Valentine’s at Tioman

Japamala logoI decided to reward ourselves to yet another island resort getaway, and booked the weekend at the Japamala Resort on Tioman Island of Malaysia.  I had stumbled upon the resort while looking for something out of the ordinary some months earlier, and the stunning photography and billing as one of the world’s top 10 ultra boutique resorts were too much to pass up. I ponied up my plastic, and when Feb 12 came about, off my girl and I went!

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We spent the first night at the Jungle Sarang, and the remaining 2 nights at the resort’s Sea Cliff Chalet.  Despite the Jungle Sarang’ roomier interior (and finer price tag!), both of us loved the Sea Cliff Chalet a lot more because of the *duh* view and the improved privacy that the cliff unit offered.  Of the entire resort’s 14 units, only 2 are Sea Cliff Chalets – be sure to reserve that if you ever think of visiting Japamala.

Apart from snorkeling, catching up on reading and DVDs (oh boy they have a decent DVD library you can loan from), there really wasn’t much else to do.  But then again, that’s not the point you’d visit such resorts for in the first place ;-).  Although my better half wasn’t game to venture any further to try and catch sight of the local resident shark, and clownfish, it was still great fun to snorkel with her (given that it was her first time giving snorkeling a go!).

Food at the two restaurants was okay, but not great. You run out of options real quick when you take three meals  each day at the only 2 restaurants (Tamarind Terrance and Mandi Mandi) available on the island.  I even detected elevated levels of MSG in some instances *grimace*.

While the resort was certainly a step up from our New Year stay at Telunas, we left feeling that the overall experience was not worth the price we ended up paying.  The view was great, but outstanding hospitality and service should have been the norm, instead of the exception.

I should have a more calibrated sense of how Japamala fares against the resorts of Phuket after our next trip in April. More on that next time.

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.