And so, Penang! During the June School Holidays, we had the most fun getaway with our partners-in-crime (and the monkies' buddies) to the 'island of the areca nut palm', otherwise commonly known as Penang.
Theme parks, shopping, glorious hawker food (drool!), durians (double drool!) aside, one of the highlight of the entire 4-night vacation had got to be our stay at Golden Sands Resort.
Located on the north of Penang Island with Batu Ferringhi beach right at its doorstep, Golden Sands Resort is a good 45-60 minutes drive from Penang International Airport depending on traffic conditions. And because all of us had so much fun travelling together in a 10-seater Toyota Hiace van during our last Penang trip two years ago, we had no qualms bundling everyone into one this time around... with me assuming the mantle of 'school bus uncle' once again!
Traffic in Penang can be atrocious at times but thankfully, the kids were all able to benefit from one another's (noisy) company in the van. But still, it was a welcome relief for all of us - especially my ears! - when we reached the resort, which had a fresh look with an inviting, airy lobby and reception area.
Check-in was an absolute breeze. That's because if you are a Shangri-La Golden Circle member, you are able to check-in in the cool comforts of the aptly-named Cool Lounge.
Besides the obvious benefits of air-conditioned comforts, there are cartoons, board games and computer terminals to keep the children busy while the check-in process is ongoing. No wonder the kiddos did not want to budge even when we secured the keys to our rooms!
Speaking of rooms, our family was hosted in a luxurious Executive Suite that had the monkies go "waaaahhh...", the moment we stepped in.
The suite was pure bliss. Two rooms - one bedroom and one living room - each with an en-suite bathroom and an absolutely spacious balcony facing the Malacca Strait sea.
As for the living room, it came complete with a pull-down Murphy bed - essential for our family of five.
But what was probably more important was the insane amount of extra space, which made the living room the default meeting place for all of the kids when it came to chilling after a whole day's worth of outdoors fun.
Can I just say the I simply adored the dreamy view out to sea that the living room's balcony offered? And it was made even better by the spectacular sunset view come evening time.
I guess the awesome view must have contributed somewhat to the kids' crazy antics then.
Of course, the sight of the inviting swimming pools from our balcony only served to further increase the clamouring of changing into swimming attire. In the shortest time possible.
The resort is a kids paradise with two lagoon-shaped pools and a children's pool cum water slide. One of the lagoon-shaped pool has a shallow area for children, and comes shaded with a canopy. Perfect for keeping out the scorching sun's rays!
Predictably though, the water slide was the one which elicited the most and loudest screams from the kids!
There is a toddlers' pool beside the water slide too, ideal for kids below 3 years old.
For the adults, deck chairs are dotted around the resort lawns with complimentary water by the ice-cream bar.
As for the beach just beyond the resort compounds, it is pretty clean and decent but if you are thinking of clear blue waters, then it is best to look away.
Rather than beach-goers tanning on the beach or frolicking in the sea, the beach was more of a hive of activity for beach sports and activities. In fact, the kids did not even step onto the beach at all as they were largely content with the swimming pools at the resort.
During our time there, various activities like pool volleyball and other pool games were organised by the staff of the resort. If you are feeling up to it, you can even sign up for the free Jungle Walk or Tai Chi exercise that the resort organises too!
Kids need not feel left out too, as the Kids Club offers a host of activities for 5 to 12 year olds from craft-making to treasure hunts. Do note that while most activities are complimentary, some are chargeable too.
But nothing, absolutely nothing, could ever possibly trump this crowd favourite.
Adventure Zone is an Indoor Playground housed within Golden Sands Resort premises and one that promises to bring adrenaline levels to dizzying heights, literally.
If you thought you have seen tall and even taller slides, you ain't see nothing yet til you see these slides at Adventure Zone! The 10,300 square feet indoor play facility is home to a 3-lane Wave Slide, as well as 3 heart-stopping Drop Slides.
If it is your first time there, I recommend descending with the mildest slide of the lot - in gunny sacks down the colourful wave slide.
This must be one of the rare times where not only the children were screaming down the slides, the adults were also joining in the fun too! In fact, I lost count of the number of times we adults went on the Wave Slide. Considering that adults enter FREE with paying children, we definitely milked it for all that was worth.
Ready to up the adrenaline rush? Take your pick from the Blue and Red Drop Slides, which are definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Of the two, the blue slide has a gentler gradient at a lower height with a pool of plastic balls breaking one's fall.
Now the red slides are the ultimate ones in my opinion. They are vertical drop slides and trust me, they looked extremely intimidating from where I was standing. Still, there was no stopping the kiddos as every single one of them (excluding Ale) bravely had a go!
This was not the monkies' first attempt though. They went on the slide 2.5 years back and since then, they have been begging to be reacquainted with the Drop Slides at Adventure Zone!
An important point to note about the Drop Slides: long sleeve tops must be worn when using any of the Drop Slides.
On top of the slides, there are multiple sections of modular play equipment located around the massive perimeter of the drop slides as well.
For younger ones who cannot experience the thrill of the slides yet, there is a separate play area reserved for toddlers below 4 years old which is essentially a mini Indoor Play Gym that you would find in most Indoor Playgrounds here.
So expect it to come complete with climbing structures, slide and the perennial fave - a pit full of colourful plastic balls.
By the end of the kids' play session, I could tell how much fun they had by the sheer amount of perspiration on our heads. That, and how much sadness they felt when our 4-night stay at Golden Sands Resort came to an end.
Okay okay, so the adults were pretty much inconsolable as well.
Not that it should come as any surprise as we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Golden Sands Resort. Not only were its staff friendly, helpful and fun, the location of the resort is perfect for families with children in tow. We could easily step outside of the resort and wander along the road to shops, restaurants (including McDonald's directly opposite) and hawker food centres. Plus, there is a pasar malam (night market) that stretches along the road outside the resort every night.
Kids-friendly attractions such as Penang Butterfly Farm, Escape Theme Park (By the way, this theme park is da bomb! But more on it in a later post.) and yummy dining options like seafood restaurants and durian farms are located a short drive away from the resort. If you are not driving, the resort also offers a free shuttle into George Town daily. But good luck in trying to drag your kids away from the pools, Kids Club and Adventure Zone though!
Simply put, if you are planning on a stay at Batu Ferringhi and looking for an easy, family-friendly break with the option of mixing sightseeing in Penang together with relaxing in a resort your kids will love, then Golden Sands Resort is THE family hotel to go to.
For us, we will definitely be back... sooner rather than later!
View more photos of our Golden Sands Resort stay in our Facebook Album HERE.
Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La
Batu Feringgi Beach, Penang, 11100, Malaysia
Tel: (60 4) 886 1911
Golden Sands Resort, Penang
Opening Hours: 9.30am to 9pm
For resort guests: Kids pay RM44 for half-day package, or RM22 per two-hour session
For Local visitors/Non-registered guests: Kids pay RM33 per two-hour session
*Adults enter free of charge with paying children
*Rates are subject to the prevailing government tax.
Dress Code: Socks must be worn when on the play equipment, and long sleeve tops must be worn when using any of the Drop Slides.