Seclusion and luxury amid nature? A cluster of private villas offers all that and more on the mystical island of Langkawi — ideal for those gingerly making their first post-lockdown trip.
If the past two years have taught us anything, it is that taking time off to disconnect from the internet and reconnect with ourselves and nature is incredibly important. Langkawi has been a popular destination for local travellers since travel restrictions were lifted, but while most people thronged the busy beaches of Cenang, we were lucky enough to bed down at the secluded Saujana Private Villas.
Located at the very end of Jalan Teluk Datai, Saujana Private Villas is certainly far away from the hustle and bustle of any city. Our ride from the airport took about 40 minutes, and we watched as the scenery changed from busy shoplined streets, stretches of padi fields and the occasional construction site to a narrow two-way road in lush jungle. On this winding trail, we passed Temurun waterfalls, the Els Club Teluk Datai and The Datai Langkawi. There is certainly an emphasis on the word “private” at Saujana Private Villas. A remote-controlled gate closes off this getaway from the outside world. After traversing a steep and winding road, we arrived at our destination.
Boasting four private villas, one side of the property is surrounded by a 10-million-year-old rainforest while the other side opens out to the stunning Andaman Sea. Villa 1, the largest of the four at 829 sq ft, was our home for the night. In the spacious bedroom, a large bed stood in the middle while two day beds could be converted to accommodate two more guests. The wooden floors and furnishings, as well as the high ceiling, made the space warm and home-like. Separating the his-and-hers sinks from the bedroom were large cupboards and space to unpack and settle in. The bathroom included a shower and a roomy tub, with bath salts laid out. Complete with a smart TV, complimentary WiFi and a sea-facing balcony, the villa had all the makings of a perfect beach escape.
Villas 2, 3 and 4 are a tad smaller at 657 sq ft each, and include one day bed. Amenities are similar to Villa 1. Villa 4 is closest to the water and has the largest balcony to enjoy the view from. The compound includes a 1,249 sq ft living room or common area, with comfy furniture, a pool table and board games; as well as a 700 sq ft dining pavilion that faces the pool and offers a view of the beach. After a quick tour, our group indulged in delicious gin and tonics in the beachfront pavilion hut at the foot of the pool. It was low tide, so we saw the sprawling roots of the mangrove trees and sizeable coral littered all over the beach. It was simply beautiful.
The plan for the afternoon was to put a couple of kayaks out to sea. With safety vests strapped on, we stepped into the water. The gorgeous beach accessible from Saujana Private Villas is Datai Bay, named one of the top 10 beaches in the world by National Geographic and which is shared with The Datai. I am glad to report — and a little surprised — that we managed to inelegantly paddle about without capsizing. We enjoyed the view of the surrounding green mountains, as well as Pulau Anak Datai in the distance. It was calming, lightly bobbing in the water, surrounded by bountiful displays of nature.
Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side — the skies began to darken and rumble, releasing a warning drizzle as we clumsily headed back to shore. As we walked back to the villa, thousands of baby crabs scurried into the shelter of the sand, leaving tiny holes as evidence of their presence. We were later told about all the other incredible wildlife one can see in the area, from dolphins and sea otters to snakes, wild boars, hornbills and, of course, monkeys. While we were not lucky enough to see the more exotic of these creatures, we did watch many monkeys climbing trees, receive a visit from a baby snake and hear the symphony of ribbits of frogs inhabiting the waterlily pond behind the common area.
As it continued to rain steadily, our barbecue dinner had to be taken indoors, but we still thoroughly enjoyed the feast. In the dining pavilion, we enjoyed ikan bakar, buttered crabs, sweet corn, roasted potatoes and other vegetables. Villa manager Charlotte Nerissa D’cruz told us about the customisable nature of a holiday in Saujana Private Villas.
The buttered crab and ikan bakar were some of the best dishes from the barbecue
While there is a comprehensive menu, if given enough notice, the chefs can cater for guests’ every need, be it food restrictions, allergies or just preferences. Often, bigger groups book all four villas, allowing them a private getaway that includes free rein of all of the facilities. As D’cruz stays on the premises, she can organise a full range of activities such as kayaking, crabbing, bonfires, barbecues on the deck, nature tours, island hopping, as well as making spa appointments and restaurant reservations.
Villa 1 is the most spacious and can accommodate four guests
Ending the meal with some fruits, we adjourned to the living room for a round of amateur pool, board games, and a bit of star gazing before heading to bed. Having been used to the silence in the city under the Movement Control Orders — a silence that is invaded by the occasional car horn, barking dog or crying child — we thought we were prepared for the sounds of nature. We were a little wrong. While the twilight hours spent in the pool were filled with the soothing sounds of the sea and clinking of glasses, the deep night was percussed by the music of crickets, frogs and other animals, whose banter my city ears did not recognise. After trying to decipher the sounds of the jungle with D’cruz, the conclusion was that island frogs sound very different indeed from city frogs. The next morning, we woke early and sleepily headed for the beach to watch the colours behind the mountains make way for a brilliant rising sun. We enjoyed the sunshine as we soaked our feet in the clear water. My companions and I were eager to see sea otters or dolphins but as it was low tide, we had no such luck.
The common area houses comfortable furniture, a pool table and board games for guests to enjoy
At breakfast, the sun shone brightly into the dining pavilion as we seated ourselves to face the pool and the bright blue Andaman Sea. We felt an incredible sense of calm as we consumed the fluffiest scrambled eggs with the sound of the sea lapping against the sand. Although we were loath to leave this secluded paradise, leave we had to. Even after just one night at Saujana Private Villas, we were encompassed in the wonderful serenity of nature, recharged by its healing properties and looked ahead to when we could return.
Villa 4 is the closest to the sea and so it has the largest balcony to enjoy the view from
Charlotte Nerissa D’cruz, the villa manager of Saujana Private Villas, offers a few insights into enjoying Langkawi the right way
Do not feed the monkeys
They will lose respect for you and from then on will expect you to feed them, and if you do the monkeys are likely to bring others into your vicinity. Don’t be fooled by their cuteness!
Look to the stars
The weather in Langkawi is not always predictable. However, if you can easily see stars at night, then it is very likely that the following morning will be sunny.
Guests’ favourites at the Saujana Private Villas include the mixed seafood BBQ, mee mamak, fried rice, the Villa beef burger and spaghetti bolognaise. If you wish to venture out, restaurants I would recommend are Sekapur Sirih, Red Tomato, The Fat Frog, Route 113 Anjung Cafe, Kapal Layar and Wonton Bar.
The apps that the fishermen in Langkawi rely on for the weather are Windy, a weather forecasting service, and Tide Charts, which provides tidal estimates, lunar data and weather forecasts.
Crabbing is a fun activity that you can partake in at Saujana Private Villas. The best time to hunt for crabs is in the middle or end of the month.
Watch out for wild boars
If you see adult wild boars with their piglets, leave them alone. They are potentially more dangerous because they will defend their young. Do not approach or attempt to feed the animals. Keep a safe distance and do not corner or provoke them, for example, by using a flash while taking pictures.
A few serpents
If you encounter a snake, stay calm and keep a safe distance. Do not provoke it. Commonly found around the villas are Paradise Tree snakes, which are small, pretty cute and not very venomous. If you have a fear of snakes or have allergies, please read about the species found in Langkawi
For novice kayakers
We recommend that newcomers practise the paddle stroke before hitting the water. Enjoy the scenery, get a feel of how your body rests in the kayak and to paddle through the water. Focus on technique, not speed. For safety, leave your electronics on dry land or sealed in a dry bag.
Personally, I use SunSense sunscreen as it works for my sensitive skin and is less attractive to bugs. The best moisturiser is Aloe Vera gel, as it really helps with sunburn. We also use Kaps Insect repellent spray and have citronella candles around the villas.
We have animals all year round. If you spend the right amount of time at the beach and if you are lucky, you will see animals such as otters and dolphins.