True to its name, Damai Puri Resort in Sarawak is where tranquillity reigns. Jitter bugs, chill out.
The brochure promised tranquillity in Borneo. And they were not kidding.
I’m not one to lie back and relax during a trip. What, laze around the pool or the beach? Have a snooze-in or watch TV? Are you kidding me? I’m going to get my money’s worth and spend every minute doing touristy things, buying touristy stuff and eating touristy food. Most, if not all, of the time.
But I heartily embraced the peace and tranquility that Damai Puri Resort & Spa promised over the three-day Merdeka weekend last month. I really looked forward to it because 1) it’s 45 minutes away from my favourite city in Malaysia, Kuching, 2) it’s located along Damai Beach with its famed backdrop of Gunung Santubong.
The pretty private stretch of beach fronting the hotel is just the right size. Not too small that you feel crowded out and not too big that it gives you that oh-my-gosh-I-ain’t-gonna-walk-it feeling even before you set out. It’s a bit rocky on both sides but that gives the beach a certain charm.
What greets you on arrival is the hotel’s majestic entrance, followed by a floor-to-ceiling glass wall a little away from the reception area which looks out to the sand and sea and mountains beyond. It’s breath-taking, and I mean that literally!
I spent a lot of time just sitting on the comfy sofas soaking in the awesome views; also on the deck chairs, in front of the delightful Infinity Pool reading a book, sipping a cocktail, pretending to soak in the sun (a very hot one) and glancing up ever so often to absorb the view.
I was promised a glorious sunset but the point where the sun dipped into the ocean was blocked off by trees and the walls of another development. Bother. Still, the horizon was a glorious burst of colour fit for a painting.
From the resort, you can make out Satang Island, also popularly known as Turtle Island because it’s a nesting site for the green turtles that come ashore to lay eggs between April and October. The island also boasts a beautiful white sandy beach. And the sea around it is rich in corals and perfect for snorkelling. If you are so inclined, the hotel can arrange for a trip out and perhaps even a picnic.
Back to the resort. On the opposite side of the grounds, there is a pool meant for the kiddies. Next to it is the recreation centre, where you can get set up for canoeing. General manager Peter Ng said that pretty soon they would be offering scuba-diving at nearby “secret” locations where the wrecks of British and Japanese World War II ships have recently been found.
If you want land-based activities, you have the option of tennis or table-tennis. But if you want to raise more of a sweat, there’s always the well-equipped gym. Or you could trek up Gunung Santubong.
But enough with such “strenuous” options. Let’s get back with the programme, and just rest and relax. To that end, you must get yourself to D’ Puri Spa Village. It has two “single treatment” rooms and four “double treatment” rooms. The double rooms come complete with indoor steam bath, private garden with outdoor bath and shower, and spectacular ocean view.
The whole set-up is very much along the Balinese line, and their therapists come from Bali too. They offer a variety of body massage (Balinese, aromatherapy, La Stone, Japanese Shiatsu), foot reflexology, facials, manicure and pedicure (including for men) and several signature treatments.
I opted for a massage, a combo of one hour of Balinese and 30 minutes of aromatherapy. My therapist, Vivik, proved to have a strong but soothing touch. The message rivalled any that I had experienced in Bali itself. What bliss!
After the spa, I decided to lie in bed till dinner. My executive junior suite was very roomy and came with a very comfortable king-sized bed and a sizeable balcony looking out to the pool and sea. When it comes to room choices, you have the option of the Ocean Wing or the Spa Wing.
There are a variety of rooms, ranging from Deluxe to Executive suites. All in all there are 207 rooms.
Since the location is away from town, the resort has its own convenience shop and souvenir shop. Dining options include Elements (their all-day dining cafe), Puteri Lounge (for tea or pre-dinner drinks) and Ku Restaurant (for dinner). The spot to congregate at after dinner is Gecko Entertaintment Bar, which has a karaoke option.
Ku is interesting in that it offers a mix of Asian cuisine — I thought the gulai ikan was to die for and the Filipino chicken adobo, very authentic. According to Ng, they do barbecues even for two persons. The atmosphere is pretty laid-back, so don’t expect prompt service. Many of the personnel are Filipino, so service is pretty cheerful and friendly.
Should you want to get out of the “rest mode”, there are many options to consider — beautiful Kuching, nature parks, river and dolphin cruises, even fireflies. The attractions are many. I did succumb on the last day and ventured on a short trek to a pleasing waterfall along the slopes of Santubong.
Another massage may be in order, I thought afterwards. – By S.S. Yoga, Pictures by Damai Puri Resort & Spa and S.S. Yoga
Special rates are offered to members of Orient Rewards, which is a lifestyle membership that allows members to access to 10,000 worldwide hotels and resorts with 60% discount on rack rates and up to 50% discounts on culinary delights.
Visit www.orientrewards.net or call (03) 2380 9808 for more info.