Published in Malaysia Tatler, edition February 2015.
You may have heard of Bon Ton Langkawi – a charming resort of Malay antique houses – often quoted in Conde Nast Traveler and Tatler Travel Guide magazines as a true gem. But Frog and I recently visited a new extension to the Bon Ton family, Temple Tree, Langkawi and found it a breathtaking resort.
A collection of 8 authentic, colonial, antique houses from all over Malaysia (between 70 and 110 years old), of Chinese, Malay, Indian, Arab and Eurasian origin, converted into 14 luxury suites. The villas were sourced, photographed, dismantled, transported, re-erected and re-painted and restored to its former glory. It took 2 and half years for completion but the passion to conserve these beautiful structures can now be yours to enjoy.
Straits Club House: ~ This house originally called “ Bahagia” was from York Road in Penang. Built in 1920s by a Eurasian family, it was then sold to a Malay family in the 1960s. It resembles an old colonial building with verandahs and beautiful carvings on the high end of the walls to let the air flow through. It now houses the resort reception, restaurant, bar, library and pool table.
COLONIAL HOUSE: ~ This large stately house came from Georgetown, Penang. Built by Arabs in the ‘20s who were goldsmith traders. They would have been rich and had a western style which shows with the architectural touches such as the cornices, floor tiles and fishscale design canopy over the porch. It is now the ultimate party house for five sets of friends or a large family. Large living space with bar, dining table and lots of lounge spaces, combined with 2 bedrooms downstairs and 3 upstairs, making it a perfect space for a private venue.
CHINESE HOUSE: ~ Viewed from the 110 ft pool, this house is magnificent. Built by a Chinese family in Batu Pahat, Johor and located close to Singapore, this house has been relocated from the furthest distance. This was originally a farmhouse and built approximately 100 yrs ago. Some of the design is thought to have Taiwanese influence. Upstairs is one suite and downstairs is another. Both have large verandahs on 3 sides and wonderful views of the mountains.The decoration of both is very opulent and in Chinese colours of red and black which contrasts with the simple wood walls.
PENANG HOUSE: ~ Originally situated next to busy Guerney drive in Penang. This house was built in the early 1930s by a Chinese contractor and was very typical of its time. The original exterior colour has been kept as with the two entrances. The interiors are painted white with turquoise shutters and touches of raspberry & lime green. This house is perfect for a family, as the 2 suites connect with double doors, yet both have separate entrances & living spaces.
BLACK & WHITE HOUSE: ~ This beautiful Malay House was built in the ‘40s in Negri Sembilan, south of Kuala Lumpur. It’s a complete house with a living / dining area, and a great outdoor porch. A huge bedroom with wooden bathtub, separate bathroom and adjoining mini gym.The coloured glass windows in the living room really make this house very special when contrasted with its original black and white colour scheme.
ESTATE: ~ Originally situated 25 minutes from Ipoh in Pasah Puteh, which would have placed it half way between Kuala Lumpur and Penang. Built in 1940s this building was a long house for Indian workers on a rubber estate. The style is very typical of Estate workers housing throughout Malaysia. It has converted superbly into 5 hotel rooms. All have terracotta-tiled floors, bedroom/ living space and separate bathrooms, with a verandah at the front. The all-white painted interiors contrast with the thick wooden beams of the roof. Each room is totally different in furniture, antiques and decoration.
So the next time you’re looking for some old style charm, look no further than Temple Tree, on the sunny island of Langkawi.