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Saturday October 26, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday October 26, 2013 MYT 8:40:11 AM
by jacqueline pereira
Practical in paradise: The Tubotel rooms have a view and deck chairs outside.
Two inventive spaces to chill in, on Langkawi’s Pantai Cenang.
IT was not like this before. Pantai Cenang has rapidly developed from a once slow and sleepy hollow. Now, the beach strip is vibrant and spirited, consciously claiming a soul of its own. Delectable food from around the world, bars that shut way beyond the witching hour and quirky, unceremonious hideaways to lay your head.
Priced reasonably – pegged above grungy home-stays and below posh five-star resorts – these boutique-style stays are private, personalised and distinctive. Using minimal space without compromising on comfort, they strive to maintain their individual appeal while being very environmentally friendly.
In addition, the local and foreign guests they attract make up a new breed of traveller – young, urbane and aware – increasingly travelling solo, who nips in between business trips or who just wants to do something different on a holiday.
If you don’t already know it, a new, cool vibe is sweeping across Langkawi’s most famous west-coast beach.
La Pari Pari
This intimate 12-room boutique-style resort is Karina Bahrin and Jacky How’s tropical island home that they now share with global guests. La Pari-Pari’s kampung-style charm and contemporary vigour offer a modern take to go with old, legendary Langkawi. Located between the lively Pantai Cenang and the more subdued Pantai Tengah, and laid out in secondary jungle, this informal retreat is the place to recharge. Don’t be surprised if you are tempted to spend all your time on the island here.
Stay – All done up in white with teal accents, the self-contained accommodation comes with individual private courtyards and comfortable king-size or twin-bed options. The very minimalist yet spacious rooms have pleasant, roomy bathrooms with Thann toiletries and a rain shower.
Eat and drink – Serving How’s nyonya grandmother’s best dishes and a hearty blend of Australian bistro fare, the chi chi fatCUPID is fast gaining culinary repute. Though the nyonya fare such as chicken curry, rendang tempeh and curry laksa get rave reviews, their steak sandwiches, pasta and burgers equally curry favour. The complimentary continental breakfast is served here, but you can choose to upgrade to a cooked meal from their menu. The bar has its own range of inventive cocktails and a wicked wine list. The only downside – the restaurant closes on Mondays. But they have a sister beach-side restaurant, Sugar on Pantai Tengah.
Play – The only option to exert yourself lies in short laps in a small salt-water pool, while the public beach is 15 minutes away with a host of water-sports activities, if you are inclined. Basically, La Pari Pari is the place to recline, read and ruminate.
Shop – Everything here is built with an eco-friendly ethos at heart. Sand excavated from the pool area was used to plaster the hotel walls, while the rooms are furnished with second-hand and re-purposed items. The Shop houses a well-curated range of thoughtful Malaysian souvenirs – artisanal pieces, books and scarves.
Must – Choose to lounge all day on one of the resort’s four day-beds beneath centuries-old trees. Watch lush leaves wave in the wind beneath a clear blue sky or count the stars twinkling above a canopy of inky leaves in an illuminated night sky. Better still, order a series of lemon-grass mojitos to keep you company.
Avoid – Comparing it to a five-star, triple-rated prestige place is futile. The laid-back ambience and the extremely engaging staff will make your stay more than worthwhile. Also, staff recommendations are the best when it comes to what to do, see and eat on the island.
Unless you are a teenager, or a 20-something acolyte of back-packing, it might take you a day or two to get into the groove of Tubotel. Located at the end of a dirt road, off Pantai Cenang, Tubotel is Asia’s first budget concept hotel of its kind. Inspired by Austrian Dasparkhotel, this concrete tube hotel takes minimalist accommodation to another level.
Stay – The rooms are basic: lights, sockets, fan and/or air-conditioner. The double beds are very comfortable with enough storage underneath for luggage. Er, not much room to move or change in there, though, although the quirky pop art on the walls is cool. Outside each tube are chairs to lounge in, candles at night and a simply stunning sunset. The shared showers and toilets are reminiscent of college housing, but are adequate, clean and look so much cooler.
Eat and drink – Breakfast is served in the spacious, trendy cafe. If the cook decides on a whim to take a day off, then you’ll get really lucky. Tubotel owner Alex Mark, the chef who founded Moussandra in KL, will then personally prepare it, notwithstanding the fresh kampung eggs and chorizos (pork sausages). In keeping with its no-frills theme, the café’s menu is limited to basics – salads, pasta and pizza. Mark also runs another restaurant on the island, Tapaz in Perdana Quay, but that is another delicious story.
Play – On site are three salt-water jacuzzis, giant day-beds and sun-loungers on the deck perched over the private bay. Other activities such as jet-skiing, cruises and jungle-trekking can be organised. Also available are a pool-table, communal TV and free bicycles.
Must – Sip a glass of vino or swig a couple of beers (both are cheap on the island) and watch the sun go down. Do your part as, every once in a while, Mark turns eco-pirate, loads all his guests on a boat and heads off into the horizon, stopping off at remote islands to clean up the beaches.
Avoid – High expectations. It is what it is – a room in a large, pre-fabricated concrete pipe traditionally used for irrigation. Yet its premise is novel, while the view and the people you meet more than make up for the lack of luxuries.
2273, Jalan Teluk Baru
Kampung Tasek Anak
Tel: +604 955 1010
Mobile: +6017 541 8501
Jetty Pelancungan Cenang
Tags / Keywords:
Travel, Hotel, Langkawi, Pantai Cenang, La Pari Pari, Tubotel, Moussandra, Alex Mark, chef, Dasparkhotel, budget
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