x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

The Club at the Saujana, Kuala Lumpur

The Club is much more than just a business and golf hotel, but for a Holiday destination it needs to offer more.

Nestled in 160 hectares of tropical gardens, The Club at the Saujana is one of the finest resorts in Kuala Lumpur.
Nestled in 160 hectares of tropical gardens, The Club at the Saujana is one of the finest resorts in Kuala Lumpur.

You arrive abruptly at The Club at the Saujana. There is no sweeping driveway. In fact, you are off the motorway and at the hotel entrance in only two quick turns. As you cross the threshold, this boutique business resort begins to make sense. Beyond the lobby, there are 160 hectares of tropical gardens and two golf courses. The resort is the latest to be opened by GHM, the management company behind the Chedi in Muscat and the Setai in Miami. It has taken the company 16 months to upgrade the premises to create a top-class Kuala Lumpur hotel within an exclusive country club. I was warmly welcomed. Iced ginger tea and cool towels were brought to me and the check-in formalities were unfussy. My bags were in the room when I got there.

The Saujana estate is a vast old palm and rubber plantation on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur. It takes about 30 minutes to drive into town, as traffic can be terrible. The main airport is 35 minutes in the other direction, while the private jet terminal at Subang airport, which also hosts some of the region's low-cost carriers, is only five minutes from the resort. Saujana's biggest luxury is its green space and clean air. The city may be encroaching but the huge old trees and the lawns hide every sign of development. The Club at the Saujana, with only 105 rooms, is especially peaceful for being situated across the lake from the main country club facilities, run from the sister hotel, the Saujana, which is twice the size.

The service is keen - often too keen. Everything that I could ask for was delivered, occasionally in duplicate. My minibar was replenished twice an hour, all day. Their new, apparently unique concept of club concierges is a reinvention of the butler service, which in its own way is a renamed room service. The young Austrian restaurant manager, Robert Bimminger, was particularly efficient and innovative.

The spacious rooms, from 43 to 122 square metres each, look out over the swimming pool or the lake. They are all are fitted with iPod docks, sound systems and built-in TVs. The complimentary minibar is enhanced with a Nespresso machine. There are gorgeous king-size beds and walk-in wardrobes but the bathrooms are best. Separate rainbath showers are wonderful as are the vast almond-shaped bathtubs with a dashboard of music and lighting controls. My favourite rooms were terrace suites that open to the swimming pool.

The two 18-hole golf courses are Malaysia's finest and regularly feature on lists of the world's best. The Saujana also has tennis and squash courts, a fitness centre and two family-friendly swimming pools. All this is open to Club guests, as are the seven restaurants and several bars. The very point of staying at the Club, however, is to escape the golfing crowds, the families and the conferences at the main resort. The guests belong to two categories. There are the businessmen who glide between the lobby sofas, the boardrooms and the golf courses. The other group will be at the pool or having an in-room spa treatment, while planning to go shopping downtown.

The Club's own restaurant offers an international menu, including outstanding dishes of roast venison and a dukkah tuna nicoise. Breakfast is a spread of fruit, pastries and other savouries.

All extras, including laundry, minibar, wireless internet and coffee in the lounge, are included in the room rate. The swimming pool is enormous and peaceful, the only distraction being the tropical birds. The golf course is one of the world's finest, despite the monkeys and monitor lizards occasionally posing hazards. The green area, which lies close to the city centre, can be best appreciated from a helicopter.

The service is over-eager but friendly. The spa is ordinary, but in-room treatments are excellent. The only real gripe is the rush-hour traffic, which can make driving downtown quite tedious, but the setting is special because it is away from the metropolis.

This is a perfect boutique business resort, with discreet luxury and fantastic facilities. High-tech conference suites, an immediate private jet terminal and a world-class golf course are ideal for the top-end of Kuala Lumpur's business market. The Club is also suitable for those looking for a short, restful stopover in this busy city. Overall, this is much more than just a business and golf hotel, but as a holiday destination in its own right, it needs to offer more, especially in its spa treatment menu. The bottom line Doubles at The Club at the Saujana, Kuala Lumpur, cost from $325 (Dh1,200) per night (www.theclubatthesaujana-kl.com; 00603 7843 1234). * Charlie Scott