A blanket of white powdery snow, negative degree weather, sleigh rides and Santa wrapped in his warm, red coat—yes, it’s Christmas, and except for the lack of shivering breeze and sleighs, Malaysia does Christmas pretty well too. Spending the festive season in a tropical country would mean that you can escape the cold, and there are plenty in the city that will entertain: streets are filled with fairy lights, giant Christmas trees in shopping malls with carolers decked in full costume singing on the podium and turkeys are on sale in every supermarket. Barely a week later, the city transforms again and the skies are lit with fireworks to usher in the New Year.
A tropical Christmas and New Year will of course demand for a little sun, and if you are up for some sand and salt water, why not count down by the beach this year? Most, if not all resorts will offer special Christmas and New Year dinners; while the room rates may spike during peak season, there are usually attractive promotional packages that will help compensate the extra cost.
Party at… PENANG
Over in Penang, Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa is making sure to please their guests through their appetite. On Christmas Eve there will be a five-course Christmas Eve dinner at the Feringgi Grill, the contemporary fine dining star of the resort. A wider selection of menus is available at the Spice Market Café where the buffet dinner provides seasonal selections like roast turkey, tiramisu Yule log, eggnog brulee and Traditional German Christmas Kindle Stollen. BBQ at the poolside will be a more relaxed affair with a spread that includes slipper lobsters, king prawns, lamb cutlet with rosemary and holiday goodies like stollen, English fruitcake and old-fashioned panettone.
If you stay up to count down to the big night, don’t worry about missing breakfast. The Christmas Day Brunch at Spice Market Café carries on until late afternoon with choices like chocolate crunch caramel log, cranberry champagne shooters and Christmas trifle gingerbread. Rasa Sayang’s Christmas spread includes specials like gratinated oyster, venison fillet, lobster thermidor, mince pies and more, so be sure to make space for dinner.
To welcome the New Year in style, bring along your finest outfit for the Masquerade Countdown Party, where you’ll get to count down at an elegant ball with a touch of mystique.
Family favourite Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La will of course have something in store for the children on Christmas Day. There will be a Children’s Party at the Adventure Zone, the kids’ entertainment centre with exciting drop slides, multiple sections of modular play equipment, a game zone, toddler area, themed birthday party rooms and a café. The party is open to children aged four to twelve years old; light refreshments will be served and there will be a special visit from Santa as well.
On New Year’s Eve, the resort’s family-style restaurant Sigi’s Bar and Grill will be presenting the Sigi’s Beach Party where you can finally bring out your bellbottoms, platform shoes and dance to Saturday Night Fever like it’s 1977. Pre-countdown happy hour promotions at the Lobby Lounge start at 5pm, and the International buffet dinner of Asian and Western fares with free flow of wine, beer, fruit punch and soft drinks will set you up nicely for the beach party.
Recently renovated in 2010, Holiday Inn Resort Penang is offering not only delightful food to please the palate but updated facilities as well to ensure a comfortable stay during the peak season. The resort is going back to basics this year with its Traditional Christmas theme, sending out high-energy Christmas carolers, live band entertainment and even Santa Claus to get everyone into the mood. In addition to the special buffet meals on Christmas day, there will also be a children’s party where they can revel in games and a cookie-making class; a clown and Santa will also be making their way to this party. The theme for New Year’s Eve is Tropical Night, so prepare your beach bum look and enjoy the band and dance performances as well as games, lucky draws and other activities before ushering in the New Year with fireworks.
If what you have in mind is a bit more ‘unruly’, a stop at Hard Rock Hotel Penang might sound appealing. Their infamous foam party will be making an appearance at the White Christmas Eve Foam Party with beats from award-winning DJ Nikki, one of the hardest working local DJs to make a name for herself on the dance floor. Guests can then continue the party on New Year’s Eve where RedFM DJs as well as DJ Roxy June and DJ Aye from Thailand will make sure the hotel’s Redbeatz NYE Pool Party is going to be the coolest party in town.
Party at… LANGKAWI
With stretches of clean beaches, landscapes of paddy fields and of course, the accessibility of duty-free goods, Langkawi is one of the hottest beach destinations during this season. Visitors will usually opt to island hop and take boat tours, or even catch a cable car ride up to Mount Mat Cincang, Langkawi’s second highest mountain.
Christmas at The Westin Langkawi Resort and Spa will mean pre-dinner cocktail indulgence at the welcoming Breeze Lounge, cheers to Christmas carols and a buffet of festive dishes to be served at Seasonal Tastes restaurant with a free flow of selected alcoholic beverages, or a four-course set dinner at Tide restaurant.
A stay there on New Year’s Eve will allow you to indulge in a round of pre-dinner champagne and canapé cocktails before digging in to dinner at the Grand Ballroom or Seasonal Tastes restaurant, the latter of which you can catch a panoramic view of the Andaman Sea from while enjoying your dinner spread. Celebrations are themed Aqua, so once you have filled your belly, be ready to make your way to the poolside party for the finale where there will be a live DJ spinning, an entertainment band and an open champagne bar. This is the time to keep your dancing shoes on and party until the splendid fireworks display strikes at midnight.
At The Andaman, tucked away between a 10-million year old rainforest and an 8,000-year old fringing reef, the luxury resort’s festive offerings include the recently unveiled Luxury Pool Access Rooms and Luxury Garden Terrace Rooms which offer direct access to a rainforest pool or a private garden patio. While enjoying the new facilities, guests can take the chance to dine by the sea at Tepian Laut on Christmas Eve and feast on the seafood tower, roast turkey, whole lamb carving and more. There will also be live music performances by a band as well as Christmas carolers, caricaturists and kids’ activities for the little ones. Jala, the relatively new addition to the resort will provide an intimate dining experience with the freshest catch from the sea, and diners will be able to watch the chefs prepare their meals in the show kitchen.
The resort is also putting another Masquerade Night on the calendar this New Year’s Eve, and it will be graced with an impressive gala dinner, after which guests can get together at the beachfront to cheer on 2013 with a countdown party and fireworks.
Another resort that has brand new features for its guests in time for Christmas and New Year is Club Med Cherating Beach. A popular choice especially during the peak seasons for some high energy holiday break, the resort invites the guests to dress up in a different theme every night, and offer lively comedic performances performed by their own staff. A huge contrast to the party environment is the new Zen Space with Quiet Pool, where no children are allowed. This is the ultimate relaxation zone for those who are seeking to take the hangover off the partying – the infinity pool faces the beachfront with deck chairs and cabanas for reading and lounging to the sound of lapping ocean waters. No need to worry for the children – in addition to the already-established Petit Club, Mini Club and Pass Club, Club Med Cherating Beach has also initiated the Baby Club. Specially catered to the little ones aged between four and 23 months, it is professionally staffed and designed with materials and facilities that appeal to a baby’s five senses.
Party at… SABAH
Known for its eco-tourism, Sabah harbours the treasures of nature for the naturalist in everyone, claiming the top of the list for the most popular diving spots, jungle trekking trails and beautiful beaches.
The folks at Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu are offering a delightful hi-tea spread at Circle on Christmas Day, complete with surprise visits from Santa and other children’s activities to keep the tots busy. The all-day dining restaurant sits at the lobby level with an amazing view of the esplanade and the sea, and a little less than a week later, there will be a New Year’s Eve feast of whole roast venison, seafood barbecue and more. For something a little more elegant, Flames Steak Restaurant offers a five-course dinner set. After the celebratory meal, head on over to The Lounge and catch a live band with bubblies and wine at special rates.
Sitting on a scenic waterfront promenade overlooking the Sulu Sea is Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan who will be celebrating Christmas with a buffet dinner of international cuisines at the all-day dining restaurant The Eatery. In addition to a choral of Christmas carols and visits from Santa, there will also be a Kid’s Club for the tots.
The resort will also be hosting a New Year’s Eve ‘Earth, Wind and Fire’ party with a buffet spread at Elopura Grand Ballroom. The party beats will be pumped up at The Best Brew by the resident band and DJ, ensuring to keep the tempo up until the New Year arrives.
Celebrating festivities at the beach is certainly not the common route to go, but if you’re up for something different, you would find that there will probably be a resort on the coasts of Malaysia that will have something that sounds like your kind of merriment.
WHERE TO GO:
Club Med Cherating Beach
29th Miles, Jalan Kuantan-Kemamam, 26080 Kuantan
Tel: 09-581 9133
Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan
Sandakan Harbour Square, 90000 Sandakan
Tel: 08-924 4888
Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La
Batu Feringgi Beach, 11100 Penang
Tel: 0 4-886 1911
Holiday Inn Resort Penang
72 Batu Feringgi, 11100 Penang
Tel: 04-886 6666
Hard Rock Hotel Penang
Batu Feringgi Beach, 11100 Penang
Tel: 04-881 1711
Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu
Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Sinsuran, 88000 Kota Kinabalu
Tel: 08-832 2222
Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa
Batu Feringgi Beach, 11100 Penang
Tel: 04-888 8888
Jalan Teluk Datai, 07000 Langkawi
Tel: 04-959 1088
The Westin Langkawi Resort and Spa
Jalan Pantai Dato Syed Omar, 07000 Langkawi
Tel: 04-960 8888