Four Seasons Langkawi

  • 01 of 09

    Four Seasons Langkawi in a Nutshell

    Four Seasons Langkawi aerial
    Photo courtesy of Four Seasons.

    Conjure a tropical paradise. What do you see? A wide swath of glittering white beach, framed by palm trees and edged by impossibly blue sea? Tangles of greenery crowned with cascading blooms? How about towering limestone cliffs or a serene lotus pond?

    Throw in a horse trotting down the beach, the odd monkey scampering about, a soundtrack of chirping birds, echoing frogs, and rustling palm fronds — and you've imagined Langkawi. 

    Situated on the main island of the Langkawi archipelago, which is a UNESCO Geopark off the northwest coast of Malaysia, Four Seasons Langkawi brings modern luxury to ancient, wild nature. 

    On the grounds of a former coconut plantation, its beach villas, residential pavilions, restaurants, pools, and public spaces are tucked in among the natural wonders.

    Incorporating indigenous natural materials like limestone, and clever elements like railway ties for walkways, the design melds Arabian nights fantasy with Indian flair and traditional Malay architecture. 

    Choose your own adventure here. You might find yourself lazing on a hammock built for two trying to decide if you really could kayak to Thailand, which beckons on the horizon. Or happening upon a monitor lizard (cousin to the komodo dragon) in your private pool (don't worry; he'll slink away top speed). Or racing across the waves on jet skis, bound for a secret lake. Or perhaps a bottle of Champagne and foot massages at your swim-up cabana; channeling your inner Katniss with an archery lesson in the jungle; or tying on an apron and plunging into the exotically spiced world of Malay cuisine.

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  • 02 of 09

    Beach Villas at Four Seasons Langkawi

    Four Seasons Langkawi outdoor shower
    Photo courtesy of Four Seasons.

    For romantics ready to splash out, these nearly 2,400 square foot Beach Villas are the way to go. Your entire residence is ensconced in lush private gardens complete with a reflecting pond. 

    As magnificent as the outdoor areas, sleeping quarters, and views are, the bathrooms are a star.  You'll keep finding reasons to linger in the bath. Perhaps a soak in the vast terrazzo tub? Just a few more moments getting ready at the carved sinks in the middle of the room?

    Down the hall is your dressing room/closet, necessary room, and indoor shower –  which would be most enticing if it weren't for that outdoor shower. You'll never want to bathe indoors again after your first rainfall shower in your garden of Eden.

    It may feel deliciously bold and sensual to have nothing between you and the blue sky but a private jungle, but it's easy to grow accustomed to. Let the water cascade over your sunwarmed skin, and ask your love to wash your hair in the shade of the palm trees and tangle of blooms. 

    Should you tear yourselves away from the bathroom, your toughest choice is whether to make for the hammock or lounge chairs on your beach, nap together on the daybed on your verandah, or take a dip in your private pool.

    Inside the villa, warm wooden floors, a sunbleached color scheme with splashes of color from local artwork, and simple lines don't compete, but complement the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows framing the Strait of Malacca (don't worry, late sleepers: white drapes magically block out sunlight).

    Then there's that plush Four Seasons bed, the oh-so-soaring ceilings, lounging area, study, and a spa treatment room for two where couples can indulge in in-villa massages. 

    Melaleuca Pavilions

    Although more affordable than the Villas, Melaleuca Pavilions (34 lowers and 34 uppers) offer many of the same luxurious touches in a scaled-down space of still nearly 750 feet. For the skylight and wraparound verandah, choose the upper level. The lower level is perfect for couples dying to try that outdoor shower. Tucked into landscaped gardens, these retreats approximate a grown-up treehouse just for two.

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  • 03 of 09

    Dining and Drinking at Four Seasons Langkawi

    Four Seasons Langkawi cooking class
    Photo by Dana McMahan.

    After traveling this far, you mustn't miss a taste of the local cuisine, and the Four Seasons Langkawi obliges at their collection of waterfront restaurants. With a born-and-raised Langkawian at the helm in the kitchens, local ingredients from small producers and organic farms are showcased in beautifully executed Malay fare at Ikan-Ikan (that's fish in Malay), sunny Italian favorites at Serai (lemongrass), and the array of Asian and Western dishes and grilled classics at Kelapa Grill.

    Head straight for Kelapa on arrival to greet your taste buds with a steaming bowl of Hawker Noodles – thin, stir-fried rice noodles –  piled with crispy soft shell crab. With just enough spice to keep you going back for more, this is definitely a dish to share, and the ideal welcome to the flavors of the island.

    Evenings begin at the Middle-East inspired lounge Rhu Bar, where couples can nestle in the Moghul swing on the beach with glasses of bubbly and a Turkish water pipe for two and experience the brilliant show that is the sun sinking behind Thailand. The rest of the world seems very far away indeed when you and your love can share the awe that the color-drenched sky inspires.

    Dinner is under the stars at Serai, where you can while the night away on the sea-adjacent open-air terrace sharing Italian fare such as truffle-infused pea risotto. Or head for  Ikan-Ikan – just follow the aromatic and exotic spices on the warm breeze.

    Joining indigenous ingredients like lemongrass, turmeric and wild ginger buds here are cardamom, star anise, galangal, chili and garlic; Indian and Chinese influences have ignited the southeast Asian fare, resulting in the unique Malay taste that food-lovers around the world rave about. You can sample some of the best dishes the  cuisine has to offer here; don't miss the addictive Ikan Jenahak Asam Katok –  a crispy fried red snapper fillet with tamarind honey chili sauce. 

    One of the glories of travel to southeast Asia is the breakfast buffet, so arise in time for this perfect kick-off to the day on the lower terrace at Serai. While western and traditional offerings are available, why not go for Malaysian pancakes or even a curry and nasi lemak (steamed rice in coconut) breakfast?

    Wash it down with bold iced coffee – swirl in cream and simple syrup provided in little pitchers – and you'll both be fueled and ready for your day of eco-adventure, beach lounging, or whatever is calling your name on the island. 

    You're not limited to the restaurants, though; all residences come with an in-room breakfast option ideal for late risers or any couple who'd just prefer a languorous morning in bed.

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  • 04 of 09

    Activities at Four Seasons Langkawi

    Brahminy Kite Eagles
    Photo courtesy of Four Seasons.

    You're in a UNESCO Geopark in Langkawi, and at the Four Seasons you can fully immerse  yourselves in this natural wonderland. As residents will tell you, you haven't been to Langkawi if you haven't been to the mangroves, so grab your camera and hop in a boat with one of the resident naturalists (ask for the born storyteller Aidi).

    On the Mangroves and Eagles Safari he'll bring to life the world of creatures that call this mystical sea forest home. Sailing first among the ancient limestone rocks jutting from the sea, you'll make your way into the green canopies of mangroves where fish can walk, colorful crabs climb trees, mangrove vipers coil around branches, monitor lizards sunbathe, and Brahminy Kite Eagles swoop and dance from the sky to feed. Oh, and monkeys. Yes, you'll spy an abundance of monkeys – playing, swinging, clambering, and some just gazing at you, as curious about you as you are about them. 

    Travelers needn't be nature fiends to be enthralled with this world, but may find themselves such by the end of a stay. Stand hand-in-hand in the midst of rainforest, dramatic limestone cutting into the Malaysian sky above you, cerulean freshwater lake at your feet, nothing but the creatures of sea and sky to interrupt the stillness, and try not to be amazed. The Rainforest Immersion outing transports couples who don't mind a hike to this magical place.

    Go kayaking, squid scooping (just what it sounds like), or birdwatching. Or try your hand at archery, hop on a jet ski, or get a lift out of parasailing. Diving, snorkeling, SUP (stand-up paddleboard) yoga, and any number of other activities are on hand as well.

    Or hop on the complimentary bikes included with rooms and cruise around the resort. Do stop into the GeoPark discovery center early in your stay to get familiar with the array of flora and fauna on the island. 

    The Geo Spa also awaits. To add a memorable dimension to a honeymoon or anniversary trip, book the Raja and Ratu (King and Queen) couple's ritual. Or, treat yourselves to his and hers time with the Feminine Spirit & Radiance treatment (starring a soak in a bath filled with floating rose petals and frangipani), and the Masculine Vigour & Vitality ritual, which features a deep tissue massage using an indigenous testosterone-enhancing herb. Even couples who don't indulge in a delicious spa treatment inspired by the natural environs can relax at an “island” in the reflection pool at no charge.

    Last but not least, to take a taste of Malaysia home, book the hands-on cooking class and whip up chicken satay, peanut sauce, prawn curry and a mango pudding. No matter how far away couples call home, a return to paradise is as easy as recreating these dishes together. 

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  • 05 of 09

    Marrying at Four Seasons Langkawi

    Four Seasons weddings
    Photo by Dana McMahan.

    Four Seasons Langkawi offers three suggested themes for non-legal, non-religious wedding ceremonies. Should you go for the Touch of Tradition to exchange vows under a tropical canopy with Malay hand drums your wedding music? Perhaps you'd prefer the Beach Blossoms, a fantasy of petals on the beach. Or how about the Spirit of Langkawi, to follow your beach or garden ceremony with a photographic safari into the mangroves? The Wedding Specialist can help you design your dream wedding and oversee the plans. 

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  • 06 of 09

    Honeymoons and Romance at Four Seasons Langkawi

    Four Seasons Langkawi romance
    Photo courtesy of Dana McMahan.

    Once upon a time there was an island resort that tempted the families and kids to the north side of the grounds for their fun and frolicking. On the south side, they built a most beautiful thing: an adults-only quiet pool. And it was not just any pool.

    White curtains fluttering on the breeze open to private cabanas where you and your love can lounge on a daybed with Champagne and fruit, luxuriate in foot massages, and swim in the 180-foot-long infinity pool overlooking the white beach, emerald sea, and distant islands. Ring a bell and your attendant will materialize, ready to replenish drinks or bring cool towels.  

    Of course there's no need to hide away in a cabana for romance. In fact, it's hard to look in any direction and not spot romantic opportunities, beginning with your own verandah under a lazily spinning fan, for one. A kayak built for two, paddling through the mangroves might be for some couples. Others may want their feet in the sand and the stars spiraling out overhead while they share a shisha (hookah) at Rhu Bar.

    The Geo Spa will make you King and Queen for the day with their couples' ritual, the Raja and Ratu. This two-hour experience is designed around oils of mawar (the oil of love), bunga limau (bliss) and bunga melur (for stimulating the flow of love). The scrubs, cleansing and massage are concluded with a blessing ceremony.

    The ultimate, though, has to be the Rajasthani tent on the beach set for dinner for two. Circled by lanterns and lit by candles, the billowing white muslin becomes your own private world for the evening. Make your way to the tent at the magic moment, when the setting sun has just painted the sky pink and violet, and prepare to set foot in your own fairytale.

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  • 07 of 09

    Nearby Four Seasons Langkawi

    Langkawi Sky Bridge
    Photo by Dana McMahan.

    When you search Langkawi online, you'll see the dramatic cable car and Sky Bridge. A half-hour drive from the resort couples can clamber into a cable car and glide to the top of Machinchang mountain, nearly half a mile above sea level. This is not for anyone with vertigo, but those who can stomach the ride are rewarded with dazzling views over rainforest and sea, Langkawi islands and southern Thailand.

    While  there, the adventurous can hike out onto Langkawi Sky Bridge, the  suspended bridge hanging more than 300 feet above ground. If you're a couple of the 250 people allowed on the bridge at one time you will see firsthand how the curving construction offers up a continuously unfolding panorama. (Or just take pictures of it from your perch atop the mountain).

    The Four Seasons Langkawi also offers bike expeditions to nearby villages and a night market for a taste of local life.

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  • 08 of 09

    Pros and Cons of Four Seasons Langkawi

    Langkawi adult pool
    Photo by Dana McMahan.

    Aside from surreal natural beauty, legendary Four Seasons service, and activities to fill – and thrill – a stay, it's the multitude of details large and small that add up to such a magical experience.

    Dedicating separate areas of the resort to families and couples is a magnificent start, but they also earn seriously high marks for maintaining the aura of the ancient wilderness on the island.

    Great promotions make stays here approachable for those of us who might save year round for a dream destination. And it's only an hour flight from the major hub of Kuala Lumpur, making it reasonably accessible so far as travel to this part of the world goes.

    Even this close to paradise everything can't be perfect, though. Despite getting maps at check-in, this is a sprawling space, and it's easy to get turned around. Directional signs are easy to overlook, especially when on bikes.

    Buggy service – chauffeured rides on electric carts – is available but in high demand, so you may not always get one as soon as you'd like.

    If you're at all squeamish about giant tropical bugs or other creatures, you may want to consider whether you want to stay on an island blanketed in rainforest. And no matter how much bug spray you drench yourself in, you may still take home a few souvenirs in the form of mosquito bites. 

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  • 09 of 09

    Find Out More About Four Seasons Langkawi

    Four Seasons Langkawi pool
    Photo courtesy of Four Seasons.

    A relaxed, easy sense of tropical luxury pervades Four Seasons Langkawi. You won't see anyone in a hurry – in fact, you don't see a lot of people, period, outside of the restaurants.

    With the abundance of tropical foliage and generous spaces it's easy to feel like the two of you are on your own private island. Venture out to dine though, and you'll find other guests. No one age group trumps all; guests run the gamut from families with kids to couples perhaps enjoying milestone anniversaries.

    Though public spaces are grand, the warmly smiling staff keeps the vibe friendly. Happy to talk about their homes and work if you inquire, they manage to provide top-notch service while making guests feel at ease. (And any place where you might spot a monkey hanging out on a verandah is bound to have an undercurrent of gleeful fun.) 

    Four Seasons Langkawi
    Jalan Tanjung Rhu, 07000 
    Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia 

    As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation and  meals for the purpose of reviewing those services.