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“Divine” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Gaya Island Resort

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Gaya Island Resort
5.0 of 5 Resort   |   Malohom Bay, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Pulau Gaya 88000, Malaysia   |  
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Stay 3, Pay 2
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Singapore, Singapore
Top Contributor
68 reviews 68 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
“Divine”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 28, 2012

Much has been said of the very good service at Gaya Island resort, so I won't waste too many words on that except to say, it's hard to top this kind of service that treats you like a member of royalty. On top of that, the staff were also very child friendly. My three-year-old son had resisted donning a life vest for the speed boat ride to the resort but one of the staff at the waiting lounge at the Marina actually talked him into doing so. Also, a waiter at the Feast Village made my son feel important, laying out cutlery before him and handing him a menu, just like he was an adult.

Our room was great, can't really complain about it, except for the crazy light switches, which I never figured out. The bathroom and even the bathtub was insanely big, but how luxurious is that! Lovely rain shower in the shower cubicle too.

We went on a nature walk with the resident naturalist, Justin, who was extremely knowledgeable about the flora and fauna in Borneo, and learnt a lot of things during the walk. Did you know that termites operate a caste system within their nest? Or that you could tell directions by looking at tree roots? Quite mind-boggling, this. Justin was also very friendly and stopped to talk every time we ran into him around the resort.

The water around the resort was very clear and we could see plenty of fish just standing at the jetty - you don't even need to get wet. But I was told that if you went snorkelling around the house reef (we didn't), you could see even more, which sounds fantastic. At night, light beams are shone into the water at the jetty and they attract the bigger fish, such as the giant trevally, and sometimes, even schools of squid. On the night we ventured to the jetty, we saw many giant trevally flipping around madly in the water and sometimes even leaping out into the air. It was exciting.

The Spa Village took the meaning of heavenly to another level. My treatment room faced the forest and while I had a foot scrub on the verandah of the treatment room, I could hear waves lapping at the seashore just beyond while gazing out at the greenery. The massage itself was good and the therapist was very skilled. The treatment room had glass walls and you could choose to draw the curtains for privacy or leave them open so you could look out to the forest. Unfortunately, I made an appointment late in the day and it was already dark, so I couldn't see anything. But i'm sure the outside would have looked great in the day.

While I was at the spa, my husband entertained our kid at the playroom, which was well stocked with toys of all sorts. My son loved the playroom and went at least three rounds playing with every toy there. There was another room stocked with playthings for older children such as wii, but that was chargeable.

The place was also extremely well-maintained. We saw groups of workers spending all afternoon raking the beach and cleaning up seaweed that had floated towards shore. While it was true that there was still some minor construction work going on, it seemed to mostly consist of workmen plastering the walls of the road leading to our villa. That didn't bother us.

Food at Feast Village was decent and portions, generous. Ingredients used were premium. The menu had both Western and Asian fare, but I felt the Asian fare was done better. Breakfast was either an ala carte buffet or a self-service buffet spread, depending on the number of guests staying in the resort that particular day but both were good.

Prices on the menu were not low, but I figured this being an island, everything had to be imported, which contributes to the cost.

In all, it was a very nice vacation although I wish the pool didn't close that early (7pm). An after-dinner dip would have been very nice, especially in the tropical heat. And I also hope smoking can be banned at the poolside (or throughout the common areas of the resort).

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, January 1, 2013
Dear Guest,

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and family from all of us here at Gaya Island Resort!

Me and team would like to convey our highest appreciation on your support as well as on sharing your experience with us here. Me and team is glad to read that you had a memorable time with us and will return to Gaya Island Resort in time to come.

Again, many thanks on your review and all the best from all of us!

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.
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361 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (114)
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Sipoo, Finland
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 11, 2012

The hotel is max. one year old, part of the villas are getting opened in the very near future. The location is spectacular: It is located on Gaya Island, just across the city of Kota Kinabalu with Kinabalu mountain directly behind it. Especially in early morning the view is phantastic, when you can see the mountain reaching out of the clouds. The villas are built in units of four apartments (2 above, 2 below), and they are well equipped and spacious. Beware, however, of the villas with numbers 813/814/815 and 816, as this unit is build quite close to the kitchen, and the noise vom the ventilators and the smells are not to everybody's taste. Otherwise, this place is well run and up to standards. As time goes by, additional villas are opened which will be a stroll away from the central area (where check-in, pool bar, library and the main restaurants are located), but that is almost more an advantage is it becomes very secluded. We were visiting the place just at the begin of the rainy season, and so it rained at least once a day, but in between there were many sunny spots, which allowed snorkeling on the main beach, which is maintained and cleaned every day when we were there. Great place!

Room Tip: Avoid the rooms 813, 814, 815 and 816, as they are located too close to the kitchen. Similar rooms o...
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, December 12, 2012
Dear Guest,

Many thanks on your review and your support. We are all very glad to read on your wonderful stay with us and we hope to see you back with us in time to come.

Till we meet again, we would like to wish you, family and friends Merry Christmas and Happy 2013 ahead!

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.
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West Sussesx
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 4, 2012

We stayed for 6 nights in October 2012 which, in retrospect was probably a bit too long for this type of resort. Four nights would have been plenty.

It's true it is a new resort with some very obvious signs of ongoing work but this did not spoil things for us at all. One thing that did come to mind is that when we were there the place was virtually empty so the pool and beach were lovely and sometimes we were the only ones around. However, when full to capacity there would never be enough room for everyone as it stands now. Sure that is in hand though.

The staff were wonderful, every single one of them. We had a few teething problems with our room but we were more than adequately compensated so no complaints. I agree with another reviewer that the bathroom arrangements in the villa did not offer enough privacy for us given that there was an open corridor looking directly into the bathroom and the screens on the shower and toilet weren't quite robust enough. The bathroom was very big and I think that the could have offered more room in other places. There is nowhere to sit and watch a film, you have to lie on the bed. Not that we went there to watch TV but it would have been nice to have a seating area. Also, there was only one moveable sunbed on the balcony, two would have been nice. You did have the built in seating arrangement but the covers were always wet and even when dry not ideal given how hot is is there and they are plastic. Also, there is no shade on the balcony so although we had a wonderful sea view we weren't really able to enjoy it. Would have thought that in this climate a sunshade of some kind would have been standard.

All sounds very negative, actually we had a great time. The food was lovely, both in the feast village and the fish restaurant and the activities very enjoyable. We did the nature walk with Justin who really know's his stuff, cooking and yoga.

Worth working into your schedule for a few nights.

Room Tip: If you have any fitness or mobility issues make sure you highlight this when booking as the resort i...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, December 9, 2012
Dear Guest,

Many thanks on your review and constructive comments on areas, as shared in your review. I am glad to read that overall you had an enjoyable time with us and the staffs were exceptional through out as well.

I look forward to see you with us again in time to come and till we meet again, Merry Christmas and Happy 2013 to you and family!

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hong Kong, China
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 2, 2012

As many have commented before, the resort staffs are all very friendly and helpful, esp. Bobby who works at Feast Village and Alvin from the reception, Justin who guided us the nature walk is very knowledgeable in everything about the jungle.
My husband arranged this trip to celebrate my birthday and I was quite surprised all the staffs knew that it was my birthday. We had a private dinner on the beach, food was ok but what amazed us was the bright full moon above us, thank God for the clear sky. Bobby had even set up a telescope for us on the beach so that we could have a close up look of the lovely moon.
We asked for a villa near the lobby and restaurants, so we didn't have problems about walking steep slope uphill. The lilies pond is getting into shape too. The complimentary snorkeling trip is not to be missed, it's a pretty nice one. The water is very clear, we saw lots of fishes, sea urchin and a starfish (Though Sapi is nicer). The swimming is a bit small in new luxury resorts' standard but still it is a not bad. Since the jetty isn't free, most of the resort guests (if not all) will dine in the 2 restaurants within the resorts. It would be nice if in-room dining service could be provided. Construction work is still going on within the resort so there were some noise, mainly affected the library and restaurants during the day. Free wifi is only available at lobby and library and the connection wasn't very stable.
Learnt from the staffs that there are quite some projects like another private beach, fireflies tour etc. are still undergoing. Believe that the resort will be even nicer in time.

Room Tip: Ask for villas near the lobby
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  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, December 9, 2012
Dear Guest,

Greetings from Borneo!

Many thanks on your review and visit. Me and team is very glad that you had a memorable and enjoyable time with us through out and I have shared your comments with the team. Bobby, Alvin and Justin were all very excited to understand them being mentioned and I have congratulated them on their efforts.

Again many thanks on your support and I would like to take this opportunity to wish Merry Christmas and Happy 2013 ahead!

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.
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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 24, 2012 via mobile

We stayed here for 4 days, mid November. This new resort of the YTL-group opened in August 12, so not yet 3 months in operation, which was noticable with construction activities still ongoing, which was causing noise and the ladies feel uncomfortable with the workmen staring at them.

The rooms are nice and modernly decorated, (internet is available but at a price of USD 3.50 a day), the restaurant-food quality is really good as can be expected from a YTL-resort. The staff however are still in a learning process, so frequently delivering food late or not as you ordered.

Beach and pool area are nice, however the pool bar-lauch area has uncomfortable chairs and quality of drinks varies with the bartender on duty. So all in all a somewhat disappointing visit, with lots of room for improvement.

Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, November 25, 2012
Dear Guest,

Greetings from Gaya Island Resort!

I would like to thank you for your recent stay with us and unreservedly apologize on the overall experiences not meeting your expectations on regards to the comments shared by your self. The resort is actively working to improve the areas and your feedback has proved to be invaluable.

I hope to see you back with us in time to come and till we meet again, my best to you, family and friends.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.
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Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2012

My colleagues & I were at this resort for a 3D/2N company holiday mid-October 2012. Rooms have contemporary designs, quite like many other resorts out there nowadays. Gardens need some more time to grow, has much potential. My favorite place are the library & "cave retreats".

Activities: (1) Hike up the hill. we went on a hike the first afternoon we were there. Bring good shoes. It can get very muddy if it rains. Lots of tropical plants. Guide Justin grew up in tropical forests, knows a lot of it. (2) snorkeling on the first morning. Loved it! Resident Marine Biologist Scott & his team made it fun. So much fun, I had to do it again the next morning before we left the island, (3) paddle surf. Tried my hand at it for the first time. Very calm waters at this lagoon makes it very easy. (4) massage at the spa. A holistic experience. From the greeting to the time we left.

Food: (1) buffet Breakfast. Food from around the world = many choices, (2) Bajau BBQ seafood. Chef Dollis was on-hand to cook our food for us at the beach while lovely waitress dressed in Bajau costume served us. Fish was so good, so fresh. Had lots of variety, we were absolutely stuffed! (3) sunset cruise & dinner on the yacht. The steak I had was so good, it's now my profile picture on Facebook!

Service: everyone, from managers to gardeners, were extremely polite & did their best to make our stay wonderful. Contractors were still fine-tuning the finishings in some parts of the resort. Had some dust & noise.

Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, November 15, 2012
Dear Guest,

Greetings from Borneo!

Many thanks on choosing Gaya Island Resort and taking your time to share with us on your stay experiences.

I am happy to read that overall you had a relaxing holiday and enjoyed the services and facilities through out. Me and team is looking forward to see you back with us again, in time to come.

Till we meet again, my very best to you, family and friends.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh
(Resort Manager)
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Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
23 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 6, 2012

The Gaya island resort is the latest addition to the YTL resort’s list. It is located on Gaya Island in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Sabah. It is nestled in the Malohom Bay with Gayana Eco Resort to the right and Bunga Raya Resort on the left. Check-in was seamless at the Sutera Harbor Marina lounge. Drink was served while waiting for the boat transfer to be ready. From the marina, the speedboat took approximately 15 minutes to reach the resort.

Once berthed at the resort’s private jetty, Ling together with her team welcomed me at the pier, escorting me to the lobby. The resort’s open air lobby resembles longhouse of the indigenous group of Sabah. Cold towel and welcome drink were served before I sit down. Ling escorted me to my villa for the next two nights. It was about 15-20minutes walk to my villa on the hill slope. At the moment, there isn’t any other means of transportation to take you to your villa except by your own foot. It can be a challenge for elderly guests or those who are physically unfit. Even for guest who are physical sounds, it will be disaster if it rain suddenly. I forgot to ask whether there are planning to provide buggy service in time to come.

My Villa occupied the top floor of a double storey semi-detached building. Entrance was through the balcony. The Bedroom has a high roof ceiling and the bed is right in front of you once you opened the door. My first impression of the room; it is a bit clammed, just enough space for you to walk around. The wardrobe & working desk are located on the middle section of the villa while the inner section consists of the rain shower, toilet & the huge bathtub.

The outdoor balcony has two sitting areas with just a glimpse of the sea. It was not very practical as the seats were wet almost every morning, too hot to sit down at noon and too dark at night. The white cushions are getting dirty 2 ½ months after the opening.

There are two restaurants and a pool lounge at the resort. The feast is an all day dining restaurant with an open kitchen concept. Personally I think it was not as bad as some reviewers quoted “canteen style”, unless you have a 5-star canteen at your work place. Nevertheless, price was extremely steep. Imagine a dish of 4 tiger prawns charged at Malaysia Ringgit one hundred & twenty-five? I could have brought 3 kg at the market. The fishermen’s cove on the upper level is a fine dining restaurant. I was prohibited from entering as I did not have the proper attire. I was not informed neither the hotel’s own website ever mentioned the restaurant‘s formal dress code policy. The waiter did offer me to sit at the Feast restaurant but took order from Fishermen’s cove which I turned down as it sounded offensive to me.

The infinity pool is located next to the lobby building with swim up bar pool & lounge. There are few desk chairs & 4 floating cabana around the pool. Nevertheless the pool and the beach never get busy during my stay.

Location of the resort is not the best. It is facing east and the city. Don’t expect anything like the Maldives. It’s not facing directly to South China Sea but sometimes ugly oil tankers berthed in a distance which were really an eyesore. There is nothing to shout about the beach at the resort. The other private beach at Tavajun Bay is not ready yet and might only open to guest by year end.

There are still lots of teething issues as the resort was just opened 2 ½ months ago. In fact too rush to open its doors yet. I just couldn’t understand why YTL needs to rush for the opening. As for my villa, the safe box failed to work. In the end, the technicians asked me to push the cover up a bit when opening and locking the safe. Water pressure was weak. The rain shower was not strong enough and the huge bathtub took a long time to fill up. The hot water also took sometimes to heat up. The shower did not drain fast enough & almost flooded the shower room. The bedroom is small comparing the size of the whole villa. A lot of space was taken by the bathroom but how much times we spend in the bathroom? There were limited choices of TV channels. Of course you may ask, are you here to watch TV? Trust me, you have nothing much to do at night.

Workmanship of the resort is extremely poor. These should not be happening to YTL's group.

The resort houses a library next to the restaurants. Not sufficient reading materials but 2 PCs with complimentary internet service. The view from the library was magnificent.

The ugly ponds are being tidy up and water lilies have being planted. It will take a while for the ponds to develop a natural feel. Plants have been planted around the resort & just give them another half a year for the vegetation to grow, put into shape, the landscaping will be nice.

There are numerous activities organized for the guests daily. These include the morning sunrise walk, snorkeling, culinary demonstration, local dances, blow pipe demonstration, story-telling for the children and the nature walks. I joined the nature walk conducted by the resident naturalist Mr. Justin. It was a knowledgeable and interesting walk. Justin is an expert with all the vegetations and habitants in the rainforest. Remember to put on the proper walking shoes and attire for the trail. Insert repellent is a must.

YTL is blessed with a group of high quality, qualified, hardworking employees. All my encounters with the resort staff were positive ones. They are really an asset to the resort. The whole team is working real hard to rectify problems, fine tunes, in creating a better experience & making the guests feel pampered. All the efforts by this pioneer team must be recognized by the management for their efforts contributed during this critical soft opening.

I only realized I was charged RM70.00 for the boat transfer at check out. This was not mentioned in the hotel’s website, neither by the staff during my check in. I was highlighted on the conservation fees of RM20.00 per night per person only. So the boat transfer sounded like a hidden charge to me.

The resort could be better in time to come, when all the issues were being fixed, when the plants start to bloom....

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, November 7, 2012
Dear Guest,

Greetings from Borneo!

First and foremost, I would like to thank you very much for taking your valuable time out to share with us your stay experiences.

I would like to unreservedly apologize on the overall disappointments that your self experienced as shared in your review. Assuring your good self, further improvements are now in progress on the areas mentioned. Your comments are very important for us to constantly improve and better our areas.

I also note that the staffs, especially Ling, stood on an exceptional platform in her dailies into making sure that you are well looked after. I have shared your comments with Ling and thanked Ling for looking after you through out your stay with us.

Again, I would like to assure you that the areas are now being looked after and further improvements are now in-progress. I hope this will not deter you to visit us again in future.

If I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to email me at your earliest convenience.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh
(Resort Manager)
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Gaya Island Resort

Address: Malohom Bay, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Pulau Gaya 88000, Malaysia
Phone Number:
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > West Coast Division > Kota Kinabalu District > Pulau Gaya
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — Gaya Island Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 121
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Also Known As:
Gaya Island Resort Malaysia/Pulau Gaya

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