Address: No 1, Persiaran Lagun Sunway 3, Sunway City Ipoh
Value Luxury Rating: (2 out of 3 hearts)
Situated in a 16 1/2 acre valley, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat is surrounded by Mother Nature at her finest – limestone hills, rainforest, geothermal hot springs, caves, and waterfalls. It’s the perfect setting for a getaway, whether that’s a structured program of health and wellness, a relaxing stay with pampering spa treatments. or a romantic escape, providing a sanctuary from the busyness of everyday life. (But don’t panic, complimentary wi-fi is available throughout the property, should you prefer to keep connected with your world.)
The resort features 25 air conditioned Garden and Water Villas, conveniently located around the Spa and Wellness Center, and a variety of natural treatment options.
Some of those treatment options include:
Geothermal Pools – Located alongside the geothermal lake, as well as in your villa, these natural Jacuzzi-style pools are perfect for soothing your tired muscles and overall relaxation. This is seriously hot water, but if it gets too hot, just add cold from the spigot convenient added to each pool. These are not hot tubs; the fresh hot water comes from the hot springs below ground. After a long day of travel and sightseeing, relaxing in the pool was the perfect stress relief to ease into evening and the next day.
Thermal Steam Cave – The geothermal hot springs bubbles up in a cave, creating a natural source of steam. This is not your health club steam room – but if you like the health club, you’ll adore this one. The steam helps you detox, plumps up your pores, and makes your skin feel so good. Yoga and meditation classes are occasionally held in the steam cave. I gave this a try, but quickly felt lightheaded and a bit dizzy from the heat. No problem, though, I sat quietly on my mat and let the steam do its magic on my skin.
Meditation Cave – Pleasantly warm and comfortable, the limestone and granite cave provides a quiet place to find stillness, both internal and external. Spend some time here finding enlightenment and your inner peace.
Crystal Cave – Studded with amethyst and quartz crystals, said to aid metaphysical healing, time spent in the Crystal Cave will help restore and balance your natural life force energy. I took a breathing class that was held in the cave, and while I’m not entirely certain if it centered me or not, it was enjoyable and relaxing and that’s was plenty good enough for me. Reiki sessions are also held in this cave.
Ice Bath – Lest you be lulled in by all the heat, steam, and coziness of the various caves, the ice bath provides the antithesis of the other treatment options. After you are all relaxed by the heat and steam, head to the ice bath where you’ll be put into a freezing ice bath. This is said to improve circulation, reduce blood pressure, and strengthen various nervous systems. I’ll have to take the resort’s word for it, because this was an option I skipped – I was just too cozy and comfy after all the heat and steam.
Garra Rufa Doctor Fish Pool – Fish nibbling at your toes. That’s what this pool is all about, and as you sit on the large boulders scattered about, the fish come a swimming. I didn’t know what to expect, and at first was torn between a ticklish feeling and being weirded out by it all, but my feet and toes have never been this soft. Seriously. This exfoliation treatment is banned in the U.S., so you’ll need to travel to experience it.
Swimming Pool – The free-form pool was built over the hot springs bed, giving it heat naturally. The water was neither too hot or cold, just perfect for swimming or playing around. Lounges surround the pool as well. I spent a good couple of hours in the pool and found it refreshing as well as relaxing.
Spa & Wellness Center – Offering a huge choice of Asian holistic treatments and therapies, including massage, full body treatments, pedicures, and more. Structured wellness programs are also available.
Fitness Center – A modern setting with modern equipment, so you don’t need to break from your usual routine. Unless you want to, that is.
The Banjaran is an all villa property, essentially offering the same services and amenities in a Garden or Water setting. I stayed in a Garden Villa, at over 2,800 square feet the larger of the two types of villas, set into a jungle like display connected by pathways. The villas are spectacular – with an open living room looking out at a private pool, and an outdoor geothermal jacuzzi and shower just off the bathroom. Amenities and services in the villas include:
- Master suite with 7-foot king sized bed and feather top mattress
- Patio with private pool, living, and dining area
- Private outdoor rain shower and sunken jacuzzi with natural geothermal water
- Aromatherapy body and hair care products
- Butler and nightly turndown service
- Movie and music library
- Welcome fresh fruit basket
- Yoga session
- Use of resort facilities (spa and other special treatments at an additional charge)
- Complimentary use of resort’s caves, pools, and other special features
- Daily breakfast
Dining Options at The Banjaran
The Banjaran has two dining options, and you can’t go wrong with either.
Pomelo offers great casual dining, both indoors and out, and, in keeping with the health and wellbeing theme, offers flavorful and healthy food choices. If you have special dietary needs or concerns, simply arrange a consult with the chef and arrangements will be handled. Pomelo is open for breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner, with menus changing monthly. Tip: Try one of the creative blends of fresh juice, delicious and healthy.
Jeff’s Cellar is a wine bar and dining option set within a limestone cave. A real cave, with sweating walls and nets to make sure nothing drops down on you. The lighting is almost other worldly, creating a romantic atmosphere that was perfect for a late night glass of wine. A wide range of organic and rare wines are served. Jeff’s Cellar has limited hours, 9-11 pm daily.
Price Range: Starting around $390/night based on double occupancy. Rates vary based on services included and dates. Be sure to check out the packages that include meals and treatment options, there are some great values offered. You can check out pricing details and get further booking information here.
Personal Notes: This 5-star luxury hotel with full service spa is located about 15 minutes from Ipoh City, 1 1/2 hours from Penang, and a little over 2 hours from Kuala Lumpur. Its location makes it a great getaway destination that can easily be added onto a business trip or city vacation.
When I walked into my villa, I’m sure I let out an audible gasp as I went indoors only to find myself outdoors again with the open air living room. (Don’t worry, if the rain comes, the doors come down and close it off, keeping it dry and almost as nice and cozy. It would be very easy to just stay in your villas, relaxing around your private pool, but that would mean missing all the other great facilities The Banjaran has to offer. My recommendation is to play for a 3 day/2 night stay, giving yourself plenty of time do enjoy both.
Although I didn’t schedule any spa treatments at The Banjaran, I did take a breathing class, yoga session, and enjoyed time in the hot pools and the fish pools. It was the right ratio of organized activity and simple personal relaxation, something that I think is important to find at these type of resorts. The temptation is to plunge head first into all the activities and options, only later realizing that you forgot the purpose of the visit — to slow down, become more mindful, and leave rested and refreshed. I certainly left that way!
During my visit, the resort was quiet and uncrowded. I met and chatted with a few other guests, finding it interesting to learn why they had come to Ipoh, in general, and The Banjaran, more specifically. One lovely couple was relaxing at the resort after a rather difficult return to the city. The husband had fled Malaysia during World War II, shortly before the Japanese occupation of the country, and now, decades later, had returned to the country to visit his former family home and to see some of the significant sights from his childhood. Hearing him talk about how the area had been 70-some years ago, and about his experiences since leaving the country, reminded me of the importance of Malaysia during the war and how much they had suffered during the occupation.
It would be easy to look at the daily rate at The Banjaran and consider it another high priced luxury resort. That would be a mistake. The numerous amenities and services included in the rate, as well as the various packages that include spa treatments and additional meals and wine, make this a solid value luxury choice (albeit at the upper end) for those travelers who enjoy a spa and wellness vacation.
Children under 12 are not permitted.
You can find The Banjaran on Twitter and Facebook.
Be sure to spend a little time visiting the city of Ipoh as well. Ipoh has a number of city cities, including San Jose, California, and Dallas, Texas.
NOTE: My stay at The Banjaran was part of a trip sponsored by Malaysia Tourism, Tourism Authority of Thailand, and Thai Airways.
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