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“Understated luxury”

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Japamala Resort by Samadhi
Ranked #1 of 19 Hotels in Pulau Tioman
Certificate of Excellence
Gothenburg, Sweden
Level Contributor
44 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Understated luxury”
Reviewed 23 July 2014

Just back home form 6 night at Japamala and I can't describe the resort as anything but a slice of paradise. A tranquil paradise with 13 chalets,(approximately 26 guests) with two pools, two beaches and enough pavilion/beach beds space for all. I'm not sure how I will adjust to a normally crowded resort again...

The chalets are made of wood giving a charming rustic feel which is enhanced by the shower and toilet being half-way outside. If you have issues with animals this might however be an issue since geckos will most likely show up in the shower, the day bed might be occupied by monkeys and ants are to be found all over. If that is not an issue you will find the rooms lovely with a comfortable not too soft bed, fan and AC, enough space to store luggage, large bathroom with clothes rack, tv with international channels and a reasonable priced mini-bar. There is no room-service or store but you will most likely not miss it. A stay at Japamala includes a complimentary afternoon snack, served at the beach or you room depending on where you are (they will find you), a complimentary drinks and hour d'oeuvres hour before dinner and turn down service with night cap and chocolates.

The two restaurants, Italian on the jetty and mixed Asian at the main building, serves high quality meals and drinks to a reasonably price (average entree price 40-50 RM, bottle of wine from 105 RM) which is a big plus since leaving the resort will require boat transfer.

Overall, a stay at Japamala will be pampering in a discretely luxury environment.

Room Tip: Sea view chalets number 15 has a great layout and an excellent view. The waves might be slightly lou...
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Cecpet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
13 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 July 2014

Having spent 3 night in another resort on Tioman we were absolutely delighted to arrive in Japamala for a further 3 night stay. The resorts private speed boat collected us and after a short 20 minute trip from Tekek we arrived.

Aruni, the resort manager welcomed us and showed us around. There are only 13 chalets in Japamala so you never feel crowded, on the beach, in the restaurants or bar. The setting in the rain forest is spectacular and having troops of monkeys walking across your balcony is a great experience, along with the pythons sleeping in the trees and giant monitor lizards lazily walking around.

The beach is amazing, the snorkeling is fantastic. On previous holidays we have had to take boat trips to go off to coral reefs, in Japamala just swim out to the end of the jetty and you will see the most amazing coral and array of fish, all colours and sizes, and even the odd shark.

Food is of a very high standard and the daily free cocktail hour in the bar at the end of the jetty is very welcome after a hard days sun bathing - thanks for the great service Sam!

When leaving, we availed of the private speed boat again back to Mersing which at about €23 each is a bargain (saved getting on the smelly, unreliable, crowded ferry!) .

I cannot speak highly enough about the hospitality of the staff, all very friendly and courteous. We thought this resort was amazing and would highly recommend it.

Well done Aruni, we loved the stay, only wish we had stayed longer with you!

Following Japamala, we returned to KL and stayed in the sister hotel, Villa Samadhi, equally fantastic, see separate review.

  • Stayed July 2014, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Hugh G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level Contributor
24 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 July 2014

We had a nice time at Japamala, and if we had paid a lot less for the experience I would have given it a better rating. But having spent over £250 a night to stay at a beach hotel in south-east asia, as a splurge for our last holiday before our first baby, we had certain expectations in terms of service and facilities, and unfortunately Japamala failed to live up to these.

In terms of service, the staff were on the whole friendly and helpful, but at no stage did they ever anticipate our needs (which I'd use as a marker for somewhere in this price bracket), and in a lot of cases if we wanted something we'd need to track someone down to get it. I wasn't expecting room service or anything like that, but I had assumed that someone would come round and take drinks orders from the beach huts during the day rather than us having to get up, go to the main restaurant, and call out into the kitchen to try and find someone. Similarly in the evening there generally seemed to only be one person serving which meant, despite doing the best job they could, they obviously couldn't cover all the tables at once. I'm not sure whether they were having staffing issues at the time, but it just seemed like they needed a lot more people to make things run smoothly. In addition, the couple of times we had slightly out-of-the-usual requests (in relation to things which would make our stay a lot more comfortable for me as I was six months pregnant at the time), the answer came back that it wasn't possible - so in one case we had to really fight for something and in the other we ended up just sorting it out ourselves which didn't really make us feel very positive towards the place. If I wasn't paying so much money (or if I was making outlandish demands) I would have been less suprised by their attitude, but these were things it would have been pretty easy to sort, and having paid 5 star prices I really was hoping for better.

In terms of facilities, as a splurge we went for a hillside sarang room, but in retrospect I wouldn't have done so as we didn't use the things which cost the extra money. We did use the plunge pool a couple of times, mainly because it was there and we felt we should, but it was pretty dirty and there was nothing you could clean it with (a net would have been v helpful) so it wasn't the nicest of experiences - and given the sea and the pools it wasn't necessary. We also didn't use the downstairs area of the room at all as the aircon upstairs wasn't powerful enough to cool it so it wasn't pleasant to spend time there. There was no storage space in the room which I found pretty extraordinary in this price range and given the fact there would have been plenty of space for it, and the bed was bizarely high (I'm 5'11 and found it a struggle) and insanely hard and uncomfortable (I put the duvet provided under the sheet which made it a bit more bearable, but only just).

There is no question that Japamala has a lot going for it - it is in a great location, the resort is nicely designed, and the food is good. However the overwhelming impression we took away is that they either needed to seriously up their game, or lower their prices.

PS - On a practical note, if you are the type of person who is attractive to bugs, make sure you bring loads of repellant and use it religiously. I got absolutely devoured by sandflies on my first day before I realised it was an issue, and on subsequent days they found any gap in my DEET and attacked so I ended up with 43 bites by the time I left (the reason I know is that the bites are insanely painful so my husband counted on his thrice daily anti-itch cream application duties, lucky him!!!) - I guess it's just one of those things, no-one else really seemed affected, including my husband.

  • Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Tori010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cardiff, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
23 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 July 2014

My husband and I spent 5 nights here at the end of our honeymoon! We had such an amazing time, the place is so relaxed and chilled out.

The water is beautiful and very clear. We spent the days relaxing on the beach and snorkelling and the evenings enjoying the free cocktail happy hour and delicious food at Mandi-Mandi. I wouldnt say the hotel is of 5* standard, there is no room service available and we regularly had a problem with the aircon in our room cutting out during the afternoon making it very hot on our return. Aruni, the resident manager was brilliant though, although she couldnt do much about the aircon due to it being a problem with low electrical supply in the afternoons she did organise a free massage for us and also a free bottle of wine on our last night. The staff were all very friendly and helpful and we could have spent so much longer there.

Although there have been complaints about the cost of the speedboat, we found it was a brilliant way to arrive at the resort and I would recommend it to others.

We would really like to return here one day for a little bit more of paradise!

Room Tip: We liked the sea cliff rooms, although no 16 is meant to be the best, we stayed in no 15 and also ha...
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  • Stayed July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Bethan E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 July 2014

My wife and I stayed at Japamala for 7 nights in May this year as part of our honeymoon.

We had a fantastic time, from the second we were greeted by the manager on the jetty to the day we left.

Loads of attention to detail and very friendly/smiley/helpful staff.

We really hope to go back one day...

Room Tip: Sea Cliff Chalet is a MUST!
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Josh M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Pretoria, Gauteng, South Africa
Level Contributor
9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 21 June 2014

The resort is situated on one of the most beautiful spots on the Tioman island. As you will read in other reviews the traveling to get to Tioman is not a great experience. But it is worth it when you arrive at the resort. We stayed there for a week and was treated with excellent service by the resort staff. The beaches are beautiful and the marine life is truly something special. The resort was undergoing maintenance and what was going to be two days of people working at the resort become the whole week. The food was expensive but very good quality and and a great variety is available between the two restaurants. Our room was situated on a large boulder overlooking the ocean and beautiful white beach. We struggled to sleep at night with the air-conditioner not working properly. Overall it was a great experience and we enjoyed the remoteness of the resort.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Warno R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Durham, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
85 reviews
49 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 June 2014 via mobile

We stayed here for three nights for some chill out time after a few hectic weeks in the hustle and bustle of Vietnam and Cambodia. The ferry ride over to Tioman isn't a particularly pleasant experience but when you arrive at Japamala you are bowled over by its beauty .
We stayed in a hillside sarang which kept you fit as it was high up on the hill so only accessible by a lot of steps, it had an outdoor plunge pool, day bed and shower. We fell asleep on the day bed on our first night and only went inside as it started to rain, it was so comfortable! The rooms are well equipped with everything you need, a nice bathroom with double sinks and a big shower with a full length window looking out into the jungle, a lovely downstairs relaxing area and a minibar with all sorts in it.
There is a happy hour every evening with free cocktails and nibbles and the breakfast and both restaurants were very good and reasonably priced.
My partner had a massage in the spa and thoroughly enjoyed it and we used the complimentary snorkelling equipment available to snorkel the reef, there were also kayaks you could use. There were a number of lovely cabanas that you could use overlooking the beach that sheltered you from the sun.
It was approx a 40 minute fairly gruelling walk through the jungle to the nearest village of Genting, we saw monkeys and massive water monitors as well as lots of different birds, it is also nice to walk along the beach and clamber on the rocks but you need to be careful as the tides come in and out quickly. On our last night we hired a speedboat to take us to Salang village which is about 40 minutes up the coast and is more lively, we had a nice dinner there but I can't recommend taking a speedboat ride after dark as it was pretty scary!
Whilst we were staying there was a problem with the water a couple of times but we did get a discount on our bill because of this, I think it is a common occurrence on the island unfortunately and is not unique to this resort.
One criticism; there is not enough seating in the bar area, you have to get there early to get a seat or stand, some bar stools might be a good idea!
Tioman island is lovely and if you want to get away from it all I would highly recommend this resort.

Stayed June 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank Mim74
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Japamala Resort by Samadhi

Property: Japamala Resort by Samadhi
Address: Kampung Lanting, Tioman Island, Pulau Tioman 86800, Malaysia
Phone Number:
Region: Malaysia > Pahang > Rompin District > Pulau Tioman
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Pulau Tioman
#1 Spa Hotel in Pulau Tioman
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Japamala Resort by Samadhi 4.5*
Number of rooms: 13
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
JapaMala is Tioman Island’s only boutique resort, and one-of-a-kind in Malaysia. This small and exclusive resort of 13 rooms is hidden amidst 11 acres of lush tropical rainforest. A one-village-one-resort property, JapaMala has its own private and quiet beach. While some charming Malay village-style villas and chalets dot the jungle and beachfront, others nestle in the most breath-taking spots.Best described as an ‘eco-luxe’ resort, JapaMala transcends the experience of living close to nature by redefining it with a touch of luxury. Designed by natural streams, steep cliffs, towering boulders and where no trees are felled, the entire resort borrows from nature its elements to offer an exceptional sense of paradise, freedom from the real world. While serious relaxation is an elusive commodity for many, one can truly succumb to the healing effects JapaMala imparts through its holistic blend of sumptuous gourmet treats, intimacy between man and nature, unique spa experiences and truly unprecedented hospitality. Many say JapaMala is not just a place, but a state of mind. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Japamala Hotel Pulau Tioman
Japamala Resort
Japamala Pulau Tioman

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