Truly One&Only, rare resort gem on Desaru Coast

After despositing my bags at the The Desaru Coast Resort’s Hard Rock Hotel, my first move was to tour One&Only, the brand’s first property in Asia.

It is only about a 10-minute drive from the Hard Rock Hotel and I reached One&Only by 11.45pm.

Kerzner International, which owns the brand, is known for its stunning hotels in unique destinations. The list includes The Palm, Dubai; Reeth Rah, Maldives; and Gorilla’s Nest, Rwanda.

One&Only Desaru Coast, Malaysia, which opened in September 2020, is no exception. The entrance is nothing spectacular. But, once you reach the reception, you realise that the architecture is simple but very cool and comforting.

Looking straight out from the lobby, you see a spectacular 56m infinity pool, flanked by lush greenery.

My first instinct was to whip out my handphone and take photos of this stuning feature. I posed in different angles as I admired the vista.

The infinity pool leads out to picturesque views of the South China Sea. Sotthing to the senses.

Turning myself around, I found that it was a beautifully-designed resort. Australian architect Kerry Hill had it constructed as a modern interpretation of the traditional Malaysian kampung. Local heritage blends nicely into the theme.

It is full of private spaces, nestled among greenery, which seamlessly blend with the coastal location. Natural materials and colour palettes weave through every space, echoing the traditions of Southeast Asia and the environment.

Polly Kan, Director of Sales & Marketing, told me that One&Only Desaru Coast has 42 spacious suites, two luxurious grand suites and an exclusive four-bedroom Villa One, all with private plunge pools, terraces and bathrooms. I peeped into some of them and they invoked the wow factor.

All the suites feature enhanced outdoor space, furnished with elegant yet comfortable lounges facing the ocean or lush rainforest.

They offer ultimate seclusion to relax and reconnect, surrounded by the elements and creature comforts. The rates range from S$733 to S$12,625 a night, depending on the suite.

The resort also has jaw-dropping Private Homes, perfect for couples, groups or families who desire a spacious haven.

Polly also pinted out that One&Only Desaru Coast is spread across 128 acres of nature and includes a 1.5-kilometre stretch of sand, the only luxury property of its calibre in the region.

The resort’s thriving flora and fauna have been carefully nurtured and preserved, she said.

I could see that towering trees were blended seamlessly into the architecture. The water garden at Chenot Spa, for instance, pays homage to a majestic banyan tree that is more than a century old.

The nature walk is one of the resort’s signature experiences, Polly went on, taking guests around the property to learn more about the different species of flora and fauna.

The resident naturalist usually also introduces guests to the resort’s wild side. The Panti Forest Reserve is home to white-handed gibbons, dusky leaf monkeys, pig-tailed macaques, Oriental pied-hornbills, short-tailed babblers and other exotics species.

Special experiences include sunrise gibbon tours, birdwatching expeditions, treetop-climbing adventures and chef’s garden discoveries.

One&Only’s marketing executive informed me that there are a host of other activities to indulge in too which cater to a wide spectrum of interests.

The manager at Chenot Spa told me that it provides a revolutionary scientific and holistic approach to health and wellness. There the latest advances in Western medicine is combined with the best in Chinese and alternative medicines, leaving the guests feeling recharged and full of vitality.

Award-winning manicure and pedicure treatments are available at Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio by Bastien Gonzalez, a celebrity chiropodist.

I was also shown One&Only Desaru Coast’s world-class fitness centre, which has all the latest equipment. It boasts both indoor and outdoor spaces, a specialist Pilates studio and a multi-court. These are designed to enhance the personal fitness journey and reinvigorate the soul.

A pavilion overlooking the azure waters of the South China Sea provides an inspiring space for al fresco yoga and mindful outdoor exercises from sunrise to sunset.

The wellness agenda is complemented by fresh, healthy and organic bio-light menus which are curated by world-class chefs.

The resort also offers creative classes, sports facilities, cooking sessions and expert presentations.

Club One is an exciting hub for all things active, including being home to the Kids Only club and One Tribe for teens and floodlit tennis and padel courts. Guests can also indulge in leisurely cycling, private tennis lessons and take part in silat classes.

For foodies, One&Only Desaru Coast is a culinary destination delight. They can discover the fresh, exotic flavours of Malaysia and other cuisines, served with flair and surrounded by breathtaking views, in a range of restaurants and drinking joints.

Ambara embraces the seasonal produce Malaysia offers. It captures the hearty, honest flavours of the coast and the ethos of field-to-fork.

Hoshi marries traditional Japanese sensibility with modern culinary techniques. Its top-notch omakase menus come with the season’s freshest ingredients and are paired with the finest Japanese sake and whiskies.

My favourite was the Dusky Monkey, which sits aloft the infinity pool.

The open-air lobby bar is flushed with deep timber wood reminiscent of the surrounding rainforests. It has an enjoyable selection of creative straits-inspired bites and a signature afternoon tea with tailor-made cocktails, regional rums, curated gins, artisanal tonics and fine whiskies.

Ember Beach Club, conceptualised by the critically acclaimed Chef Andrew Walsh, is a centre for barbecue, elevated and infused with Asian flavours. It is the definitive in relaxed seaside luxury, a revered destination for dining, an oasis for live music and a hub for water sports.

Celebrate the diverse flavours of Malaysia and embrace forgotten tropical ingredients at the dynamic cafe and bar Essential. You can beat the equatorial heat with its handcrafted cocktails as you lounge on the sunbed.

One&Only Desaru Coast also provides access to The Els Club Desaru Coast Golf Course, featuring both the Ocean Course, a 27-hole layout designed by four-time Major Champion Ernie Els, and the Valley Course, another 18 holes designed by Els in collaboration with longtime friend and fellow Major champion Vijay Singh.

The resort also has events and meeting spaces, including a grand indoor space with an outdoor lawn and a private verandah. The Ballroom can host up to 144 guests and the three boardrooms, with capacities of 20, 10 and 10, are ideal for executive meetings.

Nestled on the south-eastern shoreline of Malaysia, One&Only Desaru Coast is a spectacular tropical retreat that embodies the essence of the location, known as the “village of palms”.

Its next stage is the development of 50 private homes, available to own or rent. Scheduled for sale sometime this year, the private homes are designed with the same DNA as the resort, and will offer perks such as homeowner events, a global concierge service and more.

Next: Part 3 of my trip to Desaru Coast – Ember Beach Club.

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