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Thursday, 27 September 2018

Cameron Highlands Resort hotel


Having been a British expat in Singapore for a few months, I was really starting to really miss some aspects of home. From the cool climate (yes really, I missed it!) to my favourite traditional British grub, I was really craving a taste of the UK. That is where the Cameron Highlands came in. Known for its beautiful cool temperatures and breathtaking scenery with British foodie touches thrown in, this place came highly recommended by my partner's Singaporean colleagues. This was my second visit to Malaysia as I'd already visited and loved Kuala Lumpur: you can read my 48 hour guide to this diverse city here.

When looking for a place to stay in the Cameron Highlands, one place stood out amongst all others. We stayed at the 5* Cameron Highlands Resort, an exquisite spa hotel in Pahang.

At first glance when pulling up to the Cameron Highlands Resort, you could almost be in the Lake District in the UK. With its black and white design, lush green surroundings and beautiful trees I knew immediately that this was going to be a relaxing break. The hotel was an extension of a traditional 1930s cottage and has very much retained its heritage, with very traditional architecture.

Look how pretty it is!



As we got out of our taxi, we were greeted by friendly porters who took our bags and showed us straight to reception. This theme of impeccable service was continued, with a warm, friendly welcome from every single staff member. This was a special weekend for me as my partner planned everything and I had no idea what we would be getting up to. I didn't even know where we were staying so I was so impressed when I saw Cameron Highlands Resort for the first time. Turns out, the plan for the day was a lazy morning at the onsite spa village followed by afternoon tea. What an ideal way to relax after the overnight bus ride from Singapore!

On arrival we had breakfast then we were shown straight to our room even though we had arrived quite early in the morning. This early check in was very much appreciated as we were feeling quite lazy after our night on the bus. The room was very spacious and traditional, featuring a timber-beamed ceiling and a four-poster bed. We also had our own private terrace to sit and enjoy a morning cup of coffee whilst enjoying the cool, fresh air of the Cameron Highlands. We looked out over a beautiful landscape of nothing but trees for miles.


Our spa village experience was the rose garden ritual, including elements of tea to reflect the fact that Cameron Highlands is famous for its beautiful tea plantations. We got changed into our robes and were given a cup of tea whilst we waited for our therapists in a luxury relaxation area. The first step of our regime was a twin ‘anti-stress’ bath made with tea leaves and fresh roses. The smell was amazing as we entered the room and the whole experience felt so romantic. We were given a range of fresh products to apply to our bodies and faces, all containing calming rose oil in formulas to suit different parts of the body. We then received teabags to put on our eyes which nicely completed the relaxing experience. I realised that I must do this more at home as it is so blissful just closing your eyes for a while! Other rituals on offer include 'Cameron's mint' and 'Strawberry escapade', all making use of the local produce available.

Following our bathing experience, we were shown to a room with double massage beds ready for our first treatment: a full body exfoliation. I haven’t had this kind of treatment before so was a little apprehensive but turns out it is so relaxing having someone apply an exfoliating scrub for you! The therapists were really professional and put us at ease the whole time. We both had quick showers before the best bit of our morning: a full body oil massage. I was in heaven during this treatment and almost fell asleep on the table – the sign of a good massage! The cost of the spa village experience for two people was 770 Ringgit, or £140 at the time of writing. With a treatment time of over two hours I thought this represented really good value!


After our treatments we got changed back into our clothes before heading to the Jim Thompson tea room for our afternoon tea. The whole hotel has references to Jim Thompson who helped to revitalise the silk industry in Thailand in the 50’s and 60’s. He disappeared right near the Cameron Highlands Resort in 1967 and the mystery was never solved. The hotel offers a guided tour to re-trace his footsteps which sounds interesting – a good reason for us to re-visit!


The afternoon tea was a quintessential British affair, with a selection of sandwiches, two scones each and delicious cakes. The strawberry jam was the highlight and tasted so fresh as the Cameron Highlands is also famous for growing amazing strawberries! Don't be afraid to ask for more jam and cream as the initial portion was on the smaller side. This was naturally all washed down with a huge pot of BOH tea’s English breakfast tea. This is the biggest tea company in Malaysia whose tea plantations are situated in the Cameron Highlands. We visited the BOH tea plantation during our visit: more detail to come in my full weekend break guide.

I absolutely loved the novelty of being in Asia whilst enjoying such a British classic: we appreciated it even more since we have been living abroad for a while. Afternoon tea is served at the hotel from 3pm – 6pm and advance booking is recommended. The cost was 100 Ringgit for two people, which is approximately £18 at the time of writing.


After enjoying the night market that evening, we settled down in our extremely comfortable bed. We slept well as there was no outside noise at all but the room was quite cold so make sure you bring plenty of warm clothing. The weather is much cooler in this region than in other parts of Malaysia and Singapore. Breakfast was well run, with several waiters around making sure we were well looked after. The a la carte hot food options changed each day which I really liked as this meant we could try a variety of different meals. My favourite breakfast was the Cameron eggs benedict with wild mushrooms and beef bacon. I am not a huge fan of non-pork bacon but this is common in Malaysia, being a Muslim country. This dish would have been just as delicious without the bacon so I'd ask for it without next time. There was also a varied continental buffet available, our favourite part being the fresh pastries on offer. Tea, coffee and juice was topped up regularly by our waiter and despite the hotel being at full capacity, breakfast was a wonderfully relaxing experience.


On our second night in the Cameron Highlands Resort we decided to try the hotel's Gonbei restaurant which serves traditional Asian hot pot / steamboat meals. The price was 350 Ringgit, excluding tips, for two people including four alcoholic drinks. This is approximately £65 at the time of writing.

Our first steamboat experience was amazing with the waiter talking us through every step. The way it works is that you choose two tasty flavoured broths which are placed in front of you over a mini heater and sit bubbling away in their pots. We chose a spicy Thai broth and a vegetable flavoured one. You then choose an a la carte plate consisting of uncooked seafood, meat or a mix of both per person then help yourself to a buffet of vegetables and varieties of tofu. We chose one meat plate and one mixed plate which meant we could try everything. You cook all of these raw ingredients in the broth at your table which is very tasty. For the set price you also get access to a buffet of desserts which were delicious, with most of them making use of the fresh local strawberries. This whole experience was so fun and different and we really appreciated our helpful waiter. He explained to us how to cook everything and what order to add in our ingredients, despite the fact he was really busy. It was clear that the restaurant is really popular and I'd definitely recommend it to both hotel guests and non-residents.


On our last day we were so sad to leave this hotel and the wonderful staff. They ordered us a taxi for our three-hour drive to the airport and the lady we dealt with gave us her card in case there were any problems. The journey was great and we had a lovely driver so I would definitely trust the hotel to arrange taxis if you are planning a stay.

I would recommend the Cameron Highlands Resort to anyone visiting the area, and overall the Cameron Highlands makes a fabulous weekend break for expats in Malaysia and Singapore.  I would recommend checking both Booking.com to search for deals as well as the hotel’s website as there are often special offer packages available when booking direct which include your spa experience and dinner. My next blog post is a full weekend guide with everything we got up to in the Cameron Highlands, although I could've quite happily spent the whole weekend in this beautiful hotel.


Now I just need to think of an excuse to return and try those other spa rituals!

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