Reply To: Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Batu Ferringhi, Penang, Malaysia

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July 2015, 2 nights / 3 days

Since it was my birthday during our travels we were looking for special hotels and one, where I would celebrate it.

We looked for something relaxing and luxurious. It was also our wish to visit Penang for years now. We decided to book the Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, named after an Indonesian and Malay folk song for two nights. It means something like being loved / beloved.

Next was which room to choose. We could have had many room types in the Garden or Rasa Wing, including a suite.

We were undecided for a while, if we should take the Rasa Deluxe, Premier Room or the suite. The best impression and most suitable room for us was the Premier Room. We liked the size, layout and design of it best, based on photographs online.

We arrived at Penang International Airport from Kuala Lumpur with Malaysia Airlines. The flight was pleasant and eventless.

We bought a taxi voucher at the Penang International Airport and paid 74 MYR (ca. 16.60 Euro or 18.50 USD).

The journey took around 50 minutes and was picturesque.

We told our taxi driver to go to the Rasa Wing. It is important to state which wing you have, because there are two entrances.

We were welcomed warmly by the bell captain and door man. They checked if we were on the list of expected guests and invited us inside.

The receptionist brought us to a private area within the Rasa Wing Lounge, where we received a welcome drink and the check in formalities took place.

Interesting to note was the advise leaflet given to us. It informed us that the hotel had taken a pre-authorization of 300 MYR (ca. 63.65 Euro or 71.45 USD) per room per night on our credit card. If we were going to settle the invoice at check out with another credit card or paying in cash the amount would be only released within two to four weeks since it was an international bank transaction.

We arrived just in time for afternoon tea and could have taken part, but we wanted to go to our room, refresh and settle down first.

After all the formalities were taken care of, we were accompanied to our room and given a short tour by the friendly femal staff member. We were advised that the first fill of the minibar (two Coca Colas, two Sprites, two beer and one Kitkat) was free and that the crystal filtered water was complimentary and would be replenished daily. Afterwards we were left alone.

The large room was classic Malay with dark wood and different brown, red and gold shades.

There was an open walk in closet with a vanity table, large wardrobe and storage unit to the left. Staying longer shouldn’t be a problem.

The design was intricate. Each closet handle was shaped like a lizard.

A double door led to the bathroom on the right. It was large with double sinks, a huge spa shower and a separate room for the toilet.

The amenities were Shangri-La’s own brand and of high quality.

To our surprise we also found an alarm clock in the bathroom.

The spa shower had a huge rainfall shower head, a handheld one and three massage spray jets. The water pressure was always great and there were no complaints of sudden temperature changes.

We loved the Shangri-La amenities. They smelled good, were easy to squeeze out of the little bottles and nourished our skins.

The bathroom was fully marbled and felt very elegant.

Behind the bathroom and walk in closet the room continued with a seating area, including a sofa, chairs and a coffee table, work space and bed.

In the middle, there was a very long writing desk provided as divider. There was also a swiveable flat screen TV with around twenty local and international channels and a DVD player. The hotel has a DVD library.

One of the drawers contained all office supplies imaginable.

Artwork was large locally inspired batik cloth. Very colorful and beautiful alike.

All was very comfortable and we enjoyed spending time on our room.

Another highlight for us was the large balcony with a huge marble bath tub for two, a dining area and a day bed. There were other inhabitants too, like a butterfly and a lizard, living under a lampshade on the balcony.

We overlooked the manicured gardens and had partial sea view. The only thing we could hear were the birds and the waves, which was very romantic.

24 hour in room dining is also available, which we used twice.

The smoothies come highly recommended.

We tried the Penang Laksa, which is a bit messy to eat, but excellent tasting, the spaghetti aglio al olio (very delicious) and the tomato Monte Cristo, fluffy and light.

Once we had the Creme Brulee and each time hot chocolate.

The highest bill came in at 155 MYR, ca. 34 Euro or ca. 37.75 USD.

Besides enjoying in room dinner, we also liked the fruit basket and free snacks, hidden under a typical colorful Malay woven cloche, called a Tudung Saji. On one day we had banana chips and on the following day Beh Teh So, a pastry originating from Penang. It was a crusty biscuit, filled with sweet molasses and glazed with eggwhite and topped with toasted sesame seeds. Both were delicious.

Magazines were available too, including the Malaysia Tattler, Prestige and the TV program.

To keep us up to date about what was going on at the resort, an activities sheet and a map were also provided.

Guests can join Yoga and Tai Chi lessons daily. There are golf competitions and cooking demonstrations as well as Art Attack and many other activities on offer.

Every Friday the hotel employees give a musical performance with traditional Malay gamelan instruments at the Garden Wing.

Antique gamelan instruments are on display at the Garden Wing lobby at all times.

The hotel also supports two charities Penang incl. Shan Children’s Home Association and Gift of Life.

The Shangri-La was opened in 1973 and the style is Minangkabau. There is a 40th Anniversary Pavillion in the hotel’s grounds. It contains a lot of history and it’s fascinating to see how hotel rooms looked in the 1970ies and 1980ies.

You might ask what are the differences between the the Garden Wing and the Rasa Wing. The Garden Wing is better suited for families. It has a large pool and other amenities for children.

The Rasa Wing has a large lounge with lots of inclusions to pamper guests from breakfast at the Feringgi Grill (which is the fine dining restaurant and serves modern grilled cuisine) or the Spice Market Cafe, the international buffet restaurant, to afternoon tea and real cocktails during Happy Hour.

Besides the restaurants there is also the Pinang Bar & Restaurant.

The Rasa Wing pool is adults only.

The wings are connected via the conference centre.

The Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang has a beautiful garden and walkways to CHI, the spa, the pool, the beach, the 9 hole golf course and the sister property Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La. Guests have signing priviliges. Staff can also take customers by golf buggy to the Golden Sands Resort.

A shuttle bus to George Town is offered too.

We didn’t go to the city, because we were splitting our holiday between Batu Ferringhi and George Town. A review of the Blue Mansion – A Cheung Fatt Tze Legacy, by Samadhi is going to follow.

Instead we explored our neighborhood, our hotels and the gardens.

On our first day we joined the Happy Hour.

We were impressed by the large Rasa Wing Lounge, which has different seating areas, a selection of magazines and books, a reception desk and an area set up for serving snacks throughout the day and appetizers during Happy Hour.

The lounge had oriental touches, tradtional artwork and colorful sofas and chairs. Guests could also sit outside on the terrace.

Since all the indoor seating was taken we were brought to the terrace. Originally we thought it would be too hot, but it was a balmy evening and comfortable to sit outside. We liked it so much the next evening we were happy to take a seat on the terrace, enjoying the romantic atmosphere and excellent drinks. The sunsets were magnificent, enhanced by the kitesurfers and the garden. Time couldn’t be better spent with a loved one or with family.

We tried a few cocktails (Cuba Libre, Sapphire Summer), Ruggeri Prosecco, a wide choice of salads including Greek Salad, sweets (The profiteroles and the macaroons come highly recommended.), fish and many other things. All was delicious. Staff was attentive and couldn’t do enough for us.

The “locals”, birds in this case, took part in the Happy Hour too. When guests left, the birds swooped down onto the tables and snatched the chicken wings. They weren’t very fond of the fried fish, though.

Most of our fellow guests were from the region – some couples, some families with small children -, intermixed with a few Western couples and a family with teenage kids.

The next morning we went to the Feringgi Grill for breakfast. A more expansive review is going to follow. Let’s just say the meal wasn’t a disappointment. Our breakfasts here were indeed very memorable for the right reasons.

Later I had an appointment at the CHI Spa. I had chosen the Rasa Asmaradana, a Sense of Place massage. The spa has it’s own entrance and eleven treatment bungalows in Peranakan style and a village feel. I was offered tea or flavored water while waiting for my therapist.

My bungalow had two entrances, the one to the right led to the changing room including shower and toilet, to the left was the treatment room. I enjoyed my massage and was relaxed afterwards.

I felt pampered and the location and architecture was romantic.

The treatment lasted 1 hour 15 minute and cost 330 MYR (ca. 70 Euro or 78.60 USD).

The gym was located at the Rasa Wing and well used.

Afterwards we had afternoon tea. He had a cappuccino, while I had the TehTarik. There were plenty of delightful sandwiches, scones, Bonne Maman jams and cakes. The presentation was very beautiful and the treats tasty, plus the service was friendly at all times.

When we returned from the Happy Hour to our room staff had left behind a decadent chocolate birthday cake for me. It was very large, so we could only eat a quarter or so.

Turn down arrived every night and included bookmarks with excerpts from James Hilton’s Lost Horizon and a plant print. The chain is named after Shangri-La, an earthly paradise, in the book. I believe the name is well chosen.

Too soon check out arrived. It was done efficient and with a smile. A taxi was organized within minutes and so we could begin our adventure in George Town.

Would we return? Definitely. The hotel is heaven on earth based on our romantic setting, excellent cuisine, comfort and luxury of the whole property and the friendly and attentive staff.

Would we recommend this hotel/resort to a friend? YES!
Would we want to stay again at this hotel/resort in our future? YES!

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