The early 70's saw Penang, the Pearl of the Orient, stamping its mark on the international tourism scene. Tourist arrivals soared. Leading the island’s successful foray was the exquisite Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, Malaysia’s first deluxe hotel and resort located along the sandy, scenic Batu Ferringi beach. Since its official opening in late 1973, the resort has re-invented itself and is poised to spearhead the state’s efforts in luring more tourists to the island, a choice tourist destination in the world.
Its intricate Minangkabau roof has been internationally hailed as an architectural masterpiece that seamlessly integrates traditional and modern design elements that reflect an aspect of the character and charm of Malaysia. The dark brown treated timber roof stretches over the entire complex, creating a magnificent image of a traditional Malay palace rising from a tropical paradise.
Inside the breezy resort, giant wooden pillars complete with intricate carvings inspired by exotic plants native to the island abound. Colourful paintings of birds and swaying native betel nut palms adorn the walls as long flowing batik fabrics are playfully teased by the cool sea breeze designed to encapsulate the spirit of Penang, The betel nut (Pinang in Malay) palms that dot the surroundings tell of how the state got to be known as the “Betel Nut Isle”.
Like the multi-cultural beauty of the island, Rasa Sayang gained the reputation of a unique resort with multi-layer attractions ranging from its friendly service staff to its pristine blue sea and majestic rain trees.
Officially opened by Malaysia’s second Prime Minister, the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein in 1973, the resort was at that time the largest and most exclusive beach resort in the region. A landmark in Penang, Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa is one of Shangri-La group’s many hotels and resorts worldwide.
With a unique name, Rasa Sayang, which means a "feeling of love" in Malay is also the name of a popular local folk song. The resort has played host to some of the world’s most recognisable names; from royalty and prime ministers to celebrities and the rich and famous. Through the years, guests have included "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" host Robin Leach, romance novelist Barbara Cartland, Hollywood celebrity Stephanie Powers, former late Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk and former Presidents of China, His Excellencies Jiang Zemin, Li Peng and Hu Jin Tao.
As much a part of Penang as the native betel nut palms, Rasa Sayang bears witness to the state's transformation from a free port to an industrialised state, and her eventual transition as island getaway to a rich heritage city. Perhaps, Leach’s famous "champagne wishes and caviar dreams" toast can best sum up the resort's promise of indulgences to its guests.
Constructed in less than two years, the intention was "to build the best hotel in Malaysia" in the 1970's. Within the first year of operations, the resort had returned profits on its investment and has been going from strength to strength since then.
Rasa Sayang has won accolades from international travel and specialist magazines such as the ASEAN Green Hotel Award (2012-2014) at ASEAN Tourism Forum (Fourth consecutive year) – January 2012, Winner of Traveller’s Choice Award 2012 for Trip Advisor – March 2012, Winner of Top Ten Hotels f or Families in Malaysia 2012 for Trip Advisor – April 2012, Winner of Certificate of Excellence 2012 for Trip Advisor – May 2012, Ranked 9th in Top 25 Spa Hotels and Resorts for 2012 (SmartTravelAsia.com) – August 2012, Ranked 10th in Top 25 Leisure Hotels and Resorts for 2012 (SmartTravelAsia.com) – August 2012, Nationwide, it was voted for Excellence Awards in both “Best Romantic Stay” and “Best Beach Resort” in Expatriate Lifestyle's Best of Malaysia Awards – September, 2012.
Despite winning almost every major award in the hospitality and tourism industry, the five-star resort took a bold leap forward over the past decade, investing RM100 million to redevelop the entire resort for over two years from December, 2004 to its reopening in September, 2006.
The new Rasa Sayang is more exclusive with the number of rooms being reduced from 512 to 304 – a step aimed at creating larger size guest rooms and ultimately, a luxurious resort where each guest will be showered with individual, personal attention around the clock. The resorts works closely with tour agents and individual guests to ascertain the likes, dislikes and preferences of each guest even before they arrive so that the necessary arrangements can be made prior to registration at the resort.
Above and beyond the privacy that comes with a more intimate setting, the new Rasa Sayang boasts of a 30-acre sprawling landscaped garden with a holistic CHI, The Spa which has 11 private villas, individual treatment rooms, a yoga pavilion and personal bathing, hair treatment and relaxation areas.
Built around century-old tropical trees, CHI, The Spa will also have a 26-metre spa pool surrounded by lush greenery. Exclusive to the Shangri-La group of hotels and resorts, CHI, The Spa concept introduces age-old healing practices and philosophies from the Asian region. These relaxing treatments are based on holistic practices that restore balance and harmony to the mind and body.
Through the years, Rasa Sayang has garnered rave reviews for its food and beverage outlets. The award-winning Feringgi Grill has been voted the “Best Restaurant” by the Malaysia Tourism Board in recent years and was listed in the first annual "101 Best Hotel Restaurants Around The World" by The Daily Meal, New York – September 2012. After the expansion plan, the Feringgi Grill overlooks lush green surroundings and the blue sea beyond.
Spice Market Café has a team of international chefs specialising in different cuisines like Malay, Chinese, Indian, Nyonya and international cuisines. Instead of having separate outlets on the ground, there are several distinct open kitchens all conveniently located at a specially designed food and beverage area.
From dining at the exotic Spice Market Café located within the resort grounds itself to sipping champagne while basking in the sun, the Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa promises an exclusive experience unlikely to be rivaled any time soon.
Other facilities include the redesigned Par 3 pitch and putt golf course and a state-of-the-art gymnasium complete with individual heart monitoring systems.
Perhaps long-time guests Dr. Ernest and Mary Wilde from Cheshire, United Kingdom, best sum up the Rasa Sayang experience, "There are many places in the world where you can find hotels which are equally opulent and locations which enjoy equally good weather, but what you cannot find are hotels where your return visit is akin to returning home." Indeed, many regular guests are already waiting to pack their bags and come back to a place they call "home".
PRESS CONTACT: Suleiman Tunku Abdul Rahman
Director of Communications
Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa
and Golden Sands Resort
Tel: (60 4) 888 8888
Fax: (60 4) 881 1800
For digitised pictures of the group's hotels, please go to http://www.shangrila.com/imagelibrary.