Batu Kurau’s Keukenhof-style chalets a tourist magnet

Chalet Latip D’Ayer Itam is a conducive place for relaxation and is also popular with durian lovers who make their way to Batu Kurau to feast on delicious durian kampung

By NADIA JUMRI / Pic BERNAMA

THE colourful triangular-shaped chalets set amid a rustic kampung environment, complete with a flowing river and natural greenery, are a sight for sore eyes.

Chalet Latip D’Ayer Itam in Kampung Air Itam, Batu Kurau, about 25km from Taiping, Perak, has been enjoying nearly full occupancy every day since the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) was enforced on June 10.

Besides being a conducive place for rest and relaxation, the resort — spread over a 3.24ha site and with a suspended bridge built over the nearby Sungai Lata Air Hitam — is also popular with durian lovers who make their way to Batu Kurau to feast on mouth-wateringly delicious durian kampung.

Among the resort’s striking features is the architectural design of some its chalets, inspired by the wedge-shaped roofs of the structures found in the world-famous tulip gardens of Keukenhof in Amsterdam, Holland.

The idea of building the Keukenhof-spired chalets came from the resort operator Abdul Muzhafar Abdul Manab, 25, who visited the tulip gardens when he was a law student at Oxford University in the UK.

After he completed his studies in 2018, he took over Chalet Latip D’Ayer Itam from his father Datuk Abdul Manab Abdullah, 64, who had opened the resort earlier that year.

Overwhelming Response

The resort initially had 12 ordinary chalets but, said Abdul Muzhafar, he was so fascinated with the triangular roof design that he built 20 new chalets based on that concept.

“When I took over the running of the resort, I wanted something fresh and interesting, and I remembered the triangular roof structures I saw in Holland.

“Over there, the shape of the roof allows melting snow to flow to the ground, but it is also suitable for our climate as it prevents rainwater from collecting on the roof,” he told Bernama in an interview last month.

Abdul Muzhafar, who operates the resort with his brother Abdul Muhaimin, 27, said after photographs of the new chalets he built went viral on social media sometime last year, they started receiving numerous bookings from the public.

“We had to increase our phone lines from one to five as we were getting so many calls for bookings,” he added.

Today, Abdul Muzhafar, who has a degree in law, has no regrets about not pursuing a legal career as he finds the tourism industry attractive and wants to develop his resort into an agro-tourism destination.

Although his resort was affected by the enforcement of the MCO since March 18, it was business as usual after the RMCO was announced.

“We’ve been getting overwhelming response…we also have tourists coming from Johor, Terengganu and Penang,” said Abdul Muzhafar, adding that guests are now being offered discounts of between 5% and 10% on room rates.

Frontline staff of hospitals, as well as police and army personnel involved in the battle against Covid-19 are being offered up to 25% discount and only need to pay about RM150 for a night’s stay. The rates, however, depend on the size of the chalets which can accommodate two to a maximum of 10 people each.

Agro-tourism

Abdul Muzhafar (left), who operates the resort with his brother Abdul Muhaimin, wants to develop his resort into an agro-tourism destination (pic: Bernama)

Work is currently in progress to add a swimming pool, hall, surau and flying fox structure to Chalet Latip D’Ayer Itam. These facilities are expected to be ready by September this year.

Abdul Muzhafar said he and his brother also plan to build Japanese-style chalets by early next year suited to backpackers and honeymooning couples.

He also said he has sent a working paper to the Department of Agriculture to request for a grant to help him harness Batu Kurau’s agro-tourism potential.

It was reported last month that the Perak state government plans to turn Larut Matang and Selama districts in Taiping into a durian hub by opening a durian park on a 100ha site in Batu Kurau.

State Agriculture, Fishery, Plantation and Food Security Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Yunus Jamhari was quoted as saying that the park is expected to attract durian lovers from all over the country, as well as international tourists.

Abdul Muzhafar reckons his resort is located on a “gold mine” and is eager to enjoy the spin-off from the hordes of visitors expected to pour into Batu Kurau.

“If they are looking for accommodation, our resort is just in the neighbourhood, so they don’t have to drive all the way to Taiping to spend the night.

“In the meantime, we want to tar the road leading to our resort, do some landscaping work and improve our facilities. When we expand our resort, we can also provide more job opportunities to the local villagers,” added Abdul Muzhafar, who now has eight full-time staff at his resort. — Bernama