My first thought on hearing about Desaru Coast was “has Desaru changed its name?” It’s been many years since I last went there so perhaps I was a little out of date. Turns out that Desaru Coast is a newly developed part of Desaru.
It’s a premium integrated destination with a blend of renowned resorts and villas, a riverside dining haven, a conference centre, championship golf courses, and an adventure waterpark.
The drive from Singapore was a breeze and as we entered Desaru, there were familiar sights. We remember the days of Desaru Impian which had a built-in theme park in the 1990s. Think it’s now replaced by Lotus Desaru Beach Resort.
Our destination was Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast, which opened in September 2018.
It’s a stone’s throw from the beach. The problem is that there is no direct access to the beach. Thanks to two friendly guests, I was directed to cut through the uncompleted The Westin Desaru Coast Resort to get to the edge of the South China Sea.
Hopefully, when Westin is completed (above), guests from Hard Rock Hotel can still use it to access the beach. Seems that both hotels are owned by the same folks so it shouldn’t be a problem.
Otherwise, Hard Rock Hotel guests may have to go a longer way down the road and get to the beach by the public area.
Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast still smells new. The smell of paint is still in the air. While the building was nothing to shout about (it looks just like any hotel), what stood out were the iconic Hard Rock ambience — the giant electric guitar in the driveway and rock music playing in the lobby.
The Best of Times by Styx was playing as I walked through the lobby. Such a lovely song from days gone by.
The room was modern and well equipped and the pillows and bed were comfortable. In-room entertainment included VOD for the latest movies as well as Hard Rock video and music channels.
Everything in and above the minibar is free for consumption. These include snacks, biscuits, soft drinks, and juice, on top of the regular coffee and tea.
I really appreciate this thoughtful gesture because the hotel is located far from shops. Providing the snacks and drinks help satisfy craving and keep the hunger at bay.
Instead of bottled mineral water, the hotel provides two refillable bottles which guests can top up hot or cold water at the dispenser at each level.
Food is available at The Elephant and The Butterfly (a Mexican restaurant) and Sessions which can easily seat more than 200 diners indoor and possibly another 100 outside. But, the humidity makes indoor dining a more pleasant experience.
While the local food is nice, it was the service that won me over. Besides greeting us, the staff was very attentive and removed out plates each time we’re done.
Towards the end of our meal, the restaurant manager came by to get our feedback. We only had good things to say. OK, not quite, we shared a couple of areas of improvement. Nothing major but good for him to note.
Though it’s called Hard Rock Hotel, the hotel doesn’t have a Hard Rock Cafe — “yet,” said the restaurant manager, which used to work in the Malacca outlet. If business grows, there’s a good chance of having one in the premises.
But, the hotel does have a Hard Rock Shop which stocks the ubiquitous T-shirt and other paraphernalia.
Just a hop away is the Desaru Conference Centre, which boasts a 1,000-seat hall. Looks like Desaru Coast could turn out to be a great place for a big conference, especially if the organisers don’t want participants to be distracted by the surroundings.
There’s nothing much to do in this part, except use the hotel’s facilities and go to the beach to catch the sunrise.
My verdict: Good hotel, great service, perfect for a quiet getaway.
Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast is located at Jalan Pantai 3, Desaru Coast, 81930 Bandar Penawar, Johor, Malaysia.