Travel + Leisure Luxury Awards Asia Pacific 2023 reveals our readers’ picks of the best hotels, pools, spas and even general managers in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur to Penang to Langkawi and beyond.
IN RECENT YEARS MALAYSIA has been going through a quiet but noticeable reinvention of its hospitality scene. Most of the luxury chain big boys have already imprinted their character and personalities into Kuala Lumpur (with Waldorf Astoria and Conrad upcoming). Boutique hotels, too, are adding a sense of internationalism (and some groovy interpretations of Malaysian aesthetics) the country hadn’t previously seen.
But all of this was destined to happen. For years, Malaysia had been waiting for its ‘moment,’ but other Southeast Asian countries seemed to have the upper hand when it came to tourist numbers. Now with the country’s favourable exchange rate, Malaysia is increasingly becoming known for its excellent deals for both leisure and business travel. For instance, KL’s value proposition for MICE travel ticks all the right commercial boxes.
Do you still have the Malaysia Truly Asia ad jingle stuck in your head? We do, and it usually conjures images of tropical island idylls. Like, The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi, which was voted Best Beach or Upcountry Hotel, with its luxury with Malaysian inflections including sumptuous breakfast spreads at Langkawi Kitchen, and its superlative spa that reinterprets the design of traditional Malay fishing cages.
Speaking of spas, Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa was named the Best in Malaysia. Credit might likely be due to regional ‘leisure’ travellers now heading on business trips with add-on weekend getaways to Penang, an island with a charming melting pot of cultures and rest-and-relax state of being.
The best of both worlds? Yep, this can be said of Malaysia itself. A busy yet still relatively laidback country with its heart in the right place — when it comes to food and drink. Like KL’s hotel landscape, its restaurant and bar scenes have become increasingly dynamic and inventive in the past half a decade or so. So not only are the needs and wants of luxury travellers anticipated and met at properties such as EQ Kuala Lumpur – the Best City Hotel of 2023 – but in the capital you’ll also find plenty you didn’t know you needed, like a fun and always-friendly night scene that’s a hotbed of cool and classy irreverence. Here’s a head’s up: Malaysia is always a good idea.
Best Beach + Upcountry Hotels in Malaysia
Best City Hotels in Malaysia
3. The Chow Kit
Best Hotel Pools in Malaysia
Best Hotel Spas in Malaysia
Best Hotel General Managers in Malaysia
1. Grant Young , The Westin Desaru Coast
2. Bipan Kapur, Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel & Convention Centre
3. Mazli Abdul Malik, Batu Batu Tengah Island
4. Ellen Franke, The Ritz-Carlton Langkawi
5. Blaise Montandon, Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur
Lede image courtesy of Four Seasons.