The rise of social media has greatly influenced travellers’ choices in destination and accommodation, write Hanna Hussein and Khairul Ashraf Kammed

FACEBOOK, Instagram, Twitter and the like are not just social media platforms. They are powerful marketing tools too. Never mind if there’s no strategic marketing with well-written copy, professionally shot pictures or alluring campaigns. More often than not, we are captivated by the attractive images that keep popping up on the newsfeed of our Facebook timeline pages. In fact, a post with a big number of likes and shared figures tend to draw more traffic and before you know it, you too are influenced to book a room.

AMAZING JUNGLE RETREAT IN SEREMBAN

LOCATED just 90 minutes from Kuala Lumpur, it is not difficult to find The Shorea Retreats in Seremban. “Shorea” refers a genus of 196 species of rainforest trees. When my booking was confirmed, the reservation staff emailed me detailed check-in requirements including hotel location and directions and activities.

Since check-in is 2pm, so it is best to go grab a quick lunch and do your grocery shopping before heading to the retreat.

The nearest town is quite a distance away and you have to negotiate past some hilly areas. It is even more challenging at night since there are no street lights!

On arrival, guests have to call the Guest Experience Maker (GEM) to open the main gate and to lead you to the villa. The view is quite like what I’ve imagined. The villa looks like what was posted in Facebook but better!

We have booked the main villa, The Shorea, and the adjoining corner villa, The Halia, for a night’s stay to fit in four couples and a child. There are three rooms including the additional Halia suite but everybody gets his and her own comfy bed. There are also three bathrooms.

Constructed mostly from timber, the villa looks posh and expensive. I personally love the glass sliding doors and windows which allow natural lights to brighten the area. Since there’s no air-conditioning, I leave the doors open to let in the fresh and cool natural breeze. Hanna Hussein

The Shorea Retreats

Where: Village Kolam Air, Mukim Pantai, Jalan Jelebu, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.

Tel: 017-300 5600

Email: info@theshorea.com

Website: www.theshorea.com

Getting there: The numerous The Shorea signboards will lead you to the resort after exiting the highway at Jelebu/Ampangan.

First impression

On the Net: Exclusive and upscale.

On the ground: Homely with

impressive five-star service.

Freebies Complimentary breakfast.

Plus point: Located deep within the forest, you will not hear any sounds of vehicles or other noise disturbance.

You’ll pay: Starting price of RM636.

Overall verdict: Recommended! Best to book for 3D/2N stay for an ultimate experience.

SECLUDED GEM IN ULU LANGAT

GERIMIS SENJA VILLA, This fabulous villa is located in Ulu Langat and definitely has a unique character.

This family-owned holiday home is managed by their daughter Frieda, 25, and her partner, who recently turned it into a private holiday villa for paying guests. Having gone viral on social media, it now takes a month to book a stay, and it’s always fully booked during weekends and public holidays! Most of the time, you’re left with no choice but to go on weekdays.

However, it’ll be the best decision as you get the full private experience. Especially if you decide to go across the road for a dip in the clear river. No picnickers, no crowd.

Surrounded by 1.2ha of fruit orchard and garden, it is perfect for a family vacation.

The three-room villa is infused with a Balinese feel, The master bedroom, which faces the pool, gives off a romantic vibe, especially the outdoor Balinese tub area. I love the idea of glass doors as they give me the view of the adjacent pool without stepping out of the room or opening the doors to insects.

However, it would have been better if the glass doors had come with curtains for more privacy.

The other two rooms are on the first floor.

One is designed for couples while the other only has a single bed. However, you can request for extra beds.

I laud the idea of having CCTV cameras for security reasons but am uneasy that one of the cameras is installed at the pool area. Hanna Hussein

Gerimis Senja Villa

Where: Jalan Ulu Langat, Batu 17 3/4 Dusun Tua, Ulu Langat, Selangor

Tel: 017 264 1602

Email: gerimissenjavilla@gmail.com

Website: www.airbnb.com/rooms/7808694

Getting there: It is just half an hour away from Kuala Lumpur.

First impression

On the Net: Ultimate privacy and serenity.

On the ground: Private but easily accesible as it is located on the main road.

FreebieS: Complimentary breakfast with the choice of nasi lemak or roti canai.

Plus point: There’s plenty of in-house activities including congkak, chess, carrom, table tennis, dartboard and a karaoke set.

You’ll pay: RM1,000 for weekdays and RM1,500 for weekends, for a maximum of 10 pax. Additional person is charged RM100 per pax. Maximum 15 person per stay.

Overall verdict: Very private and ideal for family gatherings.

QUIRKY NAUTICAL-THEMED HOSTEL IN JB

IT started as a dream. But from a dream, a nautical-themed boutique hostel to provide affordable and fuss-free lodging was born — to also inspire others to achieve their dreams.

Roof Talk Theme Hostels at Taman Nusa Bestari Johor Baru is a hostel with a personality. There are four types of cabin designs — the Navigator Room, Sailor Room, Fisherman Room and the Captain Room, all with unique nautical elements.

What catches my attention is its very interesting common lounge for guests to meet and mingle. There’s a “Let your dream set sail” wall for guests to chalk down their dreams. You can also write a letter to the future and drop it in the future year postbox at the Timeless Wall. Roof Talk will then post it based on the year you send your letter.

Unlike other budget hotels, Roof Talk is extremely clean and affordable, especially for backpackers, big groups and family. Since it is conveniently located just across Giant Hypermarket, it is easy to spot due to the attractive nautical signboard on the building.

Below, there’s a Japanese restaurant called the Ramen Kingu House. There are also numerous eateries around the area too.

For security reasons, the main door is constantly locked. So just buzz the bell to enter the premise. You will be greeted by a friendly receptionist who will then usher you to the room of your choice.

If you’re looking for privacy, this place is not for you. You just get your own space to sleep and a locker to store your valuables.

The main selling point is its location as Legoland and the Hello Kitty Theme Park are just 10 minutes away on the road. Hanna Hussein

Roof Talk Theme Hostel

Where: 32-02 Jalan Bestari 7/2, Taman Nusa Bestari, Johor Bahru, Johor.

Tel: 07-244 7158

Email: contactus@rooftalkhostel.com.my

Website: www.rooftalkhostel.com.my

Getting there: From Kuala Lumpur, take the North South Expressway, exit at Pasir Gudang and continue on the Linkedua Expressway. Take the Bukit Indah exit†and head to Persiaran Indah. Hotel is just across the Giant Hypermarket.

First impression

On the Net: Fun, quirky and colourful with nautical theme.

On the ground: Exactly like in the Net — fun, cute and colourful perfect for Instagram photos!

Freebies: Complimentary breakfast, free flow of coffee and tea (self-prepared) and free WiFi.

Plus point: A common room for guests to enjoy activities.

You’ll pay: Price starts from RM35 to RM118

Overall verdict: Highly recommended for young backpackers.

BACK TO NATURE IN BANTING

A RESORT surrounded by an oil palm plantation may turn some people off. But wait till you see the enchanting emerald lake and the limestone rock formations or hills within the resort’s enclosure.

Although still debatable, the management of Tadom Hill Resorts has somehow convinced us that the lake was not an abandoned mine but formed from a spring water underground.

The good thing about the lake is that it is self-cleansing, so no matter how many times it is occupied by revellers each day, it will return to its almost crystal-clear self the next morning.

Since it is set in an Orang Asli reserve land, the resort works closely with the Orang Asli community to manage it. There have been nothing but rave reviews about this budget getaway since it started operations less than a year ago.

Even during our visit to the resort on a weekday, many day-trippers could be seen waiting in line to enjoy the attractions this resort has to offer.

It is not an upscale resort so one can still indulge in the simple pleasures of life here. There are plans to build a high-end type of accommodation at the other side of the hill.

As of now, guests can just stay for the night “camping” without worrying about the hassle of pitching their own tents as everything is taken care of by the resort.

This place is certainly not for those looking for exclusivity and luxury. It is for couples who want a unique experience, away from the typical luxury resorts.

Beneath the tree-house or #TadomiteTree, guests can leave their mark as a “Tadomite”. One is given a wooden tag to scribble their names before hanging it on the tree as a sign of remembrance. Khairul Ashraf Kammed

Tadom Hill Resorts

Where: Kampung Labohan Dagang, Banting, Selangor

Tel: 013-8161175 / 012-5225908

Email: reservation@tadomhillresorts.com

Website: www.tadomhillresorts.com

Getting there: From the KLIA Extension Highway, exit at Jalan Pekeliling and go straight until you see a roundabout. Take the first exit and proceed along Jalan KLIA 1. Drive straight until you see a T-junction and then turn left. From the junction, drive straight for another 6.5km and stay on route 32. Slow down once you see a signage indicating Labuhan Dagang and Bukit Changgang. The entrance to the resort is just a small path on the left, just before the flyover.

First impression

On the Net: Eye-catching turqouise-coloured lake with limestone banks. On the ground: The tribal theme of Amazon and African wilderness and villages catches the eyes.

Freebies: Complimentary breakfast for overnight guests.

Plus point: The place is really secure as it is surrounded by residential areas and the police patrol the area regularly. Phone reception for all mobile providers is good with 4G data all day.

You’ll pay: From RM55 to RM290 per unit per night, depending on choice of accommodation and season. Day Pass — RM20 (adult) and RM15 (child) available daily from 10am-6.45pm. The Day Pass is inclusive of life jacket, access to activities in the lake and also unique bamboo showers and toilets.

Overall verdict: Highly recommended! Best to book a 2D/1N stay for an ultimate experience.

GETAWAY IN TEMPLER PARK

Having Templer Park as part of its name, Templer Park Rainforest Retreat perhaps doesn’t need much advertising to promote it as a perfect getaway for city slickers. But it is, especially with the alluring promise of lush jungle and timber houses.

Located just on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, it is located in a residential area nestled around the Kanching Rainforest Reserve. As it is situated on 1.2ha of private land in a guarded and gated community, the retreat offers guests privacy and exclusivity while being surrounded by greenery.

The highlight of this retreat are the two overlooking mountains — Bukit Takun on the east and Anak Bukit Takun to the west — when you are lounging at the pavilion. From the viewing deck, guests get a scenic view of a lake and the Templer Park Country Club’s golf range.

There is also a private infinity pool. There’s also a fish pond where a variety of fresh water fish like empurau, lampam Jawa, jelawat, patin and tilapia await your lucky bait.

Templer Park Rainforest Retreat actually belongs to a former civil servant who inadvertently opened up his retirement sanctuary to the public.

According to Saw Kim Hock, 63, he initially did not intend to build a resort but was persuaded by one of his children who had returned home after pursuing an architecture degree in the UK. The Saws first advertised their unique abode in Airbnb in the late 2013 and as they say, the rest is history.

Khairul Ashraf Kammed

Templer Park Rainforest Retreat

Where: 24, Jalan 3/2, Templer Heights, Templer Park, Rawang, Selangor

Tel: 012 220 5033

Website: www.tprr.net

Getting there: From Kuala Lumpur, drive along Jalan Kuching and then proceed to Jalan Rawang (heading towards Taman Rimba Templer). Make a U-turn once you approach the Templer Shell Petrol Station on the other side of the road. Just before the Shell Petrol Station, take the road leading to Persiaran Bukit Takun on the left and you will pass by the Institut Kraf Negara on the right. Continue driving until you see a T-junction and turn right at Jalan Bukit Anak Tukun. Drive along until Jalan 3/1 where you will reach a Post Guard. Register as a guest and you will be directed to take the first junction to the left where Jalan 3/2 is located. Drive to the end of the road where house No. 24 is located.

First impression

On the Net: Serene and secluded in a far-away, untouched jungle.

On the ground: Better in real life while fresh air and sound of nature seal the deal.

Freebies: Complimentary breakfast, towels, bathroom essentials.

You’ll pay: RM700 for at least 4 persons per night on weekdays and RM1,200 on weekends. Additional guests pay RM150 each. The retreat can comfortably accommodate 16 guests at one time and arrangements can be made if there are more people.

Overall verdict: Why not?

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