AMIDST rolling hills of tea plantations blanketed by the occasional mist, Cameron Highlands Resort promises all the grandeur, romance and nostalgia of its colonial heritage.
A five minute-drive from Tanah Rata is the five-star Cameron Highlands Resort. After the long, winding drive uphill, visitors are greeted with warm smiles, towels and hot tea, a hint of the pleasant and attentive service that awaits.
This boutique hideaway is small, reminiscent of a colonial-style family mansion, with pine trees draped with fairy lights. The fireplace and gingerbread houses in the resort’s wood-panelled library makes you forget you are in the tropics.
The resort features 56 rooms and suites, and fronts Cameron Highlands’ 18-hole golf course. In the morning, the room’s French doors lead to a blissful sunrise spectacle from the balcony. Teak and silk combine to create an environment both beautiful and comfortable. The king-sized four-poster bed makes you feel anything other than ordinary as you laze, feasting on strawberries dipped in chocolate sauce, compliments of the hotel.
Every nook and cranny of the place is built so that you embrace the cold and intermittent rainfall. The old-style leather couches are perfect for the occasion as you soak up the warmth of a crackling fire, and enjoy a steaming cup of cocoa. For those who want some quiet time, the reading room is a venue for you to relax, unwind and lose yourself in the resort’s wide collection of books. Come evening, whisky, cocktails or mulled wine await while you take your mind off work with a game of billiards by the bar.
All the spaces in the resort ultimately lull you in with only one goal — to relax and feel absolutely fine doing absolutely nothing as time melts away without a moment’s worry.
Dining is a high point at Cameron Highlands Resort, where traditional English cuisine meets the many flavours of Asia. There are four dining areas, each with its own flair and personality: The Dining Room, the Jim Thompson Tea Room, Gonbei Japanese Restaurant and Highlands Bar.
The resort focuses on providing a memorable culinary experience with its set menus. The Christmas menu includes a main course of pot roast or grilled fish served with appetisers, consommés, and decadent desserts. Ask the sommelier to recommend wines to pair with the food. The privilege of this luxurious four-course meal is RM350++ per person.
Tea is a staple in Cameron Highlands and a necessity at the Jim Thompson Tea Room, with its three-tiered platter of scones and clotted cream, sandwiches, pastries and tarts at RM45++ per person.
Even breakfasts are exclusive with a cascading menu to select from, albeit relatively less expansive in choice. And when the waiters offer you the home-made cronuts, take them without question. In fact, take two, because these fluffy, creamy, crispy treats will leave you wanting more.
Murder, mysteries and a spa
The resort’s Signature Murder Mystery in the Misty Mountains experience makes for an interesting interactive activity for a company trip. It is based on the story of Jim Thompson, the legendary American businessman known as the ‘Thai Silk King’ who mysteriously disappeared on Mar 26, 1967, while vacationing at the Moonlight Bungalow in Cameron Highlands.
The experience has been developed for Cameron Highlands Resort, features an exciting plot, with celebrity characters such as Saloma, Marlon Brando and Elvis Presley, to name a few.
Murders are committed and weapons are found in between meal courses. A good dose of blackmailing on the side endows the night with excitement, as guests rush through the halls in the chilly night, looking for clues to up their game while others make devious barters in secret corners.
Prices begin at RM4,500 for a single murder mystery (for 20 to 35 guests) and RM6,500 for a double murder mystery (ideal for 40 to 60 guests). This is inclusive of event management, printed collaterals, group briefing, clue hunt, master of ceremonies, and candid digital photography.
Don’t feel like playing detective? Spa Village Cameron Highlands offers a series of special body treatments that draw on the therapies and healing traditions of the region. This includes the Rose Garden, Camerons Mint, Fresh Strawberry Escapade, Chrysanthemum and Avocado Escape or The Semai Spa.
A must-try is the Fresh Strawberry Escapade (RM350). It begins with a strawberry tea bath, followed by strawberries, yoghurt and crushed oatmeal body polish. The experience ends with a fragrant strawberry aroma massage. Throughout the two-hour experience, wistful traditional music lingers in your mind, allowing it to trail off and your body to be revitalised.
The adventuresome can take a hike — one of the several mountain trails offered by the resort is its signature Jim Thompson mystery trail, which provides trekkers with rich legends and histories as they explore the countryside and surrounding jungle.
Who it’s best for
Cameron Highlands Resort is best for couples, a group of friends or even a small company retreat. It’s for those want a breather from the buzzing city, to let their minds wander as their bodies recline against the backdrop of a mountain idyll.
The Resident’s Package starts at RM689 per room per night and is open to residents of Singapore, Brunei and Singapore, including expatriates. It includes daily breakfast, lunch and dinner, optional replacement of dinner with a deluxe 50-minute spa treatment, and the Jim Thompson Mystery Trail.
The best available rate comes with minimum frills, which costs RM450++ per night per room, inclusive of daily breakfast.
This article first appeared in #edGY, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on December 8 - 14, 2014.