Exploring the Majestic Empire Hotel followed by a hectic nail-biting transfer from Brunei to Langkawi, Malaysia.
The Empire Hotel and Country Club
I awoke with the feel of a lazy Sunday and finally got out of bed because my stomach was beckoning me with hunger.
I made my way to the breakfast room on the 2nd floor of the lobby building and sat down for a fine feast. The breakfast selection was significant and on par with other five-star establishments. I enjoyed tasting some local Brunei cuisines, which were similar to Malaysian and Indian.
With the much-needed energy restored, I was off to explore the hotel grounds. I decided to start outside and make my way to the beach where I would enjoy a swim before heading to the airport.
The pool area was my favorite part of the hotel. Besides having the whole place to myself I was pleasantly surprised by the service. After arriving and having a dip in the pool, I returned to my chair to find water and cut oranges on the side table waiting for me. It’s the little details that make a difference between 5 star establishments.
Unfortunately it was a bit of a cloudy day, so I didn’t spend too much time in the cold water. Back at my room, I packed and checked out right at my building (without needing to go back to the lobby). A car soon arrived to take me to the airport.
Overall my stay at the Empire Hotel was a pleasant one. The hotel is showing its age, but I can tell that they are making an effort to keep up appearances. It reminds me of a kind old man telling you stories of how great the ‘good ole days’ were and you smile and nod, though you feel sorry for him because he has no idea what’s happening in the modern world. There are plenty of extravagant and grand aspects of the hotel, like the best imported furniture, decorations, and building materials from all over the world, but it somehow misses the luxurious feel. The service was excellent and the staff are quite friendly.
So that concluded my stay at the best hotel in Brunei…
I was a bit worried about my flight because I booked two separate flights with AirAsia from Brunei to Kuala Lumpur then from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi. The problem is, I only left about an hour for the transfer, which would be fine in most situations. However, I was dealing with a budget airline and I had luggage I needed to pick up and re-check-in before boarding my flight. If I had any delays in my flight, luggage coming out, immigration, or check-in lines, I could miss my connection. On the Airasia flight, explaining my situation, I requested to move to the front of the plane right before landing, so I could run ahead of the rest of the passengers. And run I did.
Fortunately everything went flawlessly, too well in fact. My luggage was one of the first to come out and there were almost no lines for customs, immigration, and check-in. The flight to Langkawi was short and sweet.
From the airport I jumped in a cab to my hotel.
Bon Ton Resort
Arriving around 10 pm it was already very dark out. The front of the hotel looked like a store of some sort. I walked in looking for the reception or someone from the hotel. There was a gift shop that led to a restaurant. Then walking into the restaurant a man confronted me.
– You’re David?
– But…you’re ASIAN!?
The man thought I would be European judging from my last name and he was surprised (shocked) that I looked Asian.
He invited me to sit and enjoy a welcome cocktail as he gave some background and information on the hotel and property. I was handed a personalized letter to review that welcomed and introduced me to the resort. We sat for 15 minutes or so chatting and getting to know about the place. The first thing you notice is the countless number of cats moseying about.
I was then shown the Malaysian hut that was to be my room, “Blue Ginger”. Yes, all the rooms have names. Since they knew of my late arrival, they had already closed the windows, sprayed twice for mosquitoes, as well as turn on two mosquito machines.
Then after settling in a bit, I went to the restaurant to get a bite to eat. The tables were cleared except the best table in the open-air patio, which was set and waiting for me in case I came to eat. Details.
The pool was open till midnight, so I went in for a relaxing dip before drying off and heading to bed.
I will go into more detail about the room and property in tomorrow’s post. But I felt like I was in the middle of a jungle. It was really peaceful and all that you could hear were some unknown insects chirping in the wind. I’m curious to see what the property looks like in the daytime tomorrow morning!