One&Only Opens Its First Resort In Southeast Asia At Desaru
For months, luxury travellers have been waiting with bated breath for One&Only Desaru Coast, the award-winning luxury resort brand's first property in Southeast Asia, which welcomed its first guests this month.
Nestled in the southeastern coast of Johor near Singapore, One&Only Desaru Coast is the most exclusive resort along the popular Desaru beach, with a design by Kerry Hill Architects that celebrates the beauty and traditions of local culture in harmony with the beautiful natural surrounding.
The intimate, lush tropical setting serves as the ideal escape-from-the-city hideaway, which is within easy reach of Kuala Lumpur either via air (the resort is about an hour's drive from Senai Airport) or the North-South Expressway. It's perfect for couples, extended families and even groups of friends who desire to reconnect in style after a long period in lockdown.
A sense of calm is palpable the moment you step through One&Only Desaru Coast's discreet entrance. Lush greenery doesn't just surround the resort but also plays a big role in shaping it. Echoing a typical Malay village, the timber-clad buildings, which hint at coastal Malay architectural heritage, are separated by courtyards, gardens and towering trees that provide protective shades along the walkways. From the reception itself, guests are greeted by the inviting sight of a 50m cerulean swimming pool overlooking the forest, beach and sea.
Nature is woven into every aspect of the experience.
Kerry Hill Architects has made every effort to preserve as much of the forest as possible, with a prime example being the water garden at Chenot Spa that pays tribute to the banyan tree standing majestically in the centre. Building roofs are also planted with greenery to ensure a seamless blend into nature; this design decision also helps to cool the buildings naturally.
Space. Privacy. Exclusivity. These are the key tenets at all One&Only resorts around the globe.
Similarly, One&Only Desaru Coast is a secluded retreat of 42 Junior Suites, two Grand Suites with two bedrooms each, and the one-of-a-kind Villa One, its most luxurious abode. Designed to recall 20th century colonial houses, the two-storey Villa One boasts four bedrooms, a vast lawn and terrace, a private spa treatment room and a 27m swimming pool. Catering to a large family or a group of friends, the expansive space can easily play host to a wedding celebration, a pool party or an elegant cocktail event.
Nature again serves as inspiration for all the suites' interior that is replete with locally sourced natural stones and balau timber from sustainable farms. These materials not only complement the light tones of the coastal sands and driftwood but also emphasise the resort's undeniable affinity with nature. Natural sunlight fills these spaces, bringing the outdoor inside.
For furnishing, One&Only Desaru Coast looked to local artisans in a bid to connect guests with local culture. For instance, Tanoti Crafts created the luxurious songket pieces that adorn the walls. Using a traditional technique from Penan, an indigenous tribe in Sarawak, rattan vines were hand-plaited into check-patterned floor mats for the outdoor terrace.
Over at Villa One, the artworks have been carefully selected to reflect the diverse artistic talents in Malaysia, including an abstract painting by celebrated artist M. Shafarin Ghani that hangs in the dining room. Meanwhile, Shiboritik batik, kite frames and cane fishing baskets add traditional charm to the modern aesthetic of Villa One's living room.
Adventures In Nature
The resort takes advantage of the lush nature at its doorsteps to curate a host of outdoor activities. Its location alone boasts 80 species of flora and fauna while its proximity to Panti Forest Resort only enhances its appeal as a magnet for adventure seekers.
Sign up for the One&Only curated Call of the Gibbons experience sthat takes one on an immersive jungle trek including a close encounter with the White-Handed Gibbons, the Dusky Leaf Monkeys, and the Pig-Tailed Macaques, among other wild inhabitants. The forest is also home to a diverse species of birds such as the Oriental Pied Hornbills, the White-Bellied Eagles and the Short-Tailed Babblers.
Relive your childhood by scaling up majestic trees, courtesy of the resort's The View From The Top experience. Carefully rigged for safety, the climb ends on a viewing platform where you will be able to enjoy a bird's eye view of the resort and its surrounding.
If catching your dinner is your game, the period between now till November is the right time to join The Reel Catch's deep-sea fishing expedition on a local fishing boat.
Within the resort itself is Club One where you can test your skill in tennis, squash and, more interestingly, padel (a combination tennis and squash) on the first padel court in Malaysia; the club also offers lessons in the traditional Malay martial arts of silat. It is also home to the Cycle Club where you can hop on a bike to explore the resort's vast grounds. Eager to practise your swing? Do that at the neighbouring Els Club that boasts an 18-hole golf course designed by Ernie Els.
At Club One, you will also find the KidsOnly experience that includes an EcoLab. Here, children can learn about local biodiversity with a marine biologist, take guided nature treks and observe the nests of Oriental Pied Hornbills from hidden cameras. Other highlights include The Fisherman Hut where they can learn to fish at a pond and the Creative Studio that will inspire the kids to unleash their inner Picasso.
One&Only Desaru Coast is the first One&Only resort to feature the Chenot Spa, a partnership with the leading health, wellness and beauty expert brand with more than 50 years of experience in the field. Chenot Spa combines the best in science and ancient wisdom with a spa menu comprised of carefully curated research-led treatments. A range of diagnostics, including a bio-energetic check-up and a stress test, is available to assess your health condition in order to prescribe the most suitable treatment or wellness programme.
Taking the holistic approach to wellness, Chenot Spa considers the activities available at the resort when crafting its spa retreats and even boasts a resident nutritionist to advise on meal plans. The spa also conducts regular yoga and pilates classes, and has a well-equipped fitness gym where trained coaches teach Muay Thai, boxing, HIIT and TRX.
Treatments are paired with Chenot Actifs, super-charged emulsions infused with plant-based essential oils extracted using a traditional steam process. One of the many highlights of the spa is the Pedi:Mani: Cure by Bastien Gonzalez, a hand and foot treatment designed by the renowned French podiatrist himself.
A Gourmand's Paradise
All the action is bound to make you hungry, and One&Only Desaru Coast boasts plenty of options to satisfy any cravings. Its signature restaurant, Hoshi, sees Chef Aziz Abduraimov expertly put together seasonal omakase menus using the freshest ingredients.
Ambara, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, showcases produce from local organic farmers and the resort's very own Chef's Garden where local herbs are grown. Highlights include shakshuka and spiced buckwheat pancakes for breakfast, and mezze platters for dinner. Working with Chenot Spa, Ambara also offers a selection of dishes that adheres to the nutritional principles of Chenot's Biolight Diet to safely achieve one's health goal.
Poolside cafe Essential serves healthy bites as well as local favourites like satay, laksa and gado-gado salad accompanied with a selection of sambal pastes made with chillis from around the world. When night falls, Essential transforms into a stylish bar. You can also choose to do your imbibing at Dusky Monkey perched above the infinity pool. While the resident mixologist whips up delicious cocktails in the evening, during the day the bar serves afternoon tea. Do not miss the Dusky Monkey Tea blend of oolong, dried banana, pineapple, papaya and lemongrass, which was specially created for the resort by artisan tea specialist Quinteassential.
Andrew Walsh, the award-winning chef and owner of Cure in Singapore, presides over the barbecue menu at Ember Beach Club where the meats and seafood are cooked over an open fire, and seasoned with regional spices.
Touted as the first beach club in Malaysia with two infinity pools to call its own, the food here complements the sun-soaked, chill vibe with highlights including Grilled Baby Lobster basted in rich brown butter and XO sauce and Wagyu Ribeye with kampot black pepper sauce and shallot jam.
Whether it is a weekend escape or a longer stay, One&Only Desaru Coast has all the right ingredients, not to mention an attentive yet unobtrusive service, for an unforgettable experience. Make it a lazy retreat with days spent stretched out by the the pool, embark on a healing journey at the science-meets-wellness spa, bask in the best that nature has to offer — however you choose to spend your stay here, your dream vacation is about to begin.
Special deal for Malaysians and residents in Malaysia
'Staycation In Style' package:
- Rates from RM2,100 inclusive of daily breakfast for 2 adults
- Daily guest activity per adult
- 15 per cent savings on spa treatments at Chenot Spa
- 15 per cent savings on food bills at restaurants and bars
Book now at One&Only Desaru Coast's official website.
- ImagesOne&Only Desaru Coast