What a disappointment our 2D1N Desaru Weekend Getaway turned out to be. While Desaru may be perfect for families, it definitely isn’t the place for people looking to relax and unwind. Bad food, weak drinks and dirty beaches might just make you a little more stressed than when you first arrive.
The rooms in Pulai Desaru Beach Resort were spacious; a standard room (45 sq.m) for two was able to fit two more single beds, which should give you a good idea of how much space there is. Typically decorated, they were comfortable and well-equipped with the usual hot water kettle, television, bath robes and bedroom slippers..
However, I was severely disappointed with the mini-bar/fridge; there was none to speak of. The fridge was empty and didn’t look very clean either.
The pool in the hotel looked promising. With a slide and a separate kids pool, we got our towels and looked forward to a splashing good time. However, it was overcrowded and there was hardly any space to wade or swim. This is typical of most resorts, but we hoped that there would be a separate, adult-only pool.
The resort offers a spa (which seemed to be the only point of serenity in the entire place) and other activities, including ATV rides ($25 for 15 minutes) and cycling ($10 per hour). Only cycle, however, in groups, as Malaysian drivers aren’t too friendly to cyclists, refusing to give them a wide berth.
Expensive Food and Drink
Upon arrival, we headed straight to the beach bar for a midday drink and lunch. It looked beautiful, but unfortunately, it was poorly ventilated and we fanned ourselves with the menu to keep cool. Food options at the bar were limited; there were a couple of sandwiches, none of which seemed to appeal to our palette, and which were severely overpriced. I settled for a tuna sandwich, which set me back RM30 ($12).
We also had a Long Island Iced Tea each (also $12), but to our disappointment, the drinks were severely watered down and it tasted like a soft drink. However, the staff were generally friendly and agreed to add an extra shot of rum free of charge.
The next morning, we went down to the Pulai Restaurant for our breakfast buffet, which yet again, disappointed. The spread was limited to nasi lemak, eggs and bread. The food was oily and the buffet wasn’t replenished sufficiently. At the eggs counter, my friend remarked that they were stingy with their ingredients; the cook used half a teaspoon of mushrooms for two whole eggs, and service was slow.
My suggestion to anyone who wants a good meal: do not eat at the resort. Instead, get a taxi out (or if you’re more adventurous, cycle out) to Bandar Penawar, the nearest town, and try some local food. We cycled for an hour to get to a quaint seafood store which the locals raved about and enjoyed sambal stingray, tom yum soup and fried prawns, all for just $23.
The beach in Desaru was rather disappointing. The clear view of the horizon, however, was a nice change from the ships that we often see at East Coast Park, but the sand was far from powdery white and the sea, far from clear blue. The beach was filthy, with trash everywhere and noisy children running around – definitely not the spot for a quiet afternoon snooze.
We ended up spending most of our time in our room, which albeit relaxing, was hardly the kind of getaway we imagined for ourselves. We left Desaru a little more rested, but vowed never to come back again.
On second thought, we might have a different experience if we’ve had checking into another 4-star desaru hotel – Lotus Desaru Beach Resort. The hotel reviews were pretty good and its daily room rates starts from S$75 with complimentary breakfast too.