Posted: 01 Jul 2012 09:25 PM PDT
Recently I made a trip to a truly luxurious destination, Idaman, a villa hidden away in the rain forest above Janda Baik, that's just 35 kms from Kuala Lumpur. If you are unfamiliar with this location, it's towards Kuantan, not far after the exit for the Genting Highlands. The village has a little fruit and vegetable market that's a popular stop for people traveling along the Karak Highway. Up in the hills behind the village, you'll find Tanarimba, a gated community set in over 700 acres of rainforest. One fifth of the area has been chosen for low-density development with an eco-sensitive philosophy, while the remaining 500 acres is being maintained as a forest reserve.
After driving through the guarded entrance to Tanarimba, we climbed for about 15 minutes, passing paved roads but very few houses. When we arrived at Idaman, my first thought was that it was massive, and my second was to note the wonderful peacefulness of the place. We were greeted by the charming hosts, Mr. and Mrs. Yap, who went out of their way to make sure that all our needs were met. We were then given a tour of the house, starting with the imposing entrance hall.
Climbing just a few steps, we entered the master bedroom, and when I realised that I would be sleeping here, I was thrilled. My room had a king-sized bed with sliding glass doors opening onto a huge balcony. The house, which sleeps 10, is built on multiple levels, and my room was almost at the top.
I felt as if I was floating amongst the treetops, looking over on a magnificent view of the jungle stretching way down below then on up to the mountainside beyond.
The walk-in closet was huge and the bathroom was even bigger, with a rain shower, a large Jacuzzi, two sinks and a bidet along with the WC.
In addition to the main door to the bedroom, there was a back entrance that led to a spiral staircase: up to the highest spot in the house, the office, and down to the main living room. This room was generously furnished with three couches, two armchairs and lots of cushions grouped around a large coffee table.
Two of the bedrooms were off the living room, one with a queen-sized bed and one with bunk beds, and they shared a bathroom. Going down to the lowest level gave access to the basement lounge, and two more bedrooms, both with queen beds and a shared bathroom.
The dining room and fully-equipped kitchen were on an in-between level and there was a pretty garden in the very centre of the house. On the level below there was and open-air lanai with dining table, lovely for an al fresco meal.
A little further down was the swimming pool, which beckoned enticingly from the landscaped garden, and I couldn't resist wandering to the tree house, an inspired addition that is perfect for a children's playhouse, a quiet read, or for my favourite choice, a nap.
Mrs. Yap is from Thailand, and she delighted us with a Thai meal for dinner: Tom Yam Gung, Som Tam (papaya salad), Thai style Red Snapper, Chicken in Pandan, Kailan and Mixed Vegetables served with rice, all very tasty and delicious. So much excellent food and fresh air made me somnolent. It wasn't long before I retired to bed with a good book so that I could relish a little quiet solitude before sleeping.
When I opened my eyes in the morning, the tall trees of the surrounding jungle were silhouetted against a red sky. It was just before dawn, and the birds of the montane forest were whistling and warbling to welcome another day. Who could sleep amid such beauty? I moved to the daybed on my balcony to welcome the rising sun. Then I made a quick coffee, and went out for a meander up the hill. I stayed on the road, but there are numerous trails within the nature reserve, which would be fun to explore.A Western breakfast was served and the morning passed all too quickly. We drove into Janda Baik for lunch, and I discovered why so many people stop there to pick up fresh produce. I bought passion fruit at a fraction of the price I'd pay in KL. Back at the house there was still time for a swim and a read, but inevitably it was time to leave. I must admit that it was difficult to tear myself away.
Idaman is filled with beautiful collector's items - sculptures, woodcarvings, original paintings and plenty of books. It's the perfect escape from the city, a haven in which to relax and gain nourishment for the soul. It gives new meaning to the words, "luxury tropical retreat", and the memories of my room in the treetops will lull me to sleep for many nights to come.
Reason to visit: to luxuriate in an exclusive rainforest villa that's within an hour's drive of Kuala Lumpur.
This villa belongs to the Avillion Private Collection, an exclusive group of rental properties that typically exceed expectations. The rental of Idaman is being offered at a special price of RM2,200++ a night for a limited time only, which includes breakfast. Other meals are available upon request.For further information and reservations, call 603-2730-9988 or visit the Avillion website at http://www.avillionprivatecollection.com/
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