THIS Valentine’s Day, take a break and travel somewhere with your significant other. Near or far? You decide. From pristine beaches on private islands dotted around the peninsula to the bustling hearts of New York and Paris to dining under the African stars on the Maasai Mara… there is an almost unending supply of interesting, exciting places to visit this year. live it! finds you four local and international romantic getaway locations that you might want to opt for:
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat
Nestled among the limestone caves of Ipoh lies The Banjaran in all its beauty. It’s located on a 16-acre (6.47ha) valley cradled by 280 million-year-old towering Paleozoic limestone hills, verdant rainforest, rejuvenating geothermal hot springs, natural caves and cascading waterfalls. The resort features garden and water villas, a spa and wellness centre and geothermal hot spring dipping pools. Situated only two hours away from Kuala Lumpur, this is the perfect retreat for those with little time and a lot of stress to get rid of. Room rates start at RM1,600 per night. For information, visit www.thebanjaran.com.
Casa del Mar
Spanish for “home by the sea”, Casa del Mar provides a tranquil hideaway promising to tailor a unique experience for every guest. The resort provides spa facilities and an array of water sports in addition to its 34 sea view rooms. Enjoy dining options such as patio breakfasts, lazy deck chair lunches, pool bar sunsets and moonlit beach side dinners. The resort itself features classic Spanish architecture nowhere to be found in Malaysia. Room rates start at RM1,375 per night. Details, visit www.casadelmar-langkawi.com.
Bukit Tinggi, Pahang
The Chateau is modelled after the 12th century medieval “Haut Koenigsbourg” castle in Alsace, France — perfect for those wanting to enjoy a European experience without actually leaving the country. The hotel features the world’s first organic spa and wellness resort, blending the best of European spa expertise with Asian hospitality. To take things up a notch, they even offer 24-hour butler services for guests. Room rates start at RM1,170 per night. Log on to www.thechateau.com.my for more information.
Pangkor Laut Resort
off Pulau Pangkor
Situated on a privately owned island, Pangkor Laut Resort is a piece of paradise two million years in the making. It is famed for its secluded bays curled around pristine beaches and serenity that is unparalleled. The resort combines luxury, natural beauty and untouched wilderness woven together to create an environment where peace and magical moments are the currency. The operators firmly believe in respecting nature, and thus, the island is still in pristine condition. Room rates start at RM845. For details, visit www.pangkorlautresort.com.
Around the world
The Sherry-Netherland Hotel
New York, USA
Revel in the Manhattan skyline while enjoying a meal overlooking Central Park. The Sherry-Netherland Hotel features awe-inspiring European art, architecture and service. First opened in 1927, the Sherry-Netherland has been hosting the rich, famous and powerful for decades. In 2014, the hotel did restoration work on its iconic lobby mural inspired by Raphael’s frescoes at the Vatican Palace and can now be enjoyed by all guests. The Sherry-Netherland is widely regarded as one of New York’s most exclusive, romantic luxury hotels. Room rates start at US$359 (RM1,285) per night. For more information, visit www.sherrynetherland.com.
The Dorchester Hotel
It’s a common sight to see a vast collection of sports cars from Lamboghinis to Bugattis parked in front of London’s iconic Dorchester Hotel. Unbeknownst to some, the hotel is also known for being a romantic getaway for the famed and wealthy. It sports award-wining afternoon teas, the three-Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester restaurant (the only restaurant in the UK with three stars) and exquisite rooms and spas. The hotel overlooks Hyde Park, a favourite choice of celebrities, world leaders, royalty and high society. Room rates start at £625 (RM3,400) per night. Log on to www.dorchestercollection.com/london/the-dorchester for details.
Hotel Plaza Athenee
The Hotel Plaza Athenee is another luxury hotel managed by the Dorchester collection, and is the epitome of Parisian luxury coupled with spectacular views of the iconic Eiffel Tower. First opened in 1913, the hotel has been the heart of haute couture for over a century. Food lovers will appreciate that Alain Ducasse, world-renowned multiple Michelin-starred chef oversees all the hotel kitchens, promising you a scrumptious meal every time. The hotel charms its guests with its al fresco summer dining, a charming courtyard and even its own skating rink in winter. Room rates start at €795 (RM3,222) per night. For more information, visit www.dorchestercollection.com/paris/hotel-plaza-athenee.
Maasai Mara, Kenya
Tired of city life? Jet halfway around the world to Africa’s wilderness, away from the congestion and ticking clocks that rule your everyday life. Olarro is located in the Loita Hills, perched on a 2,000m high vantage point upon 7,000 acres of conservancy. It boasts a maximum capacity of just 18 people, the height of exclusivity. It was recently voted as one of the “World’s Most Romantic Hotels” by Travel + Leisure. Focused on eco-friendliness, 99% of the resort is powered by renewable solar and wind-energy generation systems. Get on a helicopter to view some of nature’s most stunning wildlife in their natural habitats, or take walking or ATV guided tours to catch glimpses of cheetahs, lions, elephants, giraffes, and dozens of other African mammals. Room rates start at US$380 (RM1,360). Details, visit www.olarrokenya.com.
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on February 13, 2015.