There’s a first time for everything, and I must admit, stepping into the realm of Hard Rock Hotel has been long overdue for me. So, when the opportunity arose to experience their second Malaysian hospitality establishment, of course, I had to say yes.

Accompanied by my dear friend and colleague Fiona, we embarked on our weekend girls’ getaway, beginning with a leisurely four-to-five-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur to Johor’s scenic western coastline.

Due to heavy traffic conditions exacerbated by the festive season, our journey was extended by one to two hours, totalling seven hours. Do keep this in mind when planning your drive – prepare plenty of snacks!

Welcoming us at the entrance was a colossal steel sculpture of an electric guitar adorned with batik motif perforations, marking our arrival at this coastal sanctuary. We mentally bookmarked this spot for a photo op later, as our immediate focus was checking into our rooms to get cosy.

Greeted by the refreshing sea breeze amidst the breathtaking surroundings of the resort, the start of our getaway was only getting sweeter.

Image by Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast.

Unpacking our belongings into the spacious Rock Suite, we found ample room to unwind in the separate living area and a generously sized King Bed fit for (rock and) rolling in. Equipped with two Smart TVs—one in the bedroom and another in the living room—we browsed through movies-on-demand and decided to stream some music in the background.

The sight of the bathtub and expansive rain shower greeted us warmly, offering a moment of relaxation as we connected to the Wi-Fi and refreshed ourselves before dinner. Naturally, I had to browse through the pillow menu, which proved a godsend. In my book, hotels with a pillow menu earn extra points – I don’t make the rules.

In an effort to promote environmental sustainability, stainless steel water bottles are provided in every room, and filtered water stations are conveniently located near the lift lobbies on every floor and within the rooms. These stations encourage guests to refill and reduce plastic waste.

As VIPs of Rock Suite, we enjoyed exclusive access to the Rock Royalty Lounge. Since our getaway had begun, we thought it fitting that we indulged ourselves in some pre-dinner snacks. Complimentary refreshments are served throughout the day at the Rock Royalty Lounge, with dedicated menus for Continental Breakfast and Evening Cocktails.

For those seeking solace away from the hotel crowds, the lounge is equipped with workstations and a coffee maker. It’s a great spot for unwinding with a book or, if you really need to, catching up on some work.

The view of Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast from the Rock Royalty Lounge.

We had many more visits to the lounge during our stay, which were nothing short of delightful. For a serene getaway at the Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast, we highly recommend upgrading your room to have access to the Rock Royalty Lounge. Amidst the stunning vista of the nearby waterpark, you’ll not only find peace and quiet but also savour delectable food. The food offerings here added an extra layer of enjoyment to our stay.

Dinner was in Sessions, the hotel’s all-day dining restaurant, with a menu that encompasses both local specialities and international delights. The setting is great for group meals and families with children, featuring seats designed to accommodate travellers of all kinds. The friendly and attentive wait staff ensured our comfort throughout the meal.

To start, we opted for the classic yet delightful Mushroom Soup, served with Toasted Bruschetta, for a burst of flavour. For the main course, we savoured Nyonya Curry Laksa, The Traditional Beef Burger, and a Smoked Salmon Chef Salad, ensuring a satisfying mix of flavours and ingredients.

Sessions is also where breakfast buffets are served. We particularly loved their kid’s selections and the fresh salad bar.

The second day called for a full day of indulging ourselves in not just food but also tons of fun and pampering, starting with a thrilling morning at Adventure Waterpark Desaru Coast. As guests of Hard Rock Hotel Desaru Coast, we could enjoy direct access to the waterpark at Level 1 – no need for walking or driving out of the resort!

Home to one of the biggest wave pools in the world and the first-ever water coaster in the region, Fiona and I splashed ourselves silly. There were rides and attractions for both thrill-seekers and chill-seekers, and we each had our fill of what we needed. Conveniently located food kiosks, cabanas, and lockers ensured our every need was met within easy reach.

After an exhilarating morning and quality bonding time, we enjoyed a lazy afternoon before our pre-booked spa sessions. Ordering in-room dining was a breeze with the convenient TV interface, and confirmation from the Hard Rock kitchen promptly followed via the in-room telephones.

We discovered a hidden gem in the In-Room Dining menu: the Movie Star Combo. To our delight, the chefs graciously accommodated us, as this menu item is typically only available in the evenings. It had the perfect assortment of goodies for indulging while we watched the movie Wonka on-demand.

A girls’ getaway would only be complete with some much-needed pampering. We were spoiled with a luxurious 90-minute Asia Blend Massage and Face Massage, which turned out to be the best 90 minutes I’ve experienced in a long time. Needless to say, our tired bodies were thoroughly rejuvenated, and our muscles relaxed under the skilled hands of our masseuses. They expertly put us right to sleep, leaving us feeling well-restored after the session.

My attentive masseuse ensured the music matched my preferences in both genre and volume. Positioned above my head in a dome-like feature, the music made the massage all the more immersive, adding a musical dimension to traditional treatments.

Hands down, the best food we had at the hotel was at The Elephant & The Butterfly. We were seated by the poolside and transported to a world of Mexican culinary delights for the night. Inspired by the enduring love story of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo, Mexico’s iconic artists, the restaurant pays homage to their affectionate nicknames given by Diego’s mother—’the elephant’ and ‘the dove’.

We began our meal with the classic Mexican appetiser, Nachos, generously laden with minced beef, sweet corn, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, and topped with Jalapeno for an extra kick. We also savoured the Crock Pot Mexican Chicken Soup, a light yet tantalising prelude to the main course.

For our main, we shared Pollo Birria Tacos, which had a satisfying bite filled with pulled chicken, Mozzarella cheese, and onion. We ended our dinner on a sweet note with the Tres Leches Cake. Our palates were thoroughly satisfied by the end of our meal, leaving our tummies feeling content.

The essence of Hard Rock Hotels is not complete without music; we had to check out the live tunes at the Sessions Lawn. The live band, Recall, sang classic rock anthems to soulful ballads with infectious energy, and we found ourselves captivated by their performance as we lounged on the verdant lawn.

Image by The Els Club Desaru Coast.

On our final day, we got to experience golfing at the nearby ELS Club. Hotel guests can take the Desaru Coast shuttle service or drive to the club themselves. Upon arrival, we were given a tour of the Ocean Course, where we saw holiday golfers enjoying their games against the backdrop of the South China Sea.

Following the tour, we eagerly embraced the chance to try our hands at golf, which included learning the basics of swinging, chipping, and putting. It was such an enriching experience, offering the opportunity to bond with a friend while trying something new.

If you’re coming from Kuala Lumpur and taking that four-hour (or more) drive, consider extending your stay to give you more time to relax, unwind, and experience more of the hotel’s offerings. (Our stay was three days, two nights.)

Don’t miss Constant Grind, the hotel’s coffee bar where coffee lovers can relax and unwind, and the Memorabilia Tour showcasing items donated by renowned performers like Yuna, Rihanna, and more. The lace wrap that Rihanna wore in her music video for California King Bed is preserved there in a glass case, staring back at you. No kidding.

You may also have time to venture beyond the hotel to explore Desaru’s attractions, such as the Desaru Ostrich Farm, Desaru Fruit Farm, and Teluk Sengat Crocodile Farm.

As we reminisce on our time in Desaru, we eagerly anticipate our next visit. Till then.

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*All images by Fiona Thong and River Huei unless stated otherwise.