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Four seasons and a party

Sunday June 5, 2005

Four seasons and a party

A posy of the posh and pretty attended the much-awaited launch of the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi. VERONICA SHUNMUGAM took a little time out from dancing with Frodo to file this report. 

A burst of fireworks marks the launch of a new logo for Malaysia Airlines’ Golden Holidays at the swanky Four Seasons Langkawi.
A HUSH-HUSH veil of silence surrounded the plans to launch the Four Seasons Resort Langkawi. Malaysia Airlines, having lured the premier resort chain to set up on the island, was supposedly planning big things and the jet set was abuzz with curiosity long before the opening on May 27.  

When the day finally dawns, there’s still no clue about the who’s who that has been invited to the opening and the gala dinner the next night. 

On the journey to the Four Seasons – an hour’s flight from KL International Airport and a 20-minute drive from Langkawi airport – though, some names are revealed to us prying journalists. And one of them is The Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood! 

Even as I’m trying to imagine Frodo Baggins luxuriating on a beach instead of in Rivendell, the resort comes into sight and a hush falls in the bus. A quiet but arresting blend of Moorish and traditional Malay architecture immediately says much has gone into the making of this retreat tucked away in the scenic cove of Tanjung Rhu. 

The 20ha hideaway that is modelled on a kampung boasts 68 seafacing pavilions, 20 one-bedroom beach villas, two two-bedroom villas and a presidential villa. Rooms and villas range from US$140 to US$3,500 (RM532 to RM13,300) a night. 

Forget the rooms (though that’s hard to do!), just take one look around at the setting of ancient rainforest and marvellous beach and you have to wonder which Hollywood star – or even wearied ring bearer – wouldn’t want to soak it in. 

Cheeky Girls Gabriela (left) and Monica Irimia might hail from distant Romania but they know all about beautiful Malaysian batik, obviously.
A turn around the corner and there they are: A glamorous bunch that includes Wood with (sorry, ladies) his girlfriend, New York gypsy punk cabaret group Gogol Bordello dancer Pamela Racine; celebrity shoemaker to the stars Datuk Jimmy Choo and his daughter Emily; Malaysia’s “Prince of Fashion” Bernard Chandran and his princeling, Trunan; the movie Sepet’s award-winning director Yasmin Ahmad and her husband Tan Yew Leong; Sarawak’s songbird Camelia; Indonesian singer Harvey Malaiholo; and Cheeky Girls Monica and Gabriela Irimia all the way from Romania via MTV. 

Not even the Andaman Sea dares ruffle the feathers of such glamour, so it holds back its breeze – and the warm night has everyone perspiring. Thank goodness Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is the perfect, politely punctual VVIP; without much delay, he starts the evening off by declaring the Four Seasons open. 

MAS chairman Datuk Dr Mohamed Munir Abdul Majid remarks how the resort reflects MAS’s tagline, “Going Beyond Expectations” while president of Four Seasons hotel operations worldwide Wolf Hengst reveals that the Langkawi resort is the “queen” among the chain’s 66 hotels in 30 countries. 

Guests are then treated to a sumptuous buffet, during which much mingling happens. While Wood graciously agrees to be photographed with excited fans – yes, even the jet set get excited over a genuine Hollywood star – Yasmin attracts numerous queries about Gubra, touted as the sequel to Sepet. Choo and Chandran, too, are the cameramen’s darlings while young Emily and Trunan impress all with their well-mannered ways. 

Camelia, immaculately dressed as always, notes how the resort reminds her of the slower-paced lifestyle of her hometown of Kuching and the warmth of Kuchingites – something she misses when in Kuala Lumpur. Choo says the place is the perfect getaway for celeb honeymooners while Yasmin is inspired by the thought that has gone into the interior design. 

This posy of the posh and pretty – this time with former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and action movie star Datuk Michelle Yeoh in tow – return the following evening for the launch of the new logo of MAS’ Golden Holidays. Held in the beachfront area of the Four Seasons, the gala party sees guests dressed according to the themes of “Red Sea Rig” and “Resort Chic”.  

Young Emily Choo must have won over Elijah Wood with her manners for she was one of the few guests to get an autograph and a photo with the actor.
There is, unfortunately, a rather tacky dance-drama portraying the legend of Mahsuri. The resort forgot, perhaps, that society guests are often arts patrons, and that the use of Buddhist chants to signify menacing spirits of death might be offensive?. 

A brilliant display of fireworks lights up the night as if to make up for that lapse, and guests are wined and dined with exquisite taste.  

Yeoh, Camelia and MAS assistant general manager Raja Nordiana Zainal Shah are the most glamorous women of the night while Wood and Racine – remembering the humidity of the previous night – choose to dress down. 

MAS chairman Munir admits to being the most overdressed but makes up for this by easily being the most limber male on the dance floor (yes, he even outstripped Wood!), wowing the ladies with his moves as world-famous Cuban band Tiempo Libre, led by cutey Joaquin Diaz, revs up the night. 

A dapper Choo comes a close second, showing what his famous heels can do on the dance floor – which is a stage erected on the beach, no less. There’re more suave moves from Diaz, and the younger guests begin chanting Queen’s We Will Rock You to Wood ? yes, this is one party that will become the stuff of legends.  

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