As I sat in a sweltering hot taxicab, heading down an outwardly abandoned gravel road, I thought to myself, “There’s no way I am in the right place.”
At this point we were several minutes past the lively Pantai Cenang street, which runs along side the popular Pantai Cenang beach in Langkawi. The sidewalk had ended and there were fields with cows. A stark contrast from the shops and restaurants along Pantai Cenang. So when we finally turned down this seemingly uninhabited road, I imagined there had been a misunderstanding.
Thankfully, we quickly pulled up to this pale yellow wood-sided house. There was no sign or board with a hotel name written, which made me a little uneasy. I did, however, see three people inside. This reassured that I was not completely lost.
As I stepped out of the cab I made sure the driver would wait until I was in good hands. But before I even made it to the front steps a tall, skinny white man walked down from the entrance to help with my bags. He must have been no more than forty years old. Probably in his mid thirties.
Yes, I was in the right place. Regardless of the tall man telling me so, it was evident as soon as I stepped inside the yellow-colored front house. I observed the well-furnished wrap-around porch. There was also a long and slender swimming pool to the right hand side, surrounded by elegant wooden lawn chairs and bright throw pillows.
As I entered the front-house I noticed a perfectly groomed Cocker Spaniel mix. I, always being so inquisitive, asked how on earth a dog could be so well-maintained on this miniscule island. James, the tall gentleman, explained how there is actually an animal center on the premise. And part of the hotel’s funds goes to supporting this center, which rescues stray dogs and cats on the island. Very admirable, indeed. This also explains the virtually animal-free streets of Langkawi, unlike many other places in Southeast Asia where stray dogs and cats roam.
James, one of the owners, further explained how right next door is the Bon Ton Resort. While the Temple Tree and Bon Ton are technically two different hotels, they are under the same management. And guests are free to use the restaurants and pools at both.
Aside from being separated by a fence, the Bon Ton Resort is more of a bungalow style with little houses, or huts, each person or family can stay. It is a traditional Malay style. On the other hand, Temple Tree has large houses broken down into various rooms. Each house is different, though. But all antique. Some have been brought over from India or China and reassembled. Another aspect of the Temple Tree that attributes the higher price per night. (Below is the most expensive house at the Temple Tree, consisting of two large floors. Brought over from China.)
In any case, James and I eventually headed towards the room I would be staying, or “Estate 3”. As we walked through the resort, this property very much resembled a plantation in the US. I couldn’t pin it, but something about the place just reminded me of the South. So of course I asked. And low and behold, this was once a plantation. A rubber plantation. However, the buildings had been completely refurbished. And as I mentioned above, some brought over from elsewhere.
The room I was staying in was absolutely massive. I loved the antique furniture. Ceilings were very high. Overall, the atmosphere at Temple Tree was laid back. Very relaxing. I felt like I could have been anywhere in the world — it was a total escape.
Temple Tree Hotel Breakdown
Rooms: Gorgeous, spacious and well furnished. My Estate room had very high ceilings. And rooms came with amenities like bug-repellent, books, magazines.
Pools: Nice, quiet and three to choose from.
Ambience: Nice feel, like an old plantation. (Because it was.)
Filtered Water: All the water is filtered from the shower to the sink. Unfortunately I found this out right before I checked out.
Friendly Staff: Everyone from James to the female daytime bartender to the two men working at the bar/restaurant at night were super friendly and helpful. On my last morning the girl-bartender hunted down some goggles so I could swim a few laps — very kind.
Lots of friendly animals: This could be a pro (if an animal person) or a con if you are terribly allergic to cats. Actually, if one is very allergic to cats or dogs it could be a good idea to not stay at Temple Tree for there are many animals. Especially cats. And they will come up to you, even sit on your lap.
Poor WiFi: The WiFi was not working in my room, a problem they said they were getting fixed. The connection at the main front house was pretty good. And it sort of worked by the pools.
Expensive food and drink: Compared to the rest of Langkawi, Temple Tree is really expensive. Like, double or more the price of normal food/drink options in areas close to Pantai Cenang.
Isolated location: This could be a pro or con depending on the person I found it more of a con because, say, if I wanted to walk to a quick mart to buy a bottle of water I couldn’t. And water at Temple Tree was about five times the average price. I know, I know — the water is filtered at the hotel and OK to drink. But I didn’t I know this until I basically left. So I tried to conserve my precious bottled water, leaving me at one point in dizzy dehydration. All in an effort to save some money.
Bugs: Yeah, I know in SEA it’s impossible to find a spot without ants or mosquitoes or cockroaches. The plus side was that Temple Tree staff are aware enough to provide bug spray and repellent in the room. A huge plus. Nevertheless, when I arrived there was a little colony of ants by the bathroom door. After spraying the bathroom down, the problem was solved. Still, for the price, you would think that little packs of insects wouldn’t be in hanging out in the bathroom.
In the end, I would definitely recommend and stay at the Temple Tree again. I think it is ideal for couples, whether young or old. The scenery, the quietness and the isolation is quite romantic. But perfectly suitable for a solo traveler (like me) or a group of friends or family even.