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Short stay: Ambong Pool Villas, Langkawi, Malaysia

Ambong Pool Villas sits stylishly on one of the 99 (natural) islands that make up the Langkawi archipelago in the Andaman Sea, close to Thailand’s southern border. Open for just two years, this is a family run small rainforest resort set into the contours of a steep hillside where hornbills fly and monkeys clamber. The name comes from the small Ambong Ambong flowers that are found along the shoreline, helping to bind together the sands. Offering privacy and seclusion, to the soundtrack of birdsong and chattering monkeys, this romantic resort is a favourite for honeymooning couples. Architects have prioritised the integrity of the rainforest, building around the trees and in one case, integrating a tree, as a feature, into the villa itself. The welcome Guests are greeted with a cool flannel and chilled coconut juice served in a coconut. Ambong is a small intimate resort where smiling staff take an interest in every guest. Then a narrow 4 wheel-drive vehicle delivers guests to their villas up steep roads. There’s a small fleet of vehicles ever ready to drive guests to breakfast, lunch, dinner, the spa and bar. The villas Guests have a choice amongst the nine secluded villas. Do they opt for apartments that view the sunrise or those with sunset views? Repurposed railway sleepers form the steps to every villa. The architects have positioned every entrance to provide breath-taking views down through the forest and over the Andaman Sea. Appropriately, wood from rubber trees is utilised for flooring and much of the furniture around the king size beds. Above the headboards there are colourful paintings of local scenes. Cool cream bedding contrasts with the dark wood furniture. Cooling ceiling fans integrate a colonial feel into the decor. Though the distinctly modern vast light-giving windows, inviting the natural world into the villas, create the villas’ character. Tropical chic decor brings vibrant flashes of colour through art-work, cushions and mats. Architectural design enables guests to feel a part of the forest. There’s a small kitchenette with a mini-bar and Nespresso machine and each villa has its own infinity pool, larger villas having a shallower pool for children. The bathroom As well as rainfall showers within each villa, Langkawi’s warm sub-tropical climate provides the opportunity for external baths and showers too. Some villas have wooden bathtubs on their patio or sunken baths alongside the infinity pool. The facilities Ambong offers private dining where your own chef will cook a BBQ on your villa’s patio. This is popular with honeymooning couples and those on a romantic break. Breakfast can also be delivered to your villa. Alternatively, there is the Rimba Restaurant. Again, vast panoramic windows make diners feel part of the forest. As with so much Malaysian food, influences from China, Malay, India and Thailand bring out the best in fresh local ingredients. If you visit, the following are highly recommended; Ambong Signature Skewers, Squid Ink Sambal Spaghetti and Whole Fish Bakar with Air Assam. Ambong Pool Villas offer a blend of yoga, meditation and traditional healing arts to help visitors relax and de-stress in a serene setting. At the Ishan Spa, therapists make good use of local herbs, spices, fruit and flowers such as coconut, black rice, cinnamon, ginger and frangipani for therapeutic massages. Location It’s just a gentle walk to the beach although the hotel offers a regular free return shuttle bus there too. Beyond that, Langkawi has plenty to offer. You can enjoy the thrills of a 35 kilometre jet-ski safari, through the islands of the Andaman sea. More sedately you can take a boat navigating the mangrove river. Alternatively, for high altitude adventure strap-up for the Umgawa zip line to fly through the rainforest. For fantastic views across Langkawi and towards Thailand, ascend in the world’s steepest cable car, for a breath-taking walk across the SkyBridge. Other nice touches Sarongs are provided to help guests completely relax, ideal for that short walk to the bath on the patio. If you are impressed by the food at the Rimba Restaurant you can take a cookery course, using herbs and spices from Rimba’s kitchen garden to create some classic Malay dishes. Cost Around £500 per night per villa depending on the season. Special offers available throughout the year. The best bit Location, location, location. Ambong Pool Villas provides serene living in the heart of a rainforest just yards from the tree canopy. Yet you are not too far away from a beautiful white sand beach, gently lapped by warm azure seas and never more than a short drive from Langkawi’s many thrilling attractions. The final verdict A magical and luxurious rainforest resort. The temptation is to laze on the day-bed or patio sun lounger and immerse yourself in the rain forest but Langkawi has so much to offer that occasionally you should leave the tranquillity of Ambong Pool Villas.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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  1. This place has got so much amazing style. Great architecture and unbelievable design. Could cope with a week there.

  2. The whole idea of a rainforest resort is new to me and I’m not sure that I’ve quite got my head around it. All those views and sunrises and sunsets are big selling points but I’d make sure that I was there for the dry season, if there is one. I like the idea of getting away from it all. No doubt that the place looks very luxurious too, it is obviously top-end.

  3. What an amazing location and I love the structural design of the place. Quite quirky too with the railway sleepers. The decor feels so refreshing and it’s nice you don’t have to ask for a room with a view when they’ve all got one. It really does make such a difference when staff give you a warm welcome and actually care about you and your experience as well. The cost per night here, I assume that’s the cost for accommodation only and you pay for food separately? It certainly seems to have a magical touch about it. Wishing the owners of this resort all the very best for lots of good years to come.

    1. Hi Kelly,

      That cost includes breakfast and you can have it served on your balcony at no extra cost. Yes, you have to pay for lunch and dinner. The Rimba Restaurant is very special and attracts many non-residents as it’s such a different place to dine.

    2. Thanks for that, Michael. I love the sound of brekkie on the balcony. I can see why the restaurant is so popular to residents and non-residents alike. Sounds pretty special :)

  4. It’s the sort of place where once I get settled in I’d just hunker down for a week or two. Sure, there seems to be loads to do in Langkawi but why would you ever want to leave a terrace with those views?

    1. I can give you lots of reasons. For me the most exhilarating experience was a 35 kilometre jet-ski safari around some of the islands. The zipline is another high adrenaline activity. A mangrove cruise also gives you a good intro to the local flora and fauna. Ambong Pool Villas is a great place to relax but you really must get out and see what Langkawi has to offer.

  5. The “rain forest resort” seems quite a recent development in the tourism industry. To my way of thinking any project that encourages people to appreciate wildlife and the environment is definitely to be commended. Ambong also looks to be quite a small development and not too environmentally intrusive.

  6. This is a stunning set up in one of the most beautiful locations in Southeast Asia. I was just in Malaysia and stayed in George Town on Penang Island. I thought about visiting Langkawi. These pictures blew me away.

    The indoor lighting looks incredibly soft and welcoming. Malaysia is very hot. So when you’re indoors during the day, I’m sure that helps to feel a little cooler when you need a brief respite.

    The squid sambal spaghetti sounds incredible! A jet-ski safari and a SkyBridge sounds even better. What a beautiful treasure and a great escape for people to take a break, relax and enjoy life. And then you can take a cooking class to keep that experience with you after you leave.

    I’m sure the patio bath would be easy to remember too!

    I’d recommend visiting in late November/early December, right as the rainy season ends and before tourists arrive for the holidays.

    Just beautiful.

  7. It’s amazing how every important detail in this villa accommodation has been carefully thought out. Rooms are angled to have amazing views of of the forest or the trees. Also, using the abundant trees in the area as part of the architecture and furniture is really great. I think they did really well in keeping this resort very private and beautiful in every way.

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