Seaside Seclusion in Malaysia: A Review of The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa
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Langkawi, one of TPG's Best Places to Visit in 2017, is a set of 99 islands just off the coast of northwestern Malaysia. Only two of these islands are inhabited though, so there's plenty of forested land and natural beauty. The archipelago has also become somewhat of a points-and-miles-hotel hotspot. There are five Marriott-branded hotels alone on one of the islands, including a Ritz-Carlton, a new Aloft, a St. Regis and a Westin. And, they're all pretty reasonably priced in terms of beachfront luxury properties. I decided to check out the Westin during a recent two-night stay.
TPG booked JT and me a premium room with two queen beds and a partial ocean view through Hotels.com Venture for $244 a night. This came out to $536 total for my two-night stay after taxes and fees. TPG loves getting 24% back on hotel stays by, one, using the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card to earn 10x miles when booking through Hotels.com venture and, two, getting 10% back through the Hotels.com Rewards program (offer ends Jan. 31, 2020). This return is impressive, but booking through an online travel agency like Hotels.com means you usually won't earn hotel loyalty points or nights or get any elite status during your stay.
If you prefer to book using Marriott points, this property is a Category 5 property. So it would cost 35,000 points for a superior room. For my dates, this room type was going for 760 Malaysian ringgit ($185) per night. So if you used points, you'd be getting 0.53 cents of value per point, which is well below TPG's valuation of Marriott points at 0.9 cents each.
The island of Langkawi is in northwest Malaysia near the border of Thailand. Many of the Southeast Asian budget airlines serve Langkawi (LGK), but Malaysia Airlines also flies between Kuala Lumpur (KUL) and LGK multiple times each day.
The Westin is on the southeast part of Langkawi overlooking the Andaman Sea. I passed through Langkawi's main city of Kuah shortly before reaching the hotel, but none of the city was visible from the resort. Indeed, one of the most magical parts of the Westin was that the surrounding land that I could see from the rooms and beach was mostly undeveloped nature, besides the resort.
We took a Grab ride share from Langkawi for 25 ringgit (about $5). When we arrived, a bellhop greeted us and grabbed our bags from the trunk. Shortly after, a greeter came to welcome us and usher us to two seats. He asked for our passports and encouraged us to relax while he handled the check-in formalities.
A few minutes later he returned with our passports and a check-in form. He confirmed the room type we'd booked, my phone number and my email. JT said that this stay had been booked for me, but that he had Platinum elite status and was wondering whether that would get us anything. The agent wrote down JT's Marriott number and said he'd see what he could do.
About five minutes later, he returned and said they'd been able to upgrade us to an ocean-view room and described some of the benefits we'd get from JT's elite status. We were pleasantly surprised they decided to recognize his status, as the stay was booked though Hotels.com Venture under my name. He did note that JT wouldn't receive any elite nights or loyalty points for the stay, since it was booked under my name and through a travel agent.
The agent passed us off to another agent, who offered to show us to our room. On the way, he said that, as a Platinum elite, JT could choose from breakfast, an amenity or 1,000 points (which TPG's latest valuations valued at $9). We chose breakfast, which he confirmed would be for two people each morning in the restaurant. Somewhat comically, two bellhops followed us carrying our large backpacks on their backs to our room.
Ocean-view premium rooms were about 516 square feet. We were given Room 3310, which had a king bed with nightstands on each side of the bed. There was a universal outlet above each nightstand, but it was impossible to put a US plug into the outlet on the righthand side of the bed. The bed was surprisingly uncomfortable, and I sank awkwardly into the mattress. I woke up multiple times both nights due to back pain, which isn't normal for me.
Across from the bed was a chair and a cabinet containing the minibar, a DVD player and coffee and tea materials. Above this cabinet was a flat-screen, 42-inch TV. The minibar had a refrigerator with beer, water, orange juice and sodas.
There was also a drawer with room-temperature items including nuts, chips, red wine, gin, vodka and whiskey. The prices weren't bad, with sodas costing 9 ringgit ($2), nuts costing 10 ringgit ($2) and beer costing 11 to 16 ringgit ($3 to $4).
Next to the TV and minibar was a desk with a few drawers. At the desk was an entertainment panel with two universal outlets, two USB outlets, audio inputs and an HDMI outlet. Next to the desk was a trash can and a recycling bin.
Across from the desk and next to the bed was a small couch with a coffeetable in front of it. This is where I worked from, but it was better designed for relaxing and watching a movie than for working.
Next to the desk and the couch was the patio. There were two chairs with cushions and pillows on the patio, as well as a coffeetable. Be sure to keep your patio door locked when you're not using it, as there were monkeys on the property that would raid your room if given the opportunity.
There was a large padded shelf by the entrance with shelves and drawers underneath. Next to this shelf was a closet with two doors. A light came on when you opened the doors, but the doors were difficult to close and keep closed. Inside the closet was a robe, two pairs of sandal slippers, plenty of hangers, an iron and ironing board, drawers and a safe.
Across from the closet was the bathroom. There was plenty of counter space on either side of the sink, as well as a small shelf behind the sink. Under the sink, there were two drawers with a hair dryer and various toiletries. Beneath the drawers was a shelf with folded, fluffy Heavenly-branded towels.
The shower stall was large and had a shelf along the side as well as four shelves on the wall of the shower that were stocked with Heavenly by Westin Spa White Tea Aloe body wash, shampoo and conditioner. There was an overhead rainfall shower as well as a handheld shower head. The rainfall shower wasn't particularly impressive, though, as the pressure was pretty weak.
Although we didn't mind, and presumably most people sharing a king bed wouldn't mind, know that we could see through the opaque window between the shower and the bedroom.
The air conditioning unit near the closet began leaking during our second night, and we noticed that the ceiling was wet and dripping as we were packing up.
Food and Beverage
The restaurants and bars on site had names that seemed better suited for a W-branded hotel: Breeze, Tide, Splash and Float. Splash was open for lunch near the infinity pool, and Float was an intimate reservation-only venue at the end of a long pier. Breeze was just off the lobby and had great views of the property, while Tide was closer to the beach. You could also arrange for a romantic dinner on the beach starting at 249 ringgit ($60) per person.
We ate dinner both nights at Breeze, as the sunset views from this restaurant were impressive and this was the most casual dinner option on site. We arrived about 45 minutes before sunset both nights and easily snagged a two-seat table by the railing.
Both nights, we were brought two complimentary bartender's-choice drinks before even ordering.
On the first night, we tried the chicken wrap for 68 ringgit ($15) and club sandwich for 45 ringgit ($10). Both entrees were served with a small salad and french fries, which were crisp and lightly salted. The club was nicely done, but the chicken wrap lacked any flavor or spice.
On the second night, we tried the fish and chips and the tuna panini for 43 ringgit ($10) each. The fish tasted fresh, but was heavily breaded. The tuna panini was a messy affair and didn't do anything to exceed JT's expectations.
A breakfast buffet was served until 11:30am each morning in Seasonal Tastes for 88 ringgit ($20) per person. The buffet included Western, Asian and Malaysian breakfast favorites.
Almost everything I tried was fresh and warm, from pancakes and waffles that were freshly made to an omelet station to a fresh juice station. Plus, there was a self-serve mimosa bar. Those with kids will appreciate that there were brightly colored plastic cups, plates and utensils for children.
Daily from 4:30pm to 6:30pm, Gold and Platinum elites could order drinks from the Elite menu at Tide.
The drinks were served with a plate of four to five bite-sized sweets. It was relaxing to watch the waves lap on the beach while we were enjoying our drinks.
The property was attractive with its orange roofs, white building, blue pools and green landscaping. There were pathways throughout the property that made it easy to go for a stroll.
There were four pools -- two for adults and two for kids. For adults, the most popular option seemed to be a large infinity pool. There's was a small infinity pool for children right below the adult version.
A second, more unique pool was the rock pool. As its name would suggest, there were rocks everywhere -- both surrounding and in the middle of the pool.
The main kid's pool was next to the infinity pool and surrounded by lounge chairs.
Lounge chairs in both the shade and the sun were easy to find anytime I looked. There were always towels available either from the towel desk or from a self-serve stack during the pool hours of 8am to 8pm.
Near the beach was a staffed watersports center. Here you could rent various watercraft ranging from canoes to motorized catamarans.
There were ample lounge chairs and umbrellas set up on the beach.
Set back from the beach was the fitness center and kid's center. There was table tennis, squash and pool on the ground level, as well as men's and women's locker rooms with showers, a sauna and Jacuzzi. I took a shower before departing on our last day. The shower was good strength-wise, but the shower area smelled mildly of sewage -- not pleasant when you're trying to freshen up.
The second-floor fitness center was very well-stocked with four treadmills, three elliptical machines, three exercise bikes, one rowing machine, multiple weight machines, a Smith machine and dumbbells with weight benches. There was also an attached yoga and stretching room that was stocked with stair step benches, dumbbells, a weight bench, exercise balls, weighted medicine balls, a TRX body weight machine with a video showing how to use it, and a heavy rope.
Free yoga classes, group runs and group walks were offered by the fitness center staff. Unfortunately, we didn't find out about these classes until stopping by the fitness center -- so if you're interested, be sure to swing by early during your stay. Bikes could also be rented by the hour or day from the fitness center.
Below the fitness center was a staffed kid's center. When we stopped by midday on a Sunday, there were two employees but no children.
Next to the fitness center were a couple tennis courts and a children's playground.
We often saw hornbill birds in the trees near the playground.
You could walk along a sidewalk along the beach to The St. Regis.
Between the Westin and St. Regis was a posh-looking spa. Besides the normal spa treatments, beachfront massages and a Spa at Night program were offered.
Float, the overwater restaurant at the end of a pier, was open for relaxing when there weren't meals or other events taking place.
We walked out to Float one afternoon to enjoy the views and were thrilled to see about 20 monkeys as we walked back to the main resort area.
The Wi-Fi didn't require a password to connect. Although the signal reached much of the property, it was too slow to run a speed test by the rock pool and didn't reach farther-away areas like Float. In our room, the Wi-Fi tested at 112 ms, 9.12 Mbps download and 8.46 Mbps upload.
On departure, we were given an invite to the Westin and St. Regis departure lounge at Langkawi Airport. We had access due to JT's Platinum elite status, but certain room types also provided access. This lounge was after security and provided seating for 29 people. There were universal power outlets, Wi-Fi, light snacks, sodas and coffee available. The lounge wasn't anything special but was a more comfortable place to wait for your flight than the gate area.
The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa felt relaxing and secluded when we visited on a Saturday through Monday. Although most rooms appeared to be occupied, it never felt crowded, and we didn't have trouble getting a table by the railing at Breeze both nights for dinner and sunset. Our room generally felt fresh and modern, but it was showing some wear in a difficult-to-keep-closed closet, stains on lampshades and a leaking air-conditioning unit. The property, especially the fitness-center building, felt older in design -- although all of the fitness equipment was modern and seemed relatively new.
The pools and beach were generally quiet, relaxing and not overly crowded. And, although there were family-friendly amenities like a kid's club, children's pools and kid's plates and cups at breakfast, the resort didn't feel overly family-focused. Instead, the resort seemed popular with both couples and families.