Need a break from the day-to-day in a far-flung, little-known destination? Health & Fitness editor Lucy Gornall headed to an island six-and-a-half thousand miles away for exactly that…
Whether you love it or hate it, our lives are busier than ever. So, taking time off to recharge the batteries is essential and I for one was desperate for some time away – far, far away from an office, a jam-packed diary and a rigid routine.
In pursuit of this much-needed peace, I jetted off to Langkawi, an archipelago consisting of 99 islands on Malaysia’s west coast. When a friend who’d visited said ‘Honestly, there’s nothing to do but relax’, I was sold. Here’s why you will be too…
1. Luxury accommodation
I stayed at the Four Seasons Langkawi on the main island, which meant I had everything at my fingertips. A relaxing spa and wellness centre, plenty of active, fitness-based activities, on-site eateries and resort’s Rhu Bar – there are few better pairings than island life and a fruity cocktail – and an abundance of nature to distract me from a buzzing work phone.
I start my week of chill waking up to a picture-postcard image; the resorts villas all overlook a 1.8km stretch of private beach – a white strip of sand by a sparkling, bright blue sea.
Other nearby accommodation options on the island include the family-friendly Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa and the five-star Datai Langkawi resort located within a 10-million-year-old rainforest. Alternatively, nothing is to much trouble at The Danna, located in Telega Harbour Park, close to the island’s famed cable car and sky bridge in Pantai Kok. Complementary welcome massages, sweetcorn ices served at the Insta-tastic pool, a charming piano bar and exceptional staff are just four of the many reasons to stay here.
2. Ultimate spa relaxation
Several resorts on the island have on-site spas, so there’s plenty of relaxation on top. The Four Seasons’ Geo Spa was one of my first ports of call during my stay, where the offer of a Feminine Flow caught my attention.
Not for everyone, this is two hours aimed at promoting reproductive health and supporting emotional wellbeing. First your intimate area is given a gentle steam, apparently to tighten the pelvic floor, followed by a warm bath and a massage, in which hot and cold packs are placed on my lower back and lower abdomen, respectively. I was a bit alarmed to start, but soon relaxed and promptly fall asleep half an hour post-treatment. Oh, and my digestive system was given a wake-up call too.
3. Exhilarating day trips
We’re all aware of the positive impact that the great outdoors has on our wellbeing, and visitors to the island are truly spot for choice when it comes to opportunity to get back to nature.
Delving into the island’s Unesco Geopark opens your eyes to crabs, mysterious mangroves, monkeys and many more enchanting animals. I opted for a Mangrove & Eagles boat tour with one of the resort’s naturalists – but there are similar tours with other operators on the island. Did you know that in a pack of monkeys, it’s one monkey’s job to stand guard and protect the area?
Gliding through the water is incredibly calming, and I forgot about anything other than the sound of birds and the odd rustling of unknown animals in the mangroves.
There’s also the option to go off on an adventure alone around the island; I found exploring the island’s paddy fields on a push bike exhilarating.
4. Amazing water sports
Water sports are in abundance here. I tried paddleboarding, booked through the resort, as well as jet skiing, catamaran sailing, windsurfing and kayaking – a whole host of ways to keep the body moving without feeling like you are sticking to a punishing routine, while enjoying sunshine, the island’s crystal clear blue waters and fresh air.
5. Flavour-packed local cuisine
If you can eat healthily anywhere, it’s here. From the moment you wake, to the moment you fall back to sleep at night, you’re fed the freshest, most mouthwatering food, and just-caught seafood is brought in on the daily boat. Curries, noodle-based dishes and satay are popular but there are also European home comforts including fry-ups and pancakes. Even if you have an allergy or intolerance you’ll be spoilt for choice.
6. Ease of travel
A number of airlines fly to Langkawi, often via Malaysia’s bustling capital Kuala Lumpur, including BA and Singapore Airlines, with prices for a return flight starting from as little as £378. Low-cost carrier Air Asia also operates flights from key locations within Asia such as Penang, Tokyo and Shanghai to the island, so it would be a great add-on to an existing trip.