us, it is just a short walk from our room. The infinity pool overlooking the Straits of Melaka is the perfect setting for those who want to relax and sip on specially concocted drinks available at Buloh Bar.
SPA AND GOOD FOOD
Later, we decide to check out the spa at the exclusive Avani Spa. Much to our surprise, there is a long list of treatments to choose from. I want something relaxing, so I choose aromatherapy, while mum tries the Swedish massage.
To create the zen-like space, the corridor and the rooms are dimly lit. Be careful when you walk along the bamboo-lined corridor as it can be quite slippery.
It is an hour of bliss as we’re pampered with relaxing massages and soothing relaxation music. My massage therapist, a Sabahan named Dee, is very soft-spoken and professional throughout. At the beginning of our session, she checks with me whether the pressure is okay. My muscles are, literally, screaming with joy as Dee uses the palm pressure technique to loosen up the tight knots — it’s the best feeling in the world. Even the essential oil that she uses is very refreshing. It’s very light and the scents linger long into the night.
After our pampering session, we have a sumptuous dinner at the fine dining Chinese restaurant, Hai Sang Lou, which is located just next door to Avani Spa.
The food is great and the service is very attentive. The dim sum is an absolute delight. The fried tofu wraps and the steamed variety are all very delicious. The overall ambience of the place with its simple art deco further accentuates the mood.
After dinner, we call it a night and retreat to our room. As the soft rain begins to fall and gradually turns into a heavy downpour, the sound of howling winds don’t bother us a bit as we roll on the spacious, soft bed.
ON THE WILD SIDE
The next day, we start our day early at the Bila-Bila Restaurant. Dancing before our eyes is an extensive spread of buffet, offering both international and local choices.
As we have an early boat to catch — my mum and I have signed up for a mangrove tour — we hurry through our breakfast. Turns out, the mangrove tour is a good choice as we learn so much about the local flora and fauna. Luck is on our side, too, as we spot a group of otters catching their lunch.
The expansive view of the mangrove stretches before our eyes. Over the other side, friendly fishermen proudly show off their catch of the day, which they later sell at the fish market by the jetty. For those who prefer to spend their day at the resort, there are plenty of water sports and activities to participate in. Be sure to check with the hotel staff on the availability of the water sport.
With so many things to do and so little time, I make a mental note of the list of activities that I want to do, so that on my next visit here, I know where to go to.
While the overall resort is a great place to relax, what bothers me most is the never-ending lines of ants. Yes, those seemingly harmless, six-legged creatures that call our villa their permanent home.
They are everywhere — on the working desk, the mini bar section and on the floor. Even as I’m writing this I can still feel them crawling on my arms. Nasty!
Another thing that bothers me is the level of cleanliness of our villa. Dust was everywhere, in the tiny corner of the bed’s headboard and the furniture.
These aside, Avani Sepang Goldcoast Resort doesn’t seem a bad choice for those looking for a place to unwind, somewhere not too far away from the city. The resort is a pretty cool place to stay in. It’s comfortable, quiet and the location is pretty hard to beat.
Bonus: The view, especially during sunset as planes start to descend into the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, is just fantastic. Get your camera ready and click away!
AVANI SEPANG GOLDCOAST RESORT
No. 67, Jalan Pantai Bagan Lalang, Kg Bagan Lalang 43950 Sungai Pelek, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
FAX: 03-3182 3700
EMAIL:firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
STAY Four types of rooms Superior Room, Family Villa, Two-Bedroom Villa and Three-Bedroom Villa
EAT Five F&B outlets and two bars Bila-Bila, Sepoi-Sepoi, Hai Sang Lou fine dining Chinese restaurant, Perahu, Stimboat and Selat Bar and Buloh Bar
GO Sepang International Circuit, Mangrove Tour, Putrajaya and Dragon Fruit Farm (can be arranged with the hotel)
DO Water-sport activities and spa
HIGHS The location and spacious rooms
LOWS Cleanliness of some rooms