When it opened in 1993, The Datai (www.thedatai.com; from about £310), on lush Langkawi island, set a luxury benchmark for Malaysia. With exemplary architecture courtesy of Kerry Hill arrayed across several hundred acres of littoral rainforest (unchanged in its essential make-up for close to a million years) and a kilometre-long beach, this resort’s fetching natural attributes could have allowed it to rest on its laurels and still probably make a killing. But when I visited last spring, it was clear someone here is still sweating the details after 23 years. I saw it in the pristine state of the whitewashed corridors, the vibrant modern Indian cuisine served in a traditional Malay house in the jungle and the smashing new beachfront villas (from £800), where dusky leaf monkeys cavort in the trees and lanterns light your garden at dusk. A special shout-out to Irshad Mobarak, the deeply charismatic on-site naturalist, who deserves the Malaysian correlate of a knighthood, and whose brilliant guiding has probably steered more than one young mind into environmentalism.