Sunset view on the beachfront. Photo: Nicola Watson/Her World

I never used to believe in (or booked) mini-breaks away. I felt they were a lot of energy, money and effort for such a short outcome. But that all changed this year when I started discovering the surroundings areas to Singapore are picturesque, easy to get to and worth every dollar spent. Now I can’t remember how I got through the working year without my ‘relax and refresh’ mini vacations.

My perfect mini-getaway comprises mainly of: Time away from the desk, natch. Quality time with my partner. Idyllic surroundings, quality food and...the absence of any screaming kids. Did I just say that out loud? Well yes, whilst I adore our next generation, unfortunately they do so ruin the calm and tranquility we all search for when we’re switching off from our busy careers. Adult-only is the luxury I need on my long weekends away.

Enter 5-star Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa in Penang, Malaysia.

Photo: Shangri-La Hotel

As our car pulled into the private Rasa Wing guests only entrance, we were greeted with a nutmeg infused drink and some cooling refresher towels, before being escorted to our room. Ground floor with it’s own private garden, our Rasa Deluxe room had a huge king size bed, lounge area, double glass balcony doors to the garden and of course my favourite thing...a separate shower and bathtub. He likes a shower, I prefer a soak in the tub. This way, it’s time-saving and a win/win all round! Oh, and if you’re feeling naughty, the bathtub has a shutter blind and large glass window, so that you can be viewed directly from the main room. I’ll leave that information there for you, do as you wish with it *ahem*.

Deluxe ground floor room with private garden. Photo: Shangri-La Hotel

Aside from the size and comfort of the room, what I loved the most were the individual touches made. Each day our maid would leave us a special local treat underneath a tray cover, and it was different daily for us to sample new things. She’d also leave us chocolates and refill the fruit - and my hubby asked for more chocolate because he’s a greedy pig, so she then started leaving 2 x chocolate trays daily. She also folded a towel into the shape of a cute elephant and left it on the side with a handwritten note for us. These very small details really change the entire feel and stay.

Photo: Shangri-La Hotel

Now excuse me as I swiftly move onto the extra epic stuff: The food, the alcohol and the adult-only pool. With all Rasa Wing guests, there comes a list of complimentary privileges and I can’t even put into words how awesome they all are (but for the sake of being a writer, I shall dearly try).

The breakfast comes with two venue options, one being a la carte at Feringgi Grill. You get to choose whatever you wish from the menu to be cooked for you, as well as exploring the wide variety of buffet breakfast too. From latte to flat whites to specialised teas, whatever morning beverage you wish, they have.

A la carte breakfast at Feringgi Gril. Photo: Nicola Watson/Her World

We often were so stuffed that we wouldn’t need lunch, which was not an issue because we had complimentary Afternoon Tea every day too. Yes, every day. From 3pm-4pm, we would leave the pool to head inside the main lounge area, where we were indulged with the full works of a proper ‘afternoon tea’ including the delicate gold tiered stand with an assortment of cakes, sandwiches and English scones. If you want more? You just order more. There is no limit, save your stomach size.

If this wasn’t enough, they also serve pre-dinner canapes and alcoholic beverages from 5.30 pm - 7pm every day. Canapes, in my mind, were tiny unfulfilling morsels of food to accompany a cocktail or two. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Served in a buffet style, we were treated to chicken wings, prawn tempura, nachos, dips, brownies, fruit, local treats, with many of the canapes changing every day to keep things interesting. Along with these, we would order from their extensive list of cocktails or, should the fancy take us, champagne. And let me tell you, the fancy DID take us, every day! Champagne was poured until 7pm as many times as we liked, and the waiters were constantly diligent to top up an empty glass.

Photo: Nicola Watson/Her World

Rest assured after all of the above, you’re barely hungry for lunch or dinner. But if you’ve got room for more (and my hubby generally always has) we recommend the incredible Spice Market Café for a very reasonably priced and delicious dinner, or the pool menu for a spot of sunbathing-lunch. Usually, I find poolside menus to be served as tasteless and microwaveable meals, but here the food was made fresh, served fresh and consistently delicious.

Spice Market Café. Photo: Shangri-La Hotel

For post-dinner tipples, head next door (from Spice Market Café) to the FIP Bar for sports TV, a live band or just a spot of pool and music, depending on what day you go.

FIP Bar. Photo: Shangri-La Hotel

For sun bunnies, Rasa Wing Pool is THE perfect place to while away the days. After our gluttonous 2 course breakfast, we would stroll back to the room to quickly change and then head to the pool with our lotion and books in hand. Thatched umbrellas with built-in circular tables separated two comfy sunloungers and the pool waiter would bring us two towels each to extend the full length of the lounger, tucking these himself into the lounger for us.  As I said, it’s the little things that you really appreciate in a place like this. We’d then nestle into the loungers, surrounded by exotic plants, palm trees and the pool-loving lizards, and just...chill. Given that you have to be 16 years or older to be by the Rasa Wing Pool, it was peace and tranquility all day, every day.

Rasa Wing Pool. Photo: Nicola Watson/Her World

BUT WAIT, I hear you cry, my partner cannot sit still for 5 minutes let alone all day by a pool! Oh, worry not. Whilst you laze around nose-deep in your novel, he can walk over to the beach (which is approximately 2 minutes away as the resort is nestled on the beach front) and can delve into the copious watersports they have on offer. Jet ski? Go for it. Paragliding around the cove? Why not. If water isn’t his thing, there’s a pitch and putt golf course and a whole host of daily recreational activities* that include yoga, water volleyball, table tennis, pilates, jungle walk, cooking competitions and loads more. Literally...you cannot and will not ever get bored, trust me on this.

Photo: Nicola Watson/Her World

I will note though, the white sandy beach isn’t the cleanest. I had every intention of perhaps lying on the shoreline or dipping in the ocean but it looked a little too dirty to do either. This would be my only negative - the beach front. We walked along it one afternoon, past where Rasa Wing ends and sister family-orientated hotel Golden Sands Resort begins, and felt hounded by people to get a massage, take a paraglide or anything else they were selling. But, I did expect this to happen and it certainly didn’t contribute on any level to my enjoyment of my overall stay. I loved it all, from start to finish. Oh and the sunset view from behind the hills across the beach is a must-see.

Photo: Nicola Watson/Her World

What I loved the most about my 4 day 3 night stay at the Rasa, Penang, was that I got quality one-to-one time with my hubby. Given our hectic schedules, it was so precious to be able to concentrate on each other, in a resort that focuses on adult-only time. It’s catered and designed to ensure both of you get what you need: Time together, time to enjoy a relaxed tipple or 5, time to eat good food, to do fun things you wouldn’t usually (have you ever done a cooking competition? Exactly) and to just be around each other in a luxurious setting.

Photo: Nicola Watson/Her World

Oh, but this costs so much I bet - think again my friends. Given the copious privileges you receive as a Rasa guest, across the 4 days for both of us, the entire bill left for me to pay that included room charges, dinner, drinks at the bar, came to: $180. That was it. So the fee per night (Deluxe room averages at $317) you really do get what you pay for and it’s worth every single dollar spent. Not to mention, flights took around 1 hour and cost us $195 for both of us, return. You cannot argue with that price for what is the best long weekend getaway we’ve had so far.

 

*Some activities incur extra charges, see website for full details.