Giant squirrels abound in the rainforest surrounding the Andaman.
Giant squirrels abound in the rainforest surrounding the Andaman.

Langkawi's natural beauty

WE HAD been driving for about 35 minutes from Langkawi Airport when the driver made a sharp turn, taking us seemingly into the heart of a rainforest.

We were entering the natural habitat of our home for the next few days, the Andaman Resort.

The Andaman, along with one other luxury resort, received government approval two decades ago to build a tourism venture at Datai Bay, a pristine beach regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world.

Metres offshore on the protected bay were magnificent coral reefs teeming with fish. Unfortunately the 2004 tsunami, which devastated many areas of Asia, also hit this tranquil setting.

The reef suffered major damage and its recovery has been slow.

The Andaman's owners are assisting that regeneration through a world-leading reef restoration initiative.

Now guests at the resort are invited to learn about the project and also take part in the work.

The project reflects the ethos of the Andaman, a beautiful resort built to complement nature rather than destroy it. When you stay at the Andaman you are nestled into the rainforest surrounds. The sounds of the gentle waves on the bay play a background symphony along with the call of the hornbills and the rustle of the monkeys in the trees around you.

When we arrived at the amphitheatre welcoming hall that stretched four storeys high the concierge took us by the hand and pointed to a tree just metres from the resort's front doors.

He showed us a flying lemur, a small animal that glides from tree to tree hunting insects.

It was to be one of many encounters we enjoyed with the abundant wildlife over the next few days.

Most were thoroughly fascinating, although we did discover that the larger brown monkeys have a liking for sweets.

My wife was relaxing on our balcony when her surprise visitor popped in to join her for a plate of delicacies that the staff had kindly provided.


Andaman's V Botanical Spa offers a stunning view from high above Datai Bay.
Andaman's V Botanical Spa offers a stunning view from high above Datai Bay.

This particular monkey seemed to love macaroons, but he didn't get to join us for afternoon tea again. All sweets after this experience were eaten safely behind glass doors.

While the Andaman lives entwined with the natural rainforest it also works hard to provide its guests with the best of traditional Malay cuisine.

Seafood bought fresh from local fishermen is a favourite for visitors who can choose their own fish from the boats on the bay's shore.

A wellness spa plays an important role at the Andaman and it boasts an amazing ambience, perched as it is on the cliff top overlooking the bay.

The welcoming nature of the Andaman's staff is in keeping with Malaysian culture. They are attentive to your wants, but also respectful of your need for privacy.

Many Australians have already discovered this resort and we are just another two who will return to forget about life's pressures for another blissful few days.

Our only concern is that it can't come quick enough.

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