I visited the Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast in Johor last year; but I’ve decided to write about my experience now, and to share with you some of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that are currently in place at the resort during Malaysia’s Covid-19 Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO). We can’t fly out of the country at the moment; so I’m taking the opportunity to write about fun places for a getaway in my beloved country. It’s also because I had such a rocking time at the Hard Rock Hotel during my time there. And good things are meant to be shared, aren’t they? I’d love to head back there once again when I have the opportunity to!
The Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast
The Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast is the second Hard Rock Hotel in Malaysia. The very first one is located in Penang (read about my latest stay here). Just like its Malaysian predecessor, and the many other famous Hard Rock hotels around the world; the one on Johor’s Eastern coastline is an all-inclusive resort that is music-themed, memorabilia-decked, and activity-filled. It’s got its own uniqueness and personality though; as instead of portraying the 80’s rock and roll-ish feel that’s synonymous to the Hard Rock brand, it’s got a more contemporary and mellowed rock vibe. Still, the huge symbolic guitar monument still greeted us as we arrived at the entrance of the Hard Rock Desaru Coast. And another thing that struck me on my arrival at the hotel were the beautiful murals on the walls!
I went on this trip last year (2019) to specifically experience a stay at the Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast with my friends Caroline and Terry; as well as Azura and Tammy who brought their adorable little kids!
Current Pandemic SOPs (2020)*
Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, certain SOPs have been put in place at the Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast. At this time, I felt it’s important to highlight this new norm (let’s pray things go back to what it used to be soon). A new SAFE + SOUND programme with safety guidelines and hygiene protocols from Hard Rock International have been put in place at the hotel to protect guests and the hotel’s members.
The usual measures like temperature checks, hand sanitisation, mandatory face protection at public areas and social distancing are observed; as well as other practices like guests’ luggage sanitisation, touchless in-room dining services, increased cleaning and sanitisation, and plexiglass separators on counters are also put in place. Self-service buffets have been suspended, and the hotel also provides customised QR menus at restaurants and a ‘Welcome Pack’ for all guests that includes face masks, hand sanitiser and disinfecting wipes. And also, to put your mind at east about the cleanliness of your room, a ‘Safe + Sound Seal’ is left on every guest room door after the housekeeping cleaning process. You can find out more Safe + Sound details here.
At the time of writing, the hotel pool can already be used; and the Adventure Waterpark next door is opened from Thursdays to Sundays. However, the GMT+8 Lobby Lounge, Roxity Kids Club and Rock Royalty Lounge remains closed till further notice.
My Room at Hard Rock
And back to my experience during my pre-pandemic visit to the Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast. I was checked-in to the Superior Room located on a high floor; and was greeted with beautiful views of the hotel and the next door water park on the balcony. The hotel has 365 rooms altogether; with a variety of other room types like the Deluxe Gold Room, the Rock Royalty Deluxe Room, and the suites (Studio, Studio Gold Duplex, Rock and Rock Star).
My room came equipped with all the basic but luxurious facilities like a super comfortable King-sized bed (the room also comes with double beds), a 55-inch Smart TV with free HD blockbuster movies on demand, BOSE sound system, coffee and tea making facilities, Rock Spa bathroom amenities, a rainfall shower, and of course… all-access Wifi. The room was also stylishly decorated in a more modern design; with a beautiful butterfly-shaped painting on the wall that had local elements incorporated into it like the hibiscus, and birds and fishes. There was also a beautiful glittery silver Fender guitar, and a Crosley turntable with a collection of vinyl records waiting for us in the room. I was thrilled!
Oh, and I have to mention this as well. As part of their eco-friendly initiative, instead of complimentary water in plastic water bottles in the room; the hotel actually had us use reusable bottles instead. So for water, we had to use the provided ‘Water-Filling Station’ outside the rooms to refill our bottles. How awesome is that?
The Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast Restaurants
Sessions is Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast’s all-day dining restaurant. It serves local and international cuisine; and we had our dinner on the first night, as well as breakfast every morning from the restaurant’s delicious buffet spread. I will always remember the dinner spread of a variety of rice (kerabu, tomato, beriani etc), sambal (chilli paste) and kuih-muih (Malay desserts) that were displayed in front of us — we were really spoilt for choice!
*However, as per the Safe + Sound programme — all self-service buffets has been suspended at the time of writing. Therefore, breakfast is now prepared via a ‘Breakfast Selection’ menu; and all other meals are served ala-carte.
The Elephant and the Butterfly
The Mexican restaurant, called the Elephant and the Butterfly is located poolside. It’s a great dining option for lunch after a morning in the pool; or even for snacks and a cocktail if you’re sunbathing in the afternoon. The restaurant serves the most mouth-watering selections of Mexican cuisine. We went to dine for dinner and I had quesadillas for starters, followed by juicy slab of wagyu steak as my main. Elephant and the Butterfly has a laid-back vibe during the day; but by night, its dim lights and soft music provides a romantic ambience.
For coffee lovers, the Constant Grind is the place to be at. It’s the resort’s cafe and coffee bar; and provides a pretty chill and stylish atmosphere to get that little bit of holiday work done, sit back with a good book, take lots of insta-worthy photographs, or just munch on some cake and sip on a cuppa. I loved that they served my special coffee with a print-on coffee art of my portrait. It was just too precious to drink! Oh, and we had ice-cream too!
GMT+8 is the hotel’s lobby lounge. It’s pretty close to the pool and has views of the hotel’s exterior. During my visit, we dropped by the bar for a bite in the evening. We had some local snacks like satay (meat sticks), fried dumplings, chicken wings and mini burgers. And later at night, we had drinks while being entertained by the fantastic band that was playing live!
*During the time of writing, the GMT+8 Lobby Lounge is closed as per the Malaysian SOPs; and Hard Rock Hotel’s Safe + Sound programme until further notice.
Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast
And during one of the afternoons of my stay at the Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast — we went to the Adventure Waterpark! The park is huge… covering over 25 acres; and is filled with over 20 unique wet and dry rides and slides. It is also home to the first-ever water coaster in the region, and one of the biggest wave pools in the world! I knew we were going to have a splashing time!
We entered the park through the hotel’s designated entrance. This direct access is only available for Hard Rock’s guests; and the best part is that we could go in and out (with a ticket for the day) as many times as we wanted! Tickets cost RM59 for adults and RM39 for kids (with MyKad); and RM151 for adults and RM113 kids for regular tickets. You can get more than 50% discount on the regular tickets if you purchase online.
The waterpark consists of 5 splash-tacular zones — Penawar Falls, Penawar River, Shipwreck Reef, Tidal Wave Beach and Kids Ahoy. We were traveling with kids, so we based ourselves at Kids Ahoy. It’s the little children’s dedicated zone with water play equipment and 13 different water slides! From there, we made our way to the more exhilarating rides with our swimsuits and sunscreens and GoPros. We had to pick and choose because we only had an afternoon!
I think our favourite rides at the Adventure Waterpark was the Kraken’s Revenge at the Shipwreck Reef; and The Tempest and Riptide at Penawar River. We went on the Kraken’s Revenge 3 times! It is a combination of a roller coaster and a splashing flume ride — so it was drops, and swoops, and spins and loops before the coaster finally dives into the water! So fun to get completely wet! And then we went on The Tempest and Riptide twice. There, we experienced slides and drops, and twister vortexes where we just swirled around on the float like crazy people! And finally, we ended the day at the more relaxed Tidal Wave Beach. We spend a good time on its sandy shores, and beachside lounges and cabanas.
*The Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast opens from 10am to 6pm daily. However, due to the current SOPs in place during the RMCO; it now opens only from Thursdays to Sundays at the time of writing. For more current updates, visit here.
Other Rocking Things to Do
The Rock Spa
Another awesome thing to do in Hard Rock is to get pampered at the Rock Spa. It really is my favourite activity at any Hard Rock Hotels I visit! I went for a 60-minute Serenity Massage on my visit this time — and like every other times, came out completely relaxed and all loosened-up!
The Swiming Pool
The Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast has a small infinity pool that is located right next to The Elephant and the Butterfly Restaurant. It has partially submerged lounge chairs — that are perfect for lazy people like me who wants to dip in water and sunbathe at the same time.
Roxstars Toys and Sweets
I have to say, that even though I’m not a kid anymore (I am still at heart, though) — the Roxstars Toys and Sweets shop made me really excited! It is so pretty and so colorful and so squishy with all its plush dolls, and kids’ stuff, and chocolates, and jelly beans. It really is the perfect place to let the kids get lost in, or take lots of colorful instagrammable shots.
*There’s a Roxity Kids Club as well, but at the time of writing; it is closed till further notice due to the RMCO SOPs.
Other Facilities & Nearby Attractions
The other facilities available at the Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast include the Rock Shop, the Rock Royalty Lounge, the Body Rock Fitness Centre; and other services like the Rock Om in-room Yoga classes, the Sound of Your Stay music entertainments, and even a Memorabilia Tour of all the music collectibles displayed around the hotel.
And if you’re looking to head out of the hotel for an exploration of Desaru Coast; you can visit nearby attractions like the Desaru Beach, Desaru Fruit Farm, ELS Gold Club, Fishermen Museum and the Riverside Village. You can also head further afield and enjoy some delicious seafood at Sungei Regit; or drop by the Ostrich Farm, Crocodile Farm, and even head for a Bujang Fireflies cruise. These are all definitely on my list the next time I visit!
At the End of the Day
As always… I had a fantastic time with so many many things to do at yet another Hard Rock Hotel. The one at Desaru Coast really gives out a different vibe to the ones I’ve been to — I guess one of the biggest difference is the missing Hard Rock Cafe! However, this hotel makes up for it with the other delicious dining choices available. Oh, and the pool is also much smaller without Hard Rock’s signature sandy pools and children’s water entertainment (that could be because of the bigger water park next door)!
That being said, I loved that we could choose to spend a day basking in all the facilities of a Hard Rock Hotel; and also decide to spend the entire day at the awesome waterpark. It’s a great place to bring the kids who will definitely be kept entertained throughout; but even without the small ones, the adults will be just as busy (and relaxed) too. I can’t wait to visit again… and have another whole new experience the next time!
Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast
Where: Jln Pantai 3, 81930 Bandar Penawar, Johor.
Book on AGODA
*She Walks the World visited Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast on assignment as a guest; and as always, all opinions stated here are my own.
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