A caveat to start - I am staying at Shangri-La Tanjong Aru in Kota Kinabalu at the moment and only spent the day at Rasa Ria yesterday - so to be clear I'm not a guest of Rasa Ria but spent a few hours roaming the grounds and offer some views below on how the two compare:
- Tanjong Aru - literally 10 minutes from the airport and in fact has a view of the runway from one side of the resort. In turn its a further 10-15 minutes from the heart of KK city and a 10-15 minute speed boat ride from the islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park where snorkelling, diving and other water sports are available
- Rasa Ria - about a 45 minute drive from Tanjong Aru so I presume about the same or slightly longer from the airport. The roads are all in good condition and so the journey is smooth. Its in quite a secluded location making it a destination in itself and not practical to visit the city every day as can be done from Tanjong Aru (not that you're missing much - not much to do in KK city!)
- My view - really depends on personal preference. If you want a beautiful stretch of beach and a quiet location, Rasa Ria is the winner. If you want to be closer to the city and the islands, Tanjong Aru is for you.
- Tanjong Aru - nice resort but a busy resort with a number of rooms and can feel crowded at times. Also, the buildings, lobby and so on do feel a little dated and in some respects can feel a little more 4 than 5 star
- Rasa Ria - a smaller resort by number of rooms on a much larger piece of land in a secluded location. This combined with the condition of the facilities and quiet tropical location makes it feel like a more exclusive property
My view - both resorts have good ambience depending on what you value more - facilities and city proximity or seclusion and a higher level of exclusivity
Tanjong Aru - 4 restaurants (Italian Fine Dining, Chinese, Grill and Cafe)
Rasa Ria - 5 restaurants (Fine Dining, Indian, Japanese, Malaysia and Cafe)
My view - I only dined at the Cafe at Rasa Ria so difficult to comment other than the selection does seem wider at Rasa Ria. At Tanjong Aru, evening choices have felt a little limited and a lack of Asian dining options (particularly local food) would seem to be less of an issue at Rasa Ria
- Tanjong Aru - my kids have been having a ball at the kids club which is spacious and well appointed. There is also a dedicated kids pool and water play area with four water slides and water playground. Need I say more...
Rasa Ria - also has a decent kids club with more outdoor play area than Tanjong Aru and has the benefit of the in house nature reserve. Also has a kids pool with one slide.
My view - more my kids view - they prefer Tanjong Aru by a pretty wide margin
- Tanjong Aru - has only a small stretch of beach - maybe 50m or so opening up to a netted area for swimming in the sea. There is a long public beach outside the hotel on one side with nice sand but as a public beach there is no designated hotel area or facilities
Rasa Ria - a stunning stretch of beach that goes on and on. Powder white sand and one of the widest beaches I have seen anywhere
My view - no contest, Rasa Ria wins hands down
- Tanjong Aru has a large gym with a number of cardio machines, very large free weights area, a number of pilates machines and another large area with two boxing bags. Overall one of the largest hotel gyms I have ever seen. All machines are new and in good condition. Through a separate entrance a few feet away are the changing rooms which are sizeable and in great condition with two jacuzzi baths and sauna and steam room.
- Rasa Ria has a similar selection of equipment to Tanjong Aru but is probably one third the size with much less free space for mat work and no pilates machines. I did not find the changing rooms but presume they have similar facilities somewhere.
- My view - Tanjong Aru, as mentioned, has one the largest and best hotel gyms I've come across
- Tanjong Aru - has its own in-house marina with boats avaialble to one of the nearby islands for snorkelling and diving as well as a full range of sea sports. Not cheap but a high quality facilitiy with good equipment
- Rasa Ria - has its own nature reserve with Orangutans - I have done a separate review on this. I differ from other reviewers and felt this was only average
Based on my limited time at Rasa Ria, both resorts seem to be good quality offerings and the choice really depends on what matters to you the most.
If you have young kids, I'd suggest Tanjong Aru, likewise if you want to be close to the city and the marine park and/or don't mind a more crowded resort but with a number of facilities. But, if seclusion and a higher level of exclusivity are your preference, or if a long stetch of beach is important to you, Rasa Ria is for you.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort & Spa is set on Pantai Dalit beach surrounded by 400 acres of lush tropical vegetation, including a unique nature reserve. Here you'll meet Sabah's icon, the fascinating Orang Utan, as well as a remarkable array of indigenous flora and fauna. Unexpected encounters with hornbills who glide right overhead, peacocks walking by during breakfast, a friendly bear cat greeting you from a tree or the occasional wild rabbit, iguana or squirrel crossing your path are all part of the magic of this remarkable resort. Shangri-La's Rasa Ria Resort & Spa goes beyond the offerings of Kota Kinabalu hotels by providing numerous options for relaxation. This includes the magnificent Spa at Dalit Bay, a wide range of water sports, Rasa Ria's own catamarans for cruises and deep sea fishing, a challenging 18-hole championship golf course, tennis, horse riding, a fitness centre and, of course, a fun-filled Kids' Club to care for younger visitors. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Shangri-La`s Rasa Ria Hotel Kota Kinabalu
- Shangri Las Rasa Ria Hotel
- Shangri La Rasa Ria Resort
- Rasa Ria Resort
- Shangri Las Rasa Ria Resort
- Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa Kota Kinabalu, Sabah