BESIDES the Butterfly Park, Roses Farm, Boh Tea Plantation and steam boats, one of the main reasons one would decide to visit Cameron Highlands is for the fresh, crimson strawberries. Therefore, if it was only out of pure strategic planning, it would only make sense to choose the nearest resort to the strawberry farms. The Strawberry Park Resort, located a mere 10 minutes’ walk from the farm, instantly charms the visitor with its wrapping cosiness; nested on an exclusive hill top, bathed in sun and low fog; the resort is a heaven of various varieties of lilies, pine trees and edible plants (or so the guide tells me). I have visited Cameron Highlands many times in the past, but I was not prepared for the beauty of the hotel: perfectly coordinated with the surrounding nature, in soft cream colours and wooden structure, the low-rise apartments remind me of French-Alsatian houses.
Flowered balconies and French windows give to the resort this distinct natural and yet elegant look. With rooms overlooking the dense forest and luxurious bathroom, the temptation is strong to bubble-in all afternoon in a warm bath. But activities are plenty around the resort, and I decided to head down to the strawberry farm first. One afternoon in Cameron Highlands passes extremely fast: while it takes only 10 minutes to walk down to the farm, it is easy to stay there more than one hour, shamelessly indulging in
the fresh strawberries, with or without cream or sugar, home-made jam or even taste-bud teasing strawberry ice cream.
Slightly self-conscious of the 3000 calories absorbed in less than one hour, I agreed with myself to walk (or roll) down the 5 km to the nearest town Tanah Rata. The road is down-hill, so once arrived at my destination; I was thrilled to catch the free Strawberry Park Resort shuttle back to the hotel, cruising on the now surreal looking road, in the dark and foggy evening. At night, the temperature drops slightly below 20 degrees, and I thought that nothing would be more welcome than a hot tea to finish the day. I was proven wrong; since the SPR organized a BBQ dinner and the abundant buffet and lamb-roasted fumes were most welcome! After a fantastic fusion evening, most of the guests gathered to the first floor velvet lounge to indulge around glasses of liquor or if the schedule permits, to enjoy a football evening transmitted on the room’s giant screen. For those keener on reading pleasures, the nearby fireplace is queen in a quieter room. There are so many choices to spend the evening that one might regret to be able to go through only one dinner at a time! Hidden behind the lounge, a very private room serves meals ala- carte, in a decor of red table cloth, stalagmites candles, dried flowers bouquets and low lights. If the mood is more towards a classic Chinese dinner, the ground floor is home to an adorable restaurant, in the all Chinese tradition, even with a finish of melodious Chinese music in the background.
To top it all, the resort opens a disco at 10:30 at night, of course offering the preferred attraction of many locals: Karaoke! How much better can it be to end a day in Cameron Highlands, but to sit with friends and family in a well decorated club, listening to one another outdoing themselves silly in a wannabee-singer-for-a-night competition? Sunday mornings present the excellent occasion to start with a few laps in the indoor pool, followed by the house buffet breakfast, offering a wide range of continental and Asian delicacies, not to mention the special dim-sum brunch, sampling exquisites of Malaysian Chinese cuisine. In the clear mornings, the restaurant room is presenting itself in is most grandiose light: overlooking a low valley, the feeling to be immersed in total nature and greenery gives to the day an unbeatable glow. Before leaving the resort, one should not miss the “Brahma Jati” original description of Chinese astrology. Amazingly realist for Dragons, Snakes and Goats, the text should be read even out
of pure curiosity.
All in one, the SPR creates the most relaxed ambiance while providing all the comfort expected of a grand hotel, even to the smallest details. A must location to sojourn in Cameron Highlands. Did I mention the extreme friendliness of the staff? I am leaving the resort with a smile almost as wide as the receptionist Benjamin to whom I owe a special thanks for his help. Cameron Highlands plateau was discovered by William Cameron in 1885, and I cannot help but wonder how challenging his expedition must have been. Traveling through tropical jungle, and fighting off low temperatures at night, wild animals,dangerous elements, and unknown human settlements, he was still subdued by the charm that would one century later seduce worldwide tourists. In the centre of Malaysia, Cameron Highlands offers the beauty of European sceneries, the mildness of Mediterranean weathers, and the richness of Asian cuisine. Did someone mention heaven on earth to me? All right, before leaving, just one more visit to the Strawberry farm…
This article has been edited for Expat Go.