Bala's Holiday Chalet
Hotel & Restaurant
Looking for a quaint looking country home hotel accommodation in Cameron Highlands? The Lakehouse hotel and Smokehouse hotel way too expensive for you? How about giving Bala's Holiday Chalet a try? Their rates are rather moderate ranging from RM88 for a standard room to RM350 for a family suite, and you can enjoy the kind of home-stay accommodation provided by other boutique hotels around Cameron Highlands.
A Brief History of Bala's Chalet
Here's their history as taken from their brochure:
"Bala's Chalet is one of the oldest colonial buildings built during the pre-war era and has been preserved in its original structure till today. Opened as a boarding school 1934 for European expatriate children as a branch of the more famous Tanglin school in Singapore, it began with 150 pupils and 22 qualified teachers all recruited from England.
The story of the Tanglin School through Japanese Occupation and Emergency inspires any educator. Its owner and headmistress, Miss Griffith Jones O.B.E. had passed on her love for nature by preserving the school's surroundings in its natural habitat complete with tigers and leopards roaming around... but at a safe distance. When Miss Griffith retired in 1958 she still stayed on, in the highlands she had grown to love and was finally buried at the foothills. A former pupil always recalls "tea being served in the best British tradition", a tradition that has passed on till today.
Though now it is no more a school it still carries on this tradition in a different way. It's present owner, K. Balakrishnan, a local boy bought over this property with Peter Blumbach, a German businessman after the school closed down and turned it into a guesthouse which became a fine place to stay in years. In spite of the numerous refurbishment, the original Tudor concept is still being preserved so much so that old girls of the school have returned to pleasantly find they could recognize the music room, the dining room etc. Even the gardener, Mr. Kuppanan has stayed on for the past 47 years tending to his beloved flowers.
Today, Bala's Holiday Chalet has 30 cottage style rooms offering good value for money to travelers. The peace and tranquility combined with the natural surrounding has made it a favorite place for city folks to escape to over the weekends. With some rooms capturing the sunrise and sunset and some others with fireplaces and long bath, its uniqueness is what makes it different from the rest.
Word has got around that the super curries turned out by their chefs are simply mouthwatering, so much so that the Sultan of the State ordered his dinner there while on a visit to the highlands. Their tea and scones found its way into the in-flight Magazine of the Malaysia Airlines as being the best in the highlands. With so much history, tradition, good food and comfort, one still wonders why people come up to the highlands to stay in the town."
A quick visit to Bala's Chalet confirms what was mentioned in their brochure. Very English Tudor architecture nestled within tall trees. However, the old boarding school build by the hill, hence the steep gradient approach of the entrance and the building sits in cozily onto the hill slope. Unfortunately, they too have the snobbish approach when visitors come to have a look at their place, pretty much similar as that of Lakehouse and Smokehouse. But I was quite taken aback when the manager quite coarsely told me not to walk around the premises unless I plan to stay there. Even though The Lakehouse and Smokehouse has got such similar rule, they were very polite and did it with much grace. I guess it is to provide paying guest the privilege of enjoying the beautifully tended English gardens and to afford them the privacy, but they could have done it with a little more tack and respect and should treat every visitor as a potential fare paying guest.
I didn't get a chance to converse with the manager there as he seems rather busy dealing with his guests and ignored me thereafter. But I did manage to have a quick look at their lounge area, and yes it was very cozy though smaller in size than the Lakehouse and Smokehouse. But I guess you pay what you get according to your budget.
No chance to have a look at their beautiful garden this time round. So I can't give any accurate description about it.
As for the supposedly famous tea and scones, I was still rather full from my late breakfast, so I decided to skip having a go at it. But if I do get to try it out I will amend this post and let you guys see what it was like. Hey, it is not easy to go round Cameron Highlands for a 3D/2N weekend holiday and having a tea and scones savouring spree. For lack of a better word, I think my wife and I will get very "jelat" if too much tea and scones get into our body digestive system in a short period of time.
It is located between Tanah Rata and Cameron Highlands Golf Course. There is a very steep road just off the main road. If you are not paying attention you can actually miss it though there is a sign pointing you to the side road to Bala's Chalet. You can't see the chalet because it is completely hidden by the thick jungle foliage. It is pretty much the style of many bungalows in the Cameron Highlands, like a little treasure tucked away in their own little corner of the highland. The distance to Tanah Rata is about 1.4 kilometers and on foot will take you about 15 minutes if you intend to walk to town. But with the comfortable cool weather of Cameron Highlands, it would be nice enjoyable walk.
Overall if you don't mind their lackluster service and the smaller size environment, the cozy ambience of their traditional Tudor style country home and their beautifully tended garden at an affordable rate may just be the choice for you.
If you feel this is for you, their contacts as below:
Bala's Holiday Chalet Hotel & Restaurant
Lot 55, Tanah Rata, 39000 Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia.
Tel: +605-491 1660 Fax: +605-491 4500
Posted on 30-Aug-2006