Everyone has their own idea of the perfect holiday. Some like to shop a lot, some like to have loads of activities, and others want to hit as many tourists traps as possible. Me? I prefer holidays that require no planning, no stress, no itineraries - just a nice resort, preferably with a beach, some nice trees around, and a nice quiet environment where I can just chill and relax with a book and a beer.
I got my wish recently when Suanie The Great invited LL and I on a holiday to check out the beautiful Royale Aryani Resort at Merang, Terengganu.
The resort is actually a boutique resort with 27 rooms and suites, located quite close to the jetty where you take the ferries to Pulau Perhentian or the other islands. Just about 5 minutes drive, in fact, which makes it the perfect place to stopover on the way to the islands. It's not exactly ON the main road though, so don't go too fast or you'll miss the "gates" that mark the entrance to the resort:
I think we were distracted by the keropok stall opposite this when we were looking for this, but after a few minutes driving up and down looking for it, we finally found it and headed into the resort proper, where we were then greeted by this fantastically tranquil sight:
Now, I'm a real sucker for resorts that incorporate a lot of nature into their designs and landscapes, and The Aryani was the type of place I love - lots of trees, nice quiet surroundings (read: no noisy traffic or loud karaoke centers nearby), and a lovely sea breeze blowing through.
Some of the deco and architecture reminded me of another resort I stayed at in Bali:
According to their website, the architecture of the resort is actually based on authentic Malay architecture, inspired by the Sultan’s Palace of the olden days. Througout our 3 day 2 night stay there, I really felt like I was living in a traditional Malay palace located in a quiet idyllic Malay kampung.
After checking in, this friendly dude came out with one of the most rustic yet awesome luggage carts ever:
The staff at the hotel were pretty friendly, and we didn't have any problems whatsoever. One night, Suan found a tree frog on her hotel room wall and even though it was in the middle of the night, the management sent over someone to get rid of it, no questions asked. Awesome.
Anyway, our rooms were in individual chalets, which were nestled perfectly among a nice grove of trees, and the room itself was pretty damn sweet:
One thing we really liked was the outdoor bathtub:
Though the walls were a little too low for our liking, meaning anyone could have peeked in over the wall while we were in the bath. Not that anyone actually did, of course, but I'm just saying it COULD happen.
Anyway, like I said, this was the perfect holiday place for me, because it was quiet, rustic, and it was great to just sit outside on the porch with a beer (which I brought myself) and just CHILL.
I managed to actually finish an entire book sitting outside the porch (And on the beach, more on that later). It's been a while since I've managed to get some nice quiet reading time like this.
Anyway, later the friendly hotel manager took us for a little tour around the hotel, which included the Honeymoon Suite, which as pretty well, sweet. It's located right on the corner of the resort grounds, with a great view of the sea:
And the inside was pretty nice too:
And at least the walls surrounding the outdoor bathtub was a lot taller, so it's a lot easier to get up to all sorts of hanky-pank... ahem... er... bath in peace.
Speaking of bathtubs, the Honeymoon Suite also had an indoor bathtub... which was just next to the bed. Hmmm, how convenient... hur hur.
There's also a nice little seaside hut just on the edge of the resort ground, which I think used to be a bar:
The manager said they plan to fix this place up into another room for guests, and if they really do, then this would be a GREAT place for a holiday:
I mean come on, who wouldn't want to wake up to a view like this, and then just sit and chill by the beach first thing in the morning?
I really loved the beach. While LL checked out the spa, I went to the beach with my iPAd, and sat there reading my book for almost an hour. At 2pm in the afternoon. The breeze at the time was just perfect, the sun wasn't shining too brightly, and there was not a soul in sight on the entire beach. It was like having my own little private beach, which is something you won't get in most of the beaches on the islands.
Oooh, check it out, The Aryani actually won an award for Best Beach Resort by Expatriate Lifestyle in 2007!
One of the places I would have loved to stay in was the crown jewel of The Aryani, the Heritage Suite:
This is a hundred-year-old traditional Malay timber palace that was moved to the resort, and according to their officia lwebsite, the house used to be part of the original timber Palaces Complex of Royal households from the previous Century.
Unfortunately, we didn't get to look inside the place because there were guests, but boy, does it look like a great place to holiday in:
The Aryani also has a nice little on-site Heritage Spa that offers traditional Malay massages, facials, hair treatments and so on. Here's Suan at the entrance to the spa:
You can even have a nice little bath in this awesome little bathtub:
Now that's what I call a View to A Chill. Heh heh.
Oh, and they have a pool too, which looked really inviting:
While we were there, we mostly ate at The Serai restaurant, which was an open air, casual dining place that served mostly Traditional Terengganu cuisine. The Nasi Dagang we had one morning for breakfast was especially awesome, and their Roti Canai was also great:
Still, my favorite part of my stay at The Aryani has to be the time I spent just sitting on my front porch with a plate of awesome keropok lekor, and a cold beer. For me, this was almost the perfect holiday. I got to relax, chill out, and The Aryani provided a nice, quiet environment for me to do it. Thanks Suanie for arranging the trip, and to The Aryani for hosting us!
For more information about The Royale Aryani, go check out their website!