Green Luxury In Langkawi

THERE WAS A time when, right up to the mid 1980s, Langkawi was a nobody of an island. Phuket had tourists and James Bond. Langkawi had monitor lizards, some pirates and seven generations of bad luck to ride out, thanks to ‘Mahsuri’s Curse’ – cast by a noblewoman wrongfully executed for adultery in the 18th century.

Coincidentally or not, with the birth of her seventh descendant and then-and-now Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad declaring the island a duty-free zone in 1986, its luck seemed to turn around. Word spread about how beautiful its beaches and natural scenery – ancient rainforest, prehistoric mountains, spectacular mangrove forests – were. Hotel and resort operators came knocking – then digging and excavating to turn Langkawi into one of Malaysia’s top resort destinations.

In 1993, possibly the first mover into the luxury resort scene was The Datai – with its vantage spot on the northwest tip of the island overlooking the pristine beaches of Datai Bay on one side, and the 10-million-year-old rainforest on the other.

Behind the physical beauty, what really makes Datai unique is its connection to nature. A walking personification of it is resident naturalist Irshad Mobarak – who left his banking job about 25 years and now devotes his life to the non-human residents of the rainforest.

Mobarak has also been at The Datai from the beginning, taking guests on nature walks (a must) and training their eyes to spot everything from geckos to flying lemurs.

A simple night stroll with him is proof that outside of your luxurious air conditioned cocoon is a living jungle teeming with wildlife. It doesn’t take long for you to squeal at the sight of a flying lemur or colugo gliding through the air to a nearby tree for your entertainment. We can’t tell the difference between a colugo or a flying squirrel but the critters are certainly having an active night out. The geckos are out too – big fat lizards plastered to your villa roof, announcing its presence with a distinctive “Eh Oh” call.

In the daytime, you might encounter a mouse deer on your morning jog, spot dolphins in the bay, avoid a bunch of gangster macaques squabbling outside your window, or mistake a monitor lizard for a big rock. And why bother trekking through the forest to go birdwatching when you can find Oriental Pied Hornbills squawking for their mates from the trees flanking the main swimming pool while you’re having sunset cocktails?

The only drawback to all this is that you need to keep your villa doors closed if you don’t want anyone other than housekeeping to come in.

You can always find out more at the spanking new Nature Centre where you’ll find a library of reading material on local wildlife. And you can also make arrangements to visit the Permaculture Garden – the heart of the resort’s conservation activity where all food waste is composted and used to grow vegetables, and non food waste is recycled.

The Business Times: Green Luxury In Langkawi
Posted By: Jaimee Ee
January 4, 2019