When The Datai Langkawi first opened its doors in 1993, it stood out for its outstanding architecture that blends in harmony with the ancient rainforest that surrounds it.
This feat of creating a symbiotic relationship between the resort with the surrounding nature was part of the visionary approach of the late architect, Kerry Hill and interior designer Didier Lefort.
Under the duo’s vision, building works ensured that there was minimal impact on the rainforest. Even the trees that were removed to make way for building works were either replanted or used in construction, most of which are still in use at the resort today.
“My heart breaks everytime I see a tree falling down,” says Didier Lefort who was in The Datai recently for the 30th anniversary celebration. “So, I thought about giving them another life. When you go to The Beach Club today, all the trunks you see there were from the site,” he explains.
The resort underwent a massive refurbishment in 2018 under Lefort’s vision, elevating the living spaces as well as improving the resort’s commitment to sustainability. Part of the revamp included the opening of The Lab and The Nature Centre, both offering immersive nature experiences to guests.
When The Peak paid a visit, the 30th-anniversary celebrations were in full swing with a stellar gala event that saw acclaimed international performers and royals in attendance.
Acclaimed Chef Sebastian Bras of the famed three-starred Le Suquet and the two-starred Bras was on-site to cook up an elegant course menu for the event guests. The French chef’s appearance was part of the resort’s renowned signature dining experience, The Chef Series, a series of gastronomic events hosted by some of the world’s top chefs.
As for the stay, I checked into the Rainforest Villa, tucked right in the middle of the tropical rainforest. The spacious villa, which stands on stilts and is just a short walking distance away from a stream that runs through the entire resort, felt like a sanctuary that is at one with nature.
The interiors are refined and offer a subtle nod to traditional Malay architecture, with wood panelling and wooden beams that hold the roofing structure.
Eager to leave the stresses of urban living behind, on my final morning at the resort, I signed up for one of The Datai Wellbeing series activities. The programme, held as part of the anniversary celebrations, presents a curated line up of residencies by celebrated wellness practitioners from all over the world.
Headed by well-known yoga instructor Roxanne De Guzman, the flow yoga class by the beach was exactly what I needed to refresh and unwind, and the sound of the crashing waves nearby definitely adds to the atmosphere.
Besides the ancient rainforest, the sea is also at the heart of the resort. Nature is so embedded in the resort’s way of life that it even takes inspiration from it.
A visit to the spa will give you a closer look at how nature influences the design aspects of The Datai. Here, you’ll find an art piece designed by a resident sand bubbler crab in which Didier Lefort recounts the story of how this artwork came to be: “One day, I said to the crabs, tomorrow there is going to be a competition; the crab with the nicest design will have their art exposed permanently in the spa reception,” says Lefort.
“Poor crabs, they make such great designs and then the tide just washes it away. Now it’s carved in stone,” he laughs. “I have many, many wonderful stories about this place.”