Tanjong Jara Resort – The hidden gem in Malaysia
We just returned from celebrating our 10th year wedding anniversary in this hidden gem of a resort called Tanjong Jara in Dungun, Malaysia. I stumbled upon it by accident when I was looking for a luxury resort in Tioman. Somehow a combination of “YTL” and “Tioman” in the Google search led me to this resort that is almost unheard of.
Tanjong Jara Resort is located on the east coast of the mainland of peninsular Malaysia. It is in between Kuantan and Terengganu airports but is slightly closer to the Terrenganu airport. Located in Dungun, Tanjong Jara Resort has been around for many years and is currently owned and managed by the YTL Hotels.
Getting to the Resort
We arrived on a Thursday afternoon and took a taxi from the taxi counter of Terengganu airport. The fare was a flat fee of 110RM and it was payable upfront at the counter. We were issued a receipt and were led to our driver who was an elderly man. Unfortunately our elderly driver was a very speed-limit abiding guy and drove just under the speed limit for almost the whole journey. A journey that might have taken an hour took us a little over 1.5 hour because of our unfortunate driver.
TIP: Try to ask for a driver with a bit more “drive” if you can!
The security at the resort seemed rather impressive. The guard outside had to check who we were before we were allowed into the resort. They matched my name against the guests’ due for check in and allowed our taxi to enter the premise. So if you do not have a booking, you might not be allowed into the resort as easily.
We were given cold towels upon arrival and sat at the couch with chilled welcome drinks while being processed for check in. Austin, the hotel front desk manager, was there to assist to our check in. He was very friendly and explained to us the dining options, activities and then personally led us to our room. As I had made the effort to request for a specific room block, I was delighted that my request was given.
So Much To Do In Tanjong Jara Resort
As we had purchased a full board package available to Singapore residents, our meals were all covered and we did not have a reason to leave the resort. With so many activities available, I quickly realised I would not be doing any watercolour I had thought I’d be inspired to do. The resort has made the effort to create activities for its guests. Teaming up with Lang Tengah Turtle Watch, the resort offers its guests opportunities to learn, see nest checks, and witness hatchling releases at night. I will share more in a separate post.
Another very interesting activity happens every Saturday at 5pm where guests can experience the Kampong Sucimurni Lifestyle. A lawn area is converted into a small kampong village where you can see various kampong activities like coconut plucking by a monkey and batik painting. Guests can also sample some malay cuisine like kuehs, bandung drink and drinking from a freshly plucked coconut. The kids can play football and other kampong games or pat a goat.
While these weren’t too much of a novelty to us Singaporeans, this kampong lifestyle can be an eye-opening cultural experience for others from afar. We thought it was a very innovative way to share the Malay culture and heritage. Kudos also to the staff who became a part of the experience, dressing up in kebaya and mingling with the guests. There were also other activities available with a charge like cooking class, diving, snorkelling, trekking, spa and more.
We were given Room 706, a Serambi Sea View room on the ground floor at the corner of the newest block in the resort. The timber interiors combined with the yellow lighting gave the room a very warm feel. I have to commend whoever that gave so much thought to the little details in a room – like how the chair at the desk (see gallery below) was always deliberately slanted every time the room was made; how the bedside always has a lovely therapeutic aroma; and how there is bath salt at the bath tub. You will not realise how many hotels miss out this simple thing even though they have a bathtub.
I was also very impressed with a greeting card supposedly handwritten by the hotel manager, Terence, that welcomed us on our special occasion. The bed was made with petals and a pair of towel swans. The loveliest touch was a pillow in the middle with the words “Happy Anniversary” embroidered onto it.
The bathroom was large with two sinks, a large tub flanked by a separate shower stall and toilet. My only complaint is the lack of ergonomics of tap placement below the sink which was inconvenient and clumsy when your hands are soapy. Being a five-star resort, Tanjong Jara Resort provides full amenities for the bathroom including toothbrushes, toothpastes, toiletries from Mangosteen – a social enterprise project. Another thing I noted was how my towels looked very new and white. I am not sure if I was deliberately given new towels or if they just happened to have a whole set of new towels.
As with a few other YTL resorts I’ve been to, Tanjong Jara also provides a beach tote for you to use during your stay. This made it very convenient for us to dump all our things and go to the beach. We were also given a pocket 4g wifi to take around so as to ensure wifi connectivity throughout the resort.
Dining Options In The Resort
The resort contains three dining options: Di Atas Sungei, Teratai Terrace, and Nelayan. Di Atas Sungei is the largest of the three and also where you go to for breakfast. It is also well known for dinner with its personalised dishes cooked to suit your taste buds. Teratai Terrace is a small dining area and bar, beside the adults-only pool. It is recommended for its steamboat and Korean barbeque dinner. Nelayan is probably the most popular dining option because it faces the beach and has the best view. During lunch, it serves a mix of Western and Malaysian cuisine and at night. it serves grilled seafood.
Di Atas Sungei is probably my favourite of the three. We had our daily breakfast there which was nice on our first day but slowly became a bit boring on subsequent days. The breakfast dishes do not change much but the spread includes local specialties like nasi lemak, cooked noodles, roti canai station as well as the standard western dishes of eggs, baked beans, etc.
On a plus side, they serve freshly squeezed watermelon, orange and pineapple juices. The danish and croissants are also freshly baked in the oven right in front of you. The croissants were very worth my calories and wiped out the moment it is taken out of the oven. There is also a small selection of fruits, salad and cereals.
Teratai Terrace consists of a small bar and five tables dining section beside the adults-only pool. Dinner requires an early reservation due to their very limited number of tables. Movie is also screened every night by the pool side – a nice effort. But do not expect an exceptional viewing experience due to the quality of the projector and sound.
Nelayan is probably the most popular restaurant out of the three because of its strategic position by the beach. You can enjoy views of the beach as you dine or have your meal by the pool. Menu options included a mix of local favourites of nasi goreng as well as western dishes like grilled burgers and fish & chips. Prices displayed on the menus were nett.
More about the restaurants in the resorts in my next blog post where I will do a ‘deep dive’ into each restaurant.
The Quality Of Tanjong Jara Resort
The upkeep of this resort is truly like no other in Malaysia. Tanjong Jara Resort is not a new resort but the maintenance of the place, from the regular fumigation to the daily sweeping of the grounds, has kept the resort looking as good as can be from the time it renovated. Coupled by the warm hospitality, friendly and personalised service, this resort just amazed me from start to end. If only all hotels were like this!