A few changes have taken place in 9 years and the resort plans to focus on providing the best customer experience for its guests
by ASILA JALIL
SOME nine years ago, Siti Suriah Taib from Singapore decided to take a break and chose Langkawi as her getaway.
She had often thought of coming back to Langkawi since her last visit in the 80s. However, since she was not too familiar with the island, she decided to surf the net and ended up staring at wonderful pictures of a brand new hotel, The Danna Langkawi.
Out of curiosity, Siti Suriah booked a stay at the hotel with her two nieces and a grandniece.
“However, when I called, they told me the resort might not be ready for us yet. A few weeks later, I received a call from them and they said I could go and stay there. They also told me I would be their first guest!
“The facilities were all ready and we were the only ones around.
A few weeks ago, Siti Suriah had yet another pleasant surprise. Apparently, The Danna Langkawi’s management was planning the resort’s 9th anniversary celebration.
GM Aamir Khan thought it would be nice to invite Siti Suriah as the hotel’s first guest back at The Danna Langkawi to enjoy the hotel’s new offerings and facilities.
Khan, who returned to the resort in 2018 after a break in 2012, was especially elated as Siti Suriah was the first guest when he was the first GM.
However, to reconnect with Siti Suriah, Khan had to fly back to the US to look for her name card which had her details.
Luck was on his side as it was found at the basement of his house. He rang up Siti Suriah, who was neither expecting a call from him nor planning a visit to The Danna.
“It was a pleasant surprise. Due to the nature of my job as an architect, I am often away for work travels.
“But on the day Khan called, I was actually in office and the call got connected to me. We had a chat over the phone and I was delighted to get an invitation to come back,” said Siti Suriah.
Siti Suriah and her family, who arrived two days before the Dec 8 celebration, were treated with a pleasant surprise. A red carpet was laid out for her and she was escorted to the Royal Imperial Suite by Khan and a few other staff.
The suite comprises a private infinity pool overlooking the sea and an outdoor sundeck for those who would want to enjoy some time in the sun.
The suite also has a grand dining area, a separate living room and a master bedroom with a walk-in wardrobe. The opulent suite fit for a king has hosted various VIPs, royalties and country leaders.
On the day of the celebration, the staff were all dressed in the resort’s official blue polo tee. They gathered by the pool in the morning to celebrate the eventful day — a tradition that has become an annual event.
Siti Suriah was then led to the garden by the pool to plant the “mayang sari” tree. It wasn’t just any tree-planting ceremony as it holds a special meaning of its own for both Siti Suriah and Khan.
A cake-cutting ceremony was also held to commemorate the big day, true to The Danna’s principle to ensure its guests a memorable experience throughout their stay.
“Coming back after nine years, it is nice to see how this place has developed,” she said.
Siti Suriah said she was also keen on trying The Terrace, an Italian restaurant that is one of the resort’s newer offerings.
“The first thing I checked about The Danna when I got the invitation was the food. I love trying new food and I can’t wait to try what the new restaurant has to offer,” she said.
Siti Suriah came back to the resort with eight other family members for four days to share the big day with the resort’s staff and her loved ones.
Away, but Not Too Far Off
The Danna is located adjacent to the Telaga Harbour Park. The resort stands out with its grand architecture, set against the second- highest mountain in the island, Gunung Mat Cincang, overlooking the far-flung turquoise Andaman Sea and the Marina.
The resort spans across 8.74 acres (3.54ha) and is visible from across the harbour. Surrounded by lush green hills and the ocean, The Danna stands out as a superb place to unwind.
The resort’s remoteness from the main public beach Pantai Cenang extends exclusivity for its visitors.
“Any resort operator will look for a peaceful space for guests to relax. Our beach is undisturbed and guests can spend hours there without getting disturbed,” Khan told The Malaysian Reserve.
The serene location is the prime reason for The Danna to be a top choice for those who have a penchant for a relaxing vacation — away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Married couples and retirees across the globe — Europe, Middle East and Australia — are the regulars of the resort.
The Danna also boasts a private beach where guests can enjoy the view of multiple yachts sailing during the day.
Famed for its intimate setting, The Danna Langkawi is an idyllic spot for guests to ease into the evening with romantic meals.
It also has a dedicated space for young guests such as playroom and extensive pools. The Danna’s kids club features daily scheduled activities and games from 12pm to 7.30pm. Some of the activities include fish feeding, painting and jewellery making. Babysitters are also available, with an additional fee.
Delight Awaits In and Outside the Resort
Telaga Harbour Park at Pantai Kok in Langkawi on the western coastline used to be a quiet little fishing village. It has now developed into a modern marina equipped with berthing facilities for small and mega yachts.
Besides the marina, Perdana Quay — which is a harbourside complex — houses restaurants and shops, and offers convenience for guests to take an evening stroll, as well as enjoy sumptuous food outside of the resort compound.
Among the delicacy options available for visitors at the quay are Asian, Middle-Eastern and Western food.
Guests can also opt to enjoy Langkawi’s panoramic attractions such as the cable car, pedestrian cable-styled Skybridge and the Seven Wells Waterfall that are within 2km perimeters from the resort.
With all these activities that guests can enjoy, in-house guests are spoilt for choices without the need to leave The Danna’s compound.
The five-storey building features 125 colonial-inspired rooms and suites, each comes with a private balcony where one can admire the ocean from various angles.
The hotel rooms start from Merchant room, sized at 60 sq m, to the grand Royal Imperial Suite at 600 sq m.
There are also 10 beachfront villas sprawling along Pantai Kok and built with a private pool each.
The size of the villas ranges from 490 sq m to 1,080 sq m. There are nine units of one-bedroom villas and a unit of two-bedroom villa.
The guest room also provides extensive space to accommodate a four-poster King bed or two single beds with a spacious bathroom that comes with twin vanities.
“The space each unit offers is our luxury. When people stay at a resort, they want to stay for over seven nights, and you would not want to be restricted to a tiny space when you stay that long,” Khan said.
Luxury in the Design
The Danna scores points for its open floor plan as the indoors flows into the outdoors with several spaces separated only by tall arches.
It carries a colonial-Mediterranean theme with high ceilings and patterned tiles across the resort — the theme that takes guests back in time makes The Danna stands out against other resorts in Langkawi.
“The uniqueness of the resort has always been the theme. When we opened it, we wanted to make something very unique and we were doing a lot of brainstorming.
“The relevant team travelled a lot to get ideas on the design and we came up with this idea of British-Malaya era. We put long windows with colonial style,” Khan explained.
The corridor that has The Planters and Straits & Co restaurants offers a beautiful view of the courtyard on one end and the swimming pool on the other.
It also stands true to its name — The Breezeway — as you could feel light breeze flow throughout the day.
Guests can enjoy the breeze at the multiple seating areas placed along the corridor and the courtyard, which also houses a pond and various types of plants.
The Planters is open for breakfast and dinner, and it offers a variety of Western and Asian-inspired cuisine, while Straits & Co which operates from 11am to 6pm daily is a casual dining cafe that serves both local and Western snacks.
Both the restaurants have an outdoor seating area that overlooks the pool and the Andaman Sea.
Khan said the theme of the hotel has inspired the choice of chefs for the restaurants.
Some of them are from the subcontinent such as India and Pakistan, ensuring customers experience the meals with a hint of local touch.
The resort also has a library, games room, billiards room, a gym and a spa. Guests can unwind in the lap of luxury at the resort’s three-tiered infinity pool, the biggest infinity pool on the island.
When it first opened, The Danna’s occupancy stood at 11% and it has flourished ever since. The occupancy rate now stands at 60% and it welcomes new guests and a high number of repeat guests.
“We have guests who come here every year and some would stay for a month. They like the unique setting and want to experience Malaysian culture and hospitality. The Danna staff has done a brilliant job in providing that experience for them.
“Some guests are very adventurous and will request for the staff to take them to the village, and my staff would do just that. They’d show the guests around their hometown to give them a memorable experience,” Khan said with pride.
Khan stressed that the staff is the resort’s biggest assets.
“We hire people with good behaviour and not based on their (academic) qualifications. We look for natural people, those who are eager to serve the customers,” he said.
The Danna holds true to its core value which is “customer obsession”, doing whatever it takes to create a personalised guest experience.
The top-notch customer service, along with its luxurious facade, has earned the resort multiple awards.
TripAdvisor Travellers Choice named The Danna Langkawi as the No 1 Luxury Hotel in Malaysia for six consecutive years since 2013 and the No 1 hotel in Malaysia since 2015.
Enhancements for a Luxury Stay Continue
Moving forward, Khan said the resort will undergo a soft refurbishment next year to replace the mattresses and change the electrical sockets in the rooms. Expansion of villa is also well underway. However, Khan is keeping it down as the projects would be great surprises for guests, old and new.
“It is not a renovation, but just a soft refurbishment for the resort. The Danna Langkawi is still very much in good condition” he said.
Khan added that a few changes have taken place in nine years and the resort plans to focus on providing the best customer experience for its guests.