The Golden Sands is a beautiful family friendly resort located right on Batu Ferringhi beach on the island of Penang. It sits on the north shore of the tropical island of Penang.
A quick word of warning. There are two Shangri-La resorts right next door to one another in Batu Ferringhi. The Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La and Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang. Don't go to the wrong one. Although there appears to be some sharing of facilities between the two resorts they do not share a booking system.
If you turn up at reception and they have no record of your booking, check that you are actually at the correct resort. But who would make a silly mistake like that?
Once we arrived at the correct resort checking in was very quick. The staff were friendly and efficiently conveyed us to our room.
Knowing that we would be arriving with a toddler the resort helpfully provided a cot. Unfortunately it was an older style wooden cot that does not seem to agree with Zoe. We put her in one of these once and in the first five seconds she fell forward, her hands went through the gaps between the bars and she was trapped, very upset with her arms flailing helplessly outside the cot.
A Murphy bed was available although putting it up or down requires a key possessed by a staff member. Presumably requiring a staff member to put it up or down is a safety precaution which seems fairly prudent.
We came up with the idea of putting down the single bed sized Murphy bed then setting up Zoe's travel cot on top of it to give her a lovely soft surface to sleep on. Unfortunately her cot perched on top of a single bed seemed rather precarious so the extremely patient staff endured yet another request from us, to put away the Murphy bed that we had just asked them to put down.
The Murphy bed would be perfect if you have a child who is sleeping in a regular adult bed. If you have a small child however you probably want to bring your own setup.
Our bed was large, comfortable and came with more pillows than you could ever really use (surely).
The room was relatively cozy. I wouldn't say cramped but if you have a cat to swing, go out on the balcony. There is a lovely view out there anyway. The space in the room is totally fine for most guests as they will spend most of their time by the pool etc but with a young child you tend to spend quite a bit of time in your room. Sometimes that time is spent resting while your toddler sleeps, sometimes it is spent chasing your toddler around. Either way you are extremely aware of how much space there is available.
The floor itself appeared to be slate tile and was extremely hard. We had concerns about making it through our stay without at least one really big head whack but Zoe managed to stay on her feet. In the end we settled for doubling up a doona and putting that on the floor under the travel cot, which includes its own inflatable mattress. That seemed to be soft enough for her.
We also did some assorted putting away and baby proofing. Click here to listen to our podcast about baby proofing a hotel room
In the bathroom there was a bathtub which is very handy with a small child. Two cute yellow ducks came with the bathtub although I am unsure if they are standard or if they were placed there because the staff knew we had a young child. If you do not have a child but still want the ducks you may want to request them specially to avoid disappointment.
The breakfast buffet was very large and extremely comprehensive. No matter whether you wanted steamed buns, rice congee, pancakes, breakfast cereal, fresh fruit, or pretty much anything else they seemed to have it. The option was there to be as healthy or as unhealthy as you like.
My first breakfast I went for turkey bacon, chicken sausage, french toast and fruit cake. I am happy with my choices. On your vacation by the beach is no time to be counting calories.
Plastic plates and eating implements were available for little people. It was nice to be able to give Zoe a plate without worrying about anything getting broken if it wound up on the floor.
There are a few swimming pools clustered together. Life guards are stationed around and the pools feel well supervised.
There is one dedicated paddling pool as well as another larger pool that has a shallow area roped off for the little ones. Zoe has spent plenty of time in either bathtubs, which are too small and slippery to walk around in, and regular swimming pools, which are too deep for her to stand in, so being able to wander around in thigh to waist deep water sitting and standing as she pleased was a new and enjoyable experience.
For the slightly older kids there is even a water slide. It is modestly sized but surprisingly fast.
Immediately beyond the pools is a grassed area scattered with deck chairs and umbrellas. This was handy when Zoe wanted to stretch her legs. The grassy area provides ample room for stretching little legs and the deck chairs provide climbable obstacles when one was desired.
We were only out running around on the grass during the cooler early morning and late afternoon periods. During the hotter middle of the day there is more than enough space for lounging in the sun or reading your book beneath an umbrella.
Beyond the lawn is the beach. The beach is very pretty although the waters of Batu Ferringhi are unfortunately home to stinging jellyfish. That makes swimming in the ocean somewhat inadvisable. There are even signs up specifically tell you not swim in the ocean. Lucky those swimming pools are so nice.
Batu Ferringhi beach is actually very nice to stroll along. We happened to be visiting during a rather hazy period due to fires in Indonesia so the following photo really does not do it justice.
Be warned that once you leave the resort's ground he path's quality drops pretty sharply so do not expect to be able to walk for miles with your stroller.
Once the pool's attraction starts to wear thin go and check out Golden Sand's "Adventure Zone". It is an indoor playground suitable for a broad range of ages. There are large slides available for older children and particularly brave adults.
Nearby is a well padded area for toddlers that features a ball pit and all manner of obstacles to clamber around. Although she was a little uncertain at first, Zoe loved it. We eventually removed her, exhausted but still reluctant to leave.
Be aware that you need to wear socks to go on just about anything including going into the toddler playground. You need a long sleeved shirt to go on the big slides. Save yourself a trip back to your room to change.
A laundry was available. Very handy if you do not want to bring a small mountain of baby clothes with you. Or in the event of a higher than expected rate of baby clothing soilage. All of that eating new food and running around on the grass can get messy.
This is actually one of the nicer laundries we have seen anywhere. You could make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and there was even a TV you could watch. Their remote for the TV was right there so you could even choose what to watch.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Golden Sands. Even though it is only 15 minutes drive from where we have been staying in Tanjung Tokong it feels like a different world. A world filled with palm trees, the sound of waves, and children playing in the pool.
Shangri-La's Golden Sands resort is a really nice place. For couples without kids it is pretty hard to fault. If you have a child old enough to sleep in a proper bed the Murphy bed is super handy to give your child a place to sleep without having to pay for a second room. If you have a toddler however the slightly cramped space is a little tight once you have your cot set up.