The Retreat is also known as Malaysia’s 1st luxury natural wellness getaway
By SHAZNI ONG
The Chinese New Year mood is still in the air, yet holidaymakers are already planning ahead for the next break.
For city dwellers who are planning for a quick getaway, The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat could be a good bet.
Located about two hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur, and a 15-minute drive from the city of Ipoh in Perak, The Banjaran is also known as Malaysia’s first luxury natural wellness getaway.
Nestled in a 22.19-acre (9ha) valley, the resort is cradled by lush tropical rainforest, geothermal hot springs, natural caves, cascading waterfalls and magical 260-million-year-old Paleozoic limestone hills.
Opened in January 2010, The Banjaran features a collection of 45 luxury gardens, waters and lake villas, a spa and wellness centre offering authentic Asian holistic wellness and spa treatments.
It is also the home for a host of unique natural intrinsic features that have made it an acclaimed self-contained hideaway for the ultimate relaxation, renewal and rejuvenation.
A Variety of Treatments
Deeply rooted in culture and traditions, the retreat offers traditional Malaysian massages.
The Banjaran GM Alex Castaldi said guests can actually take advantage of the different treatments at spa.
“From stress to weight management, we have therapies that can really fit any need. You can also choose Ayuverdic, or Chinese to Malay urut therapies.
“Guests have a variety of activities to do. Guests can also venture into our jungle track. They can have a private trainer if they wish, or they can just laze around.
“Our Chinese therapy also includes acupuncture. We have of course traditional Chinese doctors that our customers can consult with,” he said during a media familiarisation trip at The Banjaran recently.
The centre offers more than 40 types of holistic treatments and therapies that are inspired by the traditional practices of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures, using both pure and natural ingredients.
Holistic exercise disciplines like yoga, qi gong and tai chi are performed on the open deck that overlooks a hot spring lake against the breathtaking backdrop of its natural setting.
A relatively rare phenomenon, The Banjaran geothermal hot spring water flows naturally at the base of its hills.
This fresh hot spring water billows up at a rate of three million litres per day or approximately 2,000 litres per minute from the ground.
Its source is a deep underground reservoir fed by rainwater that slowly percolates downwards through the limestone hills and underlying granite.
While cascading through the rocks, the water collects minerals and dissolved ions; making it ideal to supply the retreat’s hot spring pools, feeding the steam cave and lake.
The geothermal hot spring dipping pools provide a relaxing soak that also aids in alleviating stressed muscles and tired joints.
The thermal steam cave which is fitted with a platform overlooking the body of crystal clear hot spring water with temperatures of 65°C to 70°C, presents a natural sauna that allows for restorative therapy to soothe, relax and detoxify.
For the more adventurous, guests may take off on a jungle walk trail through the dense, deep limestone hill forests of the Lost World of Tambun.
The jungle walk trail allows for the exploration and appreciation of unique flora and fauna like the uncommon, luminescent green, single-leafed plants called the Monophyllaea Horsfieldii which only grow on limestone-derived soils, swift-flowing waterfalls and mysterious caves.
Dining in a Cave
Besides relaxing at this green haven, guests can also dine inside one of the caves within The Banjaran.
While many might think that caves are “dark, dank and even scary”, it is not the case for The Banjaran.
Castaldi said the dining experience in a cave began many years ago when it was discovered by Sunway Group founder and chairman Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah.
The cave is also home to the hidden gem that is Jeff’s Cellar, a wine bar and fine dining restaurant which has gained traction by the community of the international culinary scene.
“You can see it’s a natural hole, it’s a natural hidden cave within the cave. We didn’t drill it. But of course, he needed a bar to entertain his VIPs and customers. So, he built a bar together with his wine cellar,” Castaldi said.
The cave was discovered some 15 years ago, and Cheah immediately knew that it could be transformed into a wine bar or a wine cave the moment he stepped into it.
“The first thing he did was he build his own wine cellar,” Castaldi said.
He said it started as a private cellar to host Cheah’s family members and close friends. Now, it has become an internationally recognised destination.
Last year, it made international headlines after being named in CNN Greece’s list of “Five Incredible Bars to Enjoy a Drink”, alongside other remarkable bars located in Germany, Namibia, South Africa and Jamaica.
“We believe we have about a million US dollar worth of wine inside. But of course, nobody really know because Tan Sri Cheah does this with his own money. We don’t know where he buys, how he buys and how much he pays,” Castaldi said.
Embodying ethereal lighting, intimate cave interiors and natural water features, unwinding over rare and organic wines delivers a whole new ambience and experience.
Besides having a wine cellar built into a cave and serving mouthwatering cuisine, The Banjaran presents the perfect setting for the ultimate in renewal and rejuvenation.
Castaldi, who is a hospitality industry veteran and has worked around Asia, the Middle East and the Seychelles, added that guests can really enjoy and surround themselves with nature, when they are at The Banjaran.
“We’ve seen an increasing number of customers coming from Europe and we had double-digit growth from Japan,” he said.