On an island in the sun

On an island in the sun

In her quest for a peaceful beach getaway to escape city life, Priya Kulasagaran gets a chance to check in at Taaras Spa & Beach Resort, gem of a hideout in Redang, Terengganu

About 10 minutes into the speedboat ride to Redang Island, I had a brief existential crisis. Being prone to seasickness, travelling by sea when the monsoon season was just about receding (in early March) was perhaps not the best idea. A group of us had been invited on a media trip to Berjaya’s Taaras Spa & Beach Resort, a luxury getaway with its own private beach along azure blue waters. Keeping in mind the breathtaking views I had seen of the resort online amid the excited screams and rolling walls of blue surrounding the boat, I prayed the ocean rollercoaster would be worth it.

A little over an hour later, as we sipped our refreshing non-alcoholic cocktails and patted away the salt water with scented towels, I decided that it was definitely worth it. Adding to the warm welcome by hotel staff was the affable general manager George Tan. “Not many people get to experience that sort of ride, you were lucky! But now that you’re here, just relax, enjoy the calm, and let us look after you,” Tan reassured me, with a twinkle in his eye.

A bespoke five-star property, the Taaras Beach and Spa Resort has 184 rooms, ranging in prices from RM750 to RM6,000. Along with an exclusive private villa, the resort offers a variety of different stays depending on your taste and budget. Those who wish to be close to the shore can opt for the Garden Suites, comprising quaint kampong-styled chalets, surrounded by lush greenery a stone’s throw from the beach. The Cliff Premier Suites on the other hand, located by a cliff, offer magnificent views of the bay. These suites even come with a whirlpool tub facing the ocean, in addition to a bathroom; offering a rather luxurious style of skinny dipping in comfort, if one is so inclined.

For those who can really splash out however, the Taaras Villa may be more up your alley; a sprawling space of 1440 sqm situated by the cliff, this three-storey, five-bedroom space comes with its own infinity pool. With a price tag of RM30,000 a night, this villa also comes with a private gym and even a butler service. Perched high above all the other residences, the villa offers a stunning view of the entire bay, as well as some measure of privacy thanks to good design and dense shrubbery.

While Redang has a host of Malay kampong delights, guests at Taaras hardly need to venture out for sustenance. The breakfast buffet is served in the Asean All Day Dining Restaurant, which serves both Malaysian and international specialties. The selection is quite good and fairly balanced between local and international breakfast fare.

Meanwhile the Beach Brasserie, which serves western, Japanese and Indian cuisines, holds its own as a fining dining outlet, merging the three cuisines quite well. For a late evening snack or drinks, there is the Bayu Bar by the beach, or the Asean Terrace Lounge, which also features a rather talented in-house band – as well as adjoining karaoke rooms if you would like to showcase your talents instead.

While the resort has its own dive centre, complete with water activities such as parasailing, kayaking, snorkelling and diving, the snorkelling enthusiasts in our group greatly recommend taking a tour package from the resort – particularly to the Redang Island Marine Park. Boasting clear waters and protected coral, the trip is not one to be missed if you are keen on exploring the rich marine wonders of this part of the world.

If do find yourself wandering about, just enjoying the sounds of crashing waves and the fresh sea breeze, chances are that you will have an encounter with Tan, the general manager. A kind, older gentleman, he is reminiscent of the sort of hotel staff of eras gone by. But beneath the affable exterior, Tan is a man with a plan.

As the resort recently rebranded itself after coming directly under the Berjaya Hotels and Resorts group last October, Tan explains that the first point of action to revitalise the resort was to add to its activities list. This included installing a flying fox between the cliffs for daredevils, as well as getting in underwater scooters for guests. “We want to be more than just an oasis of calm for people; we want to keep things fresh!” he said.

Another new development is that guests will soon be able to fly directly into Redang thanks to a new partnership sealed between Berjaya and Airhop, who in partnership with Prima Air, will soon be providing private direct charter flights from Subang Airport. Currently, the only option to get to Redang is a road trip to Terengganu, before hopping on a boat to the island.

By contrast, the charter flight will take about an hour, and will operate three times a week; Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Prima Air’s jet is a 10-seater 9M-PAR, specially designed for short runways on a single engine.

By the time we left four days later, the ocean had calmed significantly; reflecting the way I felt after being pampered (to the point of having hand-delivered cookies and confectionary every night) and refreshed after the time spent in pristine nature. So if you are thinking about taking a quick break, even just over a weekend, to calm your mind and senses by way of serene ocean waves, the Berjaya Taraas Resort and Spa may well be the destination for you.

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