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An exclusive collection of the best Asian hotels, resorts and spas

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Malaysia spas for all bods

At these top Malaysia spa resorts, indulge in everything from Balinese and Thai to Swedish, and Ayurvedic. Scrub, exfoliate, wrap, balance chakras and commune with your inner child - if you have one.

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by Sharmila Rajah


SEE ALSO Brunei Guide | Langkawi Guide | Penang Guide | Kuala Lumpur Shopping | Sabah guide | Kuala Lumpur Hotels | Australia Spas | Bali Spas | India Spas | Taipei Spas | Thai Spas | Tioman Guide | Kuala Lumpur Nightlife

JUMP TO Langkawi spas | Penang | Perak | Kuala Lumpur hotel spas | Port Dickson | Pahang | Terengganu | Tioman Island | Sabah | Sarawak | Hotel Contacts

Best Malaysia spas and resorts for a wellness holiday - Gayana Eco Resort, Sabah

Panoramic sea views from a massage pavilion at the Gayana Eco Resort, Sabah, on an idyllic island just offshore from the capital Kota Kinabalu / photo: hotel

MALAYSIA has laid claim to several intriguing firsts – the tallest twin towers, the biggest Mexican bun, the longest variety show and the most number of heads shampooed in one day at a mall. But there’s another feather in the cap of Malaysia “Truly Asia” (as its TV adverts intone).

KL hotel spas, Majestic offers a heritage setting

Majestic KL provides a period setting for spa treatments/ photo: hotel

We’re talking some of the best spas and spa resorts east of the Suez. It’s time to roll out the tikar (mat) and succumb to Mak Minah’s (Aunty Minah’s) therapeutic touch as she sinks her fingers into your flesh, kneading away ailments while realigning your spine and repositioning your organs.

What the…! Did my big toe just switch places with my nose? Well, it's probably for the better. Get pummelled, scraped, wrapped, massaged and more - and emerge feeling like a million bucks.

Malaysia spas offer a good range of offerings, from dedicated luxury spa resorts, small spa hideaways and traditional ayurvedic establishments, to healers and mystic masseurs with long waiting queues. You’ll find spa menus with the regular assortment of body scrubs, exfoliation, masks, massage, aromatherapy, reflexology and hot soaks. There’s something for everyone. Our Malaysia spas and spa hotel guide.

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Langkawi spa guide

Head for the island of Langkawi in the Andaman Sea off Malaysia’s west coast where mythical tales, massages, facials, manicures and pedicures offer a heady mix for all wallets.

Langkawi spas, JivaRhu at Tanjung Rhu Resort

JivaRhu, Tanjung Rhu Resort/ photo: hotel

At the JivaRhu Spa, Tanjung Rhu Resort, you’ll be pampered at one of 12 independent villas, built on a stretch of landscaped gardens with views of the Andaman Sea. Villas - eight single and four double - come complete with intimate open-air enclaves, private gardens, outdoor steam rooms, saunas, showers and outdoor Jacuzzis. Latticed woodwork roofs in the foyer and pathways create a genuinely local ambience. Expect Malay traditional treatments like the candlenut body scrub plus traditional remedies.

You may get mistaken for dessert if you treat yourself to one of the tasty body wraps that include pumpkin and orange, neem and honey, yoghurt and papaya. Or perk up with the After Sun Healing package that promises to soothe your over-tanned skin with a cucumber and yogurt wrap, and an aloe vera body wash.

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Also available are Thai and Ayurvedic treatments; and vanity treatments ranging from facials to manicures and pedicures. Prices start at RM250 for 50 minutes. The exchange rate is roughly US$1 = 3.90 Malaysian ringgit (RM).

Following a similar trend is long-time favourite - the now fabulously rebranded and refurbished Taaras Spa at Berjaya Langkawi Resort, one of the island’s first complete spa retreats. It’s a natural gem, quiet and peaceful, nestled between lush rainforests and crystal clear waters. A combination of unmistakably Malay influenced massages, facials, body scrubs, wraps, hand and foot spa treatments are offered. Marine based treatments like algae seaweed wraps are just as popular. Manicures and pedicures start from RM105.

Best Langkawi spas, The Spa at The Datai Langkawi

The Datai Langkawi, in the rainforest/ photo: hotel

The Spa at The Datai can be found in a secluded corner of Langkawi Island within mature, protected rainforest. It’s a spoiling, upmarket escape, all the more pleasurable if you happen to be staying at this stunning property with its lovely beach cove. The four spa villas are set deep in the mangrove forest and comes with a spacious soak tub with a river view.

At the luxurious spa, opt for one of the indigenous Malay rituals, the Tungku Batu, which includes the ancient heated stone treatment with rainforest herbs, applied to muscles and pressure points, followed by a massage with oils infused with ginger, lemongrass, clove and star anise. This treatment lasts between 90 minutes (RM450) and an indulgent 150 minutes at RM650.

Forget floaty pan pipes, you'll hear lapping waves and exotic bird song at the open-air V Botanical Spa at The Andaman (A Luxury Collection Hotel), also in Datai Bay. Perched high on a hillside, with a bird's-eye view of the beach, the spa is part of V Integrated Wellness resort.

Under the cool shade of the rainforest, enjoy holistic therapies, beauty treatments, meditation retreats and lifestyle workshops. Try a "Kahuna Wave" massage in one of the breezy pavilions and don't forget to set your alarm for some sunrise yoga. Work up an appetite in the fitness centre, which offers a range of daily exercise classes, then snack at the V Healthy Cuisine restaurant. The V Botanical Spa prides itself on being the first ever in Southeast Asia to offer 100 percent certified organic graded products plus some very unique treatments like the Chi Nei Tsang that realigns your Chi from within and the Holistic Gemstone Facial which uses gems to balance, regenerate and relax the skin.

Malaysia luxury spa resorts - try The St Regis Langkawi

The St Regis Langkawi/ photo: hotel

Located on the southern tip of the island, on a private lagoon, is the very new and sophisticated St Regis Langkawi, a five-star beachfront resort. Adjacent to the hotel’s private beach is the 800sq m Iridium Spa, a retreat clad in soothing beige furnishings, dark wood and marble with splashes of natural green. Your experience begins the very moment you step into one of the eight treatment suites – six single and two for couples. Select suites invite guests to indulge in treatments enhanced by the soothing sounds of flowing water. Expect floor-to-ceiling frosted-glass panels along with en-suite bathrooms and lockers in each treatment suite for privacy and convenience. Each couple suite also features a soaking tub. Spa professionals welcome you and analyse your needs before launching into that bespoke pampering that will leave you rejuvenated. Each treatment begins with a foot-soaking ritual. On the menu are facials, body wraps, baths and massages. For 150 minutes, have your skin cleansed, exfoliated and re-energized with The Malaya spa package. A rempah wangi bath with aromatic botanicals and spices completes your spa journey.

The Ritz-Carlton Langkawi (opened September 2017) is another upscale retreat with an over-water spa with six treatment rooms designed in the fashion of a bamboo bird-cage fish-trap that looks a bit like a curious lampshade. Explore a 90-minute 'Mandi Bunga Ritual' that employs aromatic oils that are poured over the body. Expect a good foor and scalp massage too. The 'Lulur Hammam' with marine mud runs for 120 minutes, cleansing the skin.

Recommended is Casa Del Mar’s The Satkara Spa, where double massage sessions can be arranged so couples can unwind together. Amor – for two- includes a foot massage, rose petals bath and a 60-minute full body massage. This is a nice intimate retreat, well worth a visit.

Malaysia luxury spa resorts, Four Seasons Resort, Langkawi

Four Seasons, Langkawi/ photo: hotel

The Heavenly Spa by Westin on the beachfront at the The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa offers a wide range of massages and wellness and beauty treatments.

Start off with a "Serenity Welcome" head and neck aromatic oil massage as you ponder the menu while being fussed over by trained therapists who will customise your session.

Perhaps splash out on the 90-minute RM390 signature "Wish" package incorporating an aromatic body scrub and relaxing massage. Or relax with an 80-minute (RM380) Heavenly Spa signature massage.

The spa menu at Teratai Spa, Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort is extensive with a good mix of Asian-inspired facials, body wraps, scrubs, massages and hair care. The Moorish-style Four Seasons Resort Langkawi has The Geospa with six open air pavilions "suspended over water" - a special touch. The spa offers four treatment series – earth, water, light and air. One of the most unique is the Keluarga Family Ritual – up to four family members can experience a blissful salt scrub, mud wrap, family bathing and crystal massage together (RM2400 for 2 hours). Each treatment is accompanied by a recommended yoga programme.

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Penang spa resorts

We continue our Malaysia spas guide in the island of Penang, just south of Langkawi, where pampering goes hand in hand with an obligatory bowl of steaming laksa (noodles in coconut curry broth). Look out for the luxurious CHI, The Spa at the Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa that occupies a separate wooded area, secluded but accessible, with 11 individual treatment villas redolent of Peranakan charm and exotic aromas. A two-and-a-half-hour ‘Charmed Passage’ is RM700, and a one-hour massage is RM290.

Best Penang spas, CHI at Rasa Sayang Shangri-La

CHI, Rasa Sayang, Penang/ photo: hotel

The Northam is all reflective gold and glitter on the outside but remarkably tasteful inside. Suites are elegant with lots of gleaming wood and sharp finish. There is Samsara Spa at Level 9 with nine treatment rooms, all with Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. Treatments start from RM98 for a 50-minute massage. The stunning pool on the same level, offers breathtaking views of Georgetown and the sea. There is a broad-timber lounging deck if you simply wish to snooze or enjoy a cocktail while surfing the Internet with complimentary WiFi. You can also experience Samsara Spa at the Gurney Resort Hotel & Residences.

Close by Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang is the renovated 309-room Parkroyal Penang Resort (formerly Grand Plaza Park Royal). The place is cheery and is a good Penang family resort now with the addition of the St Gregory offering everything from aromatic rubdowns to Balinese massage for harried parents. The “Love Bird” package for couples is around RM850. There is also a kids' spa treatment offering a mini manicure or pedicure at RM180.

At the Hard Rock Hotel Penang expect attitude, guitars, smiles and wellness treatments with a difference at the Rock Spa. First in Asia to introduce rhythm and motion treatments with amplified vibrations and pressures. Try Synchronicity, Face The Music and Heat Wave. Or pick from a 30-minute ‘Brief Encounter’ for tired shoulders and backs at RM115, a bells-and-whistles Hard Rock Massage for an hour at RM190 with fingertips and knuckle pressure and even a dash of ear reflexology, or a signature “Hot Rock” massage with heated stones. Why stop there? There’s body scrubs, wraps, and waxing to get you in shape for even a Rio bikini.

Get kneaded in an outdoor cabana under swaying pine trees at the neo-colonial Lone Pine Hotel, which has been freshly renovated. Pure Energy Spa offers many fantastic treatments, from salt glow scrubs to full body massages. Try its signature Purity Special – all long deep strokes for an hour at RM145.

Danai Spa operates at the G Hotel Penang and Eastin Hotel. Spa treatments and therapies draw upon Asian holistic traditions. If you’re checking into the Bayview Beach Resort, don’t miss out on pool-side foot rubs and massages by the Mandara Spa. The full list of beauty and body treatments are extended to non-staying guests for an additional fee.

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Indulgence in Perak

Malaysia spas, Parkroyal Penang St Gregory Spa

Parkroyal Penang St Gregory/ photo: hotel

Privately owned Pangkor Laut basks in all the usual publicity surrounding a top island getaway. It’s no wonder hundreds of travel pilgrims the world over keep coming back religiously to the Spa Village at the Pangkor Laut Resort. Spa Village has tended to the nails and toes of some famous stars.

Perhaps dangerously, on this idyllic island, all cares (including your mounting credit card bills), are easily forgotten. Leap into the Ayurvedic, Chinese, Balinese and Japanese spa menus. There are resident Ayurvedic, Malay and Chinese spa specialists for consultation. Begin your spa experience with a footbath and an invigorating Chinese Foot Pounding – previously only enjoyed by Chinese concubines. Not to be confused with foot binding.

Next, relish the traditional Malay ‘circulating’ bath before surrendering to a Japanese-style cleansing with a goshi-goshi cloth. This is then followed by a dip in the heated rotenburu pool. Try the Shanghai Scrub, where a masseuse gently exfoliates and washes your body. For a right royal pampering try the “ukup wangi” scented body steaming – a ritual used by princesses preparing for their wedding night. A 50-minute massage is around RM290.

The Spa Village features both indoor and open-air spaces spread over four acres along a quiet bay between the sea and the rainforest. Stay at any one of the 22 spa villas, situated over the sea with direct access to the Spa Village. It’s enough to make you sing like Luciano Pavarotti. After all, he has stayed here too.

Malaysia spa resorts, Hard Rock Penang's Rock Spa

Rock Spa at Hard Rock/ photo: hotel

The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat is a wellness resort hidden in the jungle and surrounded by cliffs. Guests must stay a minimum of two nights and prices include villas, spa cuisine, select massages, exercise classes and health consultations.

Treatments draw upon Malay, Chinese and Indian traditions. Choose from Chinese medicine, ayurveda, energy healing and ramuan spa journeys, as well as more contemporary massages, facials and bathing rituals.

For rejuvenating heat therapy soak in the resort’s hot springs and dipping pools, or sweat out your toxins in the thermal steam cave. Cool off with a bracing plunge into an ice bath or have a refreshing outdoor shower using spring water direct from the rainforest. Alternative therapies include a pool where fish will nibble away rough skin, and a meditation cave. You can also swim in the freeform pool, work out in the fitness centre or enjoy a reiki healing session in an amethyst cave.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite head over to The Pomelo restaurant for some healthy spa cuisine. Dishes are made using local organic produce and are free from artificial seasoning or flavourings. Wash it all down with a bottle of organic wine (yes, alcohol) – then head back to that thermal steam cave. Or slip away to the Meditation Cave – a cavernous cathedral to relax, and literally shut out the world.

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Kuala Lumpur hotel spas and Putrajaya

Top Kuala Lumpur hotel spas, Mandarin Oriental welcome

Mandarin Oriental KL spa welcome/ photo: hotel

Malaysia spas immediately bring to mind coconut trees and white sand beaches, but a lot of the unguents and potions are being applied daily at city spas, day spas and hotel spas offering an oasis in the urban swirl.

The well-heeled are all clamouring to join the chic, award-winning urban Energy Day Spa Ampang. This Kuala Lumpur day spa is positively Zen-like, swathed in light, clean lines and contemporary aesthetics. Energy Day Spa adopts a holistic approach to wellness, treating the body, mind and soul with everything from sun damage and pigmentation to out-of-balance chakras. Get your facial fix with intriguing skin illuminating and alpine de-stressing. Or, try rebalancing and healing through holographic techniques and reiki.

Without having to bust your budget, happily mix these with some yoga, Pilates, meditation, dance, tai chi and qi gong. After all, treatment prices run from only RM40 to RM528 while packages start at RM299. The spa’s location in one of the city’s malls means you can take your renewed self for some bargain hunting straight after. There is a second day spa in Mont Kiara with five treatment rooms and a rooftop relaxation area. Both spas are fitted with a ‘Ladies Only’ facilities for added privacy.

You don’t have to be close to the sea to enjoy its benefits. Simply check into The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, a stone’s throw from the world’s tallest twin towers, for a complete sensory journey. The spa, drawing upon both eastern and western influences, helps you to soak your worries away in rich marine nutrients. A favourite is the Time Ritual Ultimate Body Treatment (one hour 50 minutes for RM695), which supplies the body with vitamins and minerals while firming, toning, and eliminating toxins.

Kuala Lumpur spa hotels, Grand Hyatt Presidential Suite

Park at the Presidential Suite, Grand Hyatt KL before heading for the steam/ photo: hotel

Shed the crusty wrap layer and emerge silky smooth. Other treatments include body wraps, scrubs and facials. Specially designed for frequent flyers and jetsetters – four selected therapies to banish fatigue and stress that begin with a foot soak followed by a relaxing massage.

Around the corner, the gleaming Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur serves up its ESSA Spa with 11 treatment suites including two for couples. Check out a two-hour Essential Calm treatment at RM600 or a four-hour Inner Radiance workout at RM1,200. Facials start at RM390, while an ESSA Aroma Dream State massage will set you back about the same for an hour's rubdown. Or opt for wraps and scrubs.

Escape the chaos and discover quiet seclusion at the green and leafy Spa Village. Located on the fourth floor of The Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur, this urban retreat offers treatments inspired by local traditions. Walk through the landscaped gardens to the tree-lined lap pool or float around in hot and cool dipping pools.

Enjoy a traditional royal Malay treatment in one of eight private suites, each with its own outdoor shower and sunken bath. Gentle breezes will keep you cool during tropical rubdowns in the outdoor cabanas.

In keeping with the spa's inventive approach to pampering is the Chinese Peranakan treatment. Expect to be marinated in milk, rice, mulberry leaves and egg, yes egg. Hopefully there's no bacon to go with it. The three-hour treatment (RM995) involves naval activation to improve metabolism and ease digestion, rattan tapping qi-gong and a tui-na an-mo massage that focuses on acu-points.

Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur is a grand setting for wellness treatments

Majestic KL treatments/ photo: hotel

Find instant respite from your shopping at the Balinese-inspired Donna Spa right in the heart of town at the luxurious Starhill Gallery. A wooden walkway leads you to single and double rooms. Choose the 90-minute Excellent Donna Massage and have a Javanese masseuse knead away your knots and restore balance. The spa has a comprehensive menu of massages, scrubs, baths, masks and facials. Only natural plant-based products are used in all therapies.

Villa Manja is an oasis of serenity in the city centre. Step inside this day spa and be pampered from head to toe with a spectrum of traditional body therapies, facials, massage therapies, hair, hand and feet treatments. For the ultimate overhaul, indulge in the four hours and 30 minutes Ultimate Manja (RM615) treat. Recharge with a scrub, bath, two invigorating massages, a facial and foot spa. Villa Manja is happy to help organise special spa parties like a birthday or a bridal shower.

Next is the Hammam – the city’s exclusive Moroccan bath. Revel in traditional Moroccan style pampering in marble clad rooms with velvet drapery and plush cushions. Hammam treats include facials, body polishing, hair masks and aromatic massages. Try their most popular treatment, Hammam and Gommage. To the uninitiated – prepare to be stripped down and have every inch of you vigorously scrubbed on a marble bed, followed by rinsing and dousing. Top it off with a relaxing massage – all for RM338.

Kuala Lumpur hotel spas, Hilton

Hilton KL spa room/ photo: hotel

There’s nothing quite like it in KL. The Majestic Spa at The Majestic Hotel has its very own building with an art-nouveau interior. Inside, you’ll find seven treatment rooms, a relaxation lounge with an infinity pool and a very English spa menu. For something utterly royal, check out the three-hour Queen’s Victoria Lavender – a regal mix of breathing, exfoliation, lavender and aloe gel mask, and lavender massage at RM995. Or have fun with English Afternoon Tea that incorporates blackberries and cream scrub, berries massage and English rose facial.

Other spas in the city include Swasana Spa at Impiana KLCC and Essa Spa at the Grand Hyatt. Both spas dabble in Asian-inspired treatments and therapies.

Got more time to spare for your Malaysia spa odyssey? Venture into the outskirts of the city to Sembunyi Spa at Cyberview Lodge Resort & Spa. Imagine 10,000 square feet of breathtaking surrounds right in the heart of the technology hub, Cyberjaya. The Ratu/ Queen Tribhuwana Experience combines a revitalising aromatic massage with a refreshing bath, scrub and mask for about RM350. In Petaling Jaya (a 15-minute drive from downtown KL, if the traffic is kind), the Bali-theme Life Spa at the Hilton Petaling Jaya is an option.

Pick your favourite blend of spice - the energizing baliaga (peppermint), balijegeg (sandalwood) or refreshing "sunrise" (jasmine and lavender). An hour-long massage accompanied by scrub and foot massage is about RM500 per person. Hilton Kuala Lumpur has a similar spa concept, The Spa & Gym. A one hour massage here will set you back RM280.

Visit the Putrajaya Shangri-La’s Health Club & Spa for a six-hour Romeo & Juliet Ultimate Couple’s Indulgence, an energetic high of pressure massages, facials, scrubs, wraps and baths or pick something a la carte off the shelf and luxuriate in a wrap or scrub.

Malaysia luxury spa resorts, Spa Village, Pangkor Laut

Spa Village, Pangkor Laut/ photo: hotel

Finally, be waited on hand and foot at The Spa at the Club Saujana Resort, an award winning wellness spa. The Spa is synonymous with total indulgence. Immerse yourself in ancient Asian healing techniques in one of its eight spa villas set around a tranquil pool and lush greens. Try its 60-minute Saujana Jade Massage – a four hand oil massage with hints of Shiatsu, Thai, Balinese and Lomi-Lomi massages. There’s also a separate beauty treatment menu, which features state-of-the-art plant stem cell (non-invasive) therapies.

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Port Dickson smoothie

Avi Spa is built over the sea at Avillion, near Port Dickson, and has a unique open-air, floating relaxation lounge that bobs on the water. Sprawl amidst plump white and turquoise cushions and take in panoramic ocean views and blazing sunsets.

For treatments such as the banana leaf smoothie wrap, head to one of seven private suites, complete with verandahs and sea-view baths. Signature treatments are based on the elements – water for confidence, earth for balance, wind for happiness and fire for passion.

Try the wellness ritual, which includes a salt scrub, purifier bath and massage. The pampering lasts three and a half hours and costs RM676. For silky smooth hair try the Peranakan-inspired coconut oil hair treatment. This 6,250sq ft contemporary retreat also offers a library stocked with books about health and wellbeing.

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Spice it up in Pahang

Best Malaysia spas, Andaman Langkawi

Spa, The Andaman, Langkawi/ photo: hotel

On the Malaysian east coast, there’s nothing particularly Swiss about the Samsara Spa at the Swiss Garden Resort & Spa. The theme is devoutly Balinese, from the use of herbs and spices like coconut and coffee to its exotic ambience. Trademark treatments like the Samsara Royal (RM270 for one hour and 45 minutes) and Samsara Spices (RM380 for two-and-a-half hours) are in great demand. Combine your treatments with a sampling of the spa’s exciting dishes, cooked in rich Malay herbs and spices. Treatments start from RM170.

At the bit-of-everything Colmar Tropicale, Berjaya Hills (formerly the Bukit Tinggi Resort), should you tire of the rabbit park, golf, riding, the French chateaux and the Japanese Village, head for the Tatami Spa offering a bit of zen combining a spot of furo (bathing) with an onsen experience (alfresco hot rock mineral pool).

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Terengganu treatments

Set in a beautiful Javanese garden with little ponds, Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa at the Awana Kijal Golf & Beach Resort is one of the few spas in Terengganu. The spa is an extension of the well-regarded Mustika Ratubuana International list of spas in Indonesia. Naturally adapting a Javanese theme, from decor and music to treatment, the spa gives an unparalleled opportunity to relax and rejuvenate with traditional royal treatments. A Javanese full body massage will cost RM120 per hour.

The swish Tanjong Jara Resort - styled after a sultan's palace of yore - offers restorative Malay treatments at the Spa Village. Highlights include a three-hour "Couples Spa Experience" with special body treatments based on Malay wedding rituals, and the "Urutan Gamelan", a traditional Malay massage for women.

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Tioman Island for beach bods

Berjaya Tioman beach

Berjaya Tioman beach/ photo: hotel

Samadhi Spa at the JapaMala Resort & Spa is completely enfolded by towering boulders creating the atmosphere of a cosy cave. The spa centre overlooks the beach but massages can also be enjoyed in pavilions by the sea. A highlight at the spa is the 45-minute Before Sun treatment. Himalayan rock salt is blended with lemongrass and ginger essential oils to create an exfoliation remedy that will leave your skin soft, and moisturised. Then head out to the power-white sand.

The Ayura Spa at the Berjaya Tioman Resort offers a 90-minute signature massage for RM250. At The Taaras Beach and Spa Resort by Berjaya in Redang, the Taaras Spa is another option with a range of packages featuring aromatherapy massage, stress relief, deep tissue work, and reflexology to keep those feet tapping. Try a vanilla coconut body scrub or a ginger sea salt scrub. And if exfoliation is not your thing, retreat into the soothing wet embrace of an algae seaweed wrap.

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Sabah spa hotels and getaways

Our Malaysia spas guide now crosses over on a two-hour flight to Sabah (Borneo) to enjoy the blissful Borneo Spa set in the spectacular green surrounds of the Nexus Resort Karambunai, a 30-minute drive from Kota Kinabalu. This outdoor spa, sprawled over 40,000sq ft with 14 therapy rooms blends native Borneo massage skills with pure essential oils from plant extracts from around the world. Scented treatment rooms ensure utter privacy. Alternatively, outdoor massages overlooking the South China Sea and in-room massages can also be arranged. Time stands still at Karambunai. There’s no rush; take time to relish hot or cold spa pools, steam and sauna rooms, before showering for your treatments.

The Borneo Fusion treatment combines acupressure, Thai and shiatsu massage to boost energy levels and “balance emotions”. This non-oil massage uses finger pressure, forearms, elbows and feet and can last for one hour or 90 minutes.

Malaysia spas, Nexus Resort Karambunai

Nexus Resort Karambunai/ photo: hotel

At the Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa in Kota Kinabalu, the group's signature CHI, The Spa is located on its own secluded private island with a 4,161sq m spread including eight spacious island villas, a yoga pavilion that catches the sea breezes, and wholesome spa cuisine. Mix together tropical ingredients like volcanic mud and cocoa and you get some exotic treatments like the "Borneo Volcanic Mud Wrap" and the "Pearl Cocoa Scrub".

Asian Blend meanwhile focuses on harmonising your energy flow with a tingling massage to get the chi flowing. Or opt for the Borneo Therapy, inspired by the island’s native healers and have your feet soaked in nutmeg, ginger and betel leaf, before relaxing with a massage. Yoga can be enjoyed on an extensive timber deck that enjoys expansive views. Sister resort Shangri-La's Rasa Ria sprawls across a superb and broad stretch of sand with a dedicated spa close to the resort's signature golf course. The Spa at Dalit Bay offers a wide range of treatments.

Gaya Island Resort & Spa is bathed in the sun’s golden glow. Its luxury villas sit idyllically, enveloped by the island’s lush rainforest. The Spa Village draws on age-old practices and healing traditions of Sabah’s indigenous people with its specialised rice scrubs and masks. Deru Laut, an elaborate three-hour treatment (RM1,580), is inspired by the seafaring traditions of the Bajaus. Begin with a moisturing sea bird’s nest body wrap, then a facial with Sabah pearls and a seaweed hair mask. Follow it with a seawater bath soak to release toxins and top it off with a massage.

Yoga stretch at Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa

Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru/ photo: hotel

Another option, perhaps, is vegging out at the Mandara Spa at Sutera Harbour. There are six treatment rooms for your own private massage, as well as six suites if you want to share the experience with a friend. Mandara Spa is open until 10pm, perfect for that post-dinner bit of pummelling you’ve always wanted. Over at Pacific Sutera, Chavana Spa offers Balinese inspired body treatments, facials and packages.

A short ferry ride from Kota Kinabalu is the peaceful island of Gayana. Here you'll find the Gayana Eco Resort with 52 overwater villas and an on-site marine ecology research centre dedicated to protecting endangered giant clams. Dive or snorkel by day then head to the Solace Spa for some well deserved pampering.

Each spa suite has its own shower and whirlpool and treatments are inspired by the elements. Try not to snigger as you book the "Wind" package (RM986 for three hours), which includes a nutrient-rich caviar facial and edelweiss massage. For something more tranquil opt for the "Water" package (RM754 for three hours) and drift off with a soothing scalp massage and camomile body scrub.

On the opposite side of the island is sister property Bunga Raya Island Resort and Spa offering the same menu. Treat yourself to a tropical rubdown in a breezy private pavilion perched high on the forested hilltop.

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More steam in Sarawak

Mulu Marriott in Sarawak offers a rainforest setting on the river

Mulu Marriott rainforest setting/ photo: hotel

The Mulu Marriot Resort & Spa, just five minutes away from Gunung Mulu National Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The resort is beautifully designed in the style of ethnic longhouses. Luxuriate in their spacious Mandara Spa, which offers a host of natural treatments from scrubs and massages to foot baths and facials.

The Jungle Spa Retreat, part of the Borneo Highlands Resort, is aptly named. It brings the rainforests to you. Treatment rooms are reminiscent of Sarawak’s dense forests, with rooms decked out with tropical plants.

The spa opens out onto a well-manicured garden. Located high up in the Penrissen Highlands, it affords spa goers cool mountain views. Treatments include traditional massage, foot reflexology, aromatherapy and organic facial and body treatment. Its signature Bidayuh massage employs a local technique that helps to lengthen and loosen the muscles using homemade massage oil brewed of herbs, coconut, pepper and ginger. It heats and warms your body for better blood circulation and promotes skin healing. Jungle Spa takes you a step closer to nature and rejuvenation. A 60-minute Bidayuh massage is priced at around RM126. And, for Malaysia spas of every description, price and location, that’s a wrap.

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FAST FACTS / Hotel Contact List

Westin Langkawi has an excellent spa programme

Westin Langkawi spa time/ photo: hotel

Prices and treatments at Malaysia spas are subject to frequent change. Check in advance before booking. The prices quoted in this story are approximate rates only. The exchange rate is roughly US$1 = 3.86 Malaysian ringgit (RM).


Berjaya Langkawi Resort - Malaysia. Tel: [60-4] 959-1888, fax: 959-1886, (e-mail: langkawi.ayuraspa@berjayahotel.com or www.berjayahotel.com/langkawi/).
Casa del Mar Langkawi. Tel: [60-4] 955-2388, fax: 955-2228, (e-mail: spa@casadelmar-langkawi.com or www.casadelmar-langkawi.com).
Four Seasons Resort Langkawi. Tel: [60-4] 950-8888, fax: 950-8899, (www.fourseasons.com/langkawi).
Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort. Tel: [60-4] 952-8888, fax: 952-8899, (e-mail: resvn.pelangi@meritushotels.com or www.meritushotels.com).
St Regis Langkawi. Tel: [60-4] 960-6666, fax: 960-6777, (e-mail: stregis.langkawi@stregis.com or www.starwoodhotels.com/stregis).
Tanjung Rhu Resort. Tel: [60-4] 959-1033, fax: 959-1899, (e-mail: resort@tanjungrhu.com.my or www.tanjungrhu.com.my).
The Andaman, V Integrated Wellness. Tel: [60-4] 959-1088, fax: 959-1168, (e-mail: info@vintegratedwellness.com or www.vintegratedwellness.com).
The Datai
. Tel: [60-4] 950-0500, (e-mail: reservations@dataihotels.com or www.thedatai.com/langkawi/).
The Ritz-Carlton Langkawi. Tel: [60-4] , (www.ritzcarlton.com).
Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa. Tel: [60-4] 960-8888, fax: 966-6414, (e-mail: westin.langkawi@westin.com or www.westinlangkawi.com/).


G Hotel Penang. Tel: [60-4] 238-0000, fax: 238-0088, (www.ghotel.com.my)
Hard Rock Hotel Penang. Tel: [60-4] 881-1711, fax: 881-2155, (e-mail: spa.penang@hardrockhotels.net or penang.hardrockhotels.net).
Lone Pine Hotel. Tel: [60-4] 886-8511, fax [60-4]: 886-8666, (www.lonepinehotel.com).
Parkroyal Penang Resort. Tel: [60-4] 881-1133, fax: 881-2233, (e-mail: reserve.prpen@parkroyalhotels.com & stgregory.prpen@parkroyalhotels.com or penang.parkroyalhotels.com).
Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa. Tel: [60-4] 888-8888, fax: 881-1800, (e-mail: rsr@shangri-la.com or www.shangri-la.com/penang/rasasayangresort/).
The Gurney Resort Hotel and Residences. Tel: [60-4] 370-7000, (www.gurney-hotel.com.my/)
The Northam. Tel: [60-4] 370-1111, fax: 370-2222, (e-mail: reservation@northam-hotel.com.my or www.northam-hotel.com.my).


Pangkor Laut Resort & Spa. Tel: [60-5] 699-1100, fax: 699-1200, (e-mail: spavillageplr@ytlhotels.com.my or www.pangkorlautresort.com/spa-village).
The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. Tel: [60-5] 210-7777, fax: 210-7778, (www.thebanjaran.com).

Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya

Cyberview Lodge Resort & Spa. Tel: [60-3] 8312-7000, fax: 8312-7001, (e-mail: hotline@cyberview-lodge.com.my or www.cyberviewresort.com).
Energy Day Spa Ampang. Tel: [60-3] 4256-8833, fax: 4256-8832, (e-mail: ampang@energymindbodyspirit.com or www.energymindbodyspirit.com).
Energy Day Spa Mont' Kiara. Tel: [60-3] 6201-7833, fax: 6201-5833 (www.energymindbodyspirit.com).
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur. Tel: [60-3] 2182-1234, fax: 2182-1288, (e-mail: kualalumpur.grand@hyatt.com or kualalumpur.grand.hyatt.com).
Hammam. Tel: [60-3] 2282-2180, (www.hammamspas.com)
Hilton Kuala Lumpur. Tel: [60-3] 2264-2264, fax: 2264-2266, (e-mail: kuala-lumpur@hilton.com or www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/malaysia).
Hilton Petaling Jaya. Tel: [60-3] 7955-9122, fax: 7955-3909, (e-mail: PetalingJaya.Info@hilton.com or www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/malaysia).
Impiana KLCC. Tel: [60-3] 2147-1111, fax: 2147-1100, (e-mail: info.klcc@impiana.com or www.kualalumpurhotels.impiana.com.my)
Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur. Tel: [60-3] 2380-8888, fax: 2380-8833, (e-mail: mokul-saled@mohg.com or www.mandarinoriental.com/kualalumpur).
Putrajaya Shangri-La. Tel: [60-3] 8887-8888, fax: 8887-8889, (e-mail: slpt@shangri-la.com or www.shangri-la.com/kualalumpur/putrajaya).
Starhill Gallery. Tel: [60-3] 2782-3800, (www.starhillgallery.com)
The Club Saujana. Tel: [60-3] 7840-5026, fax: 7846-3100, (e-mail: spa@theclubsaujanaresort.com or www.shr.my/the-saujana-hotel/).
The Majestic. Tel: [603] 2785 8000, (email: tmklresv@ytlhotels.com.my or www.majestickl.com).
The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur
. Tel: [60-3] 2782-9090, fax: 2143-8080, (e-mail: spavillagekl@ytlhotels.com.my or www.spavillage.com/kualalumpur).
Villa Manja. Tel: [60-3] 2161-5418, (e-mail: enquiries@villamanja.com or www.villamanja.com)

Negeri Sembilan

Avi Spa. Tel: [60-6] 647-5740, fax: 647-5790, (e-mail: info@avispa.com.my or www.avispa.com.my).

Pahang, Terrengganu, Tioman, Redang spas

Awana Kijal Golf, Beach and Spa Resort. Terrengganu. Tel: [60-9] 864-1188, fax: 864-1688, (e-mail: awanakij@tm.net.my or www.awana.com.my).
Berjaya Tioman Resort. Tel: [60-9] 419-1000, fax: 419-1718, (e-mail: tioman.rsvn@berjayahotel.com or www.berjayahotel.com/tioman/).
The Taaras Beach & Spa Resort. Tel: [60-9] 221-3998, fax: 221-3999, (e-mail: reservation@thetaaras.com or thetaaras.com).
Colmar Tropicale, Berjaya Hills. Pahang. Tel: [60-9] 221-3666, fax: 221-3828, (e-mail: sales@colmartropicale.com.my or www.colmartropicale.com.my).
JapaMala Resort & Spa. Tioman. Tel: [60-9] 419-7777, fax: 419-7979, (e-mail: reservations@japamalaresorts.com or www.japamalaresorts.com).
Swiss Garden Resort & Spa, Kuantan, Pahang. Tel: [60-9] 548-8288, fax: 544-9555, (e-mail: reservation@sbkn.swissgarden.com or www.swissgarden.com).
Tanjong Jara Resort. Terengganu. Tel: [60-9] 845-1100, fax: 845-1200, (e-mail: travelcentre@ytlhotels.com.my or www.tanjongjararesort.com).

Sabah and Sarawak

Bunga Raya Island Resort and Spa. Tel: [60-88] 380-390, fax: 247-390, (e-mail: info@bungarayaresort.com or www.gayana-eco-resort.com/).
Gaya Island Resort and Spa. Tel: 60-18 9-391-100, (email: spavillagegi@ytlhotels.com.my or www.gayaislandresort.com/).  
Gayana Eco Resort. Tel: [60-88] 380-390, fax: 247-390, (e-mail: info@gayana-eco-resort.com or www.gayana-eco-resort.com).
The Jungle Spa Retreat, part of the Borneo Highlands Resort. Sarawak. Tel: 019-828-0790, (e-mail: enquiry@borneohighlands.com.my or www.borneohighlands.com.my).
Nexus Resort Karambunai. Sabah. Tel: [60-88] 480-888, fax: 480-999, (e-mail: info@nexusresort.com or www.nexusresort.com).
Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort & Spa. Tel: [60-88] 797-888, fax: 792-777 (e-mail: thespa.rasaria@shangri-la.com or www.shangri-la.com/kotakinabalu/rasariaresort/).
Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa. Tel: [60-88] 327-888, fax: 327-878 (e-mail: chi.tanjungaru@shangri-la.com or www.shangri-la.com/kotakinabalu/tanjungaruresort/).
Sutera Harbour. Tel: [60-88] 318-888, fax: 317-777, (e-mail: reservations@suteraharbour.com.my or www.suteraharbour.com).
The Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa. Tel: [60-85] 792-388, (www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/myymu-mulu)

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