There is beauty in places you don’t expect to find any. The Banjaran Hotspring Retreats by Sunway is such a place. A 15-minute drive away from the center of Ipoh, Malaysia, lies a small boutique luxury hotel that didn’t start out as a hotel at all. It has long been a guarded secret, hidden behind mountains, build around a natural hotspring and surrounded by ancient caves. Being in nature, you should not be surprised seeing an occasional monkey at your villa.
Prior to opening in 2004, it used to partly be the private retreat area fir Sunway founder and CEO Jeffrey Cheah. Sunway opened the resort to the public and transformed some of the facilities, that used to be private, into some of the most unique hospitality experiences you can get. Not only is the location, and are some of the facilities unique, the overall experience is a very laid back luxury that is a pleasure to those that try to escape the formal treatment they are used to in some other major brand, luxury hotels.
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat, as the name suggests, is built almost on top of a natural hotspring. Approximately 260 million years of it took the minerals and gasses to shape the caves surrounding the waters that are simply gorgeous. The largest of the caves used to be the private wine cellar of Sunway Founder Jeffrey Cheah. Today it is a fine dining restaurant serving French cuisine. The old function of the cave is still hidden in the name, Jeff’s Cellar. If you want to read more about Jeff’s Cellar, you can do so here.
The second-largest cave, closest to the hotsprings source is filled with minerals and steam and is used as a sauna of some sort. The other caves are used for meditation and the last is used as a bar with views over the lake.
For a relatively small boutique hotel, the spa is quite spacious, offering a wide range of treatments. From regular massages to ancient Chinese treatments.
There are only 40 villas available in 3 categories. The Lake Villa, Water Villa and Garden Villa. The lake villas are the latest addition and also the smallest. Unlike the other 2 categories, the Lake villas do not have a spacious outdoor area with a pool and feel more like a large room. They do offer a balcony with views on a small lake and also come with a private plunge pool and outdoor hot tub.
The Garden Villa and Water villa are very similar. Both having a spacious outdoor dining and seating area, private pool, large natural hot spring The differences are the size of the private pool and the view. The pools in the garden villas are slightly larger than those in the water villa. In exchange, the water villa, in addition to the outdoor living space, offers a generous balcony with views on the lake. These are especially great morning sitting areas with cool weather and lotus flowers opening right in front of you.
The outdoor hot tubs get their water directly from the natural hotspring and offer a continuous flow of hot mineral-rich water. Depending on the exact location of the villa temperatures may vary.
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat offers a unique experience. Although the fine details you might expect from ultra-luxury properties in a similar price category are missing, this is easily forgiven by the boutique approach that just makes you feel at ease. The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat is a place to relax, be close to nature and be amazed. Because of the limited amount of activities in the area this is the perfect place a short getaway of 2 days to a week.