AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort: Pro review with videos & photos
The AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort opened in 2011 with much higher room rates and the early reviews were quite poor, but they have been getting steadily better ever since, and room rates are now very appealing for a “water villa.” So I booked myself 2 nights here as part of a short trip to Malaysia, after two nights in Kuala Lumpur.
The AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort has 392 water villas, which made it by far the largest such resort in the world until a nearby competitor called the Lexis Hibiscus Port Dickson recently opened with 522 water villas. Still, I've been anxious to see what this place is really like, especially since they are offering very competitive room rates these days starting at around US$150 per night for two people, including all taxes.
Short version: Overall impressions of the AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort
1. At the current room rate (around US$150 per night) this place feels like an amazing bargain.
Room rates at this resort were around US$350/night (all-inclusive) when it opened in 2011, and that seemed quite high for a resort like this in Malaysia. After two management changes, in 2014 the rates dropped to around US$150 per night (food is extra) and now I'm amazed at how affordable it is after having stayed here. There is a LOT to like about this resort and its experience, particularly for a relaxing weekend or short stay. The rooms are huge and luxurious, and the views are simply amazing, especially at sunset.
My guess is that the people who built it overestimated how much they could charge and later sold it at a big loss. Now it's in the hands of the AVANI people (a luxury brand of an Asian group operating over 140 hotels), who know how to run a resort like this, and they are aggressive with the pricing to keep it as full as possible all year. Compared to similarly priced tower rooms at nearby beach resorts in the Sepang area, this place feels like excellent value.
2. The resort is FAR larger than you'd expect from the photos.
With 392 water villas, the scale of this place is hard to imagine. When you look at those aerial photos it's easy to assume that these are small water villas that are tightly packed together.
In reality, they are huge water villas that are so spread apart that it can take almost 15 minutes to walk from reception (on shore) to the farthest water villas. Fortunately, there are large golf buggies always going back and forth to the center of the flower, so it isn't necessary to walk much. There are also free bicycles parked in front of every unit, so you can get around very quickly if you don't mind pedalling a bit.
3. The experience is quite different from the Maldives or Bora Bora, but it's extremely nice for what it is.
In the Maldives and Bora Bora, the water villas are perched just over turquoise lagoons, with steps or ladders leading down into the water. At the AVANI Sepang (and all other overwater resorts in the area), the water villas are built on tall pylons that are 3 or more meters over the water, even at high tide, and you can't swim below. As a result, it's a totally different experience, but that's also why Maldives resorts are all at least triple the room rate.
If you want to be able to swim beneath your water villa, go to the Maldives. But if you are more interested in the amazing sunset views and the peacefulness and serenity of staying in a luxury villa way out over a calm bay, this resort is a fantastic place to do that. As long as your expectations are realistic, this resort should be a great experience.
AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort: Short video tour
Getting there and transport information
One great feature of this resort is that it's actually closer to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport than KL itself is. It's only 40 minutes away by taxi or a private van that you can book through the resort. But it's also secluded along a quiet stretch of beach, so it feels a long way away from civilization.
I was staying in Kuala Lumpur and I arrived by Uber in about 90 minutes for a surprisingly affordable US$35 or so. They also have a large car park as well as reasonably priced valet parking, making it an easy reach for Malaysian and Singaporean guests.
My one complaint with this is that they don't allow normal taxis to pick up guests, so the only way to leave is to use their contracted transportation company. I actually hired the company for an all-day tour of other overwater resorts in the Port Dickson area, and the rate was reasonable plus the service was good. Still, I'm not crazy about the idea of having to rely on one company, and they could raise their rates way up so guests would be helpless.
Reception and welcome
Considering how amazing and well done the overwater part of the resort is, the facade and reception area are somewhat modest. There are only 3 check-in (or check-out) stations, which seems like a very small number for a luxury resort with 392 villas. I arrived a bit after noon and was told that my villa wouldn't be available until the standard 3pm check-in time. It's their right to do this, of course, but it's still annoying, especially at a remote resort with nothing nearby.
The reception was friendly and professional in finding my reservation and my villa. They allowed me to put my bags in the bag room and then I took a golf buggy to the main restaurant in the center of the flower. It was surprisingly quiet during the lunch hour, but it was a weekday and many guests had certainly checked out or had not yet arrived for the night.
Overall it feels like the resort should have more staff to check people in and out, but at least they were friendly and professional when I did get to the front of the queue. And at these room rates, they can't provide 5-star service, even in such a beautiful resort.
My water villa
As I was on my own, I booked in one of the “Superior Rooms,” which are the upstairs water villas in the main stem of the “flower.” There are two of these upstairs and two more downstairs, with one kingsize bed in the upstairs villas and two single beds in the downstairs villas. The upstairs villas have an A-Frame roof, which takes more time and effort to properly air condition, and also a marginally better overall view.
My first impression was extremely positive. Each of the 4 villas has a very private and separate entrance, and once inside the room it's easy to forget that you have neighbors at all. The larger water villas are on the other fronds leading off the center of the flower, and each of those is free-standing with no neighbors.
Once inside I was even more impressed. At 52 square meters (560 square feet), the Superior Room is twice the size of a standard city hotel room, and the balcony is also huge. A bit to my surprise, the construction and all the furnishings felt extemely solid. Some of the more affordable overwater rooms (especially the older ones) feel a bit more like cabins, but these are like luxury hotel suites in every way.
The upstairs units take longer to air condition than the downstairs units, and that can be an issue in Malaysia where it is hot every day of the year. But after a short time it was very pleasant inside. The daybed in the living room area is very comfortable, and the large ensuite is surprisingly luxurious for anything close to this price range.
I was there as a normal guest, paying my own way, so I didn't get a tour of the other water villas. Still, I could easily see that this entire resort was built without cutting corners and that the larger water villas are also at least as luxurious.
AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort: Superior Water Villa tour
Restaurants and bars
There are a couple of restaurants and a bar near the reception area on the mainland, but I only went to the main restaurant and the buffet restaurant out in the center of the complex. I ordered a couple times off the a la carte menu, and I had the buffet a few times as well.
Not only was I pleased with the food and the prices on the a la carte menu, but I was also quite happy with the selection on offer. Curry Laksa is one of my favorite dishes in the world, and I was pleased with the one I had there for lunch as I waited for my room to be ready.
Food and drink prices
Sandwiches, pizzas, pasta dishes, and the local dishes are all right around 30MYR (US$7.50) each in the a la carte restaurant. Considering the view and the quality and service, that seemed like a bargain, especially considering that there are no other restaurants nearby at all.
- Beer – 26 to 33 MYR each, or 87MYR for a pitcher of draft Beer
- Wine – 36 to 45MYR per glass, 169MYR and up per bottle
- Spirits – 30 to 42MYR per glass, 460MYR and up per bottle
- Cocktails – 33MYR each, or 26MYR for an alcohol-free “mocktail”
The above drink prices might seem high if you haven't been to Malaysia (or Singapore), but they are actually typical of a decent bar in Kuala Lumpur. I expected them to be higher in light of the setting, view, and service.
- Breakfast – 52MYR or 36MYR for a child
- Lunch – 58MYR or 35MYR for a child
- Dinner – 76MYR or 47MYR for a child
I ate a few times at the buffet and I was extremely impressed with it. There is a wide range of dishes from Asia as well as Western dishes in different areas both inside and outside near the main pool. The quality was better than expected for a buffet as well.
You could obviously eat for less at “local” restaurants in Sepang, but you wouldn't get nearly the variety and even quality that you get at this buffet. Considering that this restaurant is by a pool, over the sea, at a very nice 4-star resort, you'd expect to pay much more than this.
Pool and spa
There is a large infinity pool with an attached kids pool adjacent to the main restaurants in the center of the flower. The pool makes for a lovely setting for the restaurant, but the restaurant being right there means that there is little privacy for those in the pools. Sure, they are public pools in the center of a resort complex, but still it would be more ideal for some swimmers if the pool didn't have a built-in audience, at least in the mornings and evenings.
There is also a weight room and full gym in one of the buildings just off the main pool. They also have a full-service spa with massages and other treatments, but I didn't go in so I can only guess that they are as well run as the rest of the resort.
Activities and things to do
When I arrived I saw a schedule of daily activities that included beach yoga, power walk, fun dance, giant bubble, kite flying, fun strider bike, towel animation class, batik painting, fruit carving lesson, spin bike, poi spinning exercises, and anti-gravity yoga among other things. There are 4 activity slots per day, with different things offered on different days.
Personally, I didn't see any of these things going on, but I didn't really look. The resort didn't seem too crowded on the weekdays that I was there, and I've been to many resorts where activities like these never seem to attract many takers. Still, it's nice that they are offered.
There is also a long beach where you can potentially swim. The challenge with that is that at low tide the water is WAY off shore, so it really only seems feasible to swim at or near high tide.
What is (or isn't) nearby
The resort runs a free daily shuttle to and from Sunway Pyramid and Mitsui Outlet Park. There are also a few other nearby activities you can book. Aside from those, there is really nothing worthwhile near the resort at all. Especially considering the heat and lack of sidewalks, there is nothing within walking distance of the resort.
The nearest part of the nearby town of Sepang is about 10 minutes away by car, and in that area there aren't many tourist-friendly restaurants, although there are a few small supermarkets and a liquor store for those who want to stock up their fridges.
In other words, when you stay at this AVANI resort, it's best to assume that you'll be eating and relaxing there pretty much the whole time. Fortunately, the food is reasonably priced and the bar isn't any more expensive than a typical bar at a hotel in Malaysia. If you arrive in your own car you'll obviously have many choices, but anyone else should assume they'll stay on the property, which is fortunately very nice.
Final thoughts on the AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort
Overall I found the AVANI Sepang Goldcoast Resort to be very impressive and far nicer than I was expecting considering the modest room rates. As mentioned above, it's not the same experience as a Maldives water villa where you can climb down into a clear lagoon below. But it's a fabulous and luxurious experience that you can't get many other places on earth.
I'm looking forward to my next visit with my partner. It's a very romantic setting that reminds you of being on a remote island, but with the convenience of being only 40 minutes drive from a huge airport with great airfares. The resort is also very popular with families as well, and it's convenient that all of the 2-bedroom and 3-bedroom units are in different parts of the resort than the Superior Rooms that are meant for couples.
For me, 3 days at this resort would be enough, and any more might be too much because there aren't many things to do aside from relax, and it's hard to get out of the resort at all. Even if the Superior Rooms were US$200 per night, I think they would be good value for such an unusual and interesting hotel, so the fact that they are far less than that for the time being makes them extremely attractive to anyone in the area.