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“Another Paradise in Borneo” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Gayana Eco Resort

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Gayana Eco Resort
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Malohom Bay | Gaya Island, Pulau Gaya 88778, Malaysia   |  
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Hotel amenities
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50% Off 2nd & 3rd Night
Ranked #3 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Ottawa, Canada
Senior Contributor
47 reviews 47 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“Another Paradise in Borneo”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 9, 2012

It was spur of the moment for us and we're so glad we came here. First and foremost, this is a very PRICEY resort. In terms of cost, it is of USD or Euro standards (but still on the pricey side I think). But if one is willing to spend extra $$$, it is well worth it. We even went overboards and booked a Palm Villa room for ourselves and Ocean view for my parents who came along for the trip. The rooms are wonderful. Both rooms were very nice, clean and the decor is contemporary. The Palm Villa is huge with separate sitting area and a deck that opens out to the "ocean blue". Very private (just the way we like it). Perfect spot for those who love snorkelling.

The resort grounds are well-kept and the staff are very friendly. The beach area is very small, but we didn't need to spend our time there as we had our own private plunge pool & a deck that one can jump straight into the ocean blue:) The resort does have a nice size pool. There are 2-main restaurants in the ground; The Alu Alu and Macac. Very good food (but again, quite expensive). I think they had the best Tom Yam soup my husband and I have ever tasted! (that's the Alu Alu restaurant).

I'd definitely recommend the place if you're willing to spend extra the money.

Room Tip: Splurge and go for the Palm Villa or save a few $$ and go for the Ocean View rooms.
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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280 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (69)
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English first
Linkoping, Sweden
Senior Contributor
45 reviews 45 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 9, 2012

I stayed here with my wife during our honeymoon for a couple of days. There is one MAJOR drawback of staying at this place: It will cost you an arm and a leg to stay here.
The prices are very high, but considering this is the closest thing to paradise I've ever seen or stayed at, I would say it's actually worth it.

The MERC (Marine Ecology Research Center) is quite informative and a nice thing to do if you get tired of snorkelling and relaxing in the sunbeds.

They have a fair number of free DVDs you can borrow for watching in your room, and they are not all old ones either. You also get to borrow kayaks for free and paddle around for a bit. You cannot go very far as you have to stay within the resort area, but it's fun for an hour or so.

The coral reef that is just by the resort is really quite nice. We've done plenty of snorkeling and free diving around the world. It is not one of the best places we've been obviously but it was good.

The other slightly bad thing about staying here is the fact that there are only two restaurants at this place. One is more seafood oriented (not only seafood though) which is called Alu alu, and the other restaurant is a "normal" restaurant. Both of these place are Really expensive if you compare to mainland Borneo. But especially Alu alu has excellent food. But there goes your other arm.

Summary, you will jump away from this place on one leg without any arms, but it will be with a smile on you face!

NOTE: Read room tip!

Room Tip: There are different classes of rooms. The "Jungle view" rooms are facing the shoreline/jun...
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TomasAndersen, General Manager at Gayana Eco Resort, responded to this review, October 14, 2012
Thank you for taking time writing a review on Trip Advisor. We are really pleased you enjoyed your time with us, especially your visit to MERC.
Our Marine Centre, MERC, is the "heart beat" of our resorts. We like to give back to nature what mankind has taken away. Through MERC we propagate Giant Clams (recently released 500 back into the wild); we restore the coral reef and we farm our own tropical reef fish. All three initiatives are hugely successful and assisting nature fighting back.
I agree we are not the cheapest option around however we believe in value for money and hope you received this through the many complimentary offerings we have in both Gayana Eco Resort and Bunga Raya Island Resort and Spa.

We hope to welcome you back again in the not too distant future.

Best regards

Tomas
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 27, 2012

This Hotel is simply amazing. My girlfriend and i stayed here for just under a week and had the most amazing time. Its a tropical paradise. The amount of fish swimming around the resort is unbelievable. From the moment we stepped off the boat we were greeted with a warm genuine welcome and shown around the resort and to our room. If you ever had any questions or qualms about anything the staff would bend over backwards to accommodate and help you. The food there is Devine. There are 2 restaurants and i must say the seafood one was our favourite. We ate there most nights. Breakfast in the morning was my favourite part of the day as you get to chose from a set menu and you are never disappointed. Restaurant quality food. Absolutely amazing. During our stay we did kayaking, snorkelling, visited the MERC centre and a bush walk. All of which are free and included in your stay. They have happy hour every night at 6pm which includes a free drink and there after everything is half price. To just sit back on the balcony and watch the sunset is amazing. The staff are so friendly as i have said and they dont mind having a laugh with you too which adds to the fun of staying at the amazing resort.
All in all this is a must visit resort. The people that write such negative stuff on here really need to get a life. Its simply amazing from the moment you get here to the time you leave.
# A Highly recommend place to stay. We will be back for sure

Room Tip: Jungle view room are just as great as the sea view rooms
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, null, Singapore
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2012

This place was awesome. To be fair, my wife and I are the boutique, eco-resort types, through and through.

We spent two nights from August 17-Aug 19th there and I have nearly nothing bad to say. My only qualms were the mild smell of the pool, because it was pumped natural sea water, and the lack of good vegetarian dinner options at the restaurant.

The rooms were awesome. We got a jungle room and still had water under all our windows, affording us glimpses of fish and fisher-birds as well as the sounds of the sea at night.

The snorkeling was great. Some people have posted reviews complaining about the water being murky. The water clarity is not the same as the lagoon of a coral atoll or the leeward side of a Caribbean Island. But it was fine. When the tide was less favorable, viz was around 20 feet (like after rain). At it's best, closer to 50 feet. The murkiness is pretty natural looking, and seems to result from sediment being stirred up and brought in with the tide. It's not gross or smelly or dirty or anything like that. You can DEFINITELY see fish everywhere when you're just walking to your rooms.

The stuff to do at the Marine Center was all awesome and fun.
The kayak mangrove tour was mellow and entertaining because I didn't know anything about mangroves before that.
The boats to and from the resort were easy and convenient.

Just be sure you plan ahead with the boat times. There is certainly a late night boat (1030pm) from Jesselton to Gayana, as well as an early (7 or 730 am) boat from Gayana to Jesselton. So you can eat in town or do early tours from mainland kk without problems.

That's it. We loved it. Want to go back.

Room Tip: All the rooms have water views. The sea/ocean side rooms have stairs into the water. Looks pretty gr...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 10, 2012

I was a bit nervous about gayana having read some mixed reviews. However, I was thrilled with our time there. We upgraded to the Ocean view room and it's well worth it. The Palm villas look incredible but were sadly out of my price range! Snorkelling was great. There is a fantastic amount of fish and while the water wasn't crystal clear due to the timing of the tides, we could still see loads. We had just come from the Shangri la which was lovely but a bit sterile (I know...it's supposed to be) in contrast Gayana is lively and has some heart and personality to it. The other bonus about coming from the Shangri la was that the food prices didn't seem as bad! Yes they are pretty high compared to mainland but breakfast is included (huge and high quality- became our main meal!) and you can find cheaper but filling options such as pizza and the roti (fantastic) at about RM16. There are complimentary softdrinks in your room.

We were going to go over to Bunga Raya but were having so much fun and were so relaxed we didn't bother. MERC is fantastic and well worth a visit. Thanks to those that reccommended the fish feeding... not something I would have chosen if not suggested and it's great fun. All up a fantastic way to finish our time in Borneo.

A note on rubbish. Yes it's there. It's everywhere in Borneo which is a beautiful state that is experiencing the same challenges that most rapidly developing places face. The resort do their very best and do go around picking it up. Personally- I wouldn't let it put you off.

Room Tip: If you have young children- the ocean view rooms would be a nightmare- nothing to stop them going st...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne Australia
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 16, 2012

The hotel was lovely and the eco center was amazing and very interesting. The room was clean and well equipped. The only food included was breakfast and all other meals and drinks were very, very expensive. The boat back to the main land did not really leave often enough for it to seem convenient to go back to the mainland. The Chinese restaurant on site was great food but we were essentially the only patrons. We did go to Bunga Raya (the other resort owned by the same company) for dinner one night which was lovely (also expensive) the benefit of being at this resort would be that they had a massive beach. There is also no gym at Gayana.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 10, 2012

Just had a 4 night stay at Gayana after upgrading to a Palm Villa before our arrival in Kota Kinabalu.
We were extremely impressed with the Palm Villa. Very Roomy, private & very nice. The plunge pool was great to have at our doorstep.

The first 2 days the water was clear & clean, but after a windy day into the bay there was a fair amount of rubbish in the water with a reduction in the clarity of the water for the next 2 days. Slightly disappointing after experiencing how pristine the water was when we arrived there.

The staff were always helpful & always tried their best, even when the language barrier got in the way they did whatever they could to help. Our wifi was really bad, but the staff provided us with a broadband modem for our stay which helped us very much.

 We loved the Alu Alu restaurant. The food was just amazing, & the staff just great.

The Merc centre was fantastic & what they are trying to achieve is to be applauded, as is their enthusiasm & excitement to their cause.

The major downside with our stay was the maintenance work being carried out on the villas on both sides of our villa,
By the second day the hammering, power tools & 5 or 6 men working right next to our villa in front of us took it's toll, & we requested to be moved due to the noise & my partner not being comfortable swimming or being on the balcony or pool in front of the the men.
The management instead of moving us, moved the workers away from us to other parts of where we were staying. The management say they had no idea work was being carried out next to us. For what you pay for a Palm Villa, you expect privacy & a quiet seclusion, & considering that there are 8 villas & all were empty but ours it wasn't good enough.
Overall we did have a great stay but we won't be visiting again.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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.
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Additional Information about Gayana Eco Resort

Address: Malohom Bay | Gaya Island, Pulau Gaya 88778, Malaysia
Phone Number:
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > West Coast Division > Kota Kinabalu District > Pulau Gaya
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Gayana Eco Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 44
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Gayana Eco Resort rests serenely at the edges of Gaya Island off the coast of Borneo. 52 over water villas designed to enhance the soothing sounds of the surf, while capturing the enduring vistas of Mt. Kinabalu on the distant horizon. At its heart is about protecting and re-generating our precious Marine Ecology, and the only property to feature its own Marine Ecology Research Centre propagating Giant Clams and restoring damaged coral reefs. Striking the perfect balance of forward thinking ecology and indulgent luxury which pampers both the body and the enlightened soul. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Gayana Eco Hotel Kota Kinabalu
Gayana Resort
Gayana Eco Resort Malaysia/Pulau Gaya

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