Malaysia is a nation steeped in folklore, with a wealth of history and vibrant cultures. These values are eloquently echoed in the country's architecture and many of them are reminiscent of bygone eras, with old traditional buildings that continue to stand strong today. From meticulously restored colonial mansions to transformed villages that now serve as hotels and food and beverage (F&B) outlets, Malaysia offers a plethora of unique properties, each with its own compelling story to share. This first of a series of articles will showcase some of Malaysia’s properties with a rich history.
The property, known as Casugria, is arguably one of the most original and well-preserved in Malacca. The Dutch influence is notably prominent in this historical gem. Its current owner, Patrick Sean Santa Maria, had his roots in the Portuguese settlement and invested in the property. Interestingly, he later discovered his familial connection to one of the last Dutch governors of Malacca.
The name Casugria is derived from the combination of three Portuguese words, each laden with personal significance. In this context, casa, susegadu and alegria come together to roughly translate to a house of happiness and contentment. This translation perfectly encapsulates the feelings experienced by visitors the moment they set foot inside this colonial property. The main residence is where Patrick and his family live, while the rest of the property is adorned with private villas and a sunlit swimming pool.
Terrapuri Heritage Village
This unique property is composed of not just one, but over twenty old wooden houses that once belonged to aristocrats and old palaces. The collection of old houses is owned by Alex Lee, who used to reside there in one of the houses. He has made it his mission to preserve the rest as heritage. The name Terrapuri means Land of Palaces in Sanskrit, and it was named that as a nod to its past design based on a 17th-century Terengganu palace.
The houses were built using chengal wood, and the architecture of the buildings is related to those in Thailand and Cambodia. The property is surrounded by beaches, wetlands and fishing villages. The chill, laid-back vibes are perfect for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Penang is dotted with old heritage buildings, and nestled in George Town is one that every Malaysian knows. The Macalister Mansion dates back to the 19th century and is deeply intertwined with Penang’s history. The boutique hotel was inspired by Sir Norman Macalister, the former British Governor of Penang. The mansion has seen decades of transformation from a bustling trading hub to a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its elegant facade adorned with intricate ironwork and expansive verandahs exude an aura of grandeur that harkens back to a bygone era.
Macalister Mansion has eight luxurious and spacious guest rooms that each have its own unique character and allure. The walls are a cool white and boast mosaics with touches of wood. Now known as a unique property among Penang locals, the mansion remains a popular tourist attraction.
Temple Tree Resort
Along Langkawi’s famed Pantai Cenang Beach lies the Temple Tree Resort. This boutique resort has eight heritage houses, each with its own unique character and story to tell. Every house represents the blend of architectural influences that set Malaysia’s identity in stone. From the Johor House, a grand Chinese farmhouse with intricate carvings and traditional courtyards, to the Kedah Kampung Houses adorned with woodwork and terracotta tiled roofs.
Wondering how they got to Langkawi? They were actually disassembled, relocated and reconstructed in a remarkable feat of preservation, and the houses have retained their original architectural features while seamlessly incorporating modern amenities and other luxuries. The resort is considered a unique tribute to Malaysia’s architectural heritage and provides folks with a chance to resonate with the country’s rich cultural history.
The Majestic Hotel
As a national heritage landmark popular for social events, government receptions and hosting prominent visitors, The Majestic Hotel is a site that can’t be missed. It was built in the 1930s by Dutch architectural firm Keyes and Dowdeswell and has neo-classical themes incorporated into its colonial structures. What stands out most prominently is its iconic curved driveway and covered Porte Cochere.
It is considered an icon of Malaya’s boom years leading to World War 2 and is listed in the famous Autograph Collection Hotels list of iconic historic hotels where the allure of a city’s distinctive past meets today’s modern luxuries. The Majestic Hotel can be found along Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin and boasts two wings to explore, the Majestic Wing and the Tower Wing. Every suite is a throwback to the old British Malaya and its old-world charm.
Properties with unique stories to tell are more than just places to live; they are repositories of history, culture, and legend. These stories add a layer of intrigue and charm to these properties, making them even more special and memorable. Malaysia’s central location attracted plenty of foreign interest in the past, and the small nation has come so far after all it has endured.