Earlier this month, I had a chance to enjoy four nights at the brand new Ritz Carlton Langkawi, which opened on Sep. 21, 2017.
Langkawi is a tropical gem that’s steadily becoming a hot-spot destination, attracting tourists from all over the world thanks to the rapid expansion of high-end resorts and easy accessibility from several Asian cities.
Flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur are not only less than an hour, but also extremely inexpensive. I think I paid $33 a ticket from Singapore to Langkawi on AirAsia.
After I booked flights, I began to research resort options. There are several great Starwood properties on the island, including a new St. Regis that has rave reviews.
After doing some research, I ended up choosing the Ritz Carlton because it seemed like a great deal for a high-end and new resort. The Ritz Carlton Langkawi has 70 rooms, 15 suites and 29 villas- all nestled in the lush rainforest and vastly spread across the beautiful resort grounds.
I cannot emphasize enough how amazing this property is! Not only is it stunning, secluded, and luxurious, the service was out of this world, truly providing a five-star experience. The best part of it all is that it’s attainable and affordable using Marriott Rewards points.
Sweet-Spot Marriott Redemption
The Ritz Carlton Langkawi is a tier 2 Ritz Carlton property and excellent use of Marriott Rewards points – just 40,000 points per night (or 13,333 Starpoints), and award availability is fabulous. To make a comparison, the new St. Regis Langkawi is 20,000 Starpoints per night.
Since a standard room prices out at about $500 a night, using points is an excellent value, and even better if you have status and are upgraded to a better room or suite.
For longer stays, Marriott offers the “fifth night free” option on award redemptions, so a five night stay at the Ritz Carlton Langkawi would cost a total of 160,000 Marriott points (or 53,000 Starpoints) – just 32,000 points (or 10,666 Starpoints) per night!
A great way to accumulate Starpoints or Marriott points is with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, and/or the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card.
The resort is only a 10-15 minute ride from the airport, and the Uber ride cost us $2.31. Upon arrival, there was no real lobby to speak of. Instead, we received a warm welcome, cold face towels, and a hibiscus and coconut welcome juice while we completed the check in process in the arrivals lodge.
Since the resort is vastly spread out, we were given a property tour on a buggy car before heading to the room.
If you’ve ever visited the Andaz Papagayo, which is also a beautiful rainforest/beach resort, the vibe and layout felt similar.
Though I booked an award stay in a Rainforest Deluxe Room, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that we’d been upgraded into an incredible Rainforest Junior Suite (room 203) with my Marriott Platinum status.
The 1,076 sq foot room was beautiful designed, featuring a king bed, a living area, a large marble bathroom, and a massive balcony with rainforest views.
The room featured two TVs – one in the bedroom and one in the alcove, and the bed was extremely comfortable.
Housekeeping went above and beyond to acknowledge my son’s 4th birthday, with a sweet birthday wish and welcome amenity. They also made the couch up in the living room for my children to sleep in.
The outdoor balcony was a perfect and peaceful way to immerse yourself and take in the tranquility of the rainforest. As one would expect, we’d often get visits from the monkeys.
Speaking of monkeys, here’s something I can file under “can’t make this stuff up”: as we left the room to grab dinner one evening, the balcony door was accidentally left open just a tad, and we found out that the mischievous monkeys invaded our room and stole all of the snacks we purchased for our Air Asia flight the next morning! Oops.
The bathroom was incredible, featuring a large marble vanity, dual sinks, a rain shower (and handheld shower and separate faucet for washing your feet), enclosed WC, and a freestanding soaking tub. The bathroom was stocked with Asprey Purple Water bath products.
Overall the room was one of the best rooms I’ve had a chance to stay in. It was large and more than enough room for a family. Having plenty of floor-to-ceiling windows and access to an outdoor terrance truly made me feel like I was staying in a unique and luxurious treehouse.
Elite Benefits & Breakfast
Aside from a room upgrade, Marriott Platinum elite benefits at the Ritz Carlton Langkawi include 15% off restaurants and spa. Typical of Ritz Carlton properties, breakfast is not included for elites, but we still opted to pay for it each morning.
The breakfast buffet at Langkawi Kitchen is priced a 180 MYR (~$46) per person, and children under 6 are free. Fortunately there was a breakfast promotion during our stay and the rate was 135 MYR (~$34) per person. The food was delicious, offering Western and Asian cuisine, along with plenty of fresh fruit and juices. There is an option to dine indoors or outdoors.
There are four restaurants at the Ritz Carlton Langkawi – Langkawi Kitchen, the Beach Grill, Horizon, and Hai Yan.
As one can expect, dining at a luxury resort can be expensive. While the food was indeed pricey from both an Asian and American standpoint (think New York City prices), it was exceptionally delicious and convenient.
And here’s a positive: unlike most other resorts, the price quoted on the menu is the price you pay. There are no surprise exorbitant taxes, fees, or service charges added to your bill after the fact, so keep that in mind. Plus, you can factor in your 15% elite discount, and the dining budget is manageable.
Since we were adjusting from jet lag (we spent our nights here after flying 23 hours in economy from Newark), the majority of our meals were casual by the pool or beach, at the Beach Grill, or via room service at odd hours.
I also really liked that there was a fabulous kids menu featuring burgers, fish, veggies, fresh juices, and plenty of healthy options that are available around the clock.
Hai Yan and Horizon are adults-only options, so we did not get to try those; however, I will say that every single dish we tried elsewhere was delicious. I was especially a fan of the grilled fish of the day dish on the room service menu, so much that I looked forward to treating myself to it each evening.
Pools & Beach
The infinity pools and beach at the resort are simply incredible. There is a family pool adjacent to the Beach Grill and an adults-only pool near Horizons. Both the pools and the beach felt tranquil, quiet, and secluded.
The family pool had several shallow areas and an enclosed smaller pool for little ones to enjoy. The adult pool had a more luxurious feel, but unfortunately I did not have a chance to spend time there, except briefly to take in the sunset (more on that below).
The beach is extremely clean and pristine and offers free non motorized sports such as paddle board and kayaks. Unfortunately we were advised against going swimming during our stay because of jellyfish season. The kids did have a blast collecting shells and starfish on the beach though.
There is a complimentary Kids Club available from 10am-5pm for children ages 4-12 years old. The Kids Club has an impressive playroom, small wading pool, and some daily scheduled activities.
Activities & Excursions
After two full days resting and adjusting at the resort, we decided to look into a light excursion to do to explore more of what Langkawi had to offer. I know Langkawi has some beautiful diving and snorkeling spots, but with two kids in tow, it wasn’t going to happen on this trip.
The concierge arranged a private hiking tour and dip in the stream at Salt Creek for us for 300 RM, but truthfully the excursion was a disappointment and underwhelming.
The next day, we took a 10-minute Uber ride to the Oriental Village, costing $3, to check out the legendary SkyBridge and cable car (world’s steepest) attraction. It was certainly a highlight of our visit to Langkawi that I highly recommend!
Aside from the adrenaline-pumping cable car ride and SkyBridge, there are plenty of other affordable things for families to enjoy such as a massage spa, restaurants, grocery stores to load up on snacks, and a variety of other attractions. You can honestly spend 3-5 hours here and have a blast.
The service at Ritz Carlton Langkawi was truly top-notch, and I was impressed that there were no kinks given how new the resort is. I wish I could pinpoint an instance where I felt there was a slight need for improvement, but I truly cannot think of anything.
Every single staff member was attentive and went above and beyond in making us feel special without feeling intrusive. They just seem to “get it ” here.
For example, after the second day, the pool attendants greeted my children by name, and always were playful and friendly with them, offering surprises like coloring books or mango smoothies.
Another night, my kids conked out at 5pm from jet lag, right before our dinner was delivered, and I was told not to worry because they would happily bring the food back for them warmed up whenever they woke up again.
Sure enough, 11pm rolled around and the kids woke up hungry. It wasn’t long before their meals were delivered back to the room all ready to be eaten.
Not to mention that I recently blogged that I left my iPad in the room after I checked out. The staff went out of their way to have a Marriott employee mail it back to me from her home address in Seattle. Service like that is hard to come by, and that’s what drives loyalty!
Though I did not have a treatment at the spa, the spa is stunning and absolutely worth spending time in. Even without booking a service, all guest can access the steam room, sauna, and whirlpools. It’s a nice way to unwind while taking in the beautiful views.
Langkawi sunsets are vibrant and beautiful, and location of the Ritz Carlton allows you to enjoy the best views. You absolutely must enjoy the sunset during your stay, and the best views are at the Horizon bar and adult pool.
All of the Little Touches
It’s also worth noting that along with the flawless service, the resort does go the extra mile with all of the little “extras”, ranging from flip flops and beach bags being provided in the room to buggy cars to take you around the resort as you please.
At the pool, not only is sunscreen readily available and provided, an amenity basket is brought to you with cold towels, a facial mist, and two painted stones – one to indicate that you would like service, while the other simply means “do not disturb”.
There were several times where we had leftovers that we wished to wrap up, and instead of having to wait for it, it was delivered right to our room. I can go on and on, but all of the little touches and attention to detail did truly make the stay feel exceptional.
As you can see, I really enjoyed my four-night stay at the Ritz Carlton Langkawi and Langkawi in general. For 40,000 points per night, it was a fantastic use of points for the amount of luxury we received. I do not expect this property to stay at 40,000 points per night forever, so if it’s on your list, it might be worth visiting soon!