This hotel is a perfect choice if you want a little luxury and seclusion from Kota Kinabalu. We stayed for 8 nights which for many will be plenty, you may find that if you stay longer you will get a bit restless, however we could have stayed much longer. Although there are a few negative aspects, I do not think they overshadow the positives.
As many reviewers have commented for a YTL hotel it is just a little less than perfect. There is still a lot to be done to make it so. For example the guest toilets around the resort are not at a luxurious standard and let the hotel down. Considering the hotel has not been open for very long I would have expected the ascetics to be above par. There is a concrete path that you walk along to get to your villa. Simply put it is ugly. Understandably due to the canopy setting, the concrete is needed however I would have expected it to at least be smooth and not look like a pot-hole ridden road. Not only that but being on the island really immerses you with nature….until you see the concrete. These issues are minor and hopefully as the hotel develops something that will change, but unfortunately it does stand out. Another problem for us was the smells from the kitchen, like boiled lentils, that wafted over the pool area. Not pleasant but cant be avoided so we moved from the pool area to the beach. Unfortunately the attack of the sand flies was not so pleasant either but it just means you need to make sure you bring very strong insect repellent and you should be fine! I did mention this to the General Manager and he was more than aware of it and genuinely seemed like it was a priority!
One thing that all reviewers can agree on is the price! Everything seemed a little too expensive than its worth. Transfers to Kota Kinabalu are ridiculous, really really ridiculous and I see no reason as to why! Getting a taxi in London is cheaper! And it is the only option available to you! Even the locals found it so and I felt a bit silly that we were being charge that much!The hotel offers you a complimentary nature walk but there were major inconsistencies as to what the pamphlet says and what the staff say. In the pamphlet there is a walk at 11 and/or 3pm but the staff wanted us to pay for the walk at 3. The charge was not extortionate but it was the principal! Don’t advertise something as complimentary and then put conditions to it! (I did have a little rant at the general manager Kirinjit and his response was apologetic, polite and resolved the matter quickly). FYI the nature walk is worth it! Bring walking boots or trainers and take advantage of what is on offer, you will not be disappointed! The prices for the Spa were unreasonable, however during our trip the spa was empty and so we were offered a 20% discount which both my sister and father used and they were 100% happy with what they received, so I gather its worth it.
The main Restaurant Feast Village was not enjoyable for us in the evenings! In the mornings we had a great buffet selection and for half of our trip a great a la carte option. In our family Breakfast is an important meal where we like to sit and enjoy each others company, the hotel staff picked up on this and were excellent in seeing to our needs. Mid week the Feast Village was more fine dining and was very pleasant for an evening meal, however in the weekends it felt like an all you can eat diner! Considering you are paying a lot of money, maybe £40/£50 a head it simply wasn’t worth it. It was noisy; people were wearing shorts, flip-flops and kaftans! Kids were running around like they were in a playground! We ended up eating from the bar menu a couple times as it was more appropriate to the setting (the pizza btw is very good! The Caesar salad and the glass noodle salad were so yummy )! Rather spend a little bit more and eat in Fisherman’s Cove, which has a beautiful location and even more beautiful food. I would like to say that this is not a resort for families with young children! It was something that annoyed us and other guests greatly, to which the staff received a few complaints! We were even told one evening to book Fishermans cove as they knew that Feast Village would not be to our liking! The staff really were excellent, picking up immediately that we were a little unhappy and always accommodated us in a happy and friendly manner!
On to the positive –
The villas are lovely!! All villas have huge baths, his and her basins separate toilet and rain shower! Absolutely beautiful and exactly what you would expect! There were 5 of us so we booked 3 villas, I would not try and squeeze 3 people into one villa! Not enough space, if your booking this hotel then you shouldn’t try and save on that! The Bayu villas are the cheapest because they have the least desirable views and are closest to the kitchen, do not book them! Go for the Canopy Villa, beautiful views, away from people and on a plus near the entrance to the nature walks!
The wildlife is brilliant! The forest is brilliant! Justin the naturist is brilliant! He is literally a Justin-pedia of information! He got on very well with my father and it was great to see my dad have a companion to go on walks with! He took us on many walks and is a credit to the hotel! We went on a 2hour trek through the jungle and ended up on the private beach that the hotel owns were we had some lunch and enjoyed the water! This beach is sublime, the water is a little choppier but much fun! Unfortunately the sea is filled with rubbish but the staff do try to collect it throughout the day! You can not fault them! They have complimentary snorkelling with a guide and offer PADI courses. A range of complimentary activities as well as some with a surcharge.
The staff are excellent! The senior staff are more efficient and qualified as many have been brought in from Pangkor Laut and other top hotels but the junior staff are just as polite and try the best to provide the top service. There needs to be a little more training as often the morning breakfast staff got orders wrong but they were genuine and honest and really make the hotel special! Every morning they made us Indian tea without any complaints! Their roti chanai was to die for! The Fishermans Cove was top quality food! We went there a few times and we were very impressed. The chef definitely has a definitive style and we enjoyed his food! Honourable mention, Bowie, she ensured our holiday went smoothly and was a joy to chat with during the day! Jeffrey and Joy in the restaurant were brilliant! Dealing with our requests smoothly and a pleasure to chat with! The staff were never too friendly and never gave the opinion that they were looking for something out of it! We felt that we should give our cleaners an extra tip as they picked up on the fact that we always gathered for tea in one room once a day and they made sure that we had plenty of tea bags and sugar!!
I hope that what you get from this review is although the hotel is a working progress it is worth the trip! I can understand that you may be slightly disappointed in certain ascetics in comparison to other YTL hotels however you must remember that they have been around for a while and GIR is still a baby! The staff really are incredible! obviously a few stand out but as a whole they take pride in ensuring that they are soing their best and happily take on feedback! I would definitely love to come back in a few years and see how the hotel has grown!
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- Also Known As:
- Gaya Island Resort Malaysia/Pulau Gaya