Who they are and what they do

japamala-kinnaree-overseeing-the-walkway-to-the-resortThis is a resort like no other in Pulau Tioman, Pahang. It is luxury without decadence; a rustic escape with all the amenities of a 5-star hotel; a soothing sanctuary in an undisturbed corner of an otherwise busy island. Japamala Resort is high-end comfort at minimal cost to the planet.
Maple Loo-Asaro and Federico Asaro are avid fans of nature and this husband and wife team has transferred this passion to their resort. The most outstanding feature of this place is how it has incorporated all the elements of nature into the design of each of their villas. Individually designed by Federico himself, each villa or sarang
(nest) is made to accommodate the area on which it is perched, and not the other way around.As far as possible no tree is cut down and anything that is ‘in the way’ becomes part of the décor; a big rock becomes a wall and a tree becomes a villa’s centerpiece. This painstaking attention to detail has led to an extremely slow building process but Maple and Federico don’t care. Their rooms are built by hand – with the materials hauled in place by muscle, not machine. To them, there is absolutely no point in destroying the flora that people come so far to see.

And the effort has shown amazing results. The rooms blend seamlessly into the hillside; the forest seems to envelope each unit, resulting in a cocoon of natural calm – probably the reason why there is always a veritable aura of peace in this place. It might seem far-fetched to read it, but stay a night and you’ll see for yourself how this resort seems to melt away all the strains of city-life as soon as you step foot on its jetty.

What a traveller can experience


  • Rest and rejuvenation: This is where you need to be if you just want to get away from it all; they reward you for indulging in doing nothing with teatime snacks sent to your room. This is where you can just shut your eyes, listen to the sounds of the birds or the sea and relax. Allow your mind to detach itself from suburbia. Embrace the natural beauty around you and recuperate. To further ensure that you return a more complete person than when you arrived, sign up for a massage or spa session. The resort’s therapist will do wonders on your body and repair your harried soul.

  • Tiptop service: Service at this resort is impeccable. Somehow the staff are always on hand when you need them, yet they melt away into oblivion as soon as you don’t. They are welcoming but not slobbering all over your feet; they are friendly but not intrusive; and they will go all out to make sure you enjoy your stay. The food here is also first class. There are 2 restaurants to choose from with an excellent selection of Italian or Indo-Chinese/ Thai food.

  • If you must be active… be active: If you really cannot sit still without doing something and your only understanding of ‘relax’ is to be constantly on the go, it is possible to do that here as well. There is WiFi if you cannot live without your laptop and DVDs, books and boardgames available for loan. There is also a forest trail behind the resort and Japamala is in the process of hiring a resident naturalist to offer guests tours of the area. There is of course the sea and not far off the beach are pleasant snorkelling sites. Tioman’s infamous dive sites are just a short boatride away.

Extra resort tipsjapamalarj-ungle-sarang

Because of the limited number of rooms and its popularity, this resort tends to be booked up months in advance. If you are planning to visit, its best to plan ahead or you won’t get a room. There are various types of accommodation – the Sarangs (which are bigger, some of which have their own plunge pool) or the Tree Top or Sea View villas (the latter has absolutely stunning views of the sea!). All of them are well equipped with all the amenities you would need for a quick getaway though, there is no scrimping on standards… the complimentary toiletries are spa products!

We do not recommend this resort for family with children as space is limited and most people who come here are couples on a romantic rendezvous or other adults who need peace and quiet.

Study Tioman in comfort: Japamala Resort is committed to the environment and is not only developing a library with environmentally-focused exhibition material and displays, but they are active supporters of both Malaysian Tigers (MYCAT) and the Malaysian Nature Society Selangor Marine Groups Fins – Best on Sharks campaign. They were the first resort to pledge NOT to serve shark’s fin soup at their restaurants (not that they ever did to begin with!). Frederico used to run a vessel that spent most of its time hosting marine biologists doing work all over South East Asia. This interest in nature, science and conservation continues; they are willing to offer accommodation (staff quarters) to researchers or students who want to do work in Tioman and need access to this part of the island. Interested candidates should send an email with detailed information on the work/ research planned and accommodation needs to the email given below (attention it to Maple Loo).


Email:reservations@japamalaresorts.com Tel: +60-3-42566100 or +60-9-4197777 Fax: +60-3-42519100 or +60-9-4197979. Location : Japamala Resort, Kampung Lanting, 86800 Pulau Tioman, Pahang Darul Makmur, Malaysia.
Website : http://www.japamalaresorts.com

How to get there

By FERRY from Mersing :take a Bluewater Ferry (tel: +60-7-7994811). Get off at Genting jetty. Ensure that the hotel has been informed of your arrival and they’ll be at Genting jetty to pick you up.

By bus from PUDU to Mersing: You can catch a Transnational bus to Mersing. The overnight bus (that leaves Pudu at around 11.50pm) is always recommended – although it does fly southward at breakneck speeds. You will arrive at Mersing jetty at about 5am, giving you enough time to wash up, have breakfast and take the first ferry over to Tioman, (the time of which is dependent on the tide).

By car: From the NORTH-SOUTH HIGHWAY, head towards Johor Bahru and take the Ayer Hitam exit. You will go through Kluang town. Thereafter, follow the signs to Mersing. You will pass through several plantations and villages but the signs are pretty good. Once you hit the main Mersing road (after you emerge from the villages) there will be signs to Mersing jetty. Follow those signs. You can park your car at the open-air carpark next to the jetty entrance; it is quite safe

By AIR: The easiest way to get to Pulau Tioman is to fly. Take a Berjaya Air flight to Tioman’s airport and the Japamala staff and speedboat will be there to greet you and whisk you back to the hotel.

Written by Serina Rahman, 31 Jan 2009
Permission granted to reproduce for personal use only.
Commercial use is prohibited.