The Andaman Langkawi Resort
TRIP REPORT INDEX
I loved almost everything about my stay at The Andaman. “Paradise found” were my initial thoughts when I arrived. The staff here was really fantastic (they seem happy to be there and go out of their way to help you) — this is where I gave away all of my ‘Platinum Thank You Cards' to a few select staff members. One star was subtracted because the resort forgot that some of their guests would prefer peace and quiet and not listen to scream kids, especially at a nice restaurant.
TheRewardBoss Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
CHOOSING A RESORT
I discovered Langkawi on accident. My original plan was to fly to Kuala Lumpur then take a bus to a resort in the jungle. While looking at the Starwood map, I noticed Langkawi which was a short cheap flight and had several Starwood hotels – one of them in a jungle. This was perfect because I have Platinum status and lots of points. The choice was between The secluded Andaman resort vs The Westin on the opposite (more touristy) side of the island. Looking back there was only one choice: The Andaman and its beautiful rainforest. Everything outside of the resort is very cheap (meals and shopping). Five nights was not long enough…six would have been perfect.
CHECK-IN & UPGRADE
The hotel knew that I am a Starwood Platinum member but they did not know that I would be writing a review. When I was checking in, I was automatically upgraded to a high floor room with a sea view (I selected ‘best view' in my SPG profile). I was hoping to get a Jacuzzi Suite (with a private pool) so I politely asked about it. One benefit of Starwood's Platinum status is “upgrade to best available room at check-in — including a Standard Suite.” There was one available but it would not be ready for a few hours — no problem for me! I was thrilled to get the Jacuzzi Suite so we jumped in the car and went for lunch.
HOW MUCH DID IT COST?
I used Starwood points and consider this a bargain! The cost for 5 nights = 48,000 SPG points (4 nights x 12,000, the 5th night is free).
Earning the Starwood SPG points was easy – I got them from the Starwood SPG Amex credit card bonuses (by getting both the personal and business cards).
- Direct link: 25k point sign up bonus: SPG Amex Personal Card or SPG Amex Small Business Card
- Referral link: 25k point sign up bonus to SPG Amex Personal Card or SPG Amex Small Business Card (same offer but I get paid a referral bonus if you sign up using my link. Thank you if you use this link -> then click “Airline & Frequent Flyer Credit Card Offers”)
ENTRANCE / LOBBY
When we first entered, we noticed the champagne, chocolates, fruit, and a little note, “Congratulations…”.
The bathroom amenities
“The Honeymoon Suite” – another name for the Zezeeria Suite (room 149) because it has mirrored ceilings and walls.
This might be one of the few jacuzzi suites that has a full ocean view. The others are blocked by the trees.
Some of the rooms on the west wing have a long shared pool that is accessable from the rooms (I prefer the private pool).
CAR RENTAL or NOT
I debated whether I needed a car rental. The concierge of the Andaman said that the hotel is on a remote part of the island and advised to rent a car if we plan to explore the island. After considering the cost of a taxi (1-way from the airport to the hotel is almost the cost of 1 day car rental), I decided to book the rental.
I still think it was a good idea even though there were several nights where we did not leave the resort and there was so much to do at the resort, that we didn't need any outside activities. Going out for dinner was my main concern as I don't like being forced to dine at overpriced hotel restaurants. My concerns were over-blown: there are reasonable/moderately priced options at the hotel. Also, leaving the resort to go to dinner required a fair amount of time/effort (plan at least 2 hours). The nearest restaurants are almost 30 minutes each way and depending on the time, you may be driving on a pitch black 2-lane road on the left side. Yes, I didn't know I would be driving on the right side of a car, on the left side of the road, and switching gears with my left hand. Oh and good luck finding some of the restaurants… even in broad daylight (more on that later). Bottom line: its nice to have the car but not 100% necessary.
Booking the car rental
Booking the car was a bit of a pain. The concierge suggested a car rental company called Kasina. After reading some of the warnings on TripAdvisor about illegal unlicensed car rentals and potential insurance problems, I decided to play it safe and book with Kasina. I read somewhere that Kassina used to be partners with The Andaman, so I thought I might get ripped off. I tried to book through their website, http://kasina.com.my/ but I didn't want to wait for a quote and go back and forth – who has time for that?
The only website I could find where I could book a car rental with Kasina with instant pricing and confirmation was www.holidayautos.com. Yes, Kassina was a little more expensive, but $20-30 for an entire week was worth the peace of mind. I highly recommend Kasina – the service was excellent! When I returned the car to the airport, the attendant was waiting outside the airport. No hassle. If you prefer another company, there were at least 10 car rental companies vying for my business when I arrived.
We flew Air Asia from Hanoi, Vietnam, connected through Kuala Lumpur, to Langkawi. We arrived in Kuala Lumpur but my luggage didn't. I was dumb and didn't put some appropriate clothing in my carry-on and now all I had was my backpack. We boarded the flight from KL to Langkawi without my main bag. It was a good thing we had the car rental to go shopping. Langkawi does have a couple of malls but do not expect to find much that you recognize. The best I could find was Adidas and Levi's. Luckily, my bag was delivered the next day.
The Andaman is located in a remote part of Langkawi island, which is just a short flight from Kuala Lumpur. The resort is surrounded by a 10 million year old rainforest and gorgeous Datai Bay (recognized as the 9th best beach in the world by National Geographic). There are animals everywhere, especially monkeys!
The Andaman is too family friendly for my taste. I subtracted one star from my rating because we were on our honeymoon and it was difficult to enjoy peace and quiet without screaming kids/babies – at the restaurants, bars, everywhere. I heard that The Datai Hotel (another luxury hotel next door) has strict rules about times when families can dine with their children so that everyone can enjoy their meals. For example, I made reservations at Jala, their nicest fine dining restaurant (on the beach). When we arrived, there was a baby about 10-15 feet in each direction, so we left to eat at the bar where a few people were drinking and smoking. Before our food arrived, a family with two kids sat down right next to us. Not my idea of a romantic honeymoon dinner.
WILDLIFE & NATURE WALKS
The Andaman offer two complimentary natures walks that you need to reserve ahead of time, Rainforest Awakening (in the morning) and Rainforest Afterdark (at night, course). I highly recommend both! We took the morning wildlife tour and got to see some many animals around the resort. TIP: Do the walks early in your tour especially if there aren't that many people. They say it is limited to 12 people but it's really not. During the night walk, the guide takes a completely different route and we saw a completely different group of animals. On the downside, the night tour had upwards of 20 people and it was really too crowded.
Lizards can be found crawling throughout the walls of the resort (don't worry, not in the room).
The Platinum free breakfast benefit came in handy here.
Eggs made to order
Bacon and sausages
The Pastry Shop was right next to the pancake and waffle section (skip the pancakes and waffles – they were terrible). Just about everything else is very good. I believe everything is made from scratch on location.
The fresh made breads were delicious! They always have many varieties available. I loved the plastic glove – there is a big magnet on the bottom. The magnet holds the glove so you can single handedly put the glove on/off and pick up bread.
The night we arrived, we had a late dinner in “The Restaurant” (that's where the breakfast is served). I was impressed, the food is more fine dining – I was expecting more like take out. The portions were good as well.
On the last night, we were planning to go out to the town for dinner. It got dark and since we still had to pack, we opted for dinner at “The Japanese Restaurant” but first checking to make sure it was empty. It was! The food was excellent, the portions not tiny, and priced on par with The Restaurant. Had I known I wouldn't spend a fortune here, I would have certainly eaten here more than once!
This seafood soup was fantastic and had lots of actual seafood!
I didn't love the green tea ice cream.
During low tide, the water is so low that you can walk to the island in the distance. The views overlooking the water were fantastic.
THE SECLUDED BEACH & GARBAGE
I was not happy to find this garbage on a short hiking trail to a secluded beach! To find the secluded beach (hopefully without garbage), walk all the way past the spa. On the right side there is a small path into the woods. Walk for about 5 minutes — you may have to duck under some trees near the water. We hung out here for quite some time…alone. Two women later found the same spot and were sunbathing.
Watch where you're going on the short trail or you might walk right into a big spiderweb.
The water was crystal clear and although this may not be the best beach in the world, it may have been the best spot at the resort. While swimming in the water, small fish would come swim around us…sometimes bumping into us.
Gorgeous views from the secluded beach
These are the trees that you'll walk under to get here.
AROUND THE RESORT
Interested in Organic Composting? Its behind the resort – I checked it out for a minute on the way from a guided tour. I didn't learn anything (it's not part of the tour) but would have liked to hear more about their efforts to be green.
We signed up for a complimentary 10 minute massage as well as couples massage class. We learned how to do a lymph drainage massage – sounds disgusting. I think this was a waste of time – I didn't feel anything.
The 10 minute massage was very good and we enjoyed the incredible views during the massage.
The resort has many activities that are free but they do charge for the water sports.
I love to sail so I definitely wanted to take out the Hobie Cat (cost was RM70/hr). Everything started great – we caught wind from the beach and sailed for about 15 minutes and then… no more wind. After 15 minutes of enjoying views and the gentle quiet windless rocking of the water, the water sports guy came out and pulled us in by power boat.
The resort says “The Coral Nursery, believed to be the first of its kind in Southeast Asia is not only a rehabilitation centre for rescued damaged coral, it also offers guests the unique opportunity to participate in inspiring activities to grow new coral and to learn the process of nurturing these new polyps.”
They offered two complimentary activities here: 1) Private Guided Snorkeling and 2) Fish Feeding. I highly recommend both!
I wish I had noticed these really nice brand new bikes earlier during my stay. They are complimentary, however, I'm guessing not many people want to go up the HUGE STEEP hill to get out of the resort. There is really only one way to go and we biked to the waterfall.
FITNESS CENTER / GYM
Working out is important for us even when on vacation so we hit the gym on the days where we didn't have many physical activities planned. The gym is spacious, well equipped, and has a yoga studio as well as a separate spinning studio.
Class scheduling: We signed up for gym class and due to a mix up (aka someone forgot) the trainer at the gym didn't have our names and as a result didn't prepare for a class. It took some convincing and lots of phone calls between the trainer and the front desk before he said ok and did the class. The gym was empty and he was not busy so why he didn't just do the class is beyond me. TIP: If you book a reservation, you may want to call and confirm the day of.
My Cameras: The pics above were taken using my Canon S110 Digital Camera which has been replaced by the S120. I love it – it's tiny, fits in my pocket, and takes amazing pictures/videos. I also use the waterproof Sony DSC-TX20 which has been replaced by the DSC-TX30.
- ViewFromTheWing: Suites, Treats, and Eats, a Malaysian Mileage Thanksgiving: The Andaman Langkawi
- Luxury-Insider: One With Nature
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