There’s little hint of what to expect when you arrive at Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas. The long driveway leads to a quietly unassuming entrance flanked by two low-rise blocks. Water features gurgle as you step into the high-vaulted lobby, replete with local design elements. Beyond that, however, is the hook: a veranda with simmering reflection ponds and daybeds look into the stunning and endless expanse of the South China Sea. Below you, a pool glitters in the sun as the rest of the resort cascades down to the sandy beach. You’re mere feet from the rest of the world, yet here, already, is an unworldly tranquillity.
THE PLACE TO BE
With a portfolio that boasts stunning properties all over the world, Anantara Desaru is the Bangkok-based brand’s first venture into Malaysia. Located in Desaru Coast on the south-eastern tip of the peninsula, it opened its doors late last year, adding its fabled hallmark of lavish hospitality to the country’s burgeoning luxury hospitality sector.
While its entry into Malaysia might have been belated, Anantara Desaru has been worth the wait. The purpose-built resort is located in Johor’s Desaru Coast, the country’s rising luxury resort destination that spans over 16 sq km along a pristine 17km beachfront facing the South China Sea. It is easily accessible via a 45-minute drive from Johor Bahru’s Senai International Airport or a two-hour drive from Singapore. Visitors from Singapore can also travel to Desaru Coast by ferry, followed by a short drive.
Still a work in progress, Desaru Coast promises to be a premium integrated destination resort and one of Malaysia’s most anticipated new tourism developments. Already up and running are a couple of other hotels, an adventure waterpark, a waterfront retail village, and a conference centre. Golfers, especially, will be thrilled by the challenges of the greens at The Els Club Desaru Coast, which offers the Ocean Course, a 27-hole golf course designed by four-time major champion, Ernie Els, and the 18-hole Valley Course, designed in collaboration with another major champion, Vijay Singh.
THE SHAPE OF THINGS
Designed by Singapore architect firm WOW Architects & Warner Wong Design with interiors by Environment Design Consultants from Malaysia, Anantara Desaru’s architectural design resembles traditional Malay buildings and is adorned with indigenous materials and fabrics such as woven textiles, local wicker elements and silhouettes of traditional Malay crafts. The main sense you get is how expansive the space is, with low-rise buildings and stand-alone villas overlooking the gardens, lagoon, and ocean.
The pool villas, for example, are located around a lagoon and their design are drawn from traditional kampong houses built for the tropical Malaysian climate, with floor-to-ceiling windows, slanted carved wooden panels, louvres and vents under the roof, and wide-open doors that allow natural airflow to cool the interior.
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