MANGALA Resort & Spa in the eastern Malaysian state of Pahang embodies the notion of ‘paradise of Earth’ with its lushness, tranquility and scenic beauty.
Sprawled across 65 acres in Gambang just outside the capital Kuantan, it has a collection of nature-inspired villas thoughtfully designed to be in harmony with wetlands, forests and a vast lake teeming with flora and fauna.
The captivating setting promises to rejuvenate the minds and souls of all who visit - and many guests are so smitten by its uplifting ambience and unparalleled hospitality that they often make return visits.
It is hard to imagine that the resort was built on an abandoned, 400-acre sand and tin mining site laid barren by over 70 years of activity. But when given a helping hand, nature always makes a comeback.
It came with the vision of owner Datuk Franky Chua Goon Eng, who invested the better part of 20 years and countless resources into rehabilitating the area and turning it into an environmentally-sustainable paradise.
That inspiring journey brought the property much acclaim - including winning the Environmental category in the FIABCI Malaysia Property Award 2017, followed by a World Gold in the FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence Award 2018 for the same category.
It also claimed The Edge-PAM Green Excellence Award 2018 for its innovative and outstanding concepts as well as contributions to the community, and was honoured by the World Luxury Hotel Awards the same year for its world-class facilities and impeccable service.
Last year brought a win in the Resort category of the FIABCI Malaysia Property Award 2019. This led to another World Gold win in the FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence Award 2020 under the same category.
For Chua, such accolades are recognition for the hard work, passion and dedication put in by all at the resort, as well as his development company Franky Land Sdn Bhd.
“We’re both delighted and surprised. To be recognised by fellow industry players is highly encouraging and it will only further motivate us to keep up the good work.
“Looking back, we never expected things to turn out the way it did. But I believe that when you take care of Mother Nature, she blesses you in return, ” said Chua, who is
set to receive the latest award in a gala ceremony in Paris in May 2021.
Labour of love
Mangala Resort & Spa started off as a plan to build a private retirement home and farm, as the barren nature of the land made a resort unimaginable at the time.
But Chua had a vision for something greater. With properties of this nature and standard not common on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia, there was also niche market to be filled.
Starting with just 30 units, Mangala today has 70 villas designed around the concepts of
‘infinity’ and ‘tropical comfort’. They are also built as small-scale pavilions, allowing reenery to flourish between each structure.
There are four main categories, namely the Wetland Cottage, Forest Villa, Water Villa and Orchard Pool Villa - with generous sizes of between 40sqm and 57sqm that afford guests a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
It suits different individual needs - be it nature lovers yearning to be in tune with the environment, couples looking for a romantic escape, or even city-slickers wanting a change of pace.
There are also several Family Villas sized between 96sqm and 115sqm, which are great for families wanting to spend quality time together.
Corporate groups looking for a distraction-free environment for team-building activities would also find these conducive.
Nestled between these sustainable, man-made structures are shady palm trees, exotic flower and herb gardens, organic fruit orchards and picturesque water features. It all embodies the essence of Mangala - which means ‘auspicious wellbeing’ in Sanskrit.
Chua revealed, “We wanted the name to be unique and reflective of the resort’s ambience. It’s a place you come to feel at peace, reconnect with your inner Zen, and soak up positive vibes.”
“I believe that every person desires to be well and happy, and here you can definitely do that. Our logo is an auspicious knot, which symbolises an unbroken cycle of wellbeing that never ends.”
Guests seem to concur, as Mangala holds ‘Exceptional’ and ‘Wonderful’ ratings of 9.1 (as of 7 July 2020) on popular travel portals Agoda.com and Booking.com.
Currently, rates start from approximately RM500+ per night, which makes the resort a great option if one is planning to ‘Cuti-Cuti Malaysia’ after being stuck at home for over two months recently due to the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic that is still ongoing has made international travel impractical for the time being, and people fearful of being in confined crowded spaces.
Mangala’s vast lands and open spaces offer the perfect antidote. Here, one has boundless personal space to relax or stroll about whilst breathing in crisp, fresh air. It
promises to refresh the mind and body after all the recent worries.
Chua added, “When travelling, most people think they need the beach. But when they come to a place like this, they realise this is actually the getaway they want. Some guests have returned up to 20 times!”
“We’re proud of how far we’ve come and constantly try to improve by taking in customer feedback. At the end of the day, the single most important thing is guests enjoying their time here.”
Visitors can also take comfort in supporting a homegrown business during these trying times.
Most of the resort’s staff are locals, and every guest that checks in helps keep livelihoods.
Never a dull moment
There is plenty to do at Mangala, such as a dip in the resort’s large Infinity Pool.
Seemingly merging with the surrounding landscape, the pool is highly Instagrammable and often features on social media.
Those opting for the Orchard Pool Villas also have rock salt chlorinated private pools to lounge about and soak up the sun.
Meanwhile, a spa retreat located on a hill overlooking the lake offers a variety of soothing treatments.
Guests can also cycle around in the company of chirping birds, try their hand at archery, feel the calmness of nature whilst kayaking on the lake, or achieve fitness goals whilst working out in the lake-view gymnasium.
Bird-watching is a must, as over 100 species call the resort home. From kingfishers to herons and storks, you never know which you might spot along trails or even on your balconies during the mornings and evenings.
“One recent morning, I opened my doors to find a whole family of hornbills just outside. It’s not something you’ll get to experience in the city.
“Seeing nature this close is both inspirational and rewarding. It reaffirms what we’ve always wanted to do - to transform a barren land, into one that’s green and full of life.
“Lots of species that were once gone due to the mining activities, have now returned to the area.
“The whole ecosystem has changed. Average temperatures have gone down, and water levels are good even during dry seasons, ” Chua shared.
Bats, river otters, wild boars, monitor lizards and wild ducks, are some of the other inhabitants guests might stumble across.
There are also pesticide-free fruit orchards (with durians, papayas, guavas and coconuts) and herb gardens, to explore.
Other facilities include the Lakeside Restaurant with all-day dining. True to its commitment to sustainability, much of the food served here is grown locally. Indulging in fresh flavours like this is not only exciting for the tastebuds, but also indirectly benefits local farmers and food producers.
There is also a 5,500sq ft Grand Ballroom and other function halls that can host a variety of events - such as weddings, team building and corporate functions - for up to 400 pax.
Mangala, which is located 30km from the Kuantan city centre, is just a 2.5 hour drive from Kuala Lumpur via the East Coast Expressway. Guests flying in via the state’s airport can reach the resort in just 15 minutes by road.
For more information, visit www.mangalaresortandspa.com, call 09-5057788 or look up ‘mangalaresortandspa’ on both Facebook and Instagram.
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