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The Lakehouse, Cameron Highlands
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Reviewed 11 April 2012

We stayed at the Lakehouse for five nights as part of our Honeymoon. We knew that it was a bit isolated and that we would not have transport, so it met our expectations in that respect. The property itself is amazing - even though it was built in the 1960s, it has that old-world charm that one finds in an old English pub - and its location on a small hill above the shore of a man-made lake/reservoir is beautiful, as long as you can block out the fact that the lake is reddish brown due to silt run-off from the over-cultivated terraced fields nearby.

On arrival we were given a welcome drink and hot towel (it's "cold" in the mountains, by Malaysian standards) and filled in our details in the enormous tome that is the guest register. Although the register is quaint, we were slightly concerned that we could see the personal details of all the other guests in it, which meant that subsequent arrivals would be able to see our personal information, too. We were informed that we were being given a free upgrade from a deluxe room to the honeymoon suite, which was very much appreciated. Note that the honeymoon suite is one of a very few rooms that have a TV, though we were very surprised that it did not have BBC World News (but it did have CNN).

The honeymoon suite is enormous. It has a kingsize four poster bed (which is one of the most comfortable beds that I've ever slept in), a fireplace that my 6 ft 1 in husband could reach the top of, two sofas, a table and chairs, a massive bathroom with a sunken bath, two basins and a separate dressing room and more antique furniture than you'd find in an auction house. The suite is not in the main building, it's in the annexe which is up a steep hill from the hotel lobby - not a problem for us, but could be an accessibility issue for others. The suite overlooks the lake, but also the road, which is noisy during the day, but less so at night - you can hear it, but it didn't cause us to miss out on sleep. The suite occupies the first floor of a whole wing of the annexe building, which means you have to set aside a good ten minutes each morning and evening for dealing with the curtains!

As others have mentioned, there are some issues with service and pricing. All of the staff are friendly, but some are more efficient than others. We had told the reception desk that we wanted to book tours for each of the days we were there and went through the options with the receptionist. She made a list and had booked the one for the next day on the phone while we were deciding which tours to do on the other days. On the day of the second tour (which started at 8.30 am, so we'd had to get up pretty early) we were told by a different receptionist that due to "various problems" we wouldn't be able to go on the insect tour that day - we do not know for certain, but we suspected that the "various problems" included the hotel not having booked us onto the tour. In any event, the tours were jigged about so that we still got to do everything during our stay and I went back to bed for a couple of hours to make up for the unnecessary early morning. We also encountered the problem that others have encountered of having to go and find someone to serve you in the bar.

There is one duty manager in particular who does not seem to have a handle on what is going on. On several occasions he said something along the lines of "oh, you're going on the tour at 1.30, right?", when we were pretty sure it was at 2 - we were right, but his lack of knowledge made it necessary for us to continually bother the receptionists with checking the correct times. On the day of the tour that we couldn't go on because of "various problems", he asked us at lunchtime how the tour was, and because he was actually so friendly even though he didn't inspire any confidence, we almost felt guilty about mentioning these issues on the comments form until he asked us (in a slightly surprised voice) when we were checking out whether we had booked a taxi back to KL, when we had booked said taxi through the hotel. It sounds like we expect the duty manager to know all the intimate details of our stay - we don't, but given he had a partial, but incorrect, knowledge of our plans and there are only 18 rooms, we thought he could have made the effort to get things right so that we didn't feel we had to keep checking that things were booked and what the pick-up times were.

Two members of staff particularly stood out in terms of their warmth, friendliness and capabilities, and they were the two trainees - unfortunately, we don't know their names because their badges just said "trainee", but they were both great and some of the more experienced members of staff could learn from them.

The pricing issues mainly concern the food and drink offerings. Although the prices were not ridiculously expensive by Western standards and Cameron Highlands hotels do appear to be more expensive than some other parts of Malaysia, we felt that the food options (with one exception mentioned below) were expensive and did not represent good value for money. The lunch and dinner options consisted almost entirely of Western classics, which is in keeping with the style of the hotel, but is not why we travelled to Malaysia. The quality of the food was reasonable, especially at lunch time. The exception to the rule was the afternoon tea, which included home-baked scones with jam and cream and a large pot of tea for about RM20. The scones were excellent, you couldn't find better in Devon, and the local jam went with them beautifully. We felt that the hotel was preying on the fact that it is so far from the towns in Cameron Highlands and they think that if you do not have transport (or can't be bothered to get a taxi) you are more or less a captive audience for their expensive food and drink. This is not so. We ate in the hotel on the first night, because it was the easiest thing to do. On the second night, our tour guide was happy to drop us off in Tanah Rata and show us a decent restaurant to get steamboat - the whole meal for two, including drinks and the taxi back cost less than a meal for one of us at the hotel restaurant. On the third night, we branched out a bit and found that if you cross the road from the hotel and turn left (towards Tanah Rata), there is a small, modern farming village just across the bridge over the lake. There is a Chinese restaurant there called See Wu which does good Chinese food for a very reasonable price. Although it is not a tourist restaurant (it's just a local cafe/restaurant serving the farming village), the couple who run it speak excellent English and the menu is in English as well as Chinese (review pending as the restaurant isn't on TripAdvisor yet!) We stuck with See Wu for the remainder of our stay, although we ate lunch in the hotel most days.

The hotel has a selection of board games that you can borrow, but they are not well maintained and all the pieces are mixed up or missing - we couldn't find a single one that was playable. There is also a number of books that you can borrow.

On the last afternoon, we had a massage in the spa. Although the treatment room is kitted out with two treatment beds, there was only one therapist, so it was not possible for us to have our massages at the same time. The Balinese therapist was excellent, but it was her last day because her visa was running out and when asked if she might come back she said probably not, because it's too quiet and she couldn't get enough business - this is a real shame because she really was very good and the massage was one of the highlights of our stay, though with only 18 rooms in the hotel, it isn't entirely surprising. We do not know whether the hotel has a replacement lined up.

This hotel has the potential to be as good (lack of pool aside) as its sister hotel, the Casa del Mar in Langkawi, but the huge gulf between the two in terms of service, value for money and general attitude means that there is a lot of work to be done - if I were HPL (the management company), I would try doing a staff exchange programme between the two and/or arranging for CDM staff to run some training, team building and motivation exercises at the Lakehouse.

Even though it has its issues, we probably would stay at the Lakehouse again as, based on TripAdvisor reviews, it is still one of the best options in Cameron Highlands.

Room Tip: If you have the choice and/or funds, go for the honeymoon suite, it's awesome.
  • Stayed: April 2012, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank r0sainglesa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Krishna B, Manager at The Lakehouse, Cameron Highlands, responded to this reviewResponded 28 April 2012

Dear Guest,

Thank you for deciding to spend part of your Honeymoon with us at The Lakehouse, Cameron Highlands, and for your detailed review.

Having followed up the booking issue of your insect tour with my team, it appears there was a misunderstanding with this particular tour, our understanding was that you were enquiring only. As most of the tours require pre-booking, we were unable to arrange for you at that time the following morning and apologise for this inconvenience this caused as a result.

I also apologise if our Restaurant Manager confused you with some of the comments he asked regarding tours and pickup times, he was merely trying to engage in conversation and I have since addressed this with him to double check on information prior.

You will be pleased to know we are in the midst of changing all our food and beverage menu's with more balance to our pricing and offerings with the aim to introduce from 1st May. Do note you will find that the general food and beverage prices in the smaller boutique hotels in Cameron Highlands will be slightly more expensive than other parts of Malaysia due to isolation and style of venue.

We have also replaced some of the board games with missing pieces recently so thank you for highlighting this as well.

The training and development of our team continues to be a priority for us and I hope you provide us the opportunity to welcome you again in the future to experience the improvements in all the above areas.

Warm regards,

Shane Coates
Acting General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 March 2012

Given that this hotel was built only in the 60s, it offers a lot of olde English charm, in keeping with the Tudor-esque theme of the surrounding area. It's also done with a lot more taste than some of its more recent competitors (and followers).

While the decor is very telling of its late 60s/70s origins (eg. red lampshades and dark wood), it also lends the establishment quite a bit of anachronistic charm.

One thing you won't find here is Basil Fawlty, though, as the hotel management and staff are all very friendly and helpful.

No pretentious foams, baths or bubbles on the restaurant menu as it serves honest down to earth fare in sensibly-sized portions. The continental breakfast buffet is basic and baked goods/pastries are only average. The hot cooked-to-order breakfasts are a better bet.

Our Junior Suite was very roomy yet cosy, and furnished with a four poster bed and other fittings and furniture in keeping with the Tudor inn theme, with views over the rose garden and dam. The room was large enough to feel relaxed spending a rainy afternoon in, reading and lounging on the sofa. Freshly cut roses in the room was a lovely touch. The bathroom was large, clean and well-ventilated.

Cosy bar and living room with a fireplace are very pleasant for pre and post prandial drinks.

Enjoyed a nice massage in the newly-set up spa.

Overall, we enjoyed our stay and had a very relaxing time. Will recommend this place to family and friends.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank SandgroperGirlPerth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Krishna B, General Manager at The Lakehouse, Cameron Highlands, responded to this reviewResponded 27 April 2012

Dear Guest,

Thank you for recently staying with us and we are delighted you enjoyed your Lakehouse experience.

You will be pleased to know we have made some further improvements to our continental buffet breakfast offerings which hopefully you can experience should we be fortunate enough to welcome you for a return visit.

We hope to see you again at The Lakehouse, Cameron Highlands.

Warm regards,

Shane Coates
Acting General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 March 2012

Many qualities that turned this stay into a disappointing visit. The biggest being that I raised my unhappiness with management and invited them to get in contact me with and now one month later, still no reply. I guess that sums up the general attitude at this hotel: "we don't care".

The location is nice and the hotel has such high potential, but falls down on the service and amenities front.

Herewith a summary...

Service:
- expect to go and look for the staff to find them to ask them to serve you tea/lunch in the reading rooms
- expect to be brough food that differs from the menu (missing items, etc)
- expect to ask twice at least to be brought cutlery
- expect to be gaped at in the restaurant while you eat by the staff and the plate to disappear whilst you are still chewing your last bite (maybe staff are eager to go home at the end of the evening?)

Amenities:
- expect to share your space with smokers in all reception areas (not a single non-smoking area available)
- expect to hear your neighbours "going about" in their rooms (to put it lightly) due to the doors of the rooms not being sound-tight
- expect your shower to leak and flood your bathroom every morning
- expect your hot water to run out while showering (especially if you are two people in a room)
- expect to burn in the sun on the terrace since the two covered tables on the verandah are never free
- expect to drink coffee which makes you wish that you rather ordered some dishwater for an improved taste

Pricing:
- except to be ripped off for everything
- expect to pay more for a double espresso than at the local Starbucks in Tanah Rata (just over 8€!!!!! this is even beating european high street prices by a mile)
- expect to pay more than 10€ for a simple sandwhich, sold as a "chicken sandwhich" but in fact being two slices of white bread with a single sliced piece of some kind of chicken-ham on it
- expect to be made felt as a piggy bank, since everything has a price tag (including using the flipflops presented at the bed, thank goodness we read the small print in the guest book first)

The highlight of the tour was actually the taxi service that the hotel arranged for us to take us to BOH - first off to escape the hotel and second off, the fact that the taxi driver was really great in his local knowledge and friendliness.

Room Tip: Doors are not sound proof so having a room in a corner will reduce people walking past your room and disturbing you.
  • Stayed: January 2012, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank HnrchSchwl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Krishna B, Manager at The Lakehouse, Cameron Highlands, responded to this reviewResponded 27 March 2012

Dear Guest,

Thank you for choosing The Lakehouse for your recent accommodation in the Cameron Highlands, Malaysia.

I've recently taken over from our General Manager who has unfortunately gone an extended leave of absence due to illness, so I apologise for you not receiving a response to your complaint sooner. Having gone through our records, I am todate unable to find any other correspondence from you regarding your stay or requesting contact.

I assure you, as a small business, we do take our guest feedback very seriously and apologise that we let you down on this occasion, and for not meeting your expectations. I have since shared your detailed feedback with my team and personally addressed a number of the issues you have kindly raised.

As for our prices, you will find as a boutique hotel in the Cameron Highlands, we are on par with similar boutique properties in the area, however your feedback has been duly noted.

Thank you again for staying with us and should you like to discuss further or should any other readers wish to make any enquiries, please email me directly at info@lakehouse-cameron.com

Warm regards,

Shane Coates
Acting General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 February 2012

The Lakehouse is not a typical hotel, it's an old, british styled house. It is actually situated in an silent area, surrounded by hills, jungle and the lake, but there's a street near, so sometimes you can hear cars or trucks driving by, when the windows of your room are open.

Staff is very very friendly, lovely and helpful! Free welcome massage and drinks (we had an alcohol free ginger beer, which was excellent!!) upon arrival.

We had a standard room, which was very big, comfortable (especially the bed and pillows) and clean, shower and bathtub, cinnamon soap, coffee, tea and fresh milk, turndown service in the evening, where you get fruits or sweets. There was no TV in the room, but the hotel offers a lot of tours and some are for free, eg the jungle tour. For the jungle tour you need good shoes like trekking shoes and in addition you really need to be fit!! You don't see a lot, except plants and trees. I wouldn't do it again ;-)

In the lobby there is a fireplace, where you can have your drinks before dinner. The staff asks you what time you want your dinner. Drinks, wine and food are delicious, they have a special menu for vegetarians and children. They also offer some snacks during the day and afternoon tea.

The Spa is next to the hotel and the Malaysian massage I had was absolutely relaxing!

We really enjoyed our stay at the Lakehouse and would defenitely stay there again.

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled with family
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1  Thank _Betty_Sue_1108
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 January 2012

LOCATION: surrounded by the jungle and with a view to the mountains and the lake. 15-20 minutes from cameron highlands city centre
ROOM: the hotel was built in tudor style, it is very romantic and cosy. We had a nice room on the hilltop building, which had a view to the foggy hills. Every day there were fresh fruits, mineral water and sweets in our room. One thing i didn't like, the lock of the bathroom did nit work well, and i almost stuck there 2 times.
ATMOSPHERE: romantic, relaxing
BREAKFAST: limited assortment, but nice, quality food. Eggs and pencakes by request.
SERVICE: we were dining both nights in the hotel restaurant. First night a local dinner, second time a barbecue on the terrace just for the 2of us. Staff was very helpful. They ordered taxi fro us back to kuala lumpur and we could pay it with the room, which was very comfortable. Wifi only available in the lobby area, which gives room for improvement.
BEST: barbecue dinner in the terrace and the spirit of the jungle
WORST: no internet in the rooms

  • Stayed: December 2011, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank dittimitti
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Krishna B, General Manager at The Lakehouse, Cameron Highlands, responded to this reviewResponded 1 February 2012

Dear dittimitti,

Thank you for your kind comments. We strive to make the best possible stay for all our guests.

We hope to see you again in the near future.

Cheers,
Krishna Badhur (Mr)
General Manager

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