Usually we head to Legoland and stay at the themed hotel for a quick weekend getaway with the kiddos. It was starting to feel a tad boring so hubby decided to spice things up by booking a 3 day 2 night stay at Hard Rock Hotel Desaru.
The drive from Singapore was relatively straightforward and took around 3 hours after a 1.5 hour wait at Woodlands causeway. Other than that, it was a relaxing journey dotted with palm tree plantations and sleepy towns. We even spotted some wild monkeys along the way.
The hotel was slightly humid as we entered in the afternoon. Ventilation is lacking in some areas, especially the toilets. Beware of mozzies lurking on the first floor.
Carpark lots are ample and parking within the hotel grounds is currently free. Overlooking the hotel is a giant wavepool which we mistook for the hotel’s private beach at first (thinking that the concept was similar to Singapore’s Hard Rock).
While we appreciated the brisk check in, certain important info was lacking. For example, the hotel collected myr400 as a deposit and issued a receipt. Little did I realise that the receipt had to be safekept and presented on the last day at checkout. Not sure what would have happened if I threw it away.
We excitedly made our way to our allocated room on the 5th floor. It is located at the extreme end of a side wing far away from the lobby and restaurants. Our favorite part of the room was the spacious and tasteful bathroom (boohoo to no bath tub though). Whilst our booking was clearly for 4 pax, there were only 3 towels provided and we had to either make do sharing a towel or call room service. The safe was faulty and the sink stopper could not properly release water. Aircon temperature control was also faulty.
Kudos for the complimentary mini bar, which is replenished everyday and well stocked with yummies like KitKat, double decker and Fanta. The kids had a field day. Also great is the bedding which is comfortable and provides for an excellent night’s rest. In line with its eco friendly endeavour, the hotel does not provide guests with bottled water but has instead equipped each room with big opaque metal flasks which are refillable at water kiosks conveniently located at each level. Whilst this is a commendable initiative, the flasks are difficult to refill and inaccessible to kids, who will instead have to make do with the water cooler.
Dining options are painfully limited, especially if one does not drive. The hotel only has 2 proper dining facilities- Sessions and the Elephant and Butterfly. The others only serve ice cream or drinks.
Elephant and butterfly is by the poolside. Its restroom is absolutely filthy. Dishes and drinks are lacklustre. My Long Island iced tea was weak and definitely not befitting of hard rock standard. Do not order the grilled octopus, which is extremely chewy and stale. We later found out that room service is another viable and reasonable option which (surprise surprise) offers a more extensive menu range than the restaurants at equivalent prices. Unfortunately, by the time we found out, it was too late. There is a side gate on the first floor (near the kids club) leading to a little enclave outside the hotel with largely unoccupied mini kiosks. Keep your eye out for a delightful convenience shop run by Desaru Fruit Farm serving fresh fruit, juices as well as all sorts of interesting snacks.
The key attraction is undoubtedly Desaru coast water adventure park, which is mainly a waterpark complete with a huge wavepool, water roller coaster, lazy river and numerous slides with varying complexities. Older kids will undoubtedly have more fun than younger ones. Entrance fees are rather exorbitant. We paid about myr528 for our gang of 2 adults and 2 kids (remember to book one day in advance only if u want a slight discount) and entered through a dedicated gantry for hotel guests which is conveniently located within the hotel grounds. The kiddos enjoyed the wave pool best and were thrilled by the huge waves crashing out in intervals of 30 mins. Hubby exclaimed that the Kraken’s revenge rollercoaster was intense even based on his standards. He also spoke fondly of a delicious beef burger from a food kiosk called River Grill near the Kraken ride. Everyone was quite exhausted by afternoon and decided to call it a day, even though we were permitted to make same day re-entries as hotel guests. The blistering heat can really cause serious damage so do slather on tons of sunblock.
The locals recommend Nelayan seafood restaurant for dinner if you drive. It is located a stone throws away from Hard Rock Hotel and supposedly serves excellent seafood. Also further down the road is a lovely stretch of picturesque beach with soft powdery clean sand and rolling waves that will sweep you off your feet.
We rounded off our trip with a short stopover at KFC (10 mins drive from hotel) before heading home. This was hand down the cheapest and best meal we had this trip. The kids didn’t require any cajoling whatsoever to finish their meal. Kfc rocks!
Will we come back to Desaru? Probably not in the near future. The hotel still seems to be experiencing teething problems which hopefully even out over time. I think Legoland still offers more bang for buck given its closer proximity to Singapore and stronger appeal to young kids like ours. The food is also much better too.
Signing off till our next adventure.