Lucy Douglas checks into Pangkor Laut Resort, Malaysia.

Getting there:

From Kuala Lumpur airport, it's a four-hour transfer to Pangkor Marina (the hotel can arrange this for you). Then you'll have a 15-minute boat transfer to the resort, which is on a 120ha private island.

Check-in experience: Service at Pangkor Laut is exceptional. Everyone is effusively friendly. Staff greeted me by name as I stepped off the boat, and escorted me through the palm-flanked entrance (not just a press perk, I discovered from other guests).

Location: The island is all undulating hills of virgin forest with a craggy coastline giving way to smooth, creamy sand beaches. The main hub of the resort sprawls along the east coast, while the best swimming beach, aptly named Emerald Bay, is on the west side. The forest is teeming with flora and fauna, and there's a daily guided walk with the resident naturalist. If you do want to get in touch with civilisation, take a boat to explore the markets and temples of nearby Pangkor Island. But the real beauty of this resort is the peaceful seclusion


Room: I'm in a Spa Villa, one of the hotel's premium water-standing bungalows which is every bit as luxurious as you would expect. The design is traditional Malay style - rich timber floors and walls, palm shutters - with a chic, contemporary finish. Waking up with a fresh coffee courtesy of my in-room espresso machine and watching the sun rise from the lounger on my balcony was hard to beat.

Price: Entry rooms start at RM1,160 (NZ$368) a night in low season, and the Spa Villas start at around $670 a night. Rate includes the sprawling buffet breakfast and free Wi-Fi from your own USB adaptor, so you have an excellent connection no matter where you are in the resort.

What's so good about this place? The service, the setting, and the spa, which is the gem in the resort's crown. Don't expect a conveyor-belt massage; here it's about the full experience. All treatments start with a bath-house ritual that combines Japanese, Chinese and Malay bathing traditions, and there are a host of treatments to choose from that fuse Asian and international wellness therapies.

And the bad? You won't find heaps of evening entertainment or late-night drinking sessions: the last bar closes at midnight.

Bathroom: Huge, with a marble tub big enough for two and rainforest shower. Toiletries and towels in generous quantities, with extra touches such as bath salts.

Food and drink: There's plenty of choice of local and international cuisine across the resort's seven restaurants. Fancy a light lunch on the beach?
Chapman's Bar will sort you out. Romantic fresh seafood supper with decent wine? Book on the deck at Fisherman's Cove. My favourite was laid-back Uncle Lim's, which serves up the delicious Malay-Chinese home-cooking of its namesake, the octogenarian chef who still mans the hobs in the kitchen.

A room with a view? Hell yes. All rooms are ocean facing, although the water-standing villas in the Spa Village and Sea Village have the best vistas.

Exercise facilities: Gym, tennis and squash courts, and two pools. The one in the Spa Village is long enough to pull some decent laps. You can hike through the jungle to the beach: one route is 500m, but if you're feeling adventurous, take the steeply undulating 2.4km option, to work up a good sweat before arriving on the postcard-perfect sands.

Perfect for: Honeymooners and couples after a luxurious romantic getaway.