- Style Rustic-chic treehouses
- Setting Jungle-covered isle
Reached only by boat, just-remote-enough Japamala Resort on tiny Tioman Island is the ultimate back-to-nature escape. Joined by a series of canopy-skimming walkways, the hotel's luxury treehouses and cliff-clinging chalets are secluded and serene, promising rainforest-ringed privacy and vertiginous vistas of the South China Sea.
Need to know
- Rooms 13 chalets, including two suites.
- Rates Double rooms from $149.07 (MYR481), excluding tax at 6 per cent.
- More details Rates include buffet breakfast.
- Facilities Gardens, day spa, boutique, library, free WiFi in common areas. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, iPod dock, minibar, Samadhi toiletries.
- Poolside A curvaceous, seaside stunner, Japamala's main pool is complete with overwater cabanas and a soothing waterfall. There's a petite, older pool in a courtyard behind Tamarind restaurant, but the beachfront oasis is the prime spot for splashing.
- Check–out Midday; check-in, 2pm.
Children This is more of an adults' retreat – leave the smalls at home.
- Eco‐friendly When building the 13 chalets, the resort's natural environment wasn't altered in any way, so rooms are reached via winding bridges and walkways, and huge boulders inform the interiors of some of the rooms.
- Also Be sure to check flight availability with Berjaya Air before you book your room, as these planes fill up weeks in advance.
In the know
- Our favourite rooms With a day-bed cantilevered out over the ocean, the views from Seaview Chalet 16 take some beating. If privacy is your priority, plump for the Seaview Sarang, which has a cool waterfall pool, courtyard Jacuzzi and a secluded sun-deck.
- Packing tips Leave the sarong at home – there are colourful batik wraps to borrow in your room. Be sure to stash some hard-core insect repellent – the sandflies here are vicious.
- Also You'll need to be an early riser to nab one of the three cushioned cabanas that line the beach, but latecomers aren't left out: staff will happily spread sunloungers and bamboo mats on the sand.
Food and drink at Japamala Resort
- Hotel restaurant Breeze-blessed Tamarind restaurant is set in an open-sided pavilion between the beach and the pool, dotted with Buddha statues, solid wooden furniture and a series of ponds (mind your step!). Authentic Thai and Vietnamese dishes are the stars here, including zesty salads and lip-smacking seafood curries. Bountiful breakfasts and virtuous juices are also served. At the end of the jetty, Mandi-Mandi deals in classic Italian fare, such as pasta, pizza and steak.
- Dress code During the day, simply slip your sarong over your swimwear. Things aren't too fancy at night, either, with jewelled sandals and sundresses for the gals, and cotton shirts for the guys.
- Top table We liked the laid-back elegance of the overwater perches at Mandi-Mandi, cabana-style tables that jut out over the sea. For a more look-at-me locale, ask staff to set up a torch-lit table on the beach.
- Last orders Japamala isn't a late-night lush... expect things to wrap up around 10pm.
- Room service No, but there is a minibar stocked with snacks and wine.
- Hotel bar There's a little lounge in the Tamarind pavilion, overlooking the pool, or pop over to Mandi-Mandi for a freshly shaken fruit cocktail and chilled tunes. You can also order drinks in the cushioned salas down on the beach, which are perfectly placed to take in the sunset.