Judging by the title, I'm sure you can see I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here. Kicking off our tour of Malaysia in KL for one night, we found it to be a nice modern city, however the terrible traffic meant that things didn't go so smoothly so the following day, we were relieved to arrive by propeller plane at the tiny landing strip and airport in the tropical paradise of Tioman Island. There to meet us at the airport was Belle and we were immediately whisked off by speedboat to the Japamala resort. On the speedboat ride, we were given a refreshing iced lemongrass drink - a very nice touch in such a warm country.
We arrived 10 minutes later, disembarked at the over water Italian restaurant - Mandi Mandi and walked along the wooden bridge towards the small reception area serving the 13 villa resort. Check-in was handled very smoothly by Aruni, the resident manager and our suitcases were promptly wheeled to our 2 bedroomed villa - the "Penghulu's House". Perfect for families like us, the villa is set aside right by the beach with its own garden and plunge pool overlooking the sea.
The next few days were spent lazing by the hotels main pool (Although small, the pool suited us just fine - we spent many afternoons on the shaded daybeds) soon to be replaced by a fabulous new pool with a stream trickling into it and a view out to sea. During the cooler times of the day (Morning and late afternoon) we went snorkeling in the water just off the resort's beach and embarked on kayaking trips to neighbouring beaches and hamlets. There was no need for us to leave the confines of the resort over the entire duration of our 3 day stay.
Mealtimes were held at both restaurants - Mandi-Mandi and Tamarind. Mandi-Mandi is located on stilts over the water, accessible by a wooden bridge. With seats hanging over the ocean and serving delicious Italian food, this is a great place for sun downers and dinners. The pasta and risotto dishes are excellent - the tuna and capers pasta and the seafood risotto both come highly recommended by us.
The main restaurant, Tamarind serves South-East Asian cuisine. The sister restaurant of Tamarind in KL, this place is sure to impress. We loved all the dishes we had here - and we had several, but the ones that we loved most of all were the mouth-watering Thai prawn and papaya salad, the Thai green curry and the chicken and glass noodle soup. The Tom Yam Gung soup was absolutely delicious but the immense level of spice took us all by surprise - a perfect dish for spice aficionados though.
Service was absolutely fantastic and we would like to give a special thank you to Belle who handled our arrival and departure as well as many of our requests during our stay, Mike who served us several times at the Tamarind restaurant and showed us our rooms, Ben who served us at the Mandi-Mandi restaurant and Aruni - the hotels charismatic resident hotel manager who really managed the whole resort effortlessly and smoothly. The little touches such as the homemade chocolates and handwritten cards in our rooms following turn-down service, the welcome drinks, the "goodbye" cookies, the complimentary in-room teas and coffees and the daily snacks really impressed us and certainly went a long way.
Snorkeling was the highlight of our stay - having lived in Asia for decades, we have been to several countries known for their snorkeling (including Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Burma) but the coral we saw off the beach at the Japamala was by far the best we've seen. We spent mornings and afternoons swimming with large turtles (Rarely seen - during our stay we saw 3), stingrays and even a reef shark (Harmless creatures - we saw one from around 5 metres away swimming around the coral). The coral was teeming alive with fish featuring beautiful colours and patterns - it was a truly magical sight.
Overall, we were thoroughly impressed with the Japamala resort - for the majority of us, it was the most special place we have stayed in having ticked all boxes and surpassed our expectations and we would certainly love to come back some day!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- JapaMala is Tioman Island’s only boutique resort, and one-of-a-kind in Malaysia. This small and exclusive resort of 13 rooms is hidden amidst 11 acres of lush tropical rainforest. A one-village-one-resort property, JapaMala has its own private and quiet beach. While some charming Malay village-style villas and chalets dot the jungle and beachfront, others nestle in the most breath-taking spots.Best described as an ‘eco-luxe’ resort, JapaMala transcends the experience of living close to nature by redefining it with a touch of luxury. Designed by natural streams, steep cliffs, towering boulders and where no trees are felled, the entire resort borrows from nature its elements to offer an exceptional sense of paradise, freedom from the real world. While serious relaxation is an elusive commodity for many, one can truly succumb to the healing effects JapaMala imparts through its holistic blend of sumptuous gourmet treats, intimacy between man and nature, unique spa experiences and truly unprecedented hospitality. Many say JapaMala is not just a place, but a state of mind. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Japamala Hotel Pulau Tioman
- Japamala Resort
- Japamala Pulau Tioman