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Ritz Carlton Langkawi Malaysia [Master Thread]

Ritz Carlton Langkawi Malaysia [Master Thread]

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Old Mar 20, 19, 2:35 pm
  #46  
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Booked myself 4 nights at the Ritz. I'm not usually a fan of Ritzes but this one looks rather wonderful. GM confirmed the upgrade for me as an Ambassador would be a Grand Oceanfront Villa with is rather generous, and which looks gorgeous. This took me over the edge and got me booking here instead of the other options I was considering (Andaman, and in Phuket the Naka Island). At a rate of $370/night, and paired with Citi prestige this is a bit higher than the other options, but quite reasonable once 4NF is factored in. I'm sure I'll be spending quite a bit of money onsite and at the spa — and will happily do so to reward the resort for generously pre-upgrading me.

Will report back.
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Old Mar 23, 19, 1:11 pm
  #47  
 
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(Please delete)

Last edited by ChocolateFactory; Apr 14, 19 at 7:49 am
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Old Apr 14, 19, 7:54 am
  #48  
 
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I’m currently staying here and I’m really looking forward to checking out tomorrow.
Staff lacks training, nothing is working. It’s a complete mess.
They’ve been open for 1.5 years and it feels like they’ve been open for 1.5 DAYS.

DO NOT STAY HERE.

I’m just feeling constantly annoyed at the incompetence. Everybody is very friendly, but they don’t seem to know anything about how a hotel like this should work. Clearly management has neglected their training.
The St. Regis was MILES above this.
Yes, the rooms are nicer here than at the SR, but the SR was professional.
The only professionals here are the three INTERNS (!) from European hospitality schools. They are well aware that we’re not happy (a LOT has gone wrong) and management hasn’t even tried to reach out to us.
I honestly can’t wait to leave.
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Old Apr 14, 19, 8:26 am
  #49  
 
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Originally Posted by ChocolateFactory View Post
Iím currently staying here and Iím really looking forward to checking out tomorrow.
Staff lacks training, nothing is working. Itís a complete mess.
Theyíve been open for 1.5 years and it feels like theyíve been open for 1.5 DAYS.

DO NOT STAY HERE.

Iím just feeling constantly annoyed at the incompetence. Everybody is very friendly, but they donít seem to know anything about how a hotel like this should work. Clearly management has neglected their training.
The St. Regis was MILES above this.
Yes, the rooms are nicer here than at the SR, but the SR was professional.
The only professionals here are the three INTERNS (!) from European hospitality schools. They are well aware that weíre not happy (a LOT has gone wrong) and management hasnít even tried to reach out to us.
I honestly canít wait to leave.
What went wrong?
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Old Apr 14, 19, 8:36 am
  #50  
 
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Originally Posted by ChocolateFactory View Post
Iím currently staying here and Iím really looking forward to checking out tomorrow.
Staff lacks training, nothing is working. Itís a complete mess.
Theyíve been open for 1.5 years and it feels like theyíve been open for 1.5 DAYS.

DO NOT STAY HERE.

Iím just feeling constantly annoyed at the incompetence. Everybody is very friendly, but they donít seem to know anything about how a hotel like this should work. Clearly management has neglected their training.
The St. Regis was MILES above this.
Yes, the rooms are nicer here than at the SR, but the SR was professional.
The only professionals here are the three INTERNS (!) from European hospitality schools. They are well aware that weíre not happy (a LOT has gone wrong) and management hasnít even tried to reach out to us.
I honestly canít wait to leave.
Yes, they are overly (and often falsely) friendly, but anytime something deviates from established protocols theyíre absolutely clueless on how to proceed. But I wouldnít be as radical as you: itís a great property (a few hiccups on the hard product as well) and a relaxed atmosphere. Just relax and chill.
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Old Apr 14, 19, 12:13 pm
  #51  
 
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Decided on booking a last minute getaway over Easter to Langkawi as it's been on my 'to visit' list for a while. Was intending to stay here but seems the reviews are pretty mixed.

Actually, it seems to be the case that for each of the RC, St. Regis and Andaman there are those that love and dislike each property. Have no idea where to stay now!
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Old Apr 14, 19, 2:03 pm
  #52  
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@lost_in_translation — i haven't had time to write a full review, but before you make any rash decisions, let me just go out on a limb and mention how great this property is. You should definitely stay here, few things come as close to being as good.
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Old Apr 14, 19, 4:31 pm
  #53  
 
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Originally Posted by helvetic View Post
@lost_in_translation ó i haven't had time to write a full review, but before you make any rash decisions, let me just go out on a limb and mention how great this property is. You should definitely stay here, few things come as close to being as good.
Noted!
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Old Apr 14, 19, 4:35 pm
  #54  
 
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On my stay list in May : RC, StR, Aloft and Westin.
@helvetic : PLS find little time
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Old Apr 14, 19, 7:20 pm
  #55  
 
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Just a short list of some things that went wrong:

Mobile checkin, upgraded to beach villa. Thanked them for that profusely in the mobile chat.
Arrived at the hotel, was told we have been assigned a rainforest villa. When I politely asked what happened to the beach villa, he says he’ll check. When he comes back, he tells me it is closed for maintenance for 6 days. Two beach villas are bookable in the app and I ask if there is a manager available (thought there might have been a misunderstanding). Suddenly the beach villa is magically available after all (“it already fixed, you lucky!”), but I will need to wait 45 minutes for it to be ready.
They didn’t have to upgrade me, but I am now really angry. I really hate being lied to.

They take us to the beach restaurant to wait for our villa to be ready. Service is slow.
After over an hour, I ask them if they have an update on the villa. They call the front desk: “Sorry, not ready yet.”
When I ask if they khow much longer it will take (we didn’t want to spend the day in the restaurant): “Sorry, don’t know”
In general, the staff’s English isn’t great. First time ever I have encountered that at “luxury” hotel.

So I complain about this experience in the mobile chat and we decide to go back to the front desk to at least get our swimwear, so we can wait by the pool instead. When we arrive, their German intern (I’m German as well) tells us the villa is ready and takes us there. He’s super professional and apologizes for the experience. He really couldn’t have done a better job. The villa is stunning and very private (villa 19). Other beach villas are right next to the “public” sunbeds, not private at all). So though still annoyed by the check-in experience, I am now looking forward to a relaxing stay. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

We go to the beach and are ignored by the staff member there. There weren’t a lot of people there.
We had to get our towels ourselves (which obviously would have been his job to give us) and ask for water.
At the St. Regis, they will immediately hand you a towel when you enter the beach, serve you cold water and hand you a menu. This may sound petty, but our villa usually would have cost 1000€ or so per night. Either make it self service or train people to do their job.

Later we went to the other beach restaurant with the adult pool (Horizon).
My girl-friend ordered a coconut, which arrived after over half an hour (they must have forgotten her order).
After having a shower in our villa, we went back there to enjoy the sunset. It was absolutely beautiful and we would have loved to have dinner here. Unfortunately they were blasting trashy party music on max volume, including a German song with a chorus of: “Do you want to take drugs with me?” (yes, really - in Malaysia!)
Obviously this completely ruined what could have been a romantic atmosphere and we just left as quickly as possible.

So we walk back to our room and then order a buggy to take us to their Malaysian restaurant. They confirm with us we will be 2 people going there. When we arrive, they tell us we will have to wait 40 minutes for our food. Maybe we would prefer to go to one of the other restaurants?
Fewer than 1/4 of the tables were occupied. Granted, it’s also the breakfast restaurant - maybe they have fewer resources in the kitchen in the evening. But why didn’t they let us know we need a reservation when we ordered the buggy?
My girl-friend is now really hungry and we don’t want to go somewhere else again. So we ask if they could just give us some bread at least while we wait for the food, then it would be alright.
It is clear from the waiter’s reaction that this is not a request she has heard before. After a little back and forth she agrees to ask the chef if they could do that, but it’s quite clear she thinks it’s a very strange idea. Finally they say yes. We get a table and some bread and butter, but no knives. We don’t even bother to ask for knives at this point.
Finally a great young waiter comes to our table who is very professional and speaks perfect English. We learn that he is a Dutch-Vietnamese intern from a Swiss hospitality school. He sees the knives are missing and gives us perfect service. Unfortunately, when the food arrives, one dish is cold and we have to ask him to re-heat it.
After we have finished our meal, there is no service anymore. My girl-friend says the intern must have gone home for the night. I have to go inside and ask for the dessert menu myself (we waited for 15 minutes or so). Indeed he’s nowhere to be seen, so again, apparently the intern was the only one with proper training.
I also ask where the bathroom is and the waiter shows me the way. She asks me how my dinner was, to which I just smile. “Ahh, too long wait, right? So sorry.” - no, actually we didn’t have to wait that long for the food! It was everything else that made this an annoying situation. It is evident that the staff simply learned that they have to ask how the dinner was etc., but have no deeper understanding of how service in a restaurant usually works (and I don’t blame them, this really is on management).
When we leave and ask for a buggy back to our villa, the German intern comes to pick us up (I had messaged him in the meantime and let him know about how all this had gone). Again, very professional of him to make sure he would be informed when we leave etc. - perfect service. We have a friendly conversation with him and he says he is very sorry. But it’s also very obvious that he is aware of these issues, it doesn’t come as a surprise to him.
But also he seems absolutely shocked when we tell him what kind of music they were playing in the beach restaurant earlier that day.
Of course he can’t share details about the background, but they seem to know very well that the staff needs a LOT more training.

We then go to bed and realize the A/C in our room is broken. Two engineers show up quickly, but they tell us it would take a long time to fix the problem. So we either have to sleep in a hot room or move. As it was in the middle of the night, we just stay in the villa. I hardly slept that night because it was so hot.
This was of course unfortunate, but at least they handled this case well.

They spend always the whole next day fixing the A/C, which was a bit inconvenient, but I
guess these things can happen at any hotel. After we come back from the Horizon pool (this time with more appropriate music, seems like our feedback has helped), a bottle of champagne and some cake is waiting for us in our room, accompanied by a letter of apology from the German intern.
We don’t have time to drink it, but appreciate the gesture.
We shower and go back to Horizon for sunset drinks. They seat us by the bar, but after that, we are again completely ignored and I have to ask for the menu (after 5-10 minutes, with several staff members in front of and around us).
After finishing our drinks, while not hungry, we decide to check out the other restaurants, so we ask for a buggy to take us to the Chinese fine-dining restaurant. They inform us that we would share a ride with another couple, fine.
It takes them over half an hour (the resort really isn’t that big) when the other couple finally is informed their buggy has arrived. We simply follow them (not sure if we’d get separate buggies now or what, since they didn’t inform us). Then they tell us, sorry, the buggy isn’t coming after all, we should go back inside. At this point, all four of us just give up and we walk. It turns out to be a very short walk! Ridiculous to make us wait that long for a buggy.

Etc. etc.

Despite them being well aware of all the issues (I messaged the friendly German intern throughout our stay, sharing feedback in a polite way), management never reached out to us. For me that’s simply unacceptable. The interns are doing an AMAZING job straightening out management’s mistakes here, but it seems that management is simply absent. Apparently the GM’s son is sick, but at least SOMEONE from management really should have reached out. It really is a “home alone” kind of thing, where the whole resort seems to be managed by three young interns.

This was a much longer comment than intended. To sum it up:
While a bit artificial, the grounds are pretty, the beach is good (much better than at the SR).
But the service level is a disaster. Staff has way too little training and there is a language barrier.
If this was a “soft opening” at 50% off, it could have been forgiven.
But they have been open for 1.5 years and room rates were 500–600$ and up for a base room.
It’s just awful.
While the issues may seem small, there was almost constantly something that went wrong, and that’s enough to ruin a stay.

The St. Regis really has MUCH better service and the food is better, too (though we didn’t eat at the “fine dining” restaurant at the RC, so I can’t comment on that). The only downside with the SR is the beach.

Last edited by ChocolateFactory; Apr 14, 19 at 8:59 pm
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Old Apr 14, 19, 8:49 pm
  #56  
 
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Another perfect example for the level of training at breakfast today:
Someone was arranging the croissants by hand wearing one glove - and using both hands.
He had obviously been trained to arrange the croissants and to use a glove.
But the connection of using the glove to arrange them seems to have been lost on him.
So he was basically touching every single croissant with his bare hand.

Maybe I’m overly critical now, but I’m really, really annoyed now, especially considering we paid more than at the St. Regis.

Last edited by ChocolateFactory; Apr 14, 19 at 8:58 pm
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Old Apr 14, 19, 9:08 pm
  #57  
 
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Originally Posted by ChocolateFactory View Post
Iím currently staying here and Iím really looking forward to checking out tomorrow.
Staff lacks training, nothing is working. Itís a complete mess.
Theyíve been open for 1.5 years and it feels like theyíve been open for 1.5 DAYS.

DO NOT STAY HERE.

Iím just feeling constantly annoyed at the incompetence. Everybody is very friendly, but they donít seem to know anything about how a hotel like this should work. Clearly management has neglected their training.
The St. Regis was MILES above this.
Yes, the rooms are nicer here than at the SR, but the SR was professional.
The only professionals here are the three INTERNS (!) from European hospitality schools. They are well aware that weíre not happy (a LOT has gone wrong) and management hasnít even tried to reach out to us.
I honestly canít wait to leave.
staying here as well and had similar experiences like you did. As an Ambassador I did not get offered any benefits nor did they ask which amenity we would like to choose - I was actually addressed as a "Bonvoy member". First room we got was full of mosquitos - maybe 100+ flying around. They brought a few bottles of spay cans and expected us to sleep there. Had to push them for a new room.

Don't I get a 100 USD compensation when they do not offer ne a Platinum" amenity? How do I claim it?
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Old Apr 14, 19, 9:10 pm
  #58  
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
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Are you staying here right now? Feel free to send me a PM.
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Old Apr 14, 19, 10:52 pm
  #59  
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Ritz-Carlton Langkawi ‚ÄĘ a true hidden gem

The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi

1 Review | 100% Recommended

The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi

Jalan Pantai Kok Teluk Nibung, Langkawi MY 07000

Ritz-Carlton Langkawi • a true hidden gem (92 Photos)

The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi

Recently stayed at the Ritz Langkawi for a 4-night stay with my mom. Overall, the hotel is absolutely wonderful and this was one of my best stays ever, bar none.

Let me start by saying that I came in with pretty low expectations — I hated Malaysia on my last trip, and heard Langkawi was pretty dull from friends who had visited. I also generally dislike Ritz-Carltons. Thankfully, that was not my experience at all, in large part thanks to this Ritz.

Two things stand out as absolutely stellar: the people and the hardware. F&B was also quite good. The stay wasn't 100% perfect (nothing ever is), and I'll mention a few caveats at the end. That said, that was not enough to detract from the experience at all and I would still rate this as one of my best stays ever.

 

To be fully honest, I debated whether to even post this review because I would not want this resort to get too popular. It truly felt like a hidden gem, and while it's a premium price point, it could be much worse if it gets populrized like the Maldives. It provides a far better experience and (for now) for much cheaper.

Check In

I had reached out about sleeping arrangements ahead of time — I'm staying with my mom, so wanted separate sleeping arrangements ahead of time. As an Ambassador guest, I was blocked into the Grand Oceanfront Villa at booking. I was staying during a slower lower occupancy week, right after the Lima conference ended.

We arrived via Grab (MYR 9 / $2 — beats the overpriced hotel transfer). At check-in we were met by staff, provided with drinks and cold towels. A german hospitality intern, Tim, came to introduce himself, as he would be our butler ("villa host" officially) and main point of contact throughout our stay. The german GM, Ellen, also came by to introduce herself. With the introductions done, Tim gave us a buggy (i.e. golf cart) tour of the resort, explaining all the features along the way, before eventually taking us to our villa to complete check-in formalities. We arrived a few hours before the official check-in time, but this was not an issue.

 

Room

Wow. Just wow. For this trip, I was originally considering the Maldives, but picked Langkawi instead due to cost-effectiveness + reports of service issues at the Maldives St. Regis. That said, I was still longing for that "overwater villa" experience. I couldn't be happier that that's exactly what I got here. The "Grand Oceanfront Villa" is on stilts, above the water overhanging rocky formations. The villa felt like 3000sqft+ (though I don't recall the actual size).

The inside had three rooms: a massive living room, bedroom, and a ridiculously large bathroom / walk-in closet. There were also several outdoor areas, including a 300sqft private infinity pool, two outdoor lounging areas, and a separate private "yoga balcony." There was also an outdoor bathroom and shower. Privacy was absolute — we could not see inside any other villa, nor could anyone see into ours.

Since I asked for a separate sleeping arrangement, the staff each night set up the main living room sofa into a bed. Each day, it was converted back into a sofa, and each evening the bed re-made.

Several gifts for us to keep were in the room: 2 sarongs, hats, a beach-bag, and flip flops. A welcome fruit-bowl and macarons were also present. For the first time ever, I actually ate the entire fruit plate. Each evening, a desert was left in our room after we got back from dinner.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are about a million words:


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The prettiest laundry bags!

 

 

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Our villa at low-tide

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Service

Every staff member was a joy to interact with. We had great conversations with several staff members, including the F&B director Celina, the Horizon bar manager Awang, and enjoyed spoking in French with one of our buggy drivers Willy.

The resort has an absurd ratio of 2+ staff for every guest, and it shows.

However — Tim, our butler / villa host, was the real star of the show. He went above & beyond throughout the stay, organizing everything from restaurant reservations to coordinating with the concierge for outside activities and getting us the little things we needed. We communicated via WhatsApp and were in constant contact throughout the stay. He was on top of everything, followed up consistently with any and all requests and made sure to coordinate with the rest of the staff for us. Several times, he took over more mundane tasks (like bringing something to the room or giving a buggy ride) so he could do it in person and check-in with us face to face. His energy and enthusiasm for hospitality was excellent. 

I saw the GM, Ellen, again at breakfast one morning as she stopped by tables of elite guests to check in on their stays. It was great to chat with her and see her interacting with guests.

Resort

This resort was originally slated to open as a Ritz Reserve, and it shows. They built the villas first, but eventually decided to add the standard "base-level" rainforest rooms, and open as a regular Ritz instead. I am thankful for this, as I wouldn't have thought to stay here otherwise, especially without the loyalty program. That said, you can definitely feel the Reserve quality.

The resort is spread out outdoors, and guests are offered 24/7 buggy service to get around. I walked a few times, but preferred the buggies as every time I walked I would end up drenched in sweat. The grounds are beautifully maintained topical rainforest with buildings spread throughout. 

I visited the spa for a treatment. The spa is absolutely beautiful, but I thought the treatment I got was a little too "showy" while the massage itself was just so-so. I would have preferred a better massage and less fancy touches. I was also not forewarned that the locker rooms and associated facilities (sauna, steam room, jacuzzis required a swim-suit, so I was not prepared and could not enjoy them. 

We also took two excursions organized by the resort through external companies: a small group mangroves tour and an island-hopping private tour. Both were absolutely amazing and fairly priced with pickup and dropoff at the resort.

The resort also had a bunch of free activities for guests like yoga classes and a rainforest walking tour which we enjoyed gratis.

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Exploring mangroves waterways

 

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Swiming alone on an abandoned island (sadly the water in langkawi has a lot of plastic trash. a truly sad sight)

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The amazing freshwater lake of the pregnant maiden, in a collapsed dead volcano with just a tiny sliver of land separating it from the ocean

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The spa


Insane sunsets at Horizon

 

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Even more gorgeous sunrsies from the room.

 

 

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Dining

We ate every meal at the resort — usually just breakfast and dinner. We tried each of the restaurants and overall enjoyed all the food.

(Apologies for the messy pictures, I just posted without editing and didn't always take the clearest pictures. The coursing order may also be off in the pictures)

 

Breakast at Langkawi Kitchen • Breakfast consisted of a buffet + an a-la carte menu of small dishes. Champagne or mimosas were served in addition to the usual options. Most international cuisines were represented, with Malay, Chinese, Thai, and western foods. The food was generally very high quality. There were plenty of staff for service to take a-la carte orders and bring requested items. My favorite dish was the Pandan French Toast, which was so good I had to have it every morning (and I don't even usually eat sweet breakfasts).

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Dinner at Horizon (by the adult only pool — Thai cuisine) • We ate here and really enjoyed our food, in particular a pomelo salad and a crab curry.

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Dinner at Beach Grill (by the family pool and beach — western & seafood) • We both ordered fishes which were tasty and well prepared. I didn't enjoy my cocktails as much, however.

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Dinner at Hai Yen (Chinese fine dining) • This is the only meal we didn't particularly enjoy. The food was OK, but we felt the restaurant was overpriced for the quality.

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Dinner at Langkawi Kitchen (same restaurant as breakfast, but serving Malay food for dinner) • We very much enjoyed the Malay food on our last dinner.

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Overall, I though the food on property was quite good. The drinks offerings were a bit weaker, with about average cocktails. I had port after dinner one night, and it was served on ice in a water glass. The restaurants were not busy at all, given the low occupancy.

One day of our stay, the Horizon pool, restaurant, and bar were closed due to a wedding. This was a bit inconvenient as it was one of our favorite outlets at the property and nothing was done to make up for it. They did however let us know far in advance so were were not taken by surprise.

 

Elite Benefits

I received the upgrade to the ridiculous Grand Oceanfront Villa thanks to Ambassador status. I also received a 20% discount on most incidentals (F&B and spa services), My spa service was given a free "enhancement" from a menu as an additional benefit. Breakfast was free at Langkawi kitchen.

Caveats

There were a few minor inconveniences, which did not detract from the overall experience much, but which I should mention in the interest of thoroughness:

 

- First and foremost: mosquitos. They're everywhere outdoors and infuriating. It was a particular program when sitting outdoors during meals and I got absolutely destroyed at breakfast the first few days. Mosquito repellent was provided gratis by the staff when they noticed my annoyance at the pesky creatures. We're in the jungle, so it's understandable. That said, I don't know if there's more the hotel could do to deal with this — I do hear Disney World for example goes to great lengths to eradicate them even though it's located in essentially a giant swamp.

 

- Occasional service slowness. We did get frustrated a couple times with this, and I got particularly annoyed when my buggy didn't show up at all once. The buggy was also late to pick us up for scheduled activities on two occasion, and my mom missed part of a yoga class as a result. Overall, we felt like the resort did on occasion run on island time.

 

- The beach's sand was a little coarse, and there were some jellyfishes in the water. However, staff monitored the water quality throughout the day and posted flags informing guests of any hazards.

Overall

To sum up, this is one of best hotel stay's I've ever experienced, at a very reasonable price point and I absolutely can't wait to return.

Ritz-Carlton Langkawi • a true hidden gem

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Old Apr 14, 19, 11:04 pm
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Join Date: Aug 2015
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Very interesting that our experience differs so much.
We only saw few mosquitos, no jellyfish or trash in the sea.

Yes, Tim, the German intern, is amazing. But that’s the thing, he’s been the only positive exception, together with the other intern.
Everybody else lacks training. I feel that Tim constantly has to work to fix other people’s mistakes, and that’s not how it should be.
He also told me that there had been a major change in staff recently. Most employees who were part of the opening apparently have left. But I still don’t think that’s a good reason.
For me this whole experience is simply unprofessional and I will not return.
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