Spectacular Christmas Weekend at Cameron Highlands Resort
Set 1,500 metres above sea level in a forested mountainscape, Cameron Highlands Resort is built as a long extension from an existing 1930s cottage with architecture dating from the 1070s. Stepping into this resort is like a time travel back to the days when Malaysia was still under the rulings of British colonial powers.
Endearingly known as the ‘little piece of England in Asia’, the cool climate on the picturesque plateau and its hilly greenery are tailor-made for rounds of golf, pink-cheeked rambles along jungle trails, tea plantations, farms or gardens, afternoon tea with scones and spa treatments that celebrate the restorative powers of tea.
We were treated to a wonderful highland getaway filled with trails, tales and traditions, with the highlight being a fanciful Christmas dinner followed by the beautiful Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and soaking in the festive atmosphere at the Christmas Market. With so many exciting activities, we show you the things you can eat and do at Cameron Highlands Resort.
Breakfast at the Dining Room
Walking into the dining room in the mornings perk me up immediately as the aroma of strong, black coffee filled the air, mixed with the fragrance of freshly baked bread. Dining here is the perfect start to the day as the sun-filled room overlooks the lush mountaintops and the golf course, giving me a tranquil and positive feeling.
You can look forward to savouring a plethora of breakfast items. Part of these items are displayed on the dining counter in the middle of the room while other items are prepared upon order so that they’ll arrive piping hot for your consumption. You can order items such as omelettes with parmesan, smoked salmon and scallions, waffles, buttermilk pancakes and noodles of the day, just to name a few. You can also go for the freshly baked pastries, fruits, yoghurt and cereals placed on the dining counter. My favourite dish was the waffles filled with warm banana butterscotch, topped with strawberry compote, king island cream and cinnamon-crusted mango tempura.
Explore the Jim Thompson Mystery Trail
Cameron Highlands Resort aligns their activities and offerings with the mysterious disappearance of Jim Thompson, an American businessman and architect. He is said to be a legend in Southeast Asia as he almost single-handedly revived interest in the Thai silk industry with the establishment of the Jim Thompson Thai Silk Company which survives and thrives to this day. Besides being famed for his revival of the Thai silk industry, Jim Thompson had a love of nature and the countryside. On Easter Sunday, 26 March 1967, he set out from the Moonlight Cottage for a mid-afternoon stroll in the jungle and was never seen again.
Therefore, Cameron Highlands Resort offers guests a mystery trail where you can learn more about Jim Thompson’s strange disappearance. This relatively easy trail combines Jim Thompson’s passion for the surrounding hills with the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance. Well, I was very fascinated towards the end of the trail as there were many conspiracies about his disappearance. I shall not spoil you here so join the mystery trail if you’re interested to find out Jim Thompson’s real identity and what actually happened to him.
The guide was really informative and knowledgeable as he kept pointing out different plants and flowers while explaining interesting stories. We came across peacock fern, Chinese gooseberry, orchids and Scottish pine trees that are more than 100 years old. I didn’t know that you can find 635 species of orchids on Cameron Highlands before this trail. Moreover, I even found out that in the past around the 1950s, it was only 2 degrees Celsius in the foresty area of Cameron Highlands. And … We trekked along this almost-out-of-sight stream that was used by the Communists during the Japanese Occupation. This mystery trail is suitable for families as parents can learn new things alongside their kids. Please wear comfortable walking shoes and arm yourselves with insect repellent.
Lunch & Tea at Jim Thompson Tea Room
The elegant decoration embodies old-world charm and gentility of the colonial plantation lifestyle from a bygone era. We began our lunch with the best strawberry juice that I’ve ever tried. It was juicy, sweet and super addictive. Needless to say, I ended up having their strawberry juice for every single meal. Caesar Salad with traditional condiments, cherry tomatoes and bacon was served as starters. On other days, there is the Cameronian Tomato Soup. While the salad featured a distinctive textural crunch which I liked, the tomato soup was perfect for the chilly highland weather.
For the mains, you have a choice between the Farmhouse-style Chicken Pie served with mash, peas, Vichy-style carrot and mushroom cream sauce or Spaghetti Aglio Olio with crispy fish on some days while on other days, you get to choose either Spaghetti Bolognese or Sweet & Sour Crispy Fish Fillet served with highland vegetables and jasmine rice.
Remember to end off on a sweet note with desserts such as the Highland Strawberries served with chocolate soil, Chantilly cream and vanilla Anglaise or Sticky Toffee Pudding served with caramelised banana and ice cream. I preferred the latter as it wasn’t too sweet, yet perfectly executed. The combination of ingredients used complemented each other and contributed to an overall deliciousness.
Besides having lunch in the tea room, you can also indulge in the time-honoured ritual of English Afternoon Tea with oven-fresh pastries, delicate sandwiches, homemade scones, clotted cream, strawberry jam and plump strawberries. This is complemented by a selection of specialty teas from Cameron Highlands and my favourite was the Mango Tea.
Pamper yourself at Spa Village
Spa Village Cameron Highlands is a unique haven for relaxation and rejuvenation where tea is the foundation for the experience. The treatments at Spa Village feature healing therapies based on produce surrounding the jungles and ancient tea rituals. Since Cameron Highlands is famous for strawberry farms, I opted for 2 hours of Fresh Strawberry Escapade.
Strawberries are evocative of an English summer and have been a symbol of purity and passion. Romans cultivated them for their medicinal qualities, believing that strawberries bring relief from depression, infections and fevers, as well as ailments of the kidneys, liver and blood. Centuries later, Madame Tallien, a prominent figure at the court of Napoleon, was reputed to bathe in the juice of strawberries for its healing properties. Pureed fresh strawberries also soften the skin and cool inflammation.
There were three parts to my ultimate spa experience. My treatment started with a strawberry tea bath where nervous tensions and stress are eased, leaving the body rehydrated and mind feeling rejuvenated. This was followed by the strawberry body polish, a refreshing body buff made of fresh strawberries, yoghurt and crushed oatmeal. Strawberries and yoghurt contain natural alpha-hydroxy acids that help soften and refine skin texture. Finally, the treatment ends with a strawberry aroma massage. This is a luxuriously sublime treatment in which massage techniques blend touch and aroma to create sensations of pleasure and wellness to deeply heal your mind and body while soothing your soul.
I felt completely well-rested after the treatment and the masseur was really good. I would highly recommend everyone who stays at Cameron Highland Resorts to indulge in the spa village experience as it was really wonderful.
Dinner at Gonbei
The cool weather atop Cameron Highlands makes it ideal for steamboats and Gonbei restaurant allows you to cook around a heated hotpot. It’s kind of like a semi-alfresco restaurant hence, having steamboat gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling. We had the original soup base, as well as, the spicy soup base. There was a good variety of fresh local produce featuring farm vegetables, succulent seafood, prime meats and noodles for you to dip into the simmering fragrant broths. Leave some stomach space for desserts too!
Christmas Dinner at the Ballroom
Christmas Dinner was a grand and glamorous affair as everyone dressed up formally and was seated at beautifully decorated long tables. In the middle of the ballroom was where the chefs did their little performance of preparing the meat, slicing them up and serving the guests. We started with an assortment of quiche like mushroom, smoked salmon & spinach and turkey ham for the entrée.
The mains consisted of smoked turkey stuffed with onion, walnut & sage served with gravy, rosemary & mustard roasted leg of lamb served with balsamic sauce and salmon en croute served with dill cream sauce. My favourite was the smoked turkey but I felt that all the meats were very well prepared and full of flavours and tenderness. I dug into my plate heartily and had many servings of side dishes such as glazed carrot, baked potato with maple syrup, Brussels sprout, cauliflower & bacon gratin, herbs roasted vegetables and Christmas spiced red cabbage to accompany the meats.
Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
After a satisfying Christmas dinner, the moment that I anticipated most has finally arrived. It’s Cameron Highlands Resort’s 10th year organizing the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony. It has become a signature event at the resort for guests to escape to the highlands to celebrate the festive season. The cooling climate atop the highlands enhanced the entire festive atmosphere. Although I was in Malaysia, I felt as though I was celebrating Christmas in a European country. I was really impressed with the lighting ceremony as the façade of the resort instantly started shimmering like a million little diamonds.
After the lighting ceremony, there were Christmas Carols being sung while guests were invited to browse the Christmas Market. Grab a glass of mulled wine to keep you warm while browsing the stalls. You’ll find those with a sweet tooth gathered at the desserts stall for cakes and pastries. It’s a good idea to bring some souvenirs back and I recommend the homemade jams and fresh strawberries from the highlands farm. You can also get some customized Christmas cookies or snow globes as gifts for your loved ones.
The most convenient way of getting to Cameron Highlands Resort is to catch a flight from Singapore Changi Airport to Sultan Azlah Shah Airport in Ipoh before transferring to the resort by car. The time taken for the transfer depends on the peak hour jams and range between 2 to 3 hours. With a myriad of activities keeping me busy at Cameron Highlands Resort, I had such a memorable weekend there. I really like the intimate country-style living which was made even better with attentive yet unobtrusive service. I really had a wonderful Christmas weekend with Cameron Highlands Resort and I’m thinking of bringing my family back there.
Note: This is a sponsored trip.