Berjaya Tioman Resort was established in the 1980s, the same year the Penang Bridge was inaugurated. Close to four decades later, it continues to draw tourists to its sun-kissed beach and crystal-clear waters.
Accessible by a two-hour ferry ride from Mersing in Johor or a 1.5-hour flight from Subang in Selangor, Pulau Tioman is one of the crown jewels of peninsular Malaysia’s east coast.
For those who wish to soak in the sun while getting some much-needed R&R, Berjaya Tioman Resort is the ideal island getaway. It also plays host to a beautiful 18-hole golf course with sweeping vistas of the South China Sea on one side, and majestic, rolling hills on the opposite side.
The Garden Chalet is the most basic accommodation at Berjaya Tioman Resort and, seeing how one would spend most of the time outdoors, it gets the job done.
Carrying a rustic kampung look heavily influenced by east-coast architecture, all the fundamental creature comforts are available. These include basic coffee/tea-making facilities, a fridge, an iron with the accompanying ironing board, a TV, bedroom slippers, and standard-issue bathroom amenities.
The air conditioner, while old, is more than capable of keeping the room cool enough for you to comfortably escape the searing tropical heat after your tan.
As the property has been around for decades, certain features could benefit from an upgrade. For instance, this writer’s shower’s drain required maintenance – an individual chalet issue – although to their credit, the resort’s crew were more than happy to attempt to rectify it.
Kampung grub, sunset drinks
Hungry? There are four dining outlets to choose from here: Asean All Day Dining, Matahari, Beach Bar, and the Pool Bar.
Start your day with a very Malaysian buffet breakfast at Asean, though do watch out for some of the tamer mynahs that hang around, looking for opportunities to swoop down and peck at littered crumbs.
While its fare is enough to fill the tummy, those looking for a full-blown gastronomic experience for breakfast may opt to look elsewhere. Being an all-day dining area, Asean also serves lunch and dinner.
Matahari, located adjacent to Asean, is your go-to place if you’re hankering for Thai cuisine or something different; while the Beach Bar opens from the evening until late at night and features a live band to serenade you while you sip cocktails and watch the sunset.
Curiously, you will see the resort’s staff dining with the rest of the guests during mealtimes – perhaps to encourage a more communal experience, though this is a rare sight indeed.
A splashing good time
While the swimming pool sports a design clearly harkens back to the previous century, you would do well to spend your time on the beach. After all, Tioman’s primary attractions are the surrounding dive sites.
Renggis Island is situated less than two minutes away by boat, offering a magical snorkelling experience. The pristine waters are enchanting enough that you can get lost for hours on end taking in the undersea sights.
Do remember to slap generous dollops of sunscreen on yourself unless you want to return sunburnt!
If golf is not your thing, there are numerous activities to keep you and the family occupied. The fire dance on weekends is certainly a crowd pleaser, and you may well lose yourself in a few magical minutes under the stars, enraptured by the locals’ mesmerising performance.
You can also rent bicycles to explore the massive resort, while those who yearn for more sea shenanigans may rent a stand-up paddle board or go kayaking. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not kayak to Renggis and back again?
The best time to head out would be during the low tide, as it allows you to walk farther from the shore and take a peek at the colourful corals that house marine life. It’s akin to swimming in a huge aquarium!
There are plenty of sea urchins lurking around, though, so do pay attention to your surroundings.
A place to reset
Berjaya Tioman Resort is the ideal island getaway for folks who want to spend more time outdoors. Honeymooners might want to choose a different destination since this is a more family-oriented establishment, so expect to see plenty of children running around.
While the amenities and accommodation could only be made better with some refurbishing, the mix of seasoned and new service staff cannot be faulted when it comes to looking after guests. They are courteous and eager to please.
All in all, Pulau Tioman remains one of Malaysia’s natural gems that should be preserved for future generations to enjoy. So, when you arrive at Berjaya Tioman Resort, it would be expedient to put down your bags and answer the call of the sea.
This independent review is not sponsored by Berjaya Tioman Resort.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.
Edwin Kee dreamt of being a pro-gamer only to have circumstances mould him into a programmer in a past life. He has since moved on to write about consumer electronics and other topics.