For an outdoors person, you’d assume I love camping. You’d assume wrong. I love a good night’s sleep as much as the next person. So the idea of glamping appeals to me a lot. Yet despite the proliferation of glamping retreats here in Malaysia, surprisingly only 4 are worth recommending. Here’s why and who they are….
A portmanteau of the words “glamorous” and “camping”, “glamping” is all the joys of the outdoors and few of the hardships. From bedding down in canvas tents to circular yurts and pointy tee pees, the experience can range from simple but comfortable to downright luxurious. Which is why it’s taken off with camping and outdoor novices looking to ease themselves into nature, with it’s potential for encounters with creepy crawlies and guaranteed hot humid stickiness.
But while I started out promisingly enough with a list of about 12 or so glamping experiences, these was quickly whittled down to a mere 4. Shocking, I know. All of them looked terrific in photos but blame poor practises like shoddy maintenance (leaking or mildewed tents frequently came up), lack of cleanliness, or ambivalent or downright rude service. Some of the Tripadvisor reviews were pretty damning. Which suggests that while pictures can say 1000 words, those words can be misleading.
I’ve dug deep, done my research and can personally vouch for two of them, which I’ve stayed at, while the other two are vouched for by reviews on Tripadvisor..
Sailor’s Rest, Janda Baik Pahang
Sailor’s Rest gets its name for the houseboat moored in one of 3 of the ground’s ponds but its “glamping” option is a family favourite . Set amidst tended gardens with mangosteen and durian tress, accommodation is more comfortable camping than actual glamping – tents are large but basic with comfortable beds, quality bedding and a fan. Lauded by visitors for its cleanliness and loved for its accomodating host and owner, rates per night are RM95/adult; RM75/childred 6-12 years, RM30/child 3-5 years, not including meals.
Tanah Aina Fahad, Ulu Dong Pahang
Syarifah Sabrina Syed Akill was one of the hospitality industry’s first champions of the outdoors and getting back to nature, and runs 5 self-styled “eco” resorts, including one in Pengerang, Johor. Opened in 2014 on 8 acres of land in Ulu Dong, Pahang, Tanah Aina Fahad is the only one with “glamping” facilities. Guests here rate the experience highly with warm and welcoming service getting a special mention. Expect to spend your days exploring the jungle and splashing along the cascades of Sungai Dong, while at night you’ll be warming yourself by the campfire and lulled to sleep by the rush of the river.
Packages start at RM240/adult and RM220/child for a single bed tent for 2 days/1 night on a weekday and include meals and activities. Queen and King Tent options are also available.
The Sticks, Kuala Kubu Baru Selangor
Having stayed here twice and returned for day trips I can personally vouch for The Sticks. Moving into proper glamping territory now, The Sticks’ attractive Tent and Tendok accommodation options swaps concrete for canvas walls and are as wonderfully comfortable as they are cosy. When proprietors Rubin and Michele aren’t feeding you (which is often and plenty), there are a number of things to keep you occupied, or nothing at all, depending on your speed. Situated just outside of KKB and surrounded by mature forest, it’s strategic riverside location makes The Sticks’ so beloved. Calm and quiet, and not terribly deep, no visit would be complete a spot of tubing or lounging atop tethered bamboo rafts as time and troubles drift by.
Rates start at RM206/person for the First, Bench and Reading Rock Tendok, which sleep 2 and have no attached bathroom; while the Serengeti Tent and Riverside Tendok, which sleep 4 and 2 respectively and come with en-suite bathroom with gas-heated hot showers are RM266/person. Prices include Half Board meals (dinner and breakfast).
The Sticks Lot 213, Jalan KKB-Fraser’s Hill, Kuala Kubu Baru, 44000, Selangor. W: thesticks.my F: www.facebook.com/thesticksguide I: www.instagram.com/thesticksguide
Tiarasa Escapes, Janda Baik Pahang
Inspired by a stay at Sir Richard Branson’s exotic Kasbah Tamadot, Datin Tiara Jacquelina’s Tiarasa Escapes sits at the lavish end of the glamping spectrum. Consisting of 20 luxurious safari style lodgings and 5 treetop villas nestled in a beautifully landscaped valley in Janda Baik, the rooms here are everything – spacious, plush and personally decorated by Tiara Jacquelina with Sarawakian flourishes evident in her choice of soft furnishings (it’s where her husband is from). Soft launched to the public in May 2018, it is still a work in progress, with F & B being refined and its restaurant, Rasa, due to be completed sometime in July, but it’s got lashings of potential for couples and families in particular.
Tiarasa Escapes is offering introductory rates with 50% off rack rates until the end of June 2018, inclusive of breakfast. The Rajah Brooke accommodates 4 for RM1391 on Airbnb.
Tiarasa Escapes Jalan Enderong, Ulu Sum Sum, Kampung Janda Baik, 28750, Pahang. T: +60 12 887 7777 W: tiarasaescapes.com F: www.facebook.com/TiarasaEscapes/ I: www.instagram.com/tiarasaescapes
Opening image from Tiarasaescapes.com