Walk in the rainforests, sail in the South China Sea, do yoga on the beach or just let the splendid surroundings work their magic on you
It's a good life. I am lying face down, staring into a bowl of water with a hibiscus in it. If I lift my head, before me is the deep blue sea, and hovering over me is a masseuse working magic on my muscles. Like I said, it is a good life.
I am at Club Med's Cherating Beach Eco Resort, in Kuantan, Pahang, on the east coast of Malaysia, unwinding in a tropical paradise. I am smugly thinking of all the conversations I will have back home, peppered with comments such as, “The sailing was good in the South China Sea”, or, “While I was in the Jacuzzi….”, or, “oh, the Mojitos were divine!” Yeah, you get the idea.
My room faces the sea. It is beautifully appointed, elegant, understated and comfortable. Gloriously-creaky verandas skirt the rooms. The local and traditional architecture is at its most charming, and is mentioned in the Guinness World Records as the longest unbroken wooden house in the world. It is built on stilts as most homes on the Malaysian coast are, in order to remain safe from flood waters and wild life.
If I have a mind to, I could spend all day, just sitting there and staring into the South China Sea. But, that would be criminal as the glorious outdoors beckon. There is plenty to do and lot of space to do it in. It is an 80-hectare property with four km of coastline all its own. The birds give a rousing cheer as I emerge from my room and walk towards the reception. I pause respectfully as a giant monitor lizard ambles by. This happens often at Cherating.
It is obvious why Club Med prides itself on being a worldwide leader in up-scale, personalised holidays. Everything you could possibly want is right there — from a gym for the city slicks who are happy only if they sweat it out on machines to the great outdoors for those who want to do yoga on the beach.
A walk in the tropical forest, rock climbing, bungee jumping, archery, tennis, football, squash, golf…take your pick, or do them all. Then, cool off either in the ocean, or the pool just a holler away from the round-the-clock bar.
The food is great and ample. Long counters groan under its weight. There is world cuisine up for grabs with the best of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Mexican and Malayan fare. Slice yourself some French cheese, pare an exotic fruit, and agonise over the dessert menu.
After their initial shock when you decline the caviar and the pate de foie gras, the chefs rally around and rustle up a formidable vegetarian meal. They are solicitous and anxious that you don't feel left out as others feast on the wealth of meat, fish and poultry. You can do splendidly with luscious fruit, incredible salads, yoghurt, freshly-baked bread, and so on.
Mumtaz Moin, Head, Club Med Services India, points out why Cherating Beach resort is a complete family holiday destination. The facilities for children will earn you their eternal gratitude. There are play stations, musical instruments, Internet, a movie hall and enough place to have their own parties, or just hang out, undisturbed by the adults. For the younger kids, there are trained people who read to them, take them out on excursions, supervise their meals and even take care of their nap time. This gives you the freedom to do your own thing and stop feeling guilty.
Rustling palms, rippling waves, chirping birds apart, there is nothing to come between you and total relaxation at Club Med Cherating. Of course, all rooms are WiFi-enabled. So, go ahead and keep in touch with the outside world. As for me, I tuck a fragrant gardenia firmly behind my ear, and walk into the sunset.
(A visit to Cherating is even more attractive now with low cost carrier Air Asia having flights from many destinations in India to Kuala Lumpur. For details, log on to www.airasia.com)
The Club Med Premium Holiday includes accommodation, all meals, wine, beer and soft drinks, Club Med Baby Welcome, Mini Club Med (four to 10 years), sports and fitness training facilities, swimming pool and Jacuzzi. For details, visit www.clubmed.co.in
The Mandara Spa
A perfect place to indulge yourself with some truly exotic treatments. The treatments include facials, manicures and pedicures and body massages with natural ingredients, all guaranteed to leave you in a state of bliss.
The Cherating beach is witness to an extraordinary phenomena — it is the landing and nesting area of the endangered green turtle that comes here to lay its eggs. A turtle sanctuary nearby collects the eggs, nurtures them, and on hatching, releases them into the South China Sea. If you are lucky, you could witness the turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs. We had the privilege of releasing week-old turtles into the sea.