An eye-catching Malaysian resort mixes pleasure and responsibility, finds P.K. Stowers.

If you look out to the coast when you fly into Kuala Lumpur at night, you could be forgiven for thinking you have accidentally arrived at Dubai.

No, the lush palm plantations haven't been replaced by desert, but that enormous palm-shaped structure jutting over a kilometre into the water sure seems familiar.

A closer look will show that rather than being built on reclaimed land, the Golden Palm Tree Resort is constructed on a series of concrete piers. It overlooks the Straits of Malacca, one of the busiest waterways in the world.

Located in Sepang - 40 minutes' drive from Kuala Lumpur airport - the Golden Palm Tree opened in late 2010 and has attracted a lot of attention due to its mix of eco-friendly ambitions and luxurious services and design.


It has 392 over-water villas, each with a private deck and Polynesian-influenced decor. It also has seven restaurants and bars, a day spa and fitness centre, and an infinity swimming pool looking over the straits.

"Enjoying the historic coastline is one of the reasons our guests come here," said Shim Chee Hong, assistant director of sales.

"We are just a short distance from the Sepang Riverine Mangrove Sanctuary and a nearby elephant sanctuary, so we make every effort to ensure it is kept as pristine as possible."

The resort proudly proclaims its eco-credentials and guests are invited to view the scenery and wildlife using a variety of non-fossil-fuel-burning transportation, such as bicycle and kayak tours.

However, if high-powered vehicles are more to your taste, just 25 minutes' drive away is the Sepang F1 Circuit - home to the recently held Malaysian Grand Prix. In fact, the resort hosted the Red Bull F1 team - including race winner Sebastian Vettel - and the Force India F1 team.

Getting there: Low-cost airline now flies from Christchurch to Paris, via Kuala Lumpur, and premium economy passengers can enjoy lie-flat beds. One-way flights average about $969.

Further information: Visit Tempo Holidays for more about Malaysian holidays.

P.K. Stowers travelled to Malaysia with assistance from AirAsia and Tempo Holidays.