Berjaya Hills (Bukit Tinggi Resort) nestled within a 6,400ha of lush greenery in Pahang, has a wide variety of interesting offers. It is located about 45 minutes away for the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur, and with Genting Highlands around the corner, Berjaya Hills (Bukit Tinggi Resort) wants to vie the crowds of Kuala Lumpur to have another choice for a nearby highlands resort.
But at 2,700 feet above sea level, it is still does not have the cool climate weather as the other highlands like Cameron Highlands, Fraser's Hills, Genting Highlands, and Bukit Larut. Even without the cool weather, Berjaya Hills offerings can still rival that of nearby Genting Highlands. Because of its relative close proximity to Kuala Lumpure city, you could actually plan a simple day trip with your family or friends without having to stay overnight, much the same like a day trip to Genting Highlands.
Surrounded by 16,000 acres of tropical rainforest of Pahang, you can find within this resort the famous French theme resort known as Colmar Tropicale. The other popular theme retreat is also a must visit if you are planning a visit there is the Japanese Village and Gardens. There is also the Berjaya Hills Golf & Country Club and the Meranti Park Suites. Unless you are an avid fan of golfing, I would say that these two themes - the Colmar Tropicale and Japanese Village & Gardens are the most popular amongst the visitors. The other two places would be more on personal special interest, and I did not even bother to try finding out where the Rabbit Park and Horse Trails is located within this resort.
Getting There by car is not so difficult, from Kuala Lumpur head towards the Karak Highway passing by via the famous Batu Caves and look out for the sign that points you towards Kuantan. Follow the notorious Karak Highway (notorious, because many a mishap has occurred along the highway so do be careful, eh?), pass the turning to Genting Highlands, go through the Genting tunnel and go on till you see a road that breaks off from the main highway. A word of caveat after you have passed the tunnel: keep to the speed limit as the police have set up speed traps as you travel down the steep road gradient. Turn off at Exit 805 and off you go to Berjaya Hills Bukit Tinggi Resort. And if you missed the turning you will be heading towards an interesting not-so-small town of Bentong. But that will be another story on another time!
The road leading up to Berjaya Hills Bukit Tinggi Resort is simple enough, not like the dizzy winding road leading up to Cameron Highlands or Fraser's Hill. Before you reached Colmar Tropicale you could actually spot it from afar standing out against the tropical rainforest as you climb up the road.
You will need to pay an entrance fee before you enter the resort, however if you are planning to stay overnight, the fee is waived or refunded upon your check in.
With so many theme park scattered here and there, here's a possible scenario for your day trip visit plan: first head for Colmar Tropicale, that's where all the buzz and activities are located. After you have satisfied yourselves, then head on over to the Japanese Village and Garden for a relaxing walk and breath of fresh air while soothing your eyes on its beautiful landscaped Japanese garden. Of course, if you have little ones along with you, a visit to the Rabbit Park and Horse Trail may be planned to entertain them and perhaps to learn a thing or two about animals.
Colmar Tropicale is Berjaya Hills Resort interpretation of a romantic 16th century French village in Alsace. It comes complete with cobbled walkways, courtyard, wishing well and cuckoo-clock tower.
The entry way into the quaint Colmar Tropicale town square is by way of a grand drawbridge decorated with colourful daisies along the side. Beautifully landscaped gardens outside the Colmar Tropicale sure makes for picturesque photo session. Here's a tip for taking a memorable photo of Colmar Tropicale entrance, do stand a fair bit of distance from the entrance to take in the entire entrance structure of the building.
For a carnival like atmosphere, go visit Colmar Tropicale on a weekend or public holiday. That's when the crowd throngs the central street of the mock village and you will get to see the many street performance, clowns and entertaining stage shows put up by the resort management. The playful clowns sure blends well with the French background settings, and they are always a hit with the young little children!
The last time I visited Bukit Tinggi Resort was during the Chinese New Year together with my family and relatives, the Berjaya Resort management hired a troupe of Lion Dancers to usher in the Chinese Lunar New Year and to bless the village with prosperity and good luck! The dangerous looking acrobatic feat perform really enthralled the crowds, but sure seems a out of place against the French settings. Ah, well, entertainment is entertainment, and people are always like to see something thrilling and exciting to while away the time. So much for a quiet relaxing day after a long drive from Kuala Lumpur.
Even with the din of Chinese drums and clash of cymbals, I tried to settle down for a nice pizza and café latte while my relatives chit chat about the latest happenings of various family members. It was really crowded and the noise was totally deafening. Food wise, it is mostly western fair with the usual pizza, spaghettis, and French croissant. Altogether there are seven food and beverage outlets in Colmar Tropicale. But to truly experience authentic French dining, you ought to try the La Cigcogne, which was awarded the Best Restaurant 2005 award by the Malaysian Tatler.
So what else is there to expect on the short street of Colmar Tropicale? Well a quick stroll through the courtyard will lead you to a few simple shops like the La Cedeaux souvenir shops, bakeries, but being small place there isn't really much shopping you can do here. Just enjoy the architecture of the Alsace town replica and soak in the carnival atmosphere.
Staying overnight is something you have to try just once, at least. Because when the day's activity is over, and all the day trippers have gone home, that's when the romantic allure of darken street punctuated only by the street lights with the cricket sounds at the background, sure brings out the d'amour in you. Best savoured with your partner, and perhaps even a close group of good friends or family members. A candle light dinner perhaps
and yes, oui, open a bottle of French carbonet sauvignon red wine to complete the romantic dinner. After that what you plan to do afterwards will depend on your imagination. Excusez-moi, I won't say more here
Japanese Village and Gardens
After having tried all things French, we turn our eyes to look east. The Japanese Village, which stands at 1,060m above sea level, is another must visit within the enclave of Berjaya Hills Bukit Tinggi Resort. Just a short drive from Colmar Tropicale, but the road is rather steep even for a short drive. You will have to leave your car at a designated car park area, and walk up the rest of the steep hill. You can avoid the walk if you take the free shuttle from Colmar, depositing you right at the entrance of the Japanese Garden.
Well, since I drove, I had no choice but to walk the balance of the distance from the car park. My aunts and parents-in-law being elderly decided to stay put in the car as they did not want to walk up the steep hill. What a loss, as they missed out visiting the beautiful Japanese garden.
It is a quiet affair in comparison with the carnival like atmosphere of Colmar Tropicale, making it quite a contrast when visiting the Japanese garden after you have made your stop at Colmar Tropicale. Despite the many visitors, it still makes for a relaxing stroll. Walking pass the bamboo entrance, you are greeted with the damp mossy forest. A well laid path makes for an easy walk. Natural stream water flowing down from a gutter through a cement wall and into the pond filled with Japanese carps makes for a good breather.
Following further along the path you will enter the central section of the Japanese garden. Here you will find a Japanese Tea House, where you can witness traditional Japanese Tea ceremonies, a legacy form the days of ancient Japanese emperors.
And if you can afford it, there are luxurious and pampered accommodation called the Ume Tatami Suites, a blend of traditional and urban Japanese lifestyles located right in the heart of the Japanese garden village. And next to it, is the Tatami Spa, the first of its kind in Asia apart from Japan. This exquisite Japanese-concept spa offers a wide variety of relaxing and pampering body treatments handled by highly trained therapists, wearing their traditional Japanese kimono, they will ensure you will have a very comfortable experience from the moment you step into the spa. Highlight of the spa experience is its outdoor rock bath, which Berjaya Hills promises you will receive a rejuvenating experience.
Well no spa for me. Just the smell of fresh forest air and the sound of flowing stream is already quite relaxing. The best time to visit the Japanese garden and to feel the refreshing air is perhaps in the early mornings and late evenings. That's when the weather is not so hot and humid, and the light breeze that brushes by in the garden makes it rather refreshing.
And if you are truly a nature lover and haven't had enough of plants, trees and more trees, then make a stop at the Botanical Garden adjacent to the Japanese Village. The botanical garden is home to more than 500 species of forest trees and herb plants.
After the nice stroll, it was time for me to walk back down the steep hill back to the car parking lot. It was time to depart Berjaya Hills Bukit Tinggi Resort and move on with my weekend journey and take them all to Raub for a scrumptious dinner.
If you need more info about Berjaya Hills Bukit Tinggi Resort you can call them up and check with them about the offers available. Week day rates are cheaper because of less visitors but that makes for a very quiet Colmar Tropicale visit. Weekend is more expensive but livelier.
A recent advert (for the period Aug - Oct 2006) that I have seen promoting some of their packages includes:
Value Package (2D/1N) from RM118
Weekdays Golf Special (2D/1N) from RM148
Spa Get Away Package (2D/1N) from RM448
This gives you some fair idea of their rates, but since I don't work for them you will have to call them up and find out more for yourself.
KL sales office: Tel: 03-2144 2526, Email: email@example.com
Berjaya Hills office: Tel: 09-288 8888 Fax: 09-288 3333
Oh, watch out for the new soon to be open Chateau Spa Resort, modeled after the Haut-Koenigsburg in the Vosges Hills of Alsace, which will offer an enchanting glimpse into the 18th century France during its most romantic eras.
Until then, au revoir!