Lake Kenyir is perhaps one of the most underappreciated places in Malaysia. Even locals do not really know how beautiful the area actually is. Lake Kenyir Resort is the only resort with international allure besides numerous basic lodges. The resort comprises of 135 individual timber chalets; each chalet is secluded and offers modern amenities and facilities. Most chalets have a beautiful view of Lake Kenyir; so you can admire the panoramic views of the lake, rainforest and hills right from your balcony. It is safe to say that you should not stay here when you are renting a hill view or garden view chalet; as you then will miss the amazing views.
We had bought some vouchers up front; which gave access to a Deluxe Room with lake view. Upon check in the lady at the counter asked us friendly whether we would like to upgrade to an executive suite for a mere RM80 per night. Although we were tempted, we decided not to upgrade; as the Deluxe Rooms should already be very beautiful and it was. We arrived late at night, so we did not see anything in the dark. The chalet however was beautiful with all facilities; nice shower, perfect bed, a sofa and a television. There was no wifi in the chalet, only in the lobby; which was unfortunate but perhaps understandable.
The next morning we were truly amazed on how beautiful Lake Kenyir really is. From out of our room, we had an amazing view on the lake, the islands, hills, jungle. Especially the clouds that gave the whole area a misty vibe were beautiful. I can now say that I think Kenyir is one of the most beautiful attractions on peninsular Malaysia.
The resort is build onto a hill, with the lobby at the highest point. This means it is a steep walk up the hill to walk to the lobby from your chalet. The resort offers a pickup and return service with (golf car resembling) buggies. At the main counter, you just mention that you want to go to your room and the buggy will arrive within seconds to pick you up and drop you off at the chalet. From the chalet, you just ring number 3 and ask the person at the main desk to get a pickup from the chalet.
The resort is especially popular amongst locals and companies that organize their teambuilding events at the lake. So far, it has not been that popular amongst tourist; but that will surely change in the near future; as Lake Kenyir is quickly developed into a genuine tourist attraction; on that, Malaysia can be proud of. At the time that we went to Lake Kenyir Resort, it was still low season (March 2010). That meant that there were not that many tourists and it meant that it was very quiet at the resort. Apparently, it is more crowded during Malaysian holidays, and peak season from June to August. The best season to visit Kenyir is however during monsoon or rainy season (especially if you are keen on angling).
A small point of discomfort was the empty mini bar. Though I can understand why the resort leaves the mini bar empty; after a call to reception it was not possible to have it filled with some drinks. When I arrived at the lobby to buy some cans, I had to pay RM15 for a can of Coke; which is quite expensive (ridiculously expensive is a better description). Later we found out that a can of Coke at the restaurant below the lobby charged ‘only’ RM8 for a can of Coke. I did not quite understand the difference in price. I also did not understand why the mini bar in the chalet was on all the time, when there was next to nothing to put in there. We tried to buy some drinks and snacks at the resort, but this was either impossible of very expensive. We then asked to have us dropped off at a nearby village to just buy something there; but the buggy transport would only go to the resort exit. There were no taxis or other means of transport; so a nice stroll to a neighboring village Pengkalan Gawi was our only option. Though it was only 15 minutes to the small village, it was quite hot at that time of the day so we were burned a bit during the walk. The small village however is nice; there was a small hawker; some tour offices; a tourist information office and a small supermarket where we bought some drinks and snacks. We had a nice lunch over there too; we paid RM10 for two plates of fried rice and two roti canai.
If you want to do some tours on the lake, you can go to the tour office at the lobby area. You can choose from many different tours, all ranging in price and duration. We compared prices with the tour offices at Pengkalan Gawi and they were roughly the same (we noticed a RM10 difference per person). To us the price difference did not justify another walk through the blistering heat. We went for the ‘standard’ Soak Waterfall and Herb Island tour; which was already truly amazing. The tour cost us RM40 per person and took two hours. We were lucky that there were two other guests; else as we would have had to pay for a third person too. The thing is that all the tours have minimum required participants. Most tours can only take place with at least six people, some with three. The standard tour had a requirement of 3 persons, but with only two people interested it means you have to pay up to the requirement (so three times RM40 for the tour). I guess a better way of ‘selling’ these tours to couples is to also sell the tours for two persons, but then with a different but fixed price.
Breakfast at the resort was fine. Lunch and dinner was also fine. We enjoyed some of the local dishes, and in the end did not even come to ordering the western food. We paid RM24 for a big dish of Nasi Lemak and RM20 for a dozen of sateh skewers. It was good to see that they even had a children’s menu. Contrary of what I read up front at other internet sources; you can buy beer or wine at the resort.
We had a wonderful time at Lake Kenyir Resort. The resort is located at a fantastic location. When tourism to this beautiful area really picks up, this resort will be the best choice available. The overall atmosphere was perfect; the tours were also amazing. We especially liked the chalets very much; with the absolute highlight the stunning views on the lake right from our balcony. Kenyir can easily compete with places like Taman Negara (Pahang), Cameron Highlands and Belum on the peninsular Malaysia. We even noticed quite some similarities with the inlands of Borneo; though this of course is a freshwater lake. The only downside I can think of is that Kenyir seems more out of reach for travelers that hail from KL. In the end it’s easy to combine with either a trip to Cameron Highlands (only 4 hours to Kenyir from there) or a trip to one of the beautiful tropical islands (like Perhentian, Redang of Kapas).