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“Almost wonderful” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Sukau Rainforest Lodge

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Sukau Rainforest Lodge
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3.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Sukau, Lower Kinabatangan River | 2 1/2 hours from Sandakan by boat, Malaysia   |  
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
adelaide
Top Contributor
99 reviews 99 reviews
20 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“Almost wonderful”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 15, 2013

This resort is 2.5 hours via boat from Sandakan. It is accessible via road I gather, but the water route is quicker, smoother and much more scenic along the Kinabatangan River (we were lucky enough to see a small group of elephant cooling off in the river on our way there).
The resort is located on the banks of the river and most activities are focussed on the river- with mini-cruises going out at various times to look for birds and other wildlife- and the guides and boatmen are terrific at spotting birds or monkeys/apes high in the trees.
The food was plentiful and available via a buffet at designated times each day when a gong was struck to let guests know that it was time to eat. The standard of the food was good- not great, and guests were directed to sit at table in groups dictated by the identity of the guide allocated to them. We got on fine with our rather disparate group, but did think it was odd we were expected to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with them…
I think most visitors are enchanted by the location of the lodge and the things you can see there- and we were too, but frankly it’s no better (or worse) in design than other similar resort lodges elsewhere in the world - or in Boneo even. There is a common foyer area with lounge seating and games etc and large ceiling fans. The rooms are not large but perfectly adequate – although the beds in the twin room we were given (in lieu of the double we had requested and paid for) had insufficient room to walk past down to the bathroom area (on a lower level) which meant we stubbed our toes a good many times. There was no balcony or outdoor seating areas attached to the rooms, which was a shame – and which other similar places seem to have. Also, the rooms are not air-conditioned - there are only ceiling fans, which means the rooms are VERY hot in the middle of the day. As Australians we are used to the heat to a degree, but I would imagine some Europeans or North Americans would find the heat difficult to cope with- and nowhere to escape to (there is no air-conditioning anywhere in the resort). We were informed rather piously that the reason for the lack of air-conditioning- is because Sukau is an ECO-resort, but I don’t really buy that as justification. There are ways to run air-conditioning in an eco-friendly way e.g. solar power, so I think the resort needs to look at that rather than trying to make guests feels guilty about wanting air-conditioning; it would only be needed for a few hours in the heat of the middle of the day anyway. I did gain the impression at times that the management rather relied on the location of the lodge to work its magic with the guests and ignored some little touches which could easily have made the whole thing almost perfect. Another example was the drinks situation. There is no suggestion this resort is ‘dry’ and there was a limited wine list of over-priced wine- as one might expect, and also plentiful supplies of locally-brewed Carlsberg beer. What I could not understand was why they had a vast array of spirits and fortified wines on display in the ‘bar’ area (gin, dark rum, tequila, Jack Daniels, triple sec, vodka, blue Curacao, dry and sweet vermouth, Bacardi) - but no mixers other than coke and diet coke. A gin and tonic would have been lovely before dinner, or a vermouth and soda- but nothing doing here. I can’t believe it would be that much harder to get in supplies of tonic and soda water (or even a soda water machine) and a selection of other mixers whilst stocking up on coke. I heard a number of comments about this from other European guests, but I have no idea if anyone bothered to speak to management about it. I doubt this would be the first time if they had complained. Perhaps the management thinks it doesn’t matter- but I would say these small touches make the difference between a good resort (largely because of its location) and a great resort- because of its location and attention to what guests want while on holiday.

Room Tip: if you think you need air-conditioning, this is not the place for you....
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 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.
SRL_ADMIN, Owner at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, responded to this review, June 21, 2013
Dear traveller eater, we appreciate your feedback and will strive to implement the suggestions that you've made to transform this place from good to great, from almost wonderful to truly wonderful. The double rooms and twin rooms are the same price and were provided on first booked basis. We are working on modifying our rooms to being convertible between double and twin. As for the lack of air-conds, we get varying feedback from guests, some who prefer and some who prefer not to have aircond and we are working on new chalets that provide that option for those who prefer it though I'm sure you understand the problems of electricity in the middle of the rainforest. Currently we get three phase electricity from the mains but we get a lot of power surges (every day) and overloads due to the poor infrastructure and quality of the sole provider of electricity. As such, this entails high electricity usages, blown compressors due to surges and frequent blackouts which we bridge by diesel generator. We are striving to provide better and more varied alcoholic beverages but this is limited by the fact that a lot of it just isn't available locally. Believe it or not, supplies of tonic and soda water is actually very scarce in Sabah. Thank you again for your helpful feedback and we will keep improving the quality of facilities and services. Glad you had a great holiday here in Borneo and we hope that you'll be back someday soon.
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336 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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English first
Perth, Australia
Top Contributor
72 reviews 72 reviews
26 hotel reviews
Reviews in 35 cities Reviews in 35 cities
55 helpful votes 55 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 30, 2013

I recently spent 2 nights at Sakau Rainforest Lodge located on the river bank of the vast Kinabatangan River in western Borneo. It's a 2 and a half hour cruise by speedboat from Sandakan to reach this lodge. We came through high humidity and a thunderstorm but were greeted by an oasis of calm. You arrive by boat and walk along a jetty which climbs up to a wooden platform where all meals are served.From here there is a long wooden walkway which leads to the arrival lounge area. 20 rooms are divided 10 per side of wooden boardwalks with a tropical garden in between. Another boardwalk leads to the recreation area with games, books and a pool table. Rooms are comfortable with wooden floors, modern shower and toilet. There's no air conditioning but the ceiling fans provide sufficient cooling at night.A small nook with tea and coffee making facilities is near the bathroom. A glass window looks straight out into the jungle with lush tropical grwoth in profusion.
Meals are good with professional and unobtrusive service.. The early morning boat cruise along the river in the mist is an experience in itself which is not to be missed.We saw 2 snakes curled in trees, an orangutan as well as many birds, fish and several species of monkeys.
I would recommend this place for travellers seeking a unique experience combined with simplicity and comfort.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
SRL_ADMIN, Owner at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, responded to this review, June 21, 2013
Dear Mary111, We appreciate your kind comments and I know our staff at the office and there in Sukau read comments such as yours on Tripadvisor and get encouraged and uplifted by it. Thank you for staying with us and we're so glad that the service and facilities were just right for your stay with us. As much as possible, we try to let the experience of the rainforest and wildlife speak for themselves while providing a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere here. Thank you and Jumpa Lagi (See you again soon) !
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Perth, Australia
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2013

I went to Borneo inmarch 2011 as a part of a ECO studytour from Australia
After days of bus travelling and half decent hotels and long houses we finally arrived.. ALMOST
we got out of the bus by the water and there was 4 boats welcomming us. 1 for baggage and the rest of the boats were taking us on a little scenic trip before heading to the lodge.
The nature and local life was amazing, and then to arrive at the lodge
we were welcommed by Albert Theo the owner and guided on our whole trip by his son.

The walkway up to the reception was like in a farytale, the rooms were beautifully decoraded, beds super comfertable, and the animal and birds sounds you wake up to just puts a smile on your face.

We were woken up by the staff arround 530am for a morning cruise before breakfast, and this could last from 1hr -3hrs depending on what we would see.

Then all meals are searved on the deck right by the water, and they encouraged all guests to wer sarongs at all meals. This was a nice way to be a part of their culture.

Would absolutly recomend this for couples and families who wants that little bit of difference in a holiday.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled on business
    • 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
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SRL_ADMIN, Owner at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, responded to this review, June 21, 2013
Thanks Cilia! We were so happy to have the group of you all around Borneo and in Sukau. Still remember it like it was yesterday. That was fun and hopefully you can come back sometime in the future. Happy graduating! Regards, Timothy
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Brisbane, Australia
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 26, 2013

From the moment we arrived in the rain we were welcomed with umbrellas, big smiles and a refreshing welcome drink. The boat trip to the lodge was exciting, spotting the wildlife along the way. We cannot praise the Sukau Rainforest Lodge enough. Excellence in accommodation, clean and welcoming. Excellent meals, lots of variety & delicious. Excellent staff and nothing was too much trouble. The spotters on the boats were excellent at spotting the wildlife, thankyou to Marvin. Apart from seeing an orang-utan and a gibbon in the wild, it was the highlight of our trip. We could of spent a week here, 2 nights just wasn't long enough. Let's hope next time we might get to see the pygmy elephants, but we were very lucky to spot a helmeted hornbill, the rarest of the 8 varieties. Thankyou to all at Sukau Rainforest Lodge....well done

  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
    • 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 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
seattle,wa
Senior Contributor
30 reviews 30 reviews
29 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2013

This place is a little bit of a trek to get to, but it's right on the river in the middle of the rainforest. The staff was very friendly and helpful and the accommodations overall were pretty nice. Keep in mind that this is in the jungle so there's no tv or internet in your room (the common area has pretty good internet) and the rooms are pretty bare, but clean and comfortable. The rooms are double beds. The food was pretty good overall except that they didn't usually have enough of everything. Get a plate full early to make sure you get enough to eat. The river safari is really nice. We say lots of monkeys, a couple orangutans, snakes, lizards, birds, wild pigs and more. I recommend spending extra and going on the night cruise. You don't see as many animals, but being out on the river at night is exhilarating and exciting. I also recommend booking a private guide. Great place to stay in this part of Borneo. I hope to go back some day!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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.
Zurich, Switzerland
Top Contributor
119 reviews 119 reviews
34 hotel reviews
Reviews in 56 cities Reviews in 56 cities
76 helpful votes 76 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 28, 2013

Almost everything has been said by previous reviewers. A great pace to stay, spotlessly clean. If you go on a night cruise take a torch and binoculars. There's free water refills. Only black tea available. There's gin but no tonic- just bring your own if you want. They encourage you to wear the sarongs they provide for dinner. No shoes are allowed around the place, flip flops are provided or bring your own. Don't forget a raincoat. The food was really delicious- we'd just come from the Shangri La at KK and this was much better! The staff are very friendly, the guides knowledgable and the foot spa was lovely. The Internet only works in the reception area but that was fine.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 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 6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Perth, Australia
1 review
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2013

The nature is great, but the Sukau staff are even greater. Jackie's gourmet food complements his smiling face, happy and caring people such as Mas and Junior make you feel welcome, drivers Jumaidi and Romzi finesse boats along the Kinabatangan and guide Rahman shares interesting details and insights. The list of super things about the Lodge goes on and on.

Oh, and the animals. We saw organ-utans three times, probiscus monkeys, long- and pig-tailed macaques, bat hawks, several different hornbills, storm storks--a five star bird--and more. The best memory was two long-tailed macaques grooming. The groomee seemed to have melted in bliss.

And we discovered a new species endimic to the upper Kinabatangan river, the Su Cow.

Room Tip: All the rooms are good, and most are named in honour of a conservation fellow such as David Attenbor...
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  • Stayed March 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 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Address: Sukau, Lower Kinabatangan River | 2 1/2 hours from Sandakan by boat, Malaysia
Phone Number:
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Kinabatangan District
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 8 Specialty Lodging in Kinabatangan District
Hotel Class:3 star — Sukau Rainforest Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The award winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge nestles on the banks of one of Borneo's most important waterways, the Kinabatangan River, home to many of Borneo's magnificent wildlife. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the rainforest and the cacophany of its inhabitants, its majestic birds, all 7 species of Borneo Primates including Borneo's iconic Proboscis Monkey, Orangutans in their natural habitat as well as herds of Borneo Pygmy Elephants. Sukau Rainforest Lodge offers the rare comfort and luxury in the midst of the Borneo Rainforest whilst retaining an Eco-Lodge ethos, the delicate balance of true sustainability. We promise to give you and your family an experience you'll always remember and one you'll never regret. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Sukau Rainforest Hotel Sabah
Sukau Rainforest Lodge Kinabatangan District, Sabah, Malaysia

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