Since its RM50mil renovation, Golden Sands Resort, Penang has been setting new standards.
As soon as you step into the lobby of the Golden Sands Resort, you can feel the holiday mood.
The staff, dressed in brightly coloured floral shorts, short sleeved shirts and running shoes, look genuinely happy as they greet guests.
Check-in is a breeze as I am taken to a vast room known as the Cool Lounge.
“The Cool Lounge is the first of its kind in the Shangri-La Group of which Golden Sands is a member,” explains Suleiman Tunku Abdul Rahman, director of communications for both Golden Sands and its upscale sibling Rasa Sayang Shangri-La next door.
Cool Lounge was conceived for guests arriving too early or departing late at night. Guests can relax, snooze on the sofas and enjoy complimentary drinks and nibbles in comfort and style instead of sitting in the lobby waiting for the pick-up. I went through jars of cookies, nuts, crackers and savouries which was almost a mini meal and debated if I could smuggle some into my room.
Cool Lounge boasts Internet stations, a shopping arcade for last minute souvenirs and even a gym. This dedicated traveller’s area is airy and filled with natural sunlight streaming in through floor to ceiling glass walls. It even has changing rooms and shower facilities so you are fresh as a daisy enroute to the airport or while waiting for your room to be ready.
Golden Sands reopened in February 2010 after a year-long renovation costing RM50mil.
“The 387 family-sized rooms are the biggest in its class in Penang, done in cheerful colours that celebrate ethnic chic and resort living with easy to maintain floors so you don’t feel guilty when you drip water or trail sand,” says Suleiman.
Though staying alone, I checked out the hotel’s new pride and joy — a Murphy bed! I grabbed it out from the wall, pulled it down and hey presto, a single bed. When not in use, it folds neatly back into the wall to release floor space. Now the third person can sleep in comfort instead of slumming it out on the sofa.
Each room comes with an LCD TV, DVD player, satellite TVs, modem ports and free broadband Internet access. Golden Sands offers free WiFi for every guest, a thoughtful amenity all hotels should offer. In fact, the whole hotel is wired as their unlimited Internet access includes restaurants, ballroom, lounges, cafés and all public areas including poolside. Being wired is now standard in all Shangri-La hotels.
The resort fronts the beach which is open to the public. This means anyone can set up stalls to sell sunglasses, bathers and sarong.
I was advised against patronising operators of paragliding, hang-sailing, banana boat and horse riding as the hotel is not responsible should anything happen. But life is for living so a bit of soft adventure can’t do much harm. However, the hotel has enough activities to keep guests gainfully occupied such as the Water Sports Centre offering water aerobics and scuba excursions, tennis, table tennis, par 3 golf course, beach volleyball, tai chi, pétanque, jungle trekking and even cooking classes.
Renowned for being family friendly, Golden Sands is home to Adventure Zone, a 957sq m family entertainment centre with drop slides, modular play equipment, games section, toddler’s area, themed birthday party rooms and café. The Kids Club offers free organised daily activities, and since times are tough, Golden Sands is doling out an irresistible deal — a ‘Kids Eat, Stay and Play for Free’ programme that allows up to three kids under 12 per family to do just that!
Bring your kids here so they will remember you in your old age as they max out in Adventure Zone. The Adventure Zone is indoors and air-conditioned so glam mums need not fear age-inducing sunburn as they play with their kids all day long.
Since calories don’t count during holidays, I gorged on the scrumptious buffet at Garden Cafe which offers local and Western delights in a garden setting. Golden Sands is 31 years old this year and the raintrees, banyans and casuarinas are nicely matured and impressively sized.
The Lobby Lounge is the place to chill before or after dinner though I found the tidbits, savouries and finger food filling enough to stay put.
Golden Sands is also the first to establish a Research and Development Centre to study Effective Microorganism (EM) technology to produce EM mudballs.
Though it sounds unpalatable, EM mudballs help clean, filter and aerate Batu Ferringhi’s rivers. Made of earth, rice and Bokashi (fermented organic matter containing sawdust and bran) which breaks down harmful bacteria, such mudballs have been successful in cleaning 150 of Japan’s rivers. – By Kee Hua Chee
Batu Ferringhi Beach
Tel: (04) 886 1911