Could Desaru be the next Hawaii? A coastal town surrounded by the palpating pulse of the South China Sea offers the most incredible beach escape for a moment into solitude. Offering that escape are these idyllic luxury hotels and beach resorts on the pristine southeast coast of Malaysia in Desaru, Johor, that have garnered the eager eyes of many travellers and locals alike.
Though it seems like a fledgling compared to established tourist havens, the likes of Penang, Langkawi and Sabah, Johor, in recent years, have begun to blossom into a compelling tourist destination. The comprehensive offerings range from the wholesome to the luxurious. Johor Premium Outlets is fast becoming the place for style mavens seeking a bargain from European labels. Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Fendi and Gucci are some of the tenants in the modern open-air complex.
Families flock to Legoland Malaysia Resort, the first Legoland theme park in Asia and one of only 6 in the world. Spanning 76 acres, the resort houses 3 roller coasters and 2 water rides. It counts 20 attractions in total, ensuring that it is impossible to be completely explored in a single day, thus warranting a repeat visit.
Named by TIME in 2021 as one of the greatest places on Earth, Desaru Coast is now a playground for the rich and famous – a far cry from the soporific village it used to be. While the beautiful coastline is a definite highlight, Desaru also offers a myriad of activities for families and friends to enjoy. This includes the famous Adventure Waterpark and where you can tee off at the immaculate greens of the Els Club. For more, check out our guide to the best family-friendly attractions in Desaru. While it might seem hyperbolic to equal them to those in Hawaii at first, in reality, they pale not in comparison.
Holiday as though you are in Hawaii at the best luxury hotels and beach resorts in Desaru, Johor:
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At the acme of luxury hospitality is One&Only Desaru Coast. The opulent, breathtaking resort is a harmony of wellness retreats and epicurean encounters. Thanks to the superbly appointed Villa One boasting a 27m-long private pool, the Kerry Hill-designed hideaway is drawing in the country’s most discerning tastemakers. Every facet of this expansive resort feels curated and personalised. There is so much to savour sensorially, not least at Ember Beach Club helmed by Michelin-starred chef Andrew Walsh. The eatery specialises in East-meets-West flavours and barbecued meats and seafood — which is sourced from local fishermen. Highlights include barbecued octopus with a yuzu mayonnaise; grilled prawn skewers paired with peanut satay sauce and mango slaw; and grilled lobster basted in a spicy, homemade XO butter.
With amenities exclusive to the Hard Rock brand where aural delights are prioritised, Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast is all about good vibes. Beyond memorabilia-bedecked interiors, the hotel is a thoroughly luxurious resort. Catering to the musically inclined, the outdoor infinity pool is equipped with an underwater sound system, while the exceptional suite, of which there are 29, comes with handpicked records and playlists. Not to mention that a Fender guitar can be rented should you be melodiously inspired. If you’re feeling peckish, stop by The Elephant & The Butterfly for Mexican food and margaritas, all-day eatery Sessions for local and international fare, or Constant Grind cafe for a rejuvenating cup of coffee.
Awake to a stunning sunrise vista over the lagoon, Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas is home to a collection of one-to-two-bedroom abodes, each fitted with elegant furniture thoughtfully put together. A modern living space juxtaposed with traditional Malaysian design, it opens up to a timber deck that leads to a private plunge pool and a spacious gazebo where privacy is a guarantee. If the pool villa doesn’t measure up to your lofty standards, you may want to check into the colossal 3-bedroom beach residence where a personal butler is tasked with taking care of your every need. Dining options are plentiful, with venues like Sea.Fire.Salt whipping up seafood and grilled fare, and buffet restaurant Turmeric serving a diversity of Asian and international delights. For those staying in the pool villa, the hotel can even arrange for an in-villa private barbecue, where you get a personal chef to do all the work while you swim or unwind.
A sanctuary flanked by an immaculate garden at one end and powdery sands at the other, The Westin Desaru Coast Resort is an invitation for weary urbanites to unwind and recharge. Luxury here has no bound. Spanning 2,625 sq ft and boasting a private balcony, the presidential suite houses only one bedroom with its own dining, living and study areas. With space and privacy ferociously safeguarded, the accommodation offers a sense of grandeur and serenity where life is never hurried. For food, head over to Prego for hearty Italian cuisine, Seasonal Tastes for a vast buffet spread, or the Beach Bar for grilled seafood and cocktails.
Sand & Sandals Desaru Beach Resort is the perfect getaway if you’re longing for a white-sand beach and some fun in the sun. Located less than five minutes from Desaru beach, the resort is ideal for honeymooners and families to unwind and enjoy a day of ultimate relaxation. Although not relatively new, the establishment mixes modern style with minimalistic architecture, offering many cosy rooms and stunning suites equipped with a private pool and a garden. We recommend the Romantic Deluxe with Private Pool that comfortably sleeps two and provides a serene getaway for any couple. After soaking up the sun and enjoying all the facilities, satisfy your hunger with a steamboat feast at Fortune Kitchen, scrumptious Japanese teppanyaki fare at Shiokaze Teppan, or a mix of Asian and international dishes at Spice & Herbs.
Nestled along the idyllic coast of Desaru, the Amerald Resort Hotel boasts a breathtaking ocean view if you seek a break from the bustling city. With rooms and suites that blend contemporary decor with a cosy night’s sleep in mind, each bedroom includes a private balcony with a pristine view and a choice of king or two double beds. While relaxing on a sea-view patio can be tempting, the resort also offers thrilling action, from taking a dip in its swimming pool and waterpark to participating in its recreational activities – we’re talking about e-kart, archery and ATV. Not forgetting its eateries located inside the resort for convenience, guests can indulge in tasty food at the Amerald Station Food Hub (which serves local delights), Amerald Seafood Restaurant, which offers Cantonese cuisine and seafood, and the Ruby Coffee House — a go-to if you’re hankering for a combination of Asian and Western fare.
Ideal for family getaways and social gatherings, the Lotus Desaru Beach Resort & Spa is famed for its spacious yet super affordable accommodations. Offering cosy one-bedroom to two-bedroom units, the bedrooms will visually transport you back in time with their classic decor. Each room provides comfort with a homey feel, equipped with a balcony and a comfortable living and dining area. If you’re craving a fun-filled vacation, check out their recreational activities, such as group sports games, team-building challenges and indoor games. Specially dedicated to the kiddos, their Splash Park is perfect for a thrill-seeking time filled with water slides, playgrounds, lazy rivers and more. Food-wise, you’re spoilt for choice. The hotel is home to several eateries including a Korean barbecue joint, an Indian restaurant named Lotus Spices (try its signature chicken briyani with raita and chicken curry), and Rhu Seafood Restaurant — which focuses on Chinese cuisine inflected with Thai flavours.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: The Desaru Beach is the best place to explore and head to for a quick escape.
Answer: The best beach resorts to book in Desaru are One&Only Desaru Coast, Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast, Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas, and more
Answer: You can visit the Adventure Waterpark, Desaru Fruit Farm, Desaru Ostrich Farm, Els Club Desaru Coast, and Teluk Sengat Crocodile Farm.
Answer: Take a short drive to Johor Premium Outlets for a wide selection of luxury and mid-range goods. You can also bring the kids to LEGOLAND Malaysia.
Answer: There's plenty of delicious food in Desaru. Seafood is certainly a highlight, and can be enjoyed at various restaurants such as Ember Beach Club at One&Only Desaru Coast and Sea.Fire.Salt at Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas. If you're keen on driving around to explore the place, don't miss Super Lobster Restaurant, which specialises in lobster and seafood dishes. It offers lobster cooked in a variety of sauces and marinades such as black pepper, salted egg, chilli and herbal broth.