We’ve recently returned from a few days away in Malaysia. Last month we visited the Malaysian city of Kota Kinabalu, which is located on the island of Borneo. This time we wanted to stay somewhat closer to Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur (KL) but try one of the resorts on the Sepang Gold Coast (which is a 1.5 hour drive from KL).
We stumbled across a resort known as the Golden Palm Tree Resort on the internet – it’s an eco-friendly resort made up of villas sitting on stilts over the sea. And the novelty is that all the villas together form the shape of a palm tree. It’s very picturesque, with lovely views over the strait of Malacca.
There are different kinds of villas depending on your budget and group size. We stayed in a Canary villa and it was magnificent – spacious and the perfect size for a family of four. There are two rooms:one with a king size bed and the other with two twin beds; two bathrooms; two porches overlooking the sea (one with an outdoor dining suite); and one shared lounge room.
There’s a small fridge, a flat-screen TV with a few cable channels, study desk, and toiletries – the only thing missing was an ironing board and iron, but I suppose that isn’t really important when you’re on holiday! You get around the resort by golf buggy, and there is a large infinity pool by the clubhouse overlooking the sea, which the girls really loved.
We had dinner at one of their restaurants – Perahu, an alfresco restaurant sitting right on the beach. They serve both traditional Malaysian fare and some western food. The food and service were both very good.
I don’t like to complain but I will be honest about a few things that dampened the experience, especially if you are expecting a five-star experience from this five-star (and award-winning) resort:
1. With the exception of Perahu, Customer Service needs significant improvement. It was clear that the hotel is currently understaffed. Although most of the staff we came in contact with were friendly, they did not seem very happy to be working there. Just a few examples:
- We had the buffet breakfast on one morning and it was chaotic. You had to secure your own seats amidst the crowd of people, clean up the mess on your table left by the previous diners, and scrounge around the place for some clean cutlery and plates. Also, the hygiene around the buffet was questionable, with flies and ants running rampant.
- After that experience, the following morning we ordered in-room breakfast – it arrived cold, missing condiments you would expect were common for breakfast (butter, jam, etc) and was delivered 30 minutes late (I pre-ordered it the night before, requesting a specific time as we had a schedule for that day).
- Funnily enough, after we advised the front desk that we needed to check-out at 6:45am on our last day in order to catch our flight home, we received an invitation from Management the night before inviting us to use the exclusive Breakfast lounge for special guests that opened at 7:30am – which of course, was not much use to us as we were leaving much earlier than that!
2. And a fairly minor point – which arguably is not within the control of the resort – but there were flies everywhere, which made outdoor dining during the day a real PITA. Also, when the room attendants clean your villa, they leave the front door wide open, so when you return your villa is nice and clean, but there are heaps of flies who have also come to stay!
Suffice to say the current level of service really spoils the experience, which is a real pity because the accommodation and the views/location are really wonderful. If customer service is something that would make or break your holiday, then I wouldn’t recommend staying at this resort until the customer service improves.
We managed to head into KL for a few hours on one afternoon (the resort provides a free shuttle in to KL twice a day) – but were there mostly to eat some authentic Malaysian food :-) We also got to see the famed Petronas Twin Towers.
I won’t write much on KL since the time we spent there was so short, but hopefully we get a chance to return and if we do, we’ll be staying in the city.