The Club at The Saujana: the Highlight of Malaysia

- John Nielsen, For John Nielsen, luxury hospitality and tourism has been part of his life since he recalls. Having been fortunate to travel extensively during his childhood in Denmark, it was almost a natural choice for John to join the Scandinavian travel company, Spies Travels in 1983. This journey and a beginning of his career, took John to Madeira & Portugal, where he gained his love of luxury hotels. From there three years were spent studying in Switzerland, then to South Korea at Hotel Lotte, to Hong Kong with hotels including the Mandarin Oriental and Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, Hyatt Carlton Tower in London, Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur, Crown Towers in Melbourne and Grand Hyatt Melbourne. Throughout the years in senior management John developed a passion for wine and in 1998 co-founded Liquid Assets Wine Storage in Melbourne. In 2006 John joined Kiwi Collection as a Regional Director in Asia Pacific and today continues to consult as well as contribute to WOW Travel. John recently completed his Master of Business with an added Master Degree in Tourism. These days John is based in Melbourne with his family, working for the Australian PGA Links company as General Manager of Hospitality. The travel bug will forever stay and with family based across three continents, there is always a good excuse to seek out new destinations and new wines.

Kiwi Insider John Nielsen stayed at The Club at The Saujana on his recent trip to Malaysia, and found that this hotel in Kuala Lumpur was the true highlight of his vacation. This is the perfect hotel to go to if you want to have a golf vacation in Malaysia. Check it out!

There a few ball sports that puts mankind against a ball, but no other opponent, just a small hole, rolling fairways, sand dunes and inch cut green’s. Golf is often described as a “frustrating, but beautiful game”, where else can you walk around hitting a ball into tree’s, lakes and in the same breath of air yell out a few names and on the last fairway drive the perfect shot into the green and come back for more punishment!

I realized upon taking up the game a few years ago that even with its frustration there are a tremendous amount of highlights to be found when playing golf…or trying should I say! The location of golf courses can often be quite spectacular and it can be a superb way to experience the countryside. When travelling I now always pack my golf shoes and a small bag with important elements of the gear. I rarely carry my set of golf clubs as I have found over the years that in most cases good golf clubs pay attention to those details, as was the case in Saujana, Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia has a varied and beautiful countryside and in general the weather is ideal for a round of golf. It was with great sense of anticipation that visited the re-vamped Club at Saujana, a boutique resort-in-the-city of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. I had known it as a “Hyatt” that I always was very found of. I was not to be disappointed.

The hotel has been beautifully re-designed featuring stylish Asian inspired interiors. There is a wonderful calmness around the properties tranquil ponds and landscaped grounds. After a few hectic days down town in KL arriving at this city resort feels like I have just arrived on an isolated island retreat. The 25 min drive or 15 km from downtown is a breeze. The soft music and warm welcome greets me, as I am escoted to a Club Room. The Club at Saujana offers a great range of room styles, my room has plenty of space to lounge about in, but I am short of time to lounge about, so I head straight to the first rate fitness centre. After the work out and sauna I relax by the 39-lap pool before dinner, the lap pool is such a great addition, rarely are swimmers given a purpose built lap pool to do laps in.

Club at Saujana Hotel in MalaysiaI need an early night before my engagement with the challenges of the golf course, I tell myself it’s hardly the US Masters that I am playing, but knowing my playing partners I would like to at least keep the ball on the fairway and not in the lakes!

After a few too many restaurant meals in Kuala Lumpur, I decide on room service and a glass of red wine. The elegantly decorated trolley arrives and I kick back watching some show. I am totally relaxed in this environment, the comfort of the bed is perfect and I soon find myself in a deep sleep.

As I wake up to another nice day I stretch out with a morning swim, I am sure a certain Mr. Woods would do this to limber up before hitting the course! Breakfast is enjoyed in the Club Lounge, fresh juice, herbal teas and a great selection of breakfast items has given me the ideal start to the day.

The calmness of the resort is everywhere to be found, staff greet one warmly and I feel completely at ease as stroll to the impressive Club House overlooking the two courses final holes of the Saujana Golf & Country Club. The friendly staff kit me out and soon I am on the first tee with my playing partners. We are playing the Palm Course, feared by some and respected by many, just what I need! Also known as “The Cobra”, it is 6610 yards (6 KM) off the blue tees and 6692 yards (6.1 KM) from the black. The 172-yard Par 3, 2nd hole has been rated as the “Most Difficult Hole in Malaysia”….another bit of news that I don’t really need to know!

The conditions from tee to green are perfect, lush fairways, some say amongst the very best in Malaysia. Designed by Californian Ronald Fream a respected golf architect, the courses have been carved out of a former palm and rubber plantation and set among rolling hills and large tranquil lakes the course is a real treat to play. Our caddies do a great job in guiding us along; my caddy’s handicap is 5…he gives me plenty of needed tips.

Club at Saujana Hotel, Malaysian Golf ResortHis advice is perfect as I managed to shoot a respectable score. It’s always hard on a new course to know what club to use, but the caddy rarely gets it wrong. The 18th is a stunning par 5 that wraps around water off the tee shot before darting straight uphill. As the final ball drops in a big smile appears on our faces, we are all ready for a cool glass of local beer on the beautiful outdoor patio and maybe a taste of Malay food. Along with the snack bars on the course and the large locker room, fit for a pro tournament, the service is exceptional from the second you arrive.

A fellow player mentions that he has played most of the courses around Kuala Lumpur and this is still one of the best. He also asked me if I could join him for trip to play another Ronald Fream course in the Genting Highlands. A mere 45 min drive the course is more resort style, but is well respected by good players. I like the sound of the idea and we agree to meet next morning. I bid my friends farewell and walk back to The Club at The Saujana where the spa awaits and wow what a joy that turns out to be.

The massage is sensational, and I feel like a new man. I relax by the excellent 39-meter lap pool whilst working away on my laptop, I love modern technology, and friends think I am sitting at some office desk…….another fruit cocktail please!

Prior to dinner at Senja, I visit the fitness centre just to make sure that I can enjoy my Italian dinner a bit more. I am totally relaxed at dinner; the day’s efforts are now rewarded with an exceptional meal. The linguini special is perfect and their red wine recommendation matches the dish perfectly. As I walk around the resort after dinner and enjoy the tranquil setting, I reflect on how the designers have got it right, be it for business or pleasure, there are so many small details that make the Club at Saujana a great place to visit.  Tomorrow is my last day before I head home and back to reality, I am looking forward to my outing to visit the highlands.

As I check out and enter the waiting car to take me to the new international airport located 58 km from Saujana, I take a last look over this city resort, and reflect. I loved the challenge of playing the Palm Course and it was great seeing the Genting Highlands with its resort style course and sees the many stunning natural sights and beauty of the mountains, but the highlight of the my trip to Malaysia was The Club at Saujana. Although only a short stay I feel like I have been on an extended holiday at this city-resort.

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