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.
- 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