Thursday, December 20, 2012

Highland paradise in Borneo


REST and relaxation, an all-natural spa on the premises, long leisurely walks, greenery as far as the eye can see — and on the high plateau at the border of Sarawak, the eye can see a long, long way!

Look north, and there’s Kuching almost lost in the early morning mists. Only a few of the high-rises stick out above the sea of white cloud. Look south, there are the rolling hills of Kalimantan, range after range, thickly clad in verdure.

The Hornbill Golf & Jungle Club at Borneo Highlands Resort is located 1,000 metres above sea level where the air is cool, between 18 and 28°C. No air conditioning is needed in the Club House, in fact most guests gratefully snuggle under a warm blanket at night.

If it wasn’t for the comfortable Club House, visitors might imagine they were deep in the jungle, amidst in  Borneo’s wide array of unique flora and fauna.

The number of guests is strictly limited to 60 per day to minimise the overall impact on the surrounding area, while human activities are carefully designed to fit in with nature.

These nature-appreciation activities include walking trails, an obstacle course, visits to waterfalls and the spectacular Kalimantan Drop-off, and bird-watching which may well include a flight of majestic hornbills.

Not only has the Borneo Highlands Resort managed to do this very nicely, it has recently been chosen as one of the world’s Top 10 eco-friendly hotels by leading travel portal, Agoda.com.

The meatless cuisine served at Anna Rais Cafe is just one aspect of the health regime. Organic vegetables are grown at the resort’s organic farm and there’s a horticulturalist on hand if anyone wants specific information.

At least one staff member appears to be a consummate jungle forager — the delicious wild mushroom fricassee has to be tasted to be believed!

HIGHLANDS RETREAT

And now, the little secret: Many visitors make their way up Borneo Highlands for the sake of enjoying nature.

Others, however, have discovered that this is where golf is taken to a high level — 1,000 metres, to be exact. The invigorating temperatures keep keen sportsmen and sportswomen cool and on the ball, the clear mountain air makes teeing-off a pleasure.

The 18-hole golf course is bedded into the natural contours of the rolling terrain, surrounded by forest-clad hills on all sides.

The Hornbill Golf & Jungle Club offers a lot more than golf! It offers a quiet retreat and fresh air to the harassed city dweller. After a strenuous round of golf, the tired body needs revitalisation (or should that be called coddling?).

Full spa facilities provide steam baths, saunas and jacuzzis, traditional massage, foot reflexology, aromatherapy, meditation therapy and organic facial and body treatments — or a relaxing bath with 1,001 flowers!

Fitness freaks find a well-appointed gym with up-to-date equipment and skilled employees, fruit juices and herb teas complete the pleasant rejuvenation process.

The guest rooms and suites in the Club House accommodate golfers in the midst of their favourite sport while a rustic-type cafe caters to their every need. An obstacle course tests muscle- and willpower and jungle trails lead up into the hills, with the occasional glimpse of Kuching’s tall buildings, far far away...

To reach this highland paradise, travellers drive from Kuching to the Foothill Station. They are well advised to leave their cars there, and let experienced chauffeurs take them up in four-wheel drive vehicles. The road is scenic, each hairpin turn reveals another vista of mountains and mist-shrouded valleys. The trip itself is a pleasure, if viewed from the passenger seat!

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