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Dinner with Sam Neill at the Datai
by Sinead Territt

A dinner date at the Datai, known for being one of Langkawai s most beautiful and exclusive hotels, is in itself an occasion which evokes a sense of grandeur with its overwhelming idyllic setting. But when your dinner date is a dashing Hollywood leading man, it takes the extraordinary luxurious experience to exceedingly different level!

We are there to celebrate and sample a sublime Thai feast paired with a variety of wines from a New Zealand vineyard called Two Paddocks. The Proprietor of the vineyard and our gracious host for the evening, an actor probably best known for his leading role in the epical 90 s film Jurassic Park, is the very charming Sam Neill.

The event was certainly one of the highly anticipated highlights of our trip to Malaysia. The preparation before our arrival to this dinner date at The Datai involved dressing ourselves with The Oscars in mind and sipping delightfully on champagne while donning the diamonds and excitedly chatting about whether Sam would be as handsome as ever!
When you arrive at The Datai you are immediately overcome by it s profound pristine location and the fact that you are wonderfully isolated from the rest of the world. It almost conjures up images of Jurassic Park itself albeit minus the scary dinosaurs! We are welcomed in the ornamental lobby by the hotel manager and we get a chance to take in the tropical paradise around us. Wasting no time we make our way down to The Pavilion, the simple but elegant Thai restaurant where dinner will be served. The champagne is free flowing and we are treated to delightful canapés as the small crowd chats in excited anticipation. We are a group of six ladies, dressed to impress and patiently waiting to catch a glimpse of the elusive Mr. Neill.

Sam Neill arrives in his casual linens, not making a dramatic entrance, but at the age of 63 we were all ecstatic to rapport he was as handsome as we remembered. The ladies who had attempted to remain chic, cool and calm suddenly loose it for a moment as we are reduced to making the giggling squeals of teenage girls. We regain our composure as Sam saunters in our direction for a chat.

After the mandatory introductions and posing for the camera (like the Hollywood starlets we should have been!!) we get a chance to meet the real Sam Neill, who turns out to be an absolutely lovely, no airs or graces, down to earth guy. He informs us that he has just received his Irish passport (which results in some added excitement from the Irish contingency of our glamorous group). He was actually born in Omagh, Co.Tyrone, Nigel John Dermot "Sam" Neill, before immigrating to New Zealandas a young boy in 1954. We discuss world travel, the beauty of Langkawi and of course wine. Sam was extremely engaging and it thoroughly enjoyable to be in his company.

We are instructed to take our places for dinner- the menu before us is mouth wateringly magnificent and we poise ourselves as we observe numerous empty wine glasses in front of us. Executive Swedish Chef ConnyAndersson informs us how he will tantalize our taste buds throughout the evening with an array deliciously sounding Thai dishes created exclusively for the event with the Two Paddocks wines in mind.

As we tuck into the sumptuous starters Sam addresses the crowd to educate us briefly about his work at Two Paddocks. It is obvious he possesses an extreme passion for his vineyard and takes his position as Proprietor very seriously. He compliments The Datai profusely and expresses the same awe we are all experiencing at this luscious location. He is both interesting and informative and as was expected the topic of conversation leads back to his Hollywood roots as the enthusiastic crowd pry into his future projects in the limelight.

Our main courses are extravagantly scrumptious and as we tuck in we are treated to a multitude of both red and white wine from Sam's vineyard.We finish the meal with a selection of tropical fruits and House made chocolates.The service for the entirety of the night is excellent and the dinner,although set in the simple elegance of a tropical rainforest, surprisingly leaves us with a sense of Hollywood razzle-dazzle and we feel privileged to have been part of the eclectic evening. As we depart from The Datai and bid the handsome Mr.Neill farewell we can't help but be captivated by the experience and extremely exhilarated, we all agree that the evening was a once in a lifetime experience!


Our main courses are extravagantly scrumptious and as we tuck in we are treated to a multitude of both red and white wine from Sam's vineyard.We finish the meal with a selection of tropical fruits and House made chocolates.The service for the entirety of the night is excellent and the dinner,although set in the simple elegance of a tropical rainforest, surprisingly leaves us with a sense of Hollywood razzle-dazzle and we feel privileged to have been part of the eclectic evening. As we depart from The Datai and bid the handsome Mr.Neill farewell we can't help but be captivated by the experience and extremely exhilarated, we all agree that the evening was a once in a lifetime experience!


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