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“Mixed feelings” 4 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
Special Price
50% Off 2nd & 3rd Night
Ranked #3 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Hong Kong, China
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Mixed feelings”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 18, 2013

We booked this hotel as an escape from noisy bustling Hong Kong, and with that respect ee got what we were asking for. Beautiful silence. The construction of the single cabins on wooden pilars give you an interesting view to the vast variety of beautiful and interesting fish of all colours sizes and shapes, they even have a 2m long fish is a basin ouside the hotel, which guests can visit.

Now for the downsides:
There isno beach, only a pool next to the bar (there goes the peacefulness) and of course your own little veranda, that every room has - only the expensive rooms have theirs facing the ocean though.
Service was also not at its best, but ok'ish. We got charged a wrong bill and after some hour long search during check out, while the last boat to the mainland was already waiting to leave, they waived the entire charge even though we did consume something at the dinner in question. Well handled.

All in all an ok experience, but felt the price was too high for what was offered. Still trying to figure out what was 'eco' about the resort ;-)

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 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
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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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, December 29, 2013
Dear Jan,

Thank you for your feedback it is always valuable to hear where our guest believe we can improve.
I must admit I am saddened to hear you are not aware of what makes us an eco resort.
With 5 full time marine biologists and an onsite marine center it should have been pretty clear we look after our marine environment and give back what mankind has taken. Propagating giant clams, restoring our coral reef and serving only fish from our organic fish farm allows us wear the "eco" mantle.
I hope your travels will bring you back to Sabah and Gayana Eco Resort in which case I shall personally show you our marine ecology research center named MERC.

I wish you all the best for 2014.


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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
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Hong Kong, China
1 review
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 25, 2013

Just visited Gayana Eco Resort for our honey moon. The resort is very nice and beatiful environment. The service are also excellent. Especially the lady at the receiption "Nora", her arrangement and reminder are very helpful. The gentlemen "Affenoy", "Hafiz" and "AK Ibrahim" at the bar are very friendly, giving us lot of advises on drink and teaching us how to play American Pool :).
Overall, this is excellent resort and I would love to visit them again soon
Thankyou very much.

Mr. Chan

  • Stayed November 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 5, 2013

Out of this world location, our first stay at an "eco" resort there was a lot to inspire about this place. "Eco" features included wonderful work being done at MERC (Marine Ecology Research Centre) on coral and giant clams. Beyond this there were not many characteristics to support the title eg evidence of recycling, solar power, environmental waste treatment. But that's OK I guess, still enough for the marketing. Staff were all great, kind, anticipating needs, very helpful. Food choices excellent, activities good, photo opportunities phenomenal. One last thing, there is a sister resort on the other side of the island (20 min boat ride away) which is where the advertised gym is located. Bit rough to charge 80 ringits to get there and back. Overall we were very satisfied and would recommend.

  • Stayed October 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Berlare, Belgium
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 3, 2013

My friend and I stayed here in July 2009. We had a wellness package. The staff was very friendly and helpful. It's a very relaxing place. You can feed the turtles if you want. The beds were amazing, the rooms spacious and clean.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 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.
Balnarring, Australia
16 reviews 16 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 31, 2013

I've just spent a week in the most wonderful place. So much to do, or so little...it's up to you. It's only small and very quiet but being able to swim off my deck into a stunning lagoon was wonderful. Being small it was nice to know that I also had use of the facilities at the sister resort, Bunga Raya. It's on the same island, you just catch a boat around and it has the most incredible beach. I spent the day on the beach, had lunch in Pantai Geill, which is on the beach and amazing! Really cold beers and awesome BBQ! I came back to Gayana and went back to Bunga Raya for dinner. The staff were so friendly and made me feel like I was staying there! The restauants T Gayana are fantastic. At Alu Alu you walk in and the staff walk you thru the tanks of fresh fish, crayfish, giant prawns and shellfish. They explain the best way to have it cooked, I opted for a crayfish one night cooked 2 ways half and half....devine. The next night I chose a tiger grouper cooked 2 ways. Both nights I started with fresh oysters natural. Macac Restaurant has a mix of Asian and Weztern food. I opted for Asian every time and was never disappointed. The staff went out of their way to make sure I was always happy, they are so genuinely friendly. If you stay in a lagoon villa, you have to have your breakfast bought to you by boat, it's such an experience. I can't really name specific staff because they were all so wonderful. As someone travelling on their own, they made feel like I was part of a family at both resorts. I'll be back next year for sure!!!

Room Tip: Chose the room with the deck you swim straight off. It's like having your own personal tropical...
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  • Stayed October 2013, traveled solo
    • 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 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 15, 2013 via mobile

We have just returned from 4 amazing nights in the above resort.Where to begin;from start to finish ,this was an amazing place to spend time and we did not want to leave.
We arrived at Jesselton Point by pre arranged driver which cost approx £20 who collected us from the airport and gave us a very helpful summary of what to do and where to go during the drive.As we arrived unfortunately a storm blew up and they advised us that the boat would not depart until they felt it was safe to do so.We were happy to wait in a nearby bar having a drink until we were advised it was safe to leave.We were all given life jackets and the boats have powerful engines so its a quick ride to the resort.There were staff with umbrellas to welcome us and walk us to our villa ,en route pointing out the resort features,then a tour of our room.We went to the Macac restaurant and had a lovely meal!all freshly prepared.Having read previous reviews ,this is not the cheapest food but nor is it the most expensive I have ever paid for at a five star resort.The portions are very generous and we ate there most days ,lunch and dinner.The surrounding sea has regenerating coral and the most amazing fish to potter about in.Be aware this is next to rainforest and there are wild animals in abundance.This is not a resort for those looking for evening entertainment,this is a quiet peaceful place for a real de stress experience.There is plenty to do if you are happy to snorkel,rainforest walks,mangrove kayaking,diving,canopy walks,trips to Kota Kinabulu or take the boat round to sister resort Bunga Raya a beach side resort very different from Gaya.To sit with a book and relax was bliss.There are not very good WIFI signals but again its a complete escape place if you need constant internet access this is not for you.The Macac restaurant had a good signal sufficient for occasional catch up.My one comment would be boat times ,a few more boats to the mainland would be a bonus but we planned our day around the times and managed.The staff are friendly and welcoming.The maintenance guys were working on the walkways and yes some debris fell into the water but we saw them clearing it up later.The views are amazing and the tranquility.It is not suitable for children or adults who need constant entertainment. It is one of the loveliest places I have ever stayed and would return tomorrow.

Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
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17 reviews 17 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed October 10, 2013

My wife and I decided it was a good idea to spend a couple of nights at a private tropical resort straight after the madness and stress of our wedding, so we booked two nights at the Gayana Eco Resort. The idea was probably good, but the choice was completely wrong.

I was slightly circumspect about the resort given the mixed reviews on TripAdvisor. I only have myself to blame since although I take internet reviews with a grain of salt, I went ahead anyway despite the protestations against rubbish and this and that posted by other travelers. I should've heeded their warnings and chose the Shangri-La's Rasa Ria but didn't partly because that is a 40 minute drive from the city of KK. Gayana, of course, is a 10-15 minute boat ride away from Jesselton Terminal.

The check-in was done at Jesselton in the small, well air-conditioned reception/office where there was free wi-fi. Our luggage was helpfully taken from us and arranged to be transported to the island. We went to the cafes and outlets for a light lunch while we waited for the next shuttle boat, of which there are only about 4 or 5 each way at scheduled times throughout the day. More on this later.

We arrived on the island with another couple to clean, wooden boardwalks and huts built over the water, stretching out from the mangroves of the island. We were attended to by our personal assistant, Christie, who was welcoming and friendly. As she escorted us to our Mangrove View room, and on every other occasion as well, every staff member we passed flash warm grins and greetings at us. Our room was large and tastefully decorated, with an oversized bathroom and a private balcony with sunchairs leading straight into the private waters.

The rest of the resort seemed fairly quiet at the time, perhaps because it wasn't a peak period of holidays in Malaysia, which was good for us as we really needed a quiet and private place to unwind.

At 6pm we headed to the bar for our complimentary cocktail, which was of such a quality that we waived our rights to it on the second night. Basically, it was a tasteless, watery concoction of coloured liquid of some unknown specimen, with just a hint of alcohol. The only upside was the nice enough decor of the bar and front row seats facing out to the sea during the sunset. We abandoned the bar posthaste as there was no way we were sticking around for another drink, complimentary or not.

We made our way, somewhat hesitantly, to the Alu Alu Chinese restaurant. The entrance was adorned by many large fresh seafood tanks and given that the entire restaurant was empty, we wondered how long the seafood had lived in them. The menu was almost entirely made up of seafood and at reasonable prices given it was supposed to be a 5 star resort, but certainly many times more expensive than what you would pay if you dined at the outdoor restaurants by the water in KK. The food was lacklustre and especially more so considering we were in Malaysia. A somewhat nice touch was that during the dinner, two musicians with a guitar each came up to sing us a few songs. They seemed to be hotel staff so I wasn't sure whether tipping was required, but pulled out RM10 anyway. When I handed it over to the guy, the other musician, a female, happened to be looking away. The man, perhaps sensing this, quickly slipped it into his pocket with not a hint of gratitude, but seemed more intent on doing so without his partner knowing. Very classy.

Sometime during the middle of the first night, I was awoken by the sounds of loud scratching. My partner is a heavy sleeper so she slept through the whole episode, but I must've woken not long after it started. As it was dark and I was in a semi-conscious state, I was quite alarmed as I had no idea what it was or whether it was outside or heaven forbid, inside the room. Our assistant Christie had told us that some type of monkey sometimes made it into the resort during the night since it was right next to an island rainforest, so I was hoping it was outside, but nevertheless, it was a spooky sound to be woken up by. The scratching continued for what seemed like an eternity and ranged from what sounded like scratching against wood, to plastic, to paper and everything in between. In reality it was probably for around 20 minutes, during which time I had actually become quite scared and didn't dare to move. It finally went away, and after at least half an hour of lying in the dark, I somehow drifted back to sleep. A hopeless first night.

In the morning there was no sign of any intrusion or otherwise from the night before, so we headed off for an average buffet breakfast at the otherwise beautiful dining area right next to the infinity pool. The juices were super watery and the breads stale. The staff at least were polite as always. As it was low tide, the shore had receded quite and the bare sand was strewn with very rough and sharp-looking stones and seashells. Not a place you'd want to walk around on bare foot.

Afterwards, we took a stroll around the resort and discovered it to be near empty. There was a bit of construction going on in the new part of the resort, away from our room. There were indeed bits of plastic and rubbish, and very obvious layers of oil in the waters, as other TripAdvisor members had reported, and which was definitely very uninviting. We looked for the much-trumpeted MERC marine wildlife centre but when we got there, it was closed, despite it being during the 'opening hours' stated on a plaque right outside. What the?

We took a free boat ride back into town and spent the day roaming the streets and malls. We were given a small card which set out the timetable for the shuttle boat to and from the resort. I stupidly mis-read the car and thought that there was one heading back to the island at 6.30pm, when in fact, it was 6.00pm. The next and last one after that was at 10.30pm. So when we turned up to the terminal the staff pointed this out to us and we were told that there was nothing we could do except wait until 10.30pm. The only upside to this was we weren't forced to have another below-average, over-priced meal on the island, and instead, dined al fresco on the terminal jetty on a bench as the sky rapidly faded into darkness. At about 8.30pm, I'd had enough and decided to bite the bullet and pay the RM150 for a private boat ride back to the island. Way to make your guests feel welcome.

On that second night, the mysterious noise started again sometime during the night. This time, after a few minutes, I'd had enough and mustered the courage to get out of bed and flip the switch to confront whatever it was. My wife was also up and out of bed too. The noises stopped as soon as the lights came on. We were motionless for a while as I scanned the room for signs of something.. anything. Within a minute, something was scurrying in the room, and it seemed to be behind the bed. Then, a large, rat-like creature appeared from behind the bed head, leapt onto the curtain next to the bed and across onto the light fixture which was dangling from the ceiling, and crawled up and into the large cavity in the ceiling from which the fixture hung. After a long time feeling disgusted, we somehow managed to crawl into bed, no pun intended, and lay motionless for a long time. As the light fixture dangled right next to the bed, we were hoping against hope that we wouldn't hear any sounds again. Somehow we drifted off to sleep but didn't manage a proper sleep for the rest of the night.

In the morning we found our tube of Toblerone chocolate which we had left on the beside drawer had been attacked by the rodent. I took a photo of the clear claw/teeth parks left behind and showed it to our assistant, Christie, and told her about the rat, to which she replied, "oh, do you mean the shrew?" I frankly didn't give a damn what it was, but she certainly seemed nonplussed about it. I then told her that it happened two nights in a row and she had the gumption to ask why I hadn't mentioned it after the first. By this stage her tone had changed from very polite and friendly to antipathy, bordering on rude. I then told her that I'd had two nights of bad sleep to which she replied, "what would you like me to do about it?" Well, a simple apology for a start, and no attitude for a second, amongst many other things.

So there you have it. We paid near USD450 a night for two nights on a supposed 5 star resort, and what we received for our hard earned on our honeymoon, were two restless nights including a second where we were sleeping in fear of a rat or some creature crawling on our faces, poor food and drink, eye gouging in the form of completely inconvenient access without any alternative to and from the island and we were farewelled with belligerence when we dared raise our basic concern to our personal assistant.

I would never have expected a rat or animal in my room in the cheapest, most basic hostel dorm during my younger years, let alone at an expensive so-called 5 star tropical resort. Stay well clear from this place. There are many more to choose from on KK if you want a resort, such as the two Shangri-La options and the Pacific Sutera, amongst others.

Room Tip: stay away.. if you must, no point paying for anything but the basic rooms as there's not really...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 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.
TomasAndersen, General Manager at Gayana Eco Resort, responded to this review, October 23, 2013
Dear Kenigmasydney,

First and foremost, I am sorry we did not manage to wow you during your two nights with us back in May, obviously we care although your side of the story reflects differently.
I had wished your comments would be a little more constructive, or at least let us know at the time what you were not satisfied with. Knowing immediately if something is not right allows us to resolve the situation and leave everyone satisfied.
As for the jungle shrew in your room, this unfortunately does happen from time to time, especially when they smell food. Hence we suggest that all food consumed in the room is stored in the refrigerator to avoid the little critters. Part of the ethos of our resorts is that we live in harmony with nature. One should not forget the wildlife was on Pulau Gaya well before mankind! For your information, the shrew is a mammal in the same family as the squirrel or mole not a nasty rodent.

As for feeling "trapped" on Gayana Eco Resort,this I find hard to believe. As stated in all collateral in our rooms, we currently have 10 scheduled boat departures a day between resorts and Jesselton Point. If the timings do not suit, guest can charter boats for RM150 per trip.

We were obviously not a good fit for one another, I do however feel saddened we could not impress you at the end.
I wish you both all the best.


General Manager, Resorts
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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
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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