We were invited to a wedding in Langkawi, an island about a one hour flight from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. It was in Datai Bay, which has two main accommodation options: the Andaman and the Datai. Each has its charms, and since we couldn’t decide between the two, we ended up staying at both. Here’s what I thought:
The Andaman was the slightly cheaper option, so we chose to stay there for the first three nights. The foyer of the Andaman is open air and on a very grand scale, with a thatched roof and plenty of exposed wooden beams and stone columns, which is a stunning introduction to the hotel.
The room was big enough for the four of us, with my partner and I having a double bed each, and the kids having one side each of the L shaped couch. We were on an upper level and the balcony looked straight out into the jungle. The room was really nicely decorated and the bathroom was clean and functional, with a big bath. The room came complete with a warning not to leave the sliding door open in case the resident monkeys decided to help themselves to our stuff!
The two things that got the biggest thumbs up from the kids were the breakfast buffet and the pool. The buffet was enormous and had its own waffle and pancake making station, which was a huge hit with the kids (oh, ok, and me!) And for the grown ups, you could help yourself to sparkling wine to compliment your breakfast, which in my view is the best way to start any day on holiday!
The pool at the Andaman was huge, with a little island in the middle that featured a water slide. The kids loved it and could have spent all day in there. The pool was also big enough that adults could avoid the hoards of children by swimming around the other side of the island.
The day spa at the Andaman was absolutely charming, set high up on the hillside. The treatment rooms were open air had a stunning view across Datai Bay. Everything went the way you would expect at a top class day spa, until I was handed a sling shot just as I was about to hop into my rose petal bath. This was apparently to scare off the monkeys, although I was told that I didn’t actually have to take a shot at them, just wave it around a bit. Given my previous experiences with monkeys, this didn’t exactly help me relax, and I kept one eye open the whole time!
The biggest disappointment at the Andaman was the Kids Club. I was quite looking forward to booking the kids in for a few hours to give us some time to ourselves, but it didn’t work out that way. The children were most unimpressed when ‘mini golf’ turned out to be one lonely golf club, with the kids having to dig their own holes in the sand to hit the ball into! The children ended up breaking out and reporting back to us that the staff hadn't even batted an eyelid at them when they made a run for it!
The other small disappointment was the food at the Malaysian restaurant on the beach. It was really bland and the restaurant lacked atmosphere, despite its beautiful setting. But these were the only two downsides to an otherwise fantastic experience.
The Datai is five stars and a step up in price from the Andaman. Although the foyer is not as ostentatious as the Andaman, the quality is evident throughout the hotel. The property is absolutely massive, and guests can get driven around in a buggy rather than trying to cover the whole place on foot (which we valiantly tried to do for the first five or so minutes before we gave up).
We stayed in a villa close to the beach and it was huge. The bathroom was about the size of our entire house. The whole villa had exceptionally high ceilings and was beautifully furnished with dark wood and white coverings. The villa was surrounded by jungle, and it had its own little decking area to sit on and watch the wildlife.
The Datai definitely wasn’t as child-friendly as the Andaman and there was no Kids Club (much to the kids' immense disappointment!), but they did have in-house babysitters (much to my immense relief). The Datai also had separate pools for adults and children (although no waterslides). Our friends stayed in a pool villa, which could house several families, and they had a lovely private pool surrounded by jungle.
The Datai had a couple of restaurant options, but for lunch, we really liked the beach bar. It was really laid back and the food was pretty good. It was really nice to sit so close to the ocean and look out at the islands (which we were told were actually Thailand!)
Again, the size of the breakfast buffet was astounding, but to be honest, we all preferred the buffet at the Andaman. However, the Thai restaurant on site was absolutely exceptional. The food was so fresh and so flavoursome and all of us ate way more than we intended. The staff in the restaurant were fantastic, and they even gave us a little momento to take home with us, which we still have up in our house to remind us of our wonderful stay.
So overall, my assessment would be that if you’re going to Langkawi with kids, choose the Andaman, but if you’re there for a romantic getaway, I would definitely go with the Datai.
Notes: Langkawi is about a one hour flight from KL.
Datai Bay is about a one hour taxi ride from the airport, and is on the north side of the island.