Tranquillity in the midst of luxury

Mangala Resort & Spa, a hidden gem in Gambang, Pahang.

What started off as a private family getaway for Franky Group managing director Datuk Franky Chua Goon Eng with one bungalow built in Gambang, Pahang on a 400-acre former tin and sand mining piece site, part of this land has since been transformed into an eco-friendly resort over the last 16 years.

“After 40 years as a contractor, I had wanted to start my own farm when I retire. The place was not meant to be a resort due to the barren nature of the land, ” the 64-year-old Chua explained.

The inspiring journey of the 62-acre Mangala Resort & Spa turning into a matured and verdant landscape caught on the attention of many, leading the property to win several accolades, where its owner described it as “nature not only restored, but also transformed”.

Chua: We have repeat guests and some have returned over 10 timesChua: We have repeat guests and some have returned over 10 times

The resort won the Fiabci Malaysia Property Award 2017 under the Environmental category, which also saw it being recognised as a World Gold winner for the same category in the prestigious Fiabci World Prix d’Excellence Award 2018.

It went on to clinch The Edge-PAM Green Excellence Award 2018 for its innovative and outstanding designs as well as contributions to the community besides receiving the World Luxury Hotel Awards for its world-class facilities and service excellence.

To bag yet another FIABCI Malaysia Property Award this year as the Best Resort in Malaysia, Chua felt ‘thankful and pleased’, spurring him to further improve its services and standards, especially on east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, where he observed they are not many resorts of such nature.

With his perseverance and painstaking environmental conservation efforts in rehabilitating the place, the resort is now surrounded by lush greenery, lakes as well as pesticide-free fruit orchards (such as Musang King durians and pandan coconuts) and herb gardens. It is also a natural habitat for wildlife and over 100 species of birds.

“We have 15 acres of wetlands left behind by the tailing ponds that have now become a habitat for bats, river otters, wild boars, monitor lizards and birds such as wild ducks, storks and hornbills, ” said Chua.

The living room in Vana suite at the resort.The living room in Vana suite at the resort.

To keep the whole ecosystem running, he does not allow fishing or killing of the wildlife at the resort, which is a safe haven for all, including its guests, as hourly there are guards on patrol.

Interestingly, hardly any mosquitoes thrive here, to which he attributes to the flowing waters and the balanced eco system.

Mangala Resort & Spa became a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) last year, joining seven other properties in Malaysia. With SLH announcing its strategic loyalty alliance with the World of Hyatt on 1 Aug, 2018, Chua said the affiliation has benefitted the resort.

“We have repeat guests and some have returned more than 10 times. Besides attracting honeymooners and family groups, we also handle corporate activities, ” citing the recent launch of the Visit Truly Asia Malaysia campaign in Pahang as one of them.

“Out of the 66 nature-inspired private villas ranging from 43 to 115 sq m, we have six family villas and a big bungalow. The Amani family villas with King and two Queen-sized beds coupled with the private pools are the most popular.”

Average room rate at Mangala Resort & Spa is RM800 with about 10% of its resort’s guests being repeat customers.

What keeps them returning here? It is the tranquillity and endless possibilities of what the guests can do here.

Mangala in Sanskrit brings to mind an ‘auspicious well-being’, according to the resort’s brochure.

The award-winning resort’s water villas and rock salt pools are among the highlights here. There are also the forest and orchard pool villas besides the wetlands cottage.

Guests can cycle and kayak at the resort and participate in other outdoor activities such as archery where no charges are imposed, Chua declared.

Other facilities include a common infinity pool that merges with the surrounding landscape and a gymnasium with a lake view.

“We have several sizes of meeting rooms and banquet halls that can cater for corporate functions and events such as weddings from 20 to 450 persons. Additionally, team building can be carried out at the resort, ” he added.

With expansion plans in the works for the resort, Chua revealed that he was working closely with Pahang state government to promote this hidden gem to the world, which is just 2.5 hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur along the East Coast Expressway.

For those flying into Kuantan Airport, it takes about 20 minutes to reach the resort from Pahang’s state capital of Kuantan.

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