First look: The US$60m refurbishment of Malaysia's iconic Datai Langkawi jungle resort

Datai Hotels and Resorts has unveiled images of the refurbished interiors and exteriors of The Datai Langkawi resort, following a US$60m (€48.7m, £43.4m) overhaul.

The images give a first look at how the independelty-owned property will look once it reopens in July 2018, following a substantial 10-month renovation, which has included a remodelling of the interiors of the guestrooms, suites, villas and public areas.

The project, situated next to a 10 million-year-old rainforest on Datai Bay, has been led by Didier Lefort from Paris studio DL2A, who designed the original resort alongside Australian architect Kerry Hill in 1993.

The pair won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2001 for their efforts – which included setting the main building back on a forest ridge 40m (131.2ft) above the sea level and 300m (984.2ft) back from the ocean in order to preserve the beauty of the coastline.

In a statement, Lefort said the approach to the revamp of the resort again “marries simplicity, modernity and creativity with inspirations from the local environment, culture and materials.”

As with the original design – inspired by Malay, Chinese and Indian cultural heritage – the latest interjections using predominantly natural local materials in order to give the resort a primary sense of belonging to the jungle.

The accommodation has been refreshed with lighting enhancements, new technology and a warm colour palette, with several new rooms and suites also added to the resort. Three rainforest Pool Villas have been added to the existing five, all located along the Datai River which runs through the 750-hectare rainforest. They are joined by a new 3,500sq m (37,600sq ft), five-bedroom villa, called The Datai Estate, which is one of the largest of its kind in Asia.

Other new amenities include a dedicated Nature Centre, inspired by tribal bamboo longhouses, which will house a library and a tea corner offering a range of wild traditional Malay tisanes beneficial to health. Mini laboratories will enable guests to discover more about the marine and rainforest environment that surrounds them.

The resort’s Datai Spa is also being expanded, with a new air-conditioned treatment room supplementing the existing four open-air spa villas and a dedicated Bastien Gonzalez manicure and pedicure studio.

According to Datai Hotels and Resorts, “the spa draws heavily on local traditions and includes a treatment list based on the Malay concept of ramuan or ‘potions’, made by infusing oils with hand-picked medicinal foliage from the herb garden and surrounding rainforest.”

The list of treatments includes The Ramuan Ritual and Ramuan Massage as well as Tungku Batu, performed by highly trained and skilled therapists.

The extension of The Pavilion and The Dining Room restaurants, along with the rebuilding and relocation of the Fitness Centre to the beachfront, complete the refurbishment.

“We have a duty to preserve the legacy of this extraordinary resort and the time was right for a major refurbishment, over two decades since it was built,” said Arnaud Girodon, The Datai Langkawi's general manager.

“We are confident the new incarnation of The Datai Langkawi will broaden its appeal across continents and generations whilst delighting our loyal repeat guests, many of whom see this as a second home. We are now ready to embark on a new chapter for The Datai Langkawi and are looking forward to the journey.”

Malaysia  Datai Langkawi  Didier Lefort  DL2A  Kerry Hill  
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Didier Lefort to take on Datai Langkawi's 'most substantial enhancement' in 23 years

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