Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Haven Resort and Residences, Ipoh

When I got the invitation with this subject heading, " An Invitation To Be Among The First To Review & Experience Perak's Best Eco Resort and Asia’s Luxury Retreat Of The Year, The Haven Ipoh!". needless to say I was rather excited.  For starters, Perak has to be my favourite state in Peninsular Malaysia, (Terengganu comes a close second), I love Eco Resorts, and who doesn't love luxury.  A quick seach on google showed an impressive collection of stunning vistas, of a place that looked like a forgotten lost world, with all the benefits of modern day living.

Ipoh is now highly accessible for the lazy driver, a train ride is a skip hop and jump, and with Uber in Ipoh now, it's even more convenient to hitch a ride from the train station to wherever.  I enjoyed my ride on the Platinum Train, (which comes with "food service" and non stop journey) and two hours later, KL seemed like a distant dream.  Mind you, Ipoh is just as hot, if not hotter than KL.

The staff of Haven were at hand to greet us at the station, and we were ferried to the resort.   Location wise, it's located after Tambun Lost World and Banjaran, if you're travelling in that direction towards Tanjung Rambutan.

Some interesting facts about THE HAVEN

- It's Perak's tallest and most luxurious resort Condotel
- It's operated by the Best Western INTERNATIONAL (not to be confused with the other local one) family chain of hotels, and is BWI's finest eco resort in Asia
- The centrepiece is an iconic 14 storey high, 280 million year old limestone outcrop named "ROCKHAVEN".


- It is surrounded by tower karst hills, which is rare.
- The owners have gone to great pains to preserve the virgin rainforest within its grounds
- The natural 4 acre lake is constantly flowing and provides a stunning view for rooms with the lakeside view.
- The Haven is amongst the pioneers in Malaysia to harvest all availble renewable energy sources, like rainwater, solar power, windmill turbine.

- Do you see a Seahorse? Well, The Haven has specially designed and trademarked its own 60 metre seashorse shaped swimming pool

The Seahorse pool is actually divided into various sections, as they pride themselves for catering to 3 generations, ie, parents, children and grandparents.  The tail is the wading pool, whilst the main body is the main pool, and one of the sections is a jacuzzi.  The gorgeous see through glass really makes the pool quite unique....and when viewed from the opposite side of the property, it looks like a wonderful large aquarium.

Ideally, when staying here, one should have a car, because it is quite far from civilisation, even to get some basic stuff is not easy.  There is a shuttle service provided, but it's not gratis.  As we had not had lunch, we adventurously ventured out to seek out some food, but the scorching heat made us give up our food quest after 20 minutes.

The F&B outlet, Cuisines, does serve a comprehensive menu, but as we were going to be dining there at night, I thought I'd try something else, but ended up at Cuisines anyway and guzzled a couple of cold beers and burger.  (one burger).  More on the food later.

We had the honor of being briefed about the development, and the Founder, Mr Peter Chan was also present, and told us of the challenges faced during the development.  It was indeed a rather visionary and bold move to undertake a project of such proportions, but the site itself is remarkable, and whilst its arguable that such a site should not fall into the hands of a private owner, in many ways, it's better for the site to be within the control of a responsible owner, than being plundered and quarried as seems to be the fate of many limestone sites in the area.

The project consists of 3 blocks, A, B, and C, Acacia, Banyan and Cycas respectively, with the corresponding tree planted in front of each block.

The suites types comprise:
1 bedroom Lakeview Suite
2 bedroom Horizon View Suite
2+1 bedroom Lakeview Superior Suite
2+1 bedroom Lakeview Deluxe Suite
3 bedroom Lakeview Executive Suite
3 bedroom Lakeview Executive Deluxe Suite
3 bedroom Lakeview Premier Suite
3+1 bedroom Lakeview Ambassador Suite

We were taken on a brief tour to view the various configurations.  All the suites are amply spaced, most notably the one bedroom is huge!!!

One Bedroom

Room rates range from RM380 per room during low season, (Per room ya, not per suite), and is perfectly suitable for families, with facilites for light cooking such as instant noodles, (not full fledged gourmet meals).


Aptly named, Cuisines, for now the only F&B outlet, really does have a wide variety of cuisine.  From burgers to Ipoh Hor Fun.... a very multi talented chef they must have.

Dinner started with a middle eastern platter of Pita Bread served with Hummus, Baba Ganoush and Tabbouleh.  We noted the Pita bread was remarkably tender, unlike the hard commercial stuff you sometimes get.

An experimental bean curd skin wrapped dish that resembled Lobak but wasn't quite Lobak in the traditional sense.

The famous Ipoh Curry Mee...  Which had a satisfyingly thick coconutty broth, although missing the one MUST HAVE ingredient in my opinion, SEE HUM. (Cockles).

Wat Tan Hor, (Flat rice noodles with eggy gravy), which was very tasty, and comparable to the ones you'd get at the "Tai Chow"s, with sufficient "Wok Hei".

Chicken Charsiu Rice - This was a nice surprise, the Charsiu style marinade, with the fluffy delicious chicken rice, is definitely something I can eat repeatedly.

And for dessert, their signature Pisang Goreng, with is has delightfully light batter, and has a clean crisp taste, obviously fried in fresh oil.

As night falls, the view becomes even more spectacular, with Rockhaven lighted up, likea stage with the spotlight on  the main star.  We were there on a weeknight, so the night lighting was kept to a minimum, but I've seen pictures of the place fully lit at night and it looks spectacular.

 Photo courtesy of press kit

Photo courtesy of press kit

As a new day dawned, it was time for breakfast at Cuisines. 

Breakfast - A comprehensive buffet spread, most importantly with egg station, to get your freshly made egg in whatever form, and the most crucial Malaysian must have, NASI LEMAK.  Steaming hot from the cauldron, the fragrant aroma of our favourite staple wafted through the air.

After breakfast, a morning stroll around the grounds, to check out the flora and fauna...

So tranquil...I'm sure it's a stark contrast to school holidays where the peaceful silence is pierced with the cacophony of humans revelling in a good time..

The early bird gets the worm, so they say...

For the uninitiated, there's lots to do in Ipoh, as we discovered, after we finished our time at The Haven, and the Haven staff very kindly brought us on a looksie looksie tour of the surrounding area.  The itinerary originally was to cover Ipoh town, but having been there so many times, it was unanimously agreed that it would be better to check out the sights nearer to the hotel, ....from the hotel, on the horizon view, in yonder, one could see a temple perched on a hill, which was interesting.

From the temple, you could see the three towers of the Haven...albeit rather Hazily...

In Bercham, a Thai type temple, with a host of Buddhas, in all shapes and sizes...

An interesting visit to the Masjid Muhammadiah, a Chinese mosque, which was built by Chinese Muslims, as a reminder that the faith transcends all ethnic backgrounds and does not belong to any one race.
And finally the famous Perak Temple, nestled in the huge limestone caves.

For more information, call
or email

Friday, March 18, 2016

Magnum Pink and Black Launch....

If one did not know what the product was, and was present at the glitzy launch, one might be forgiven in assuming that it was perhaps the launch of a fancy car, or jewellery or something beyond the reach of the ordinary mortal.  So, its nice to see that the product in question is something way within the reach of the ordinary mortal, in fact, it is my default to go to cold snack, the MAGNUM Ice Cream.  There's something reassuring about buying a Magnum, ever since its advent in Malaysia way back yore, I think in the early 90s if I'm not mistaken.

Held at the swanky Aloft, the foyer of the ballroom was a buzz with the glitterati, decked in Pink and Black, which was the order of the night, and also the dress theme, which surprisingly most guests adhered to.

To start there was an interactive "Mood Test" at the Moodology Kiosks, whereby you answer a few questions to determine if you were feeling Pink or Black, and the results were displayed in the ballroom with a vast majority feeling Pink.  In the ballroom itself, various kiosks, like the Magnum Pleasure Bar, that served drinks and desserts inspired by the new ice creams.

The Make My Magnum station was where you could personalize your own ice cream with various toppings, inspired by the new Magnum Pink and Black.

The evening started with a speech by the Who's who of Unilever Holdings Malaysia Sdn Bhd, ... Mr Rakesh Mohan, who said that "We strive to give the best to our customers by constantly innovating.  Pleasure and luxury have no boundaries and neither does Magnum ice cream.  We love our followers and our fans, and we will never stop bringing more pleasures in new and unique ways"
So WHAT EXACTLY is Magnum Pink and Magnum Black???

MAGNUM PINK is a lush, silky Pink Pomegranate flavoured ice cream with delicate swirls of Pomegranate sauce. On the outside, a pearlescent layer of world-renowned Pink Belgian chocolate carefully envelopes every inch of the ice cream. The tanginess of Pomegranate and the inviting Pink hue certainly reflects fun, exuberance and playfulness.

MAGNUM BLACK is intense Black Espresso swirled through smooth vanilla ice cream and covered in a thick layer of premium dark Tanzanian Chocolate, creating a supreme and redefined taste that appeals to both gourmet coffee and chocolate lovers alike.  A match made in heaven if you ask me.

A glitzy video with dance performance highlighting the Pink and Black theme led to the climax of the night, the unveiling of the two new flavours....and thereafter guests were treated to dazzling performances by violinist extraordinaire, Dennis Lau, and our renowned iconic songstress Ning Baizura...
The Magnum Brand Manager, Christine.... and Me...

The party packs came with these...

MAGNUM PINK and MAGNUM BLACK are now available in two packages; a single 80ml stick at RM4.50 each and a multipack of three 80ml sticks per flavour at RM13.50 per pack. Both packages are available in all major retailers and supermarkets.

To discover more on MAGNUM PINK and MAGNUM BLACK and your MAGNUM Mood Colour of the Moment, visit For live updates, please visit MAGNUM Malaysia official Facebook page at and Instagram page at

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Arran Single Malts ...From The Scottish Isle of Arran to the Exotic Pairing With Thai Food At Ekkamai

When an invitation drops in your lap that involves a hitherto unheard of Single Malt, (through no fault of the brand, I might add, it's just that little old me is not so exposed to the myriad range that are out there) combined with one of the latest retaurants to be opened in that hip Batai Village area, of course, it's almost like an invitation to the Academy Awards.  Okay, maybe not quite, but still, rather exciting nonetheless.

We were greeted by Euan Mitchell, Director of Arran Single Malt Distillery....Arran is a small island, which is virtually uninhabited, boasting a population of 5000, if I remember correctly, which is probably the population of Bangsar and Damansara Heights put together.

In an enjoyable intimate setting, dinner conversation was indeed sterling, just like the whiskies we were tasting.
We started with the 10 year old, the flagship single malt, which is easy to drink, perfect pre dinner chit chat tipple, that has sweet oak and honey on the nose.  The finish is crisp, and mellow.  Sure can't tell it's a "humble 10 year old".

Next up was the 14 Year, which was so popular that in that short time we were there, other patrons in the restaurant had bought up almost the entire stock that was there.  An elegant drink by any standard, with notes of dried fruits and vanilla.  The finish is a lingering creamy sweetness, and paired with the luxurious platter of Thai starter,

............ a medley of flavours assailing the palate.

By the way, the word WHISKY is of Gaellic origin, according to Evan, from the word USQUEBEAH...

The Bothy Quarter Cask, bottled at Cask strength, is highly unique in that it is initially matured in first fill ex Bourbon Barrels before transfer secondary maturation in smaller American oak casks.  It is a limited edition Arran Malt which pays homage to the use of small casks, which is reminiscent of the way it was back in the 18th & 19th Century, when clearly none of us were born yet.

A old gold color, with sandalwood spice on the nose, and pineapple and apple on the palate, culminating in a floral finish.

Meanwhile, complementing the Stars of the Show was a very able back up team by way of the excellent food at Ekkamai...this Weeping Tiger Wagyu Rib Eye, melts in the mouth and is the perfect companion with the subsequent 18 year and Machrie Moor.

I'm not sure what Mr Scotsman was up to, probably demonstrating some Kilt movements....

The Machrie Moor is the peaty version of the Arran, and in 2010 they released a limited edition under this name.  Machrie is the name of the Peat moor on the west coast of Arran.  Bottled at 46% without chill filtration, its most distinct feature, and I'm sure it's by design, is the lingering peaty finish, which obviously is not everyone's glass of whisky, but I love it!!

The sequel to that is the Machrie Moor Cask strength, which well, basically is a stronger version of the "normal" one.

In summary ...ta dah, the curtain call of the STARS...

For more information, contact
Ms. Abigail Chua
Brand Executive
Single Malt Sdn Bhd

Office: (03) 62032151
Fax: (03) 62031972

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