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Secret paradise across the Causeway at One&Only Desaru Coast

Samantha Chiew
Samantha Chiew • 4 min read
Secret paradise across the Causeway at One&Only Desaru Coast
Accommodations at One&Only Desaru Coast feature natural materials and colour palettes that reflect the local environment, blurring the line between the indoors and outdoors (Pictures: One&Only)
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Drawing inspiration from southeastern Malaysia’s rich traditions and natural splendour, One&Only Desaru Coast embraces local art and influences. Its design pays homage to Southeast Asian traditions, reminiscent of a Malaysian kampung or village, yet infused with a contemporary aesthetic. 

“The resort is designed as an escape from the city, where nature is woven into every aspect of the experience, from planted green roofs to the rainforest-framed walkways,” says Kerry Hills director Justin Hill. That natural inspiration certainly makes sense, considering the surrounding native jungle and beach are home to 80 species of flora and fauna.

The accommodations, which include 42 spacious suites and the exclusive four-bedroom Villa One, feature natural materials and colour palettes that reflect the local environment, blurring the line between the indoors and outdoors.

Angelo Kritzitios, another director of Kerry Hill, says: “The guest suites bring about a seamless connection with the outdoors while affording exceptional levels of privacy so that guests can relax in their own secluded space.”

See also: Koh Lanta, where adventure meets luxury

My stay at One&Only Desaru Coast starts with true-blue VIP treatment in the form of a snack-filled Tesla Model X sent to pick me up from Woodlands Checkpoint. When I arrived at the resort, it was easy to forget that I was in Malaysia — the surroundings were reminiscent of a private Caribbean beach, quiet and intimate.

My Ocean Junior Suite is a small private villa spanning 1,130 sq ft with a small private pool and outdoor courtyard. One side of the bedroom overlooks the pool, while the other gives a view of the beach and ocean. 

Rather than the traditional en-suite setup, the room’s design mirrors traditional kampung-style living, where bathrooms are typically outside the living quarters. It is a unique take on room design, making the experience of staying here feel more authentic.

See also: Retreat to the great outdoors

While I would have loved to stay in this tranquil space on Desaru Coast, there was no time to waste, with the many things to do throughout the resort.

Culinary delights

First, the food. Dining at One&Only Desaru Coast is an adventure, with each restaurant offering a distinctive atmosphere and cuisine. 

At Ambara, I enjoy a delightful Mediterranean-inspired meal from locally sourced seasonal produce. Ember Beach Club, meanwhile, is the best spot to enjoy a meal with an amazing beach view, and the food here does not disappoint, either, with its culinary concept led by chef Andrew Walsh of the one-Michelin-starred Cure in Singapore.

The highlight of my culinary journey here is at Hoshi, where traditional Japanese dishes are prepared with modern flair. Helmed by chef Aizat Nazri, a local chef who has worked in several high-end omakase restaurants, it presents the freshest ingredients meshed into unique flavour bombs in every dish.

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Besides the restaurants, there are more intimate private dining experiences at One&Only Desaru Coast: choose a sunset barbecue or sunrise picnic by the beach, where a quiet, private area is set up for you and your special someone. Several couples have booked this for special occasions like wedding proposals and anniversary celebrations. 

Celebrating wellness

Once I’m done filling up on food, I set off for a little self-directed pampering session. My first stop, the One&Only Spa, is newly rejuvenated, having just reopened its doors in April. It is also the first resort spa in Southeast Asia to offer transformative treatments in partnership with Augustinus Bader. 

Beauty connoisseurs can look forward to a selection of treatments created with the luxury skincare brand; these rituals combine its award-winning hero formulas with customised fascia and lymphatic flow techniques to activate cellular rejuvenation and natural repair cycles.

I indulge in a facial treatment that is both rejuvenating and relaxing, blending the best parts of traditional therapies and modern techniques.

An extensive range of fan-favourite Augustinus Bader products for face, body and hair is also available.

In addition to the One&Only Spa, the rest of the resort offers a myriad of other restorative activities which truly set it apart from others. From yoga classes at dawn to stargazing and curated adventures through local landscapes, every experience is specially curated for an engaging experience. At a nature walk, an enthusiastic and knowledgeable guide excitedly takes me through the flora and fauna on our path. 

Other ways one can relax at One&Only Desaru Coast include nutritious field-grown dining and captivating seaside golfing; the stunning infinity pool is the perfect place to unwind and soak in spectacular views of the South China Sea.

Overall, One&Only Desaru Coast is easily one of the most luxurious hospitality properties I have stayed in. Check in to this tranquil hideaway and check out of the stressors of everyday life. Once you’re here, you’re automatically in holiday mode. 

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