THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCESM
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES
THE MIDDLE EAST'S NEW TRAVEL MAGAZINE: FOR BEAUTIFUL DESTINATIONS, HOTELS, THINGS AND EXPERIENCES

Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas review: an idyllic beach escape in Malaysia’s new coastal development

The perfect family resort on Malaysia’s exciting new beach development with the chance to combine a world-class city escape

Isabella Sullivan

11 June 2024

Anantara Desaru Coast Resort

Why book Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas

Malaysia’s beach scene has long been confined to the likes of Langkawi and Redang, but in a bid to bolster this, just before the Covid-19 Pandemic, Khazanah, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, announced the development of Desaru – a strip of coastline on the south of the country just two hours from Singapore. The coastline has always existed, but only in recent years – thanks to the development – has a handful of luxurious hotels, with the likes of One&Only, The Westin, Hard Rock, and perhaps the most universally appealing, Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas, pop up along the jungle-fringed coastline. With such a short drive from Singapore, the coastline and its resort attract plenty of international and Singaporean travellers and those who come for a weekend escape from the nearby Malaysian city Johor Bahru, which is just an hour away.

Anantara Desaru Coast Resort beach

Location

Desaru Coast sits on the capricious shores of the South China Sea and comprises thick tropical vegetation, mangroves, nature reserves and more – offering an escape that’s totally immersed in peace and nature. The pulsating island state of Singapore is just a two-hour drive away – with its international airport hub and wondrous attractions and hotels – and also makes for a great city and beach escape for international travellers. The coast itself is spread out and peaceful, though there’s plenty to do, and travellers cfan resort hop and enjoy restaurants at other resorts or head into nearby Johor Bahru (under an hour’s drive away) to explore its quintessentially Malaysian old town with its food stalls, charming shops, temples (both Hindu and Buddhist), heritage walks and more.

Anantara Desaru Coast Resort villa - four-bedroom pool residence
Anantara Desaru Coast Resort villa - four-bedroom pool residence

Rooms, suites and villas

The resort almost feels like two separate escapes – one, more traditionally Malay with tropical touches in the rooms and suites, with dark wooden floors, furniture and private balconies – plus a lovely wrap-around suite. Things get truly magnificent in the villas – which embody tropical modernism with their floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors, sweeping terraces, outdoor showers and private pools -some with huge private gardens backing out onto the ocean. Travelling with a group, we check into a stunning four-bedroom residence – home to two beautiful ocean-front bedrooms and two further double bedrooms, all with spacious private bathrooms. The open plan living space makes you never want to leave – with a raised level kitchen and dining room with an impressive island, coffee machine, stocked mini-bar, fridge of snacks and drinks, and more, plus a large dining table to fit the entire group. Out on the terrace, there are more places to sit, drink, and dine- an outdoor dining table and seating area overlooking the pool. For long stays, the private kitchen is a treat to whip up meals from local markets or have the resort’s private chef come over and cook – part of Anantara’s Dining by Design. Villas come with private butler service – available via Whatsapp – and ours bring us coffee in the morning, lay spread of breakfast on our outdoor dining table and organise laundry and spa bookings, all with the most wonderful smile.

wrap-around suite with ocean view

Food and drink

As expected in Malaysia, a country renowned across the world for its delicious and colourful cuisine, the food is sublime. Breakfast is served at Turmeric – the hub of the resort with a traditional dark indoor dining room and outdoor option – including a terrace overlooking the main pool and intimate side terrace and offers the usual continental affair alongside live cooking stations and Malay classics. We also enjoy a dinner here of crispy sharing starters, flavourful curries and desserts like mango sticky rice and shaved ice. The other hero outlet is Anantara’s classic Sea. Fire. Salt, where the beloved concept gets a Malay makeover and serves fresh seafood and grills (order the lobster roll). The Infinity Bar and Observatory Bar offer a more laid-back dining spot – perched in striking positions with great cocktails and bites, plus a rotating buffet option, and there are plenty of other spots around the resort offering everything all day – from morning to midnight snacks. Making the most of our spectacular villas and their scenic and stylish seating areas, we enjoy Anantara’s signature Dining by Design experience– where a private chef will make you anything, anywhere in the resort. In-villa barbecues are also a highlight.

Spa and facilities

What’s lovely about Anantara Desaru Coast is that the resort is big, but not too big, meaning it’s easy to wander around (though golf buggies are freely available), but it is impossible to get bored. There’s so much to see and so many places to hide away in – making it the ideal family escape for those wanting to fly and flop but also for those who don’t. There’s a lake-like main swimming pool, framed by plenty of loungers, plus a second swimming pool, a kid’s club and a teen’s club. The superstar, however, is the beach – golden, long, sandy and primed for watersports (though swimming is only encouraged from mid-May to mid-August due to choppy waters). The famed Anantara Spa also get a Malaysian makeover, offering Malay treatments alongside the brand’s signature Thai rituals. Our Anantara Signature Massage melts away any travel aches and creaks – managing to hit every spot in a way, very few but Anantara hotels, manage to do. The spa is a wonderful and tranquil spot to enjoy herbal tea or read a book – with a sun-dappled garden and water features creating a wonderful sense of calm.

Insider tip

While the wild yet perfectly tamed and beautiful coastline, the resort and its incredible bills will make you never want to leave, guests have to book one of the many excursions and activities available on the coast – all easily arranged with Anantara’s concierges. One morning, we head out to the Desaru mangroves, where conversation projects are re-building these wildlife hubs. The Desaru Fruit Farm is also a few minutes from the hotel, where little ones will enjoy exploring, picking and tasting fruit, and having furry animal encounters in the petting zoo.

Need to know

Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas is around a 1-hour and 30-minute drive (100km) from Singapore and its international airport. The drive can take significantly longer in the mornings and evenings when commuters pass between Malaysia and Singapore and on Saturday mornings when Singapore residents leave the island state for shopping and relaxation to prepare for border queues. Travellers must pass Singapore and Malaysia immigration checkpoints, but it’s all incredibly fast and efficient when there. Malaysia’s Senai International Airport is around an hour’s drive, and it has domestic flights across Malaysia and international flights to and from Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Jakarta, Guangzhou, and Haikou.

From around AED750 a night for a double room, anantara.com

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