A tranquil, eco-friendly resort in Pahang blends nature with luxurious comfort, writes Khairul Ashraf Kammed
JUST after the Gambang toll exit in Pahang, following a 2½-hour drive from KL, I reached Mangala Resort & Spa. I did not expect much from the surrounding oil palm plantation but upon entering the resort I was truly surprised.
The luxurious setting exudes tranquillity. There is still construction going on but the completed facilities and villas are a sight to behold.
The management has cleverly maintained most of the natural environment, combining it with some eye-catching new development.
Guests will be impressed with the elegant and zen-like main lobby. After all, this resort promises to offer a temporary sanctuary to help guests reconnect with their inner zen.
The resort is sitting on what was originally a barren mining land. General manager Ammar Kevin Eu says: “We have few motorised vehicles, we have buggies and bicycles and we minimise the use of grass cutters. The owner always emphasise that he wants to give back to nature.”
Ammar’s goal is to take Mangala to the same level as other top resorts while at the same time target the overseas market.
“Of course the groundwork has to be done. That means your bed, the experience (that we offer), staff and everything else. Then we start to focus on bringing guests from all over the world. The market will be Europe, Australia, China and Taiwan,” says Ammar.
Asked about how the resort is going to implement the green concept, he said that it will be done in stages. “Now that we have got the resort up and running, we are focusing on getting the occupancy. Then we will start to focus on other matters such as conserving energy. Guests can even recycle their towels. Very soon we’ll have a separate trash can for plastics and all that.”
SPACIOUS VILLA BY THE LAKE
While it takes some effort to walk from the lobby to the rooms, the view is scenic. Otherwise guests can call for the buggy service.
I stay at the Jala Villa, one of the 11 water villas perched on stilts on a peaceful lake.
The 43sqm villa is spacious and comes equipped with a pantry and a king bed. The bathroom has a whirlpool tub and the shower is open-air .
From my balcony, I am fortunate to catch a glimpse of a family of otters swimming nearby. This is a sign that the resort blends with nature and has a balanced ecosystem.
Surprisingly there aren’t any mosquitoes as I sit at the balcony sipping coffee fresh from the coffee-maker.
DINING AND RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES
Our group of media is treated to a special dinner. I opt for lamb shank rendang, recommended by the chef at The LakeSide restaurant. You should also request for the steamboat which includes freshly-made fish balls.
With more than 2,000 species of birds, this resort is a good spot for bird watchers.
I spend some time kayaking at the lake. Fishing in the lake is banned as the owner wants to protect the ecosystem.
Another attraction is the horses. You can ride, feed and interact with these beautiful animals.
Then there is a tour of the vegetable farms and orchard. A three-metre-high durian tree is already producing fruit.
The infinity pool and the jacuzzi beside the restaurant have a good view of the sunset. The pool setting and the hall are suited for outdoor wedding functions.
We also indulge in the Mangala Spa Signature body message and rub.
The full body treatment is refreshing and relaxing. I was half asleep during the session but when I awake my body feels lighter and I feel recharged.
While the resort is near a highway, you don’t hear traffic noise. The resort is within a residential area where college students live and there are restaurants nearby.
The nearest place of interest is Gambang Resort city. There is a shuttle service for Kuala Gandah and Sungai Lembing.
SUNGAI LEMBING TOUR
In Sungai Lembing, you have to visit the Museum and the tunnels. Known as El-dorado of the East, it has the longest and deepest tin mine during its heyday. What is left of it is a treasure to behold.
You start with a short ride on a special tram about 100 metres into the mines. As you walk along the well-lit tunnels you will be shown how the miners worked.
Just outside the exit is an old manual carrier operated by a lever. I have seen it in movies but this is the first time I see a real one.
At the museum there are precious stones on display and as I sit on the bench thinking how the miners worked and risked their lives, I am grateful they have made a major contribution to the world.
When in Sungai Lembing, also check out a little shop that has been making noodles for years. It is now run by Chew Kok Heong, a third generation offspring. It is said that his shop produces one of the most popular noodles in Pahang.
The noodles are also supplied to Muslim restaurants and grocery shops. What makes it so special is the traditional method of noodle-making.
Mangala Resort & Spa
Use the East Coast Expressway from Kuala Lumpur or just 40 minutes away by flight from KLIA.
31 villas namely Jala Villas, Vana Villas and Sara Cottages.
Scenic landscape and peaceful setting.
Excellent and highly recommended.