Meandering pathways flanked by shrubs and trees on one end and golden fields of paddy on the other set the idyllic scene for guest arrivals at S’ekar Pinang, one of Langkawi’s newer boutique estates tucked a little away from buzzing Pantai Cenang. The private property — a 15-minute drive from Langkawi International Airport — is co-owned by two accomplished friends, Hazimi Kassim, who often goes by his nickname Jimmy, and Dr Mohd Fadzil Mohd Tahir, a radiologist at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
Before the establishment of S’ekar Pinang, the initial plan was to build a vacation house for both their families. “We thought that adding a few more chalets might give us additional income, you know, for when we retire and so on,” says the amiable Jimmy, who retired from the corporate world after having been the chief internal auditor of Hong Leong Bank, Celcom, Maybank and Telekom. So, they added four more units at the back of the main villa in addition to a reassembled traditional rumah panggung (Malay stilt house) — which was supposed to be a workers’ quarters “but it’s too nice lah” — that was relocated to the grounds.
The villa consists of three luxurious suites that share a spacious open-concept living and dining hall with a long table that accommodates 14 plus a fully equipped kitchen. “Since we designed it as our holiday home, naturally we have a big living room,” shares Jimmy, who is glad that his guests have a spot to congregate. “Now we have a place where people can stay and take up all the eight rooms, especially if, let’s say, they want to do loud gatherings like birthdays, or family get-togethers for New Year’s or Hari Raya.” The villa also opens up to an infinity pool with lanky coconut trees on which palm leaves sway leisurely in the background.
The most distinctive feature of S’ekar Pinang is without a doubt the abundance of artworks — around 60 — in and around the 67,000 sq ft property. The friends, who first met in Johor Bahru, are avid collectors and thought the villas and chalets were the perfect opportunity to display their growing collection, some of which were acquired from Segaris Art Center, The Edge Galerie (now defunct) and UiTM Art & Design Gallery. Each room is designed around a different colour theme based on the respective artworks anchored above the king-sized beds. “I think this room is the most sought-after,” says Jimmy while introducing the Luxury Villa. “It’s slightly away from the main road, and also the blue colour gives you that calm feeling.”
On the duo’s favourite paintings, Jimmy shares that he has always admired Ahmad Zuraimi Abdul Rahim’s creations. “Only three years ago, through Segaris, I acquired his Isi Perut, which depicts a picture of his X-ray when he was hospitalised due to the side effects of working with aluminium in his art.” An Ismail Latiff piece, the smallest painting in S’ekar Pinang that hangs discreetly in one of the rooms, is Dr Fadzil’s choice. “His philosophy of life and work — ‘Art is life and one of the best introductions to art is nature’ — captures the ethos, pathos and logo of S’ekar Pinang,” he says.
When it came to the design of the space, it was a divide-and-conquer effort. Dr Fadzil was responsible for the interior decorating, while Jimmy was in charge of landscaping. The industrial combination of exposed brick walls, steel beams and concrete floors gives the rooms a solid character, whereas the artworks, floor-to-ceiling curtains, carpets and rounded accessories and furniture soften it. Lofty ceilings and big windows add volume to the villa, and the sliding glass doors invite in the gentle island sun and breeze.
Outside, a myriad of lush and colourful plants line the walkways, with bees and butterflies hovering over herb patches and flower gardens. “I don’t like it to be so manicured,” admits Jimmy. He enjoys the random surprises that spring up from the mixture of plants — most of which were plucked from the roadside, jungle or given by friends — that thrive under his care. “Whatever I cucuk, it hidup lah. Over-hidup!” he jests. But gardening is more than just a hobby. “I wanted to provide a garden-to-table kind of food.”
Jimmy is also the cook, and his creative dishes have garnered praise from fellow hoteliers around the island. “The café was the last thing we built,” he says. “We needed it to cater for breakfast and private functions.” The café, Sekapur Sireh, named after Singaporean-Malaysian star Saloma’s tune, Sekapur Sireh Seulas Pinang, opened to the public late 2020 and has since attracted a steady amount of traffic. The café is enclosed by glass, allowing diners to see various kinds of squirrels peeking from tree branches and monkeys swinging by around noon.
“It’s been quite a hit with the Kuah people, especially when they want to get away from the town environment,” Jimmy says. “Sitting here, enjoying food and listening to old Malay music, it’s very nostalgic lah.”
A perfect place to kick back and relax, we think.
This article first appeared in issue No. 102, Winter 2021 of Haven.