Thursday, May 11, 2017

[Terengganu, Malaysia 2017] Kuala Dungun: 3D2N Tanjong Jara Resort

Photo By: Elin Chow
Official Website: Tanjong Jara Resort

Located on the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia,  on a crescent-shaped beach of golden sand in Dungun district is Tanjong Jara Resort, a five-star property hidden among the lush greenery, overlooking the South China Sea. The resort is part of luxury collection of resorts under the prestige hotel brand, YTL Hotels and Resorts Group, who also owns and manages a number of prestigious and award-winning individual one-of-a-kind resorts, hotels and spa villages in destination across Asia, Australia and Europe, including the legendary Pangkor Laut Resort which I have stayed in during my company trip back in September last year.

Due to the great experience we had at Pangkor Laut Resort last year, my company decided to visit Tanjong Jara Resort for our annual company trip this year. We believed that staying at a YTL property will always guarantee us a "wow" experience and Tanjong Jara Resort will not disappoint.

Dungun is a coastal district located in the state of Terengganu. I have never been to this part of Malaysia before and hope that my 3 days stay with Tanjong Jara Resort would offer me a different experience.

Luxury is a key element in every YTL resorts and hotels, which usually comes with a hefty price tag. YTL has claimed that no two resorts are alike. Each resort has their own charm and beauty, providing a completely unique experience.

So, naturally I have very high expectation, but unfortunately, not met.  Comparing to Pangkor Laut Resort, my experience at Tanjong Jara Resort was absolutely underwhelming. The one island, one resort offers exclusivity, exceptional services and a culinary experience that will blow your taste buds away.


Before arrival, we were given luggage tag to tag our luggage. After filling in all the details, make sure you attach the tag to your bags. This is to assist the Tanjong Jara's bell service staffs unload and deliver your luggage to your room upon arrival.


After a 9 hours bus ride from Kuala Lumpur, we finally arrived at the resort at 5.30 pm, feeling extremely cranky and tired. Upon arrival, the staffs greeted us with welcoming smiles and took over our luggage.


Stepping into the heat and humidity, we were immediately given cold towels to cool off with. The resort is well hidden by trees, surrounded by the sounds of insects and gives a feeling of tranquility as soon as I stepped into it.


A loud gong greeting followed by, announcing our arrival to the whole resort.


We were led to the reception area where there are plenty of comfortable seating for guests to relax and interact with each other. The atmosphere was wonderfully quiet and tranquil, perfect for relaxation.



Passing through the reception area, we arrived at the function room located behind the gift shop where refreshing roselle drinks (made from Hibiscus extract flowers) and bit-sized kuehs were served.


Minutes later, we were seated in the function room where a short briefing about the resort was provided before collecting our room keys. We were briefed on the activities and facilities offered by the resort and some other safety issues. There are lots of mosquitoes around the resort, and we were reminded to apply insect repellent at any time of the day to prevent bites.


Once we collected our room keys, we were then escorted to our room and so began our 3 days 2 nights stay at Tanjong Jara Resort.


Set on a 17 hectares of beautifully landscaped gardens, the resort comprises of 100 luxurious rooms in either a single storey beach cottage or double storey unit. Wood was extensively used in the design of the entire resort, giving a warm and welcoming feel.

The tagline of Tanjong Jara Resort is "Unmistakably Malay", which promises guests an "Uniquely Malay" experience. Beautifully designed, the wooden architectures are distinctive, reflecting the local Malay culture and tradition. Inspired by 17th century Istanas, the timber palace of Malay Sultans, the resort has won the prestigious Aga Khan Award, which is awarded once every three years to architectural projects that have demonstrated design excellence, but also address the needs and aspirations of societies where Muslims have a significant presence.


Tanjong Jara Resort offers three different types of rooms to suit different needs and budget - Serambi, Bumbung and Anjung, with each either overlooking the beautiful South China Sea or the landscaped gardens.

I checked in one of the Bumbung rooms situated on the top floor of a double storey unit. The room below is similar in size and furnishings, but was named Serambi instead. Also Serambi room has private terrace with table and chairs, where you can sit and enjoy a cup of coffee. Since it was a company trip, I was not given an option to choose.

While strolling my way to the room, I noticed that there were monkeys and squirrels running around the resort. Occasionally, you will spot monkeys plucking coconuts off the trees and squirrels scrambling all over the roofs. So, please remember to keep all the doors and windows locked all the time to prevent monkeys from entering your room.


My Bambung room comes with a partially covered verandah overlooking the lush green forest. Climbing up the wooden stairs to the second floor, I was shocked and extremely unhappy to find my luggage being left outside of the room when I arrived. Seriously, I wonder who is going to responsible if my luggage get stolen or rummaged by all the monkeys running around?


Lifting my luggage off the ground, I inserted the key into the key hole of the wooden door with frosted glass panel. The door opens into a small entryway leading directly into the sleeping area, and to the left, into the bath room.


Measuring 55 square meters in size, the clean and spacious room features a king sized bed with individually controlled air-conditioning and ceiling fan. The entire room is elegantly fitted with dark timber flooring and furnishings, giving it a warm and inviting feel.

Its large floor to ceiling windows allow an abundance of natural light to the room, and a view into the landscaped gardens. At night, I have trouble falling asleep as the pillows were a little too soft to my liking. When I finally do fall asleep, I was awoken again by the loud thud of coconut falling on the roof.


Other than the king sized bed, there is also an extra four poster daybed in the room for napping, reading or an extra person. With one king sized bed and one day bed, the room can easily accommodate up to 4 persons (2 adults + 2 children). However, I am not sure whether the resort has a room's maximum occupancy limit enforced. You might want to check with the resort before booking your stay.


Besides the extra four poster day bed, the room also comes with two working desks - perfect for those who have some work to catch.


On one of the desk, you will find a wooden tic tac toe game board for leisure, as well as some magazines for your reading pleasure.


Some other in room amenities include a flat screen TV with satellite channels and a small torchlight by the bed side. Surprisingly, there is no free in-room Wifi, which is a huge downside for me. To enjoy internet connection, we have to rent a mifi hotspot from the reception, which requires a RM 400 deposit.

People know me would know that having a free Wifi connection is very important to me, and I would never book a hotel or resort without one. I certainly do not understand why I have to pay a hefty deposit to enjoy Wifi at such a 5-star establishment when most other are providing it for free.

Wifi is necessary because the mobile signal was very poor around the resort, especially in the room. It is incredibly annoying and a major inconvenience because I am unable to stay connected with my family or access to my social media. Hopefully the resort can make some improvement on this.


A mini fridge, tea and coffee making facilities and complimentary bottled mineral waters are available in the room as well.


A large sliding wooden door opens to a spacious and luxuriously furnished en-suite bathroom featuring double vanity with black marble countertop, separate shower and toilet cubicle and a generously sized bathtub.



Tanjong Jara Resort offers the same Mangosteen brand of toiletries as Pangkor Laut Resort. Complimentary toiletries provided include shower cap, cotton buds and pads, shaving kit, disposable toothbrush and toothpaste. But my favorite will always the fruity scent shower gel, shampoo, hair conditioner and body lotion provided by all YTL resorts. All toiletries are replenished daily as needed.


There are plenty of hand and face towels provided in the bathroom, as well a mini safe. The bathroom is fitted with two large mirrors on the walls plus an adjustable magnifying mirror for applying makeup. There is also a dressing table with hair dyer provided.


The bathroom also comes with a spacious bathtub with a large jar of crystal bath salts provided.


The bathroom features a separate glass enclosed shower area with a walk-in rain shower. A sliding wooden door separates the toilet area from the rest of the bathroom.


At the entrance, there is a large built in wardrobe complete with two Yukata bath robes, a rattan beach bag, drying rack and umbrella. There are plenty of built in storage space in the room to store your belongings.

Room service is available and a daily turn down service is provided to all guests where the housekeeping staff will enter and prepare the room for sleeping.


After washing up, I forced myself to get out of the luxurious room to explore the extensive grounds of the resort.



Surrounded by lush greenery, the resort offers the perfect atmosphere to relax and revive. The sprawling green fields and pathways are lined with palm trees and bordered by calm emerald water of the South China Sea.



The peaceful ambience offers a good break from the noise of the city life. Even though the resort was almost fully booked at the time we visited, it never really felt overcrowded, which allows one to relax in absolute peace. The sky was clear and a gorgeous blue with no clouds.
Dining

Unfortunately, the food offered at the resort was definitely not up to the standard of a 5-star resort. Given the resort is 5-star and under the prestige and luxury hotel brand, YTL Group, I have enormously high expectations for the quality of food but was utterly disappointed.

There are three restaurants at the resort - Nelayan Beach Restaurant, Di Atas Sungei and Teratai Terrace. Dining at the resort is casual and informal, so you do not need to pack any formal clothes with you for this vacation.

The restaurants serve a mix of traditional Malaysian, Asian and western dishes. After a quick check, I noticed that food and drinks are ridiculously expensive at the resort.

Nelayan Beach Restaurant

Nelayan means Fisherman in Malay. The restaurant is located near the swimming pool, just next to the golden sand beach.


Opens from 7.00 am to 10.30 pm for breakfast, 12.00 pm to 5.00 pm for lunch and 6.00 pm to 11.00 pm for dinner and cocktails, the restaurant serves a variety of local seafood specialities, as well as Asian and Western cuisines.



We had a dinner and all our breakfast served at Nelayan Beach Restaurant. The resort has specially arranged a private dining session for our company right on the beach. Tables are set directly on the sand with a stunning view over the East China Sea.

We get enjoy our meal with our feet digging into the sand while gazing out to the sea. The ambience is lovely and romantic. But unfortunately, the food was disappointing.



On our first night at the resort, we had a BBQ buffet dinner. Arriving tired and hungry, I was really looking forward to the dinner. But unfortunately, I was disappointed.  The buffet selection was very poor and limited. The taste of food was not up to the standard of a 5-star establishment. Some of the food items were too salty while others were either too dry or too charred.



The buffet breakfast was not impressive as well. Selection on the buffet was also very limited and it was really hot to dine on the beach in the morning.

Di Atas Sungai

Di Atas Sungai means "Above the river'' in Malay. The restaurant sits above a river and is surrounded by lush greenery.


The restaurant is open from 7.00 am to 11.00 pm for breakfast and 7.00 pm to 10.30 pm for dinner and serve authentic Malaysian cuisines. 


Tables are well-spaced apart so you will not feel crammed. The dark decor and wood furnishings give the restaurant a warm welcoming ambience.


The restaurant has an outdoor patio seating that overlooks a scenic river. Tables are well-spaced to allow an adequate degree of privacy

We had a 9-course Asian-family style lunch served at Di Atas Sungei on our second day at the resort, which consists of an appetizer, 7 main dishes and a dessert.

Keropok Lekor, Spring Rolls & Vegetarian Samosa

Vegetarian Fried Rice

Buttermilk Prawns

Seafood Beancurd

Chicken Curry with Potatoes

Deep-fried Sea Bass with Mango Salad

Stir-Fried Mixed Vegetables

Cucur Udang

Longan Sea Coconut

Our lunch menu consists mainly of Malaysian dishes, which includes free flow of water and rice. This was certainly the most delicious and filling meal I had during my 3 days stay at the resort.

Teratai Terrace

Teratai Terrace is situated beside Teratai pool, one of the two swimming pools in the resort. The restaurant serves grilled items and rice dishes for lunch and cocktails in the evenings.

Swimming Pool

There are actually two swimming pools at the resort. A smaller adult-only pool at Teratai Terrace and a bigger one at Nelayan Beach Restaurant.


Surrounded by trees and foliage, the Teratai pool is 2.8 metres deep - far too deep for people who do not know how to swim. However, the pool is deep enough for a dive. Please note that there are no lifeguard at the pool, so you will have to swim at your own risk.

Movie under the stars

At 9 pm every night, the pool area will transform into an outdoor movie theater. Guests can enjoy dinner, drinks and free movie screening under the stars on one of the bean bags around the pool. A different movie will be screened every night.


Nelayan is a 1.6 metres deep blue infinity pool that overlooks the beautiful South China sea. Most of the guests would prefer the bigger pool at Nelayan because it is much more shallower and offers a panoramic view of the ocean. The pool area has plenty of towels and sun loungers, shaded by green umbrella. There is a children pool at Nelayan as well.


All around the resort, you will also find plenty of Balinese style hut draped with curtains and furnished with mattresses and pillows under the shade of palm trees.


This is where one can relax and fall asleep to the sound of waves by the beach.



Besides that, you will also find hammocks strung between the trees along the beach as well.

Beach

If you do not feel like doing anything, you can take a stroll down the crescent shaped golden sand beach with clear turquoise water and enjoy a leisurely day of fun in the sun.


The unspoiled beach is clean and secluded with hardly anyone on it. It is the perfect place to relax and unwind.

There are plenty of sun loungers on the beach for guests use. Guests can spend their day at the beach sunbathing, swimming or grab a drink and simply let time drift away. Children will enjoy spending hours building sandcastles in the sand.

Sucimurni Exercise


Guests are welcomed to join in the Sucimurni Exercise at 8.45 am every morning. This is a daily 10 minutes exercise lead by Captain Mokh, a retired army captain. Combining Tai Chi, yoga and silat, the exercise aims to help individual to explore the human energy centres, otherwise known as Chakra.

Tennis courts and Gym

For those who are in need of a workout can hit the tennis court or gym. The gym is well-equipped with several basic equipments such as treadmills, elliptical trainers and weight machines.

Spa Village

The award winning Spa Village offers a variety of spa packages designed to pamper and relax the body and mind. Spa treatments offers at the spa village are inspired by traditional Malay therapies passed over generations. All guests will receive a batik Sarong after they completed treatment at the Spa Village.

Water Sports

Tanjong Jara Resort a range of water sports activities at a fee. From March to October, diving and snorkeling at Tenggol Island, 28 km offshore from the resort are available. All equipments will be provided. Please note that water sports activities are not available during the monsoon period, from mid october till late January.

Jara Hill Walk

Guests are welcomed to join in a mild trek through the jungle with resort naturalist. The walk includes a tour of Malay herbal garden and a gentle climb up Jara Hill, which offers a panoramic view of the coastline. Guests are required to wear covered walking shoes in order to join in the walk. Please remember to apply insect repellent as well to prevent bites.

Kampung Sucimurni Lifestyle program 


A Kampung Sucimurni Lifestyle program is held at the beachfront of Anjung Garden every sunday from 5 to 6 pm. The program showcase local village life and is free for all resort guests to participate.


The program involve the participation of local community where guests can experience traditional Malay food, culture and games. Guests will have an opportunity to taste local delicacies such as Cucur Udang



Guests will have the chance to experience Malay traditional music and dance at the program.


Play traditional Malay games like Congkak and Sepak Takraw.


Enjoy a free 5 minutes shoulders massage if you could not afford the expensive spa package at Spa Village.

Departure

The gong was hit thrice during our departure. Once to express their thanks, twice to wish us a safe journey home and thrice to express their wish to welcome us back again.

After 3 days, it was finally time to say goodbye. But unlike Pangkor Laut Resort, I could not wait to leave and go home this time. There is nothing much to do at the resort. I spent half of my afternoon chilling and sleeping away in my room with no plans for the day.

Will I stay at Tanjong Jara Resort again? I am not sure because I have a love-hate relationship with the resort. The room was amazing and I would definitely love to stay for another day. But the food was not up to expectation, in fact, very disappointing.

Will I recommend Tanjong Jara Resort to anyone? Well, probably not. My overall experience was not particularly impressive or memorable. Somehow, I do feel that the resort was not value for money considering the quality of food provided.

However, Tanjong Jara Resort is a good place to experience the Malay hospitality. The staffs take great passion and pride to deliver the best service, ensuring every guest is well taken of. We feel genuinely appreciated and welcomed as a guest.

The accommodation was amazing and I enjoyed my stay. If not for the food, I would definitely love to visit Tanjong Jara Resort again.

Be sure to follow me on my Facebook or Twitter to get the latest updates on my travel adventures! Also, do not forget to share my blog posts with your family and friends if you find them helpful. In the meantime, you might also want to check My Wanderlust page for some of my other travel adventures.

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