Penang spells paradise
IMAGINE the thrill of diving in crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life, hiking along jungle trails, marvelling at nature's wonders from a parasail, or simply doing nothing more strenuous than soaking up the sun beside a pool.
The word paradise is often over-used but it could well become synonymous with the Penang Mutiara Beach Resort for anyone who has enjoyed a stay there.
It is completely self-contained and seductively perched just a coconut's throw from Teluk Bahang beach, which has strong claims to being the finest stretch of sand on Malaysia's Penang island.
The 438-room complex, set in seven hectares of tropical greenery, is a mix of luxury topped off with traditional Asian service. Each guest room has a balcony affording ocean views which makes it the ideal place to linger over breakfast or enjoy cocktails.
If a walk along the palm-fringed shore at sunset or a prolonged session in the whirlpool or jacuzzi fails to drive away the stress and strains of city living, then an hour or two of windsurfing, canoeing, catamaran sailing or a round of golf might just do the trick.
The resort's award-winning restaurants serve Malaysian, Sichuan, Cantonese, Japanese and Western dishes.
There are plenty of supervised activities for children, such as water sports, visits to traditional batik printing villages and a variety of energy-absorbing games.
Directly opposite the hotel is a village where fishermen can be seen weaving their nets or sorting their catch.
The resort can also arrange boat trips to Monkey Beach where guests can try their hand at fishing or snorkelling and round the day off with a beach barbecue.
A short distance from the picturesque harbour of George Town, the island's largest town, is Penang Hill. An invigorating walk to the summit rewards visitors with breathtaking views.