There may not be an Eiffel Tower nor love lock bridge but, in Malaysia, romance is well and truly alive - and if it is good enough for Pavarotti, it is good enough for me.

Nestled in an ancient rainforest, on a private island with white sandy beaches and emerald waters, lies Pangkor Laut Resort.

Taking up the entire 120ha of Pangkor Laut Island, it is reached via a four-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur Airport and a 20-minute speedboat ride.


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Flying from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur aboard Malaysia Airlines

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Set along the Strait of Malacca, the dense ancient jungle is the first thing you see from the boat. It is only on closer inspection you see the nestled roofs of luxury suites.

It is only on closer inspection you see the peaks of luxury suites nestled amongst the fierce jungle. Photo / Supplied
It is only on closer inspection you see the peaks of luxury suites nestled amongst the fierce jungle. Photo / Supplied

You can understand why Luciano Pavarotti, one of the greatest tenors of all time, instantly fell for Pangkor Laut.

In 1994 the singer visited the tranquil island for the first time.

"This morning when I woke up, I went out and I was really moved, almost crying to see how beautiful it is, because this is really paradise," Pavarotti said.

Guests can now stay in the Pavarotti Suite, one of eight at the estate, all offering ultimate luxury and privacy across swathes of pristine rainforest.

Ultimate luxury and privacy are found in any of the eight estates set across acres of pristine rainforest. Photo / Supplied
Ultimate luxury and privacy are found in any of the eight estates set across acres of pristine rainforest. Photo / Supplied

The plush 71sq m Garden Villa, close to the main lodge and facilities, comes with a large open en suite, oversized outdoor bathtub and a porch high in the trees with views of the ocean.

Just make sure to lock the door whenever you leave, as the island's resident monkeys love to walk in and help themselves to the contents of the minifridge.

Being stranded on an island in ultimate luxury may sound good, but it's about to get better, as the Spa Village is truly the highlight of the island.

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This unique retreat extols the healing cultures of the region. Malaysia, with its diverse history of people and cultures, and vast abundance of natural resources, provides the backdrop for health rituals that are among the oldest in the world.

Tranquility was written all over the sea villas. Photo / Leah Tebbutt
Tranquility was written all over the sea villas. Photo / Leah Tebbutt

The abundance of Malay, Chinese and Indian practices makes this the ideal setting for complete rejuvenation. The three ethnicities knot together and create the culture that is Malaysia.

But the activities don't stop there, with a menu of watersports, sunsets cruises, jungle trekking and much more.

And to end the day and refuel the tank, one can enjoy one of the seven restaurants on the island. Uncle Lim's Kitchen is named after the chef who has been with the resort since its inception, the restaurant is built around a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea and delivers Chinese-style home cooking.

A feeling of love

Along the scenic, sandy Batu Ferringhi Beach in Penang is Malaysia's first deluxe hotel and resort.

With giant century-old rain trees taking prominence, the Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa has a 12ha sprawling landscaped garden with a holistic spa, 11 private villas, and guest suites large enough to fit a family.

Tranquility was written all over the sea villas. Photo / Leah Tebbutt
Tranquility was written all over the sea villas. Photo / Leah Tebbutt

Rasa Sayang means a "feeling of love" in Malay.

Inside the breezy resort are intricately carved wooden pillars inspired by plants native to the island.

Colourful paintings of birds and swaying native betel nut palms adorn the walls as long flowing batik fabrics are teased by the sea breeze, encapsulating the spirit of Penang.

The holistic spa with 11 private villa offers traditional healing practices. Photo / Supplied
The holistic spa with 11 private villa offers traditional healing practices. Photo / Supplied

The superbly lavish Premium King Rooms featured a living room, a large bathroom with multiple showers, a balcony with daybed and private soaking tub, as well as a complimentary minibar.

Guests of this wing also enjoy an afternoon high tea and cocktail hour before dinner at Rasa Lounge.

However, if you would rather save your money for the shopping, the Garden Wing offers just as much luxury for a lower price.

Browns, yellows and blues have been added to draw the beauty of nature into the rooms, creating a fresh, spacious and airy feel.

The wing has nine room types with suites ranging in size from 42-114sq m.

From here, there is direct access to the beach where you can take your pick of relaxing or adrenaline-filled activities.

The unique name, Rasa Sayang means a
The unique name, Rasa Sayang means a "feeling of love" in Malay. Photo / Supplied

If you want to burn calories, the well-equipped health centre has the latest equipment for a full-body workout.

But beware, as taking a stroll can well turn into a stop for a relaxing foot massage by the pool or in the peaceful garden.

At the end of a busy day, reward yourself at the open-air Spice Market Cafe among rainforest trees or air-conditioned comfort indoors. The casual dining experience is a scrumptious affair with great selections of local and international food served in the open kitchen that lets chefs interact with diners.

In fact - dreams are still being had of the best naan bread I have ever sunk my teeth into.

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Getting there

and

fly daily from Auckland to Kuala Lumpur.