Review: Westin Desaru Coast Resort, Johor, Malaysia

The Westin Desaru Coast Resort recently opened in 2019 as the third Westin-branded property in Malaysia. It is one of three luxury resorts in the up-and-coming Desaru Coast integrated destination that offers a waterpark, golfing, MICE facilities and of course the beach. This once overlooked area has since experienced a slight revival, following the completion of the Senai-Desaru Expressway (E22) over the Johor river in 2011, which has improved its connectivity and accessibility.

The Westin Desaru Coast Resort, Johor, Malaysia

The easiest option to reach the resort is by car, which takes about an hour to travel 70 kilometres east from central Johor Bahru. As the area continues to be developed, transportation options are set to improve, but for now the popular ride-hailing service Grab appeared to be non-functional in the Desaru area. As such, travellers without a vehicle may wish to call for taxis to and from the resort, or otherwise rent a car and self-drive.

Other transportation options are available, but are comparatively difficult. For instance, it is also possible to travel by bus, arriving at Bandar Penawar which serves as the transport hub for the area, albeit a very modest one. Another alternative, specifically if you are travelling from Singapore, is to catch a ferry from Changi Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Belungkor. This ferry does not run at regular intervals, and you would have to arrange for a taxi from Tanjung Belungkor in advance as it is very much a deserted area.

Perhaps it is the slight remoteness of this area that adds on to its attractiveness as a sanctuary. After all, a retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life may precisely be what we desire at times. Once you are there, however, you will be greeted with a luxurious and tranquil resort experience by the 20 kilometres of scenic beaches.

The resort had contacted me in advance regarding the arrangements of my stay, and so the staff had been anticipating my arrival and were ready to welcome me in the evening. At the front desk, I made my option of points or breakfast as my loyalty gift, following which the Guest Experience Manager led me to the room, and shared with me more information about the resort on our way.

The lobby area

I was fortunate to be staying at the Executive Suite, located at the corner of the hallway, which had an outstanding view of the South China Sea. And as I had arrived in the evening after dinner, I was pleasantly surprised by the refreshments that the resort had prepared for me as a welcome amenity.

"Thank you for your Marriott Bonvoy elite loyalty"

The suite was approximately the size of two standard rooms, which also meant that there were two separate balconies to enjoy. These balconies face the sea in an approximately eastwards direction, and were great spots to watch the dramatic sunrise in the mornings, which I had fortunately woken up for - which was quite a feat considering the comfort of the famed Heavenly bed that is exclusive to the Westin brand. An equivalently good option is simply drawing the curtains, and watching the show from the comfort of the bed.

Sunrise from the Heavenly bed, at slightly after 7am

Bedroom featuring the famed Heavenly bed

The living area balcony

The brand new furnishings and decorations made for a very visually appealing interior in the living area. Inside the bathroom a large bathtub was also available, which would have been perfect after a day out at the beach.

Living area of the Executive Suite


I headed off to the resort's Beach Bar and opted for outdoor seating. The prices there were pretty reasonable, especially if you factor in the discounts available to Marriott Bonvoy members, which is another reason to explore the dining venues in the hotel instead of opting for room service. Although there were a very limited selection of wines available, my partner and I decided to cool off with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, which came with plastic glasses, perhaps appropriate for a outdoor bar setting. A slight source of annoyance was the presence of mosquitoes, although insect repellent was available on request from the staff who were friendly and attentive throughout.

Sauvignon Blanc at the Beach Bar

Breakfast was at the Seasonal Tastes restaurant, which offered a very decent buffet selection. There was a great ambiance as well, with different types of seating options available.

Breakfast selection at Seasonal Tastes

Filling my plates with food

Just a few steps away from Seasonal Tastes was the swimming pool, which was complete with towel service and a poolside bar named Splash.

Swimming pool

The highlight of the stay was, of course, the beach itself. Walking down the stairs towards the coast brings you towards fine sand and a surprisingly clean beach. The water had an impressive level of clarity as well, perhaps because Desaru itself is fairly remote and does not attract crowds of people, at least for now. The blazing sun, however, necessitates sun protection even if just staying out for a short while.

Quite an outstanding beach, I must say

Other facilities available at the resort include a fitness centre, table tennis facility, and a spa centre which I did not try. An Italian restaurant, Prego, is also open for dinner.

Despite my short stay here, this place did feel like a sanctuary, a place where I can unwind and simply enjoy the waves and sea breeze. I also found that the resort presents great value for points redemption, being in the same Category 2 as the Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel (i.e. 12,500 points for standard night, 10,000 off-peak and 15,000 peak), even though room rates in cash are noticeably higher here, leading to a good dollar value per point expended. The downsides are the deficiency of transport options around this area, and the lack of a Club Lounge at this resort. Still, if traffic to Desaru picks up, I am confident about the potential of this resort as a leisure destination to enjoy.

A sanctuary of luxury and tranquility

The Westin Desaru Coast Resort is located at Jalan Pantai 3, Desaru Coast, 81930 Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia.


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