With the coast on one side and the dense rain forest on the other, Sarawak’s capital, Kuching, forms the gateway to the country’s beautiful tropical interior, caves and beautiful beaches. In the southwest of Borneo, Kuching exists because of the Sarawak River, an essential source of water and transportation for the inhabitants of Sarawak. The ornate colonial-style destination means ‘cat’ in Malay, is home to just over 600,000 people and is easily explored on foot or by sampan. A sampang gives you a unique view of the pretty Malay villages, bustling streets of 19th-century shophouses, museums, an imposing wooden-roofed palace and a golden-domed mosque with the backdrop of the glorious Santubong Mountain.
At the foot of the Santubong Mountain and on the shores of the South China Sea, you’ll find Cove 55, a hideaway of luxury and the ultimate in romance. The sprawling resort nestles amidst lush tropical greenery and the feeling of infinity as you look towards the horizon across the sea. Surreal sunsets make the perfect backcloth for your wedding ceremony. The iconic rustic overwater pavilion can seat up to 90 guests for an intimate exchange of vows and an after-party under a kaleidoscope of sunset colours and, later, the stars. The Cove 55 wedding planner coordinates everything you need from menu decisions, flowers, accommodation and adventures into Bornean lands.
Tucked in the shade of the mangrove trees, Cove 55 boasts a breathtaking venue for larger weddings with floor-to-ceiling windows and a large terrace that looks out to sea. An Olympic-sized pool makes an ideal venue for a sociable party, with oversized daybeds to relax or an expansive terrace to chat. Utilise the entire space at Cove 55 and take over the entire resort affording you and your guests the ultimate retreat to catch up and enjoy your special occasion.
The Borneons bring together age-old traditions of culture, language and hospitality; they’ll welcome you warmly. Once a private Iban-owned home, the resort has 28 bedrooms and is large enough to accommodate your family and friends yet still allows you a sense of exclusivity and peace. Each room has a private courtyard garden, sunrise or sunset views, is on the beach or in the shady mangrove forest. Three ocean suites have private pools, ideal for your close wedding party.
Chefs at Cove 55 proudly grow indigenous organic plants, fragrant herbs and seasonal vegetables in their kitchen garden. They are like alchemists and turn the simplest dishes into delicious fayre decorated with beautiful flowers like the Philippine waxflower, chive, marigold, nasturtium, borage, celom, ginger torch and roselle.
The melting pot of ethnic and cultural backgrounds of Borneo’s people means that the island’s cuisines are widespread and delicious. The executive chef will carefully create a perfectly balanced menu based on your partialities and fusion preferences. Try fresh fish from the South China Sea, spicy sambal from Indonesia, Bario rice with pineapple curry, or traditional Iban dishes like bamboo chicken and midin jungle fern. It’s a delicious cacophony of tastes.
Borneo is diverse and is home to 140 million-year-old rainforests with some of the world’s tallest trees, tens of indigenous groups and tribes, and some of the smallest animals like the pygmy elephant, sun bear and the tiniest pygmy squirrel. There are many unusual animals, including the probosci’s monkey with its exceptionally unique nose. It’s a must to get out and about in nature. Explore the Bako National Park, wander through the Bau caves, track down the world’s largest flower in Gunung Gading National Park or hike the mist-shrouded Borneo Highlands. Book a guide and hike Mount Santubong, spend time with delightful orange-furred orangutans in their natural environment, and discover the nearby national parks and cultural and fishing villages.
Katie Hollamby is a well-travelled public relations specialist turned writer for various international publications, tourism boards and ethical brands. Originally from the UK, she’s worked around the world, lived in and explored North America, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Maldives and now Thailand. She’s passionate about the welfare of animals and sustainability. For more adventures, you can follow her on Instagram @thekatybooks.