Ah, beautiful Langkawi, Malaysia’s biggest island and a popular destination to get your fill of sun, sea and sand. But it’s not all beaches and turquoise sea, there’s also wildlife, jungle wilderness and amazing food. And one of the best ways to experience all that this Malaysian gem has to offer? Book into The Danna Langkawi.
Ok, we admit that we are biased. We’ve been swayed by afternoons spent lazing next to Langkawi’s biggest pool, gazing out to sea or up at tropical forest covered mountains. We were wooed by the colonial design that has a fresh modern feel with its high ceilings, oversize doors and warm breezes flowing in from the ocean. We were won over with treatments in the spa where an hour in the hands of one of the spa team had us feeling like new. We were charmed by the staff who, from check-in to check out, managed to achieve the elusive goal of balancing efficient service with genuine friendliness.
Oh yes, The Danna Langkawi has it all.
And we haven’t even mentioned the vegan food (which by the way was awesome, but more on that later).
The luxury treatment started as soon as we were met at Langkawi’s hot and busy ferry port. Being met by two friendly faces who whisked us into the cool of their waiting car (with water and an obligatory cold towel) was extremely welcome.
After a scenic and comfortable 45 minute drive, we arrived at The Danna on Langkawi’s West Coast and to possibly one of the best hotel check-ins we’ve ever experienced. It was friendly, efficient, included a personal welcome and discussion about our dietary requirements from the department head in charge of food and beverages and ended with a mini neck and shoulder massage from one of the spa team.
So good, we wanted to check-in twice.
One of the standout things about The Danna Langkawi is the generosity of spirit there; quite simply this resort is very giving. The generosity we experienced at check-in was everywhere. In the afternoon at the pool, staff wander around with ice cold water and trays of crispy light samosas to snack on and in the evening, happy hour at the pool bar treats you to half price cocktails. Everywhere we went we felt like the staff made the effort to personally get to know us.
This is one of those special places in the world where you can’t help but feel at home.
The Vegan Food:
The vegan food at The Danna Langkawi was definitely a highlight of our stay, the staff were well equipped to deal with dietary requirements (including gluten free diets too) and were happy to make suggestions and adjustments to dishes if required.
Breakfast was served in The Planters, the light and airy main restaurant in the resort where the resident pianist plays music in the background as you eat. There was also the choice to sit outside in the shade to enjoy more endless sea views.
The vegan selection was extensive including fresh fruit, juices, a salad bar, cereals and western cooked breakfast options served buffet style alongside à la carte offerings. The chef had also prepared vegan pancakes for us with blueberry compote, maple syrup and another version with banana inside.
There were local specialities to choose from too; a delicious ‘nasi lemak’ made from rice cooked in coconut milk served with a sumptuous onion, chilli ‘sambal’ and garnished with peanuts and cucumber. It’s a staple food in Malaysia so we were happy to see it veganised.
The chef also made us fresh vegan chapatis with a lentil dahl and more of the spicy sambal, reflecting the rich Indian heritage in Malaysia and making us extremely satisfied (because we really love vegan Indian food).
And for something sweet? There were ‘ondeh-ondeh’ which originate from ‘Nyonya cuisine’, from the Paranakans the original Chinese settlers who inter-married with Malays. These tiny rice flour dumplings rolled in fresh coconut and filled with dark ‘gula melaka’ sugar were simply delicious and very, very moreish indeed!
We ate lunch in Straits & Co. where we became hooked on healthy, frappe ‘detox’ juices made from mango, kiwi, pineapple and mint, all blended with crushed ice. We delved into the popular, healthy ‘Avocado and Mango Salad’ laden with cashews and tossed in a passion fruit dressing. The mangoes in Malaysia are sweet, juicy and satisfyingly rich and give a natural sweetness to this tasty salad.
Other options included a vegetable samosa and spring roll combination; tortilla wraps filled with salad and avocados and a couple of different pasta options (the ‘Penne with Chilli, Garlic and Sundried Tomatoes’ was nicely spicy and filling). The chef also veganised the famous Malaysia rice noodle dish ‘Char Kway Teow’ for us, it was spicy, rich with soy and full of delicious tofu interspersed with the noodles and crunchy beansprouts; definitely a winning lunch selection.
At dinner, back in The Planter’s, the chef excelled himself and created a range of options for us that were’t on the menu; we were treated to colourful dishes that used local inspirations and delighted us with their taste and creativity.
We loved the dukkha served with bread at the beginning of our meal; a spice laden mix of toasted pistachios and hazelnuts offered instead of the usual oil and vinegar.
Dishes like a crispy spring roll filled with avocado and roasted aubergine and served with a mango salsa were a crispy, creamy and classy delight, lifted by the sweet fruitiness of the salsa which balanced out the deep fried ‘birds nest’ outside of the spring roll.
A tasting plate of tofu with peanut sauce (rich with spices) and a mild vegetable masala contained the flavours of Malaysia in one vibrant plate. The peanut sauce was sweet, sticky, nutty and full of the flavours from the use of fresh herbs and spices.
Desserts too were a welcome surprise with options such as a strawberry consomé with lychee sorbet and fresh fruit or tiny semolina ‘bubbles’ with coconut milk and ‘gula melaka’ jelly. The taste matched the creativity and we celebrated not just being served a fresh fruit platter with every tasty spoonful.
The Vegan Essentials:
There were already vegan pillows on our bed so we didn’t need to do anything other than look forward to a good night’s sleep in our really comfortable bed.
The in-room amenities were by French Connection and whilst they ticked several boxes for being ‘eco-conscious’, it wasn’t clear whether they had been tested on animals or contained animal ingredients so we just used our own.
The spa had a range of Pevonia products which are vegan apart from those that contain collagen, elastin, DNA and caviar. It’s best to check the ingredients of products used during any treatments you book. Or you can opt for an amazing massage (we tested out the Balinese and the traditional Malaysian and they were both very professional). There was also a range of essential oils and some coconut oil to purchase which were vegan and certified with the cruelty-free ‘bunny badge’.
The Vegan Food Quest Verdict:
Check-in to The Danna Langkawi for a Malaysian island beach escape where you’ll be well and truly treated to vegan luxury at every turn. Enjoy dinner at The Planters and see what creative plant-based dishes the chef presents. Don’t forget to spoil yourself with an afternoon in the spa, and by selecting some cruelty-free products on the way out!
We were guests of The Danna Langkawi but please rest assured that their generosity in hosting us didn’t influence our views.
The Danna Langkawi
Telaga Harbour Park,
Telephone: +604 959 3288
Cost From: £220 / $330 (March 2016)