The beach at Batu Ferringgi is not quite the Maldives, but does tick lots of other boxes: driving distance from KL, plenty of kid-friendly hotels – like the Golden Sands Resort Penang – to choose from and a few excellent kids’ activities in the immediate vicinity. Sounds like a pretty good getaway, right?
We were traveling off-season so booked a well-priced family room at the Golden Sands by Shangri-La, one of the most popular hotels on the strip for families. After a smooth drive – with a lunch detour to the pretty Ma-Ni Thai in Tanjung Malim – we made our way through the last windy parts of the seaside road to Batu Ferringhi.
Rooms at the Golden Sands
Our room was set up with an extra bed, included in the family rate, and had a magnificent sea view over the resort’s pools and gardens. The room was small and perhaps a little dated, but clean and perfectly adequate, and the balcony meant we could sit outside after the kids had gone to be. The tiled floors mean that wet toddlers can slip easily, so be careful.
Facilities at the Golden Sands
The newly renovated Splash Zone is the centre of activity at the poolside. With two short but fast slides on one side and a water playground on the other, it kept kids entertained for ages. There is a life guard on top of the slides, but the tiniest of kids will need an adult supervising at the bottom to make sure they get out of the way of other sliders.
There are two other pools, too, with a large area covered with a sun shade, perfect for little ones that can’t take all the action at the Splash Zone. Those who want to stay away from the hubbub, can retreat to the loungers on the lawn between the pools and the beach.
The beach is right in front of the hotel. All of Batu Ferringhi beach is public, meaning if you want to hire beach chairs or do activities, they are all independent businesses.
Despite being warned about the quality of water sports operators the boys hired jetskis on the beach, and had a great time leaving me making sand castles and gasping in horror at the speed and noise of the things.
The kids’ club at the Golden Sands
The kids’ club caters to children aged 5-12, and is open from 9.30 am to 9 pm. There is a daily schedule available at the lobby, with a range of activities from cooking and crafts to games and pool activities. Most of the activities are free of charge, with the exception of some craft activities. Our kids were too busy enjoying the slides, but did sign up one day for some pool games on one afternoon.
There is also the Adventure Zone, an indoor playground with big slides. This is charged separately, you can check the rates here. Our kids – 7 and 9 – brushed that off as too childish but a few years ago they would have loved it, and it is a great break from the sun for the little ones. If you plan to go, make sure to pack socks and a long-sleeved shirt, a bit of an unusual requirement for the kids to wear.
For a small fee the kids can try out riding a Segway on a small track next to the Adventure zone. There is also a pool table at Sigi’s, table tennis tables and tennis courts at the neighbouring Rasa Sayang can be used.
Food at the Golden Sands Resort Penang
The breakfast buffet was busy every day, but it was well organised and food was being replenished quickly. The spread was usual resort style. The restaurant closest to the beach, Sigi’s, has nice outdoor seating and serves typical hotel food. Unfortunately Batu Ferringhi doesn’t enjoy the same abundance of foodie spots as Georgetown, but there is a night market just outside the hotel for cheaper eats, and plenty of restaurants along the beach. For a meal with a view you can try the restaurant at the Spice Garden.
- Join Shangri-La’s Golden Circle loyalty scheme for speedy check-in and check-out in the air conditioned member area, if nothing else!
- They have a free shuttle to George Town, but book early since it gets filled up regularly.
- Take care if doing water sports on the beach, it is kind of wild West out there.
- Check out Entopia and Escape that are withing a very short drive from the Golden Sands.
Check the latest prices here.