Turtle Watching Resort Malaysia
FOR many of us, the closest that we have gotten to a turtle was the TV screen. And for me, finally coming face-to-face with baby green turtles, holding and releasing them into the crashing waves when they are just days old, was truly an eye-opener.
Weighing about 15g to 18g, their tiny bodies would struggle against the sand as they made their way to sea, not knowing that they have less than 1% chance of surviving to adulthood.
These baby turtles would become part of the food chain for birds, crabs, big fishes and other marine animals; or victims of oil spills, plastic bags and fishermen’s nets.
If you want to be part of this rare experience, Resorts World Kijal in Kemaman, Terengganu, is more than happy to provide this opportunity.
The Turtle Release activity is part of its turtle conservation and awareness programme, aside from the Turtle Walk where children can enjoy face-painting, build sand castles, walk and sing along the beach before releasing the baby turtles.
Interestingly, its 7.5km beach is a spot for turtles to lay eggs; therefore the resort also offers Turtle Watching for guests to witness this priceless moment.
The best time to experience this incredible phenomenon is between May and July, though guests might not be lucky sometimes because of the unpredictable weather, so the resort will replace it with turtle egg planting at the hotel hatchery or releasing the hatchlings.
According to Resorts World Kijal Fun and Adventure manager Ragunathan Kathirgamu, this is part of the resort’s mission to conserve the environment.
“We want to educate visitors especially the young ones on the importance of protecting endangered sea creatures and their habitat. It is important for them to know why the turtles are shying away from our shores.
“There used to be a time, at Rantau Abang, where there were so many leatherback turtles. Now, we hardly see any. There are people who disturb them and poached the eggs for their own use.
“Our resort wants to continue creating awareness and foster greater appreciation and instil the love in people towards this delicate sea creature,” he explained.
Aside from turtle watching, a group of us had the opportunity to enjoy other activities by Resorts World Kijal, thanks to Genting Malaysia. They were a welcome reprieve from the daily humdrum of the concrete jungle.
East coast getaway
The resort is about a three-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur if you take the East Coast Expressway and approximately five hours via the Karak Highway.
It is a suitable local getaway for families and companies that want to do their teambuilding there as activities are customised according to the nature of the company and its objectives, according to Ragunathan.
Established 20 years ago, the resort is also known for its 18-hole golf course that sprawls across 55.44ha and overlooks the beach, while giving golfers a challenging game as it is sand-based.
The well-kept championship golf course has a par of 72, and consists of the Palma and Rimba Nines that are open not only to hotel guests but walk-ins too.
On the other hand, the beach boasts a breathtaking view, especially if you take a walk at dawn to watch the sun rise and listen to the soft ripples of the sea – a relaxing experience that is worth waking up early for.
For its sea activities, Resorts World Kijal works closely with operator Sea Sport that provides excitement-seekers a range of fun activities like banana boat ride, jet ski and towables.
Sea Sport also offers bicycles, two-wheel electric scooters, buggies and all-terrain vehicles (ATV) for those who want to explore the charms and curves of the resort.
The resort also offers other activities for guests including water polo, aerobics, tennis, a visit to the night market or Kampung Ibok’s firefly sanctuary while the children can take part in colouring contest, storytelling or even play on the life-sized chess and Snakes and Ladders board.
According to Resorts World Kijal general manager Julia Ter Abdullah, the resort boasts the biggest swimming pool in Terengganu, spanning about 1672.25 sq m.
The pool is shaped like a number eight, and is divided into sections for children and adults.
If you are feeling tired and need rejuvenation the resort’s Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa offers a holistic range of authentic traditional Javanese and Balinese massages as well as pedicure and manicure, body scrubs, and facial and hair treatment.
As it was my first time in Terengganu, the resort certainly did a good job at whipping up exquisite delicacies to give me an introduction to the local fare.
For guests who might not want to venture beyond the grounds of the hotel, there are four eateries at the resort.
Restoran Kampong Meraga Beris caters to those with an appetite for local dishes while Waterfall Cafe, overlooking the swimming pool, serves local and Western favourites.
Located at the hotel lobby is Hainan Express, a cosy lounge that offers coffee, tea and light snacks as well as non-alcoholic cocktails.
As for Oasis Beach Bistro (OBB), it sits by the beach for you to enjoy Western and barbecue dishes and the local live band amidst the seaside ambience and picturesque view, especially after sunset.
Amenities and Facilities
“It is our aim to be a one-stop centre for holiday-makers and tourists so they can purchase tour packages with us to visit local attractions. They just need to come here and relax while we plan and make the necessary arrangements.
“We are currently in the process of getting tour licences to achieve that goal of becoming a one-stop resort.
“Plus, we are working with travel agents in Johor and Singapore as we are targeting the Singaporean Malay market. It would be great for them to visit and learn more about the culture of Terengganu,” said Julia.
She added that the resort is a place to relax and offers guests nature activities not found anywhere else.
“Think of Resort World Kijal, think of turtle watching. That’s the tagline I remind my staff all the time,” she added.
On another note, Resorts World Kijal features 340 rooms of four different types – Deluxe room and Premier Seaview room measuring 383 sq ft while the Deluxe and Premier suites are 929 sq ft each, which offer a private jacuzzi bathtub right in the garden with an entrance to the beach. The Deluxe range overlooks the garden while Premier rooms face the sea.
The rooms, together with the hotel, is equipped with modern facilities and amenities while the staff makes sure your needs are being looked after for a hassle-free holiday.
For companies who want to mix work and play, there are meeting rooms that can fit 50 pax each, as well as two ballrooms of up to 350 people.
A visit to Kuala Terengganu
The resort is about a two-hour drive from Kuala Terengganu, because after all, what’s Terengganu without a visit to its state capital.
Among the places we got to check out were Pasar Payang, Noor Arfa Batik and the Crystal Mosque.
Pasar Payang or the Central Market is a double-storey market that has all kinds of goods such as sea products, snacks, candies, and keropok.
The wet market on the lower level is where you can find fresh seafood and preserved sea produce like ikan bilis, salted fish and dried cuttlefish.
At Noor Arfa Batik, we had the golden opportunity to watch how batik is made as it is dubbed to be the largest batik producer in Malaysia.
There is a wide range of batik wear for you to choose from including long sleeved shirts, caftans, ties, traditional Malay dresses and scarves.
Noor Arfa Batik also provides guests a hands-on experience in batik-making and painting through their “Do-It-Yourself” activity, which is open to the public for a minimal fee.
Before heading back to Resorts World Kijal, we were taken to Taman Tamadun Islam to view the Crystal Mosque.
Opened in February 2008, this unique and iconic building is made from steel and glass, which makes the mosque look crystal-like.
Resorts World Kijal is offering three packages until Dec 31, 2016 that offer visitors a memorable stay.
The Turtle Watching Package is a three-day, two-night stay in a Premier Seaview room, breakfast for two and a one-time turtle watching session.
For a weekend of golf, the Kijal Weekend Golf Package at RM276 (RM138 per person) includes a one-night stay in a Deluxe room and one round of 18-hole course golf for two.
As for the Kijal Weekend Promotion, the one-night stay in Deluxe room at RM199 or Premier Seaview room at RM249 that comes with buffet breakfast is catered to those who just want a short break.
For details, visit www.rwkijal.com or email at email@example.com