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“Shangri-La's Rasa Ria vs Tanjong Aru - and the winner is...” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa

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Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Pantai Dalit Beach | P.O. Box 600, Kota Kinabalu 89208, Malaysia   |  
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Ranked #1 of 97 Hotels in Kota Kinabalu
Singapore, Singapore
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
38 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
“Shangri-La's Rasa Ria vs Tanjong Aru - and the winner is...”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 21, 2013

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:

Location
- 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.

Overall Ambience
- 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

Restaurants
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

Kids Facilities
- 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

Beach
- 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

Gym
- 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

Other acitivites
- 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

Conclusion
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.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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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
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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hong kong
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 21, 2013

This is the best resort you can find in KK if you do not plan to go out at all. Afterall, there isn't much happening in town anyway...
We travelled with 2 boys ages 4 and 6. They loved the pool and the beach and they can just be swimming all day. THere are also kid's club activities and orangutan viewings that can keep children entertained. Sign up for the lighting ceremony at dusk for the kids as it is free of charge and they get to put on their costumes and experience the whole ceremony by the beach.
The breakfast selection was impeccable. We had no complains.

The food, especially the seafood buffets at night is very delicious with lots of seafood (tiger prawns and crabs!!) and are priced very reasonably that we didn't even consider dining out at all.
If you decide to head out for some shopping, drinks at night, think twice... every trip costs so much that we didn't think it was worth it. Shuttle bus was about 30 Ringits per person per way, taking a private car into town for a few hours cost 200 Ringits! and when we were out... the whole waterfront was dead. There were less than 10 people in each of the bars.
Stay in the resort as it was worth every penny you spend there.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2013

In my last review of the Shangri-La, KK, the caption was "will definitely go back!" and we did! Last weekend! We've decided this is where we'll go when the going gets tough at work...worth every penny!
Like our previous stay, we booked a room at the ocean wing, just fabulous!
I don't really think I have enough positive adjectives to describe this place, if you're on the fence, not sure where to stay, Shangri-La Rasa Ria is the way to go. Worth mentioning staff at the front desk are incredibly warm, in fact the staff just makes you feel so welcome without too in your face. Perfect balance.
We went to the Orang Utan sanctuary this time round, I can't wait to bring my little nephew he will flip. Ulam, the orang utan came so close Toby said he can smell the little one :-). I've seen Orang Utan up close while travelling in Sumatra but this was worth going, the orang utans are well take care of and the set up was well thought! Our guide was a funny guy- kept us entertained during the canopy walk.
We were so relaxed after our trip, a staff of mine said on Monday 'Fifie, you look too happy..like you've had a wonderful weekend'. We did!

  • Stayed March 2013, 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sheffield, United Kingdom
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2013

We stayed here just as the UK half term holidays were ending so it was a little quieter. Generally I have to say we enjoyed our second visit here. Some reviewers are right when they say they do not experience the usual Shangri La luxury but it is almost impossible to provide (except at great cost) when you are surrounded by jungle and sandy beach. And yes, the hotel is miles from anywhere but that is the magic of the place. If you wish to swill lager and disco then go somewhere else.

It is worth paying a little extra for the Deluxe Sea View rooms, get up to the 6th floor if you can, sunset views are magic. Avoid Rain Forest rooms, they just look out at the trees round the back. Rooms were spacious enough and the air con worked splendidly for our entire stay but there were a few chips and scratched that you would not expect from a Shangri La establishment.

We elected to go room only and eat when we felt like it, topping up from the shop occasionally. Our estimate was £50 per day and we exceeded this by only a few pounds. The Naan Indian restaurant was fab as was the Tepi Laut in the evenings. During the day the service from the Tepi Laut was a little slow, we preferred the coffee terrace.

When laying out on sunbeds, staff supplied endless glasses of iced water and cold towels as well as trays of fresh fruit in the afternoons. We also grew quite partial to a treat of fries delivered straight to our loungers.

Happy hour at the bar was a little too busy for our liking and was strangely timed, it would have been nicer nearer sunset.

The Orang Utans put on quite a display for us but the morning tours were very busy, possibly because of visitors from outside of the resort. It is less busy in the afternoon but be warned it is very hot. Daytime temperatures were up to 34C when we were there.

Staff overall were friendly and efficient with some going the extra mile. It is not just the service that matters, it is what action is taken when things do not go according to plan.

The aim was to recharge our batteries and the stay did exactly that. Overall a fab stay and I certainly hope to go back some day.

Room Tip: Choose Sea View and go as high as possible.
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 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
    • 4 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.
Sydney, Australia
Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
63 helpful votes 63 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 19, 2013

This is a sister resort of the fantastic shangri-la Rasa Sayang in Penang. The latter is my favorite in the world, this is in the the top five in the world in my opinion and represents incredible value.

This place is the complete mental health break if you need to get away. I recommend to stay here for a least a week, I stayed for 10 days and was actually looking forward to getting back to work, something I haven't done for years after a holiday.

Its a top property in an otherwise pretty isolated location. Here is my tip if you are staying for a while: hire a car at the airport when you arrive and drive yourself up to the hotel which is a good half an hour or more away. The car will enable you get out for day trips and explore local ( or further afield) villages at your convenience, otherwise you may be pretty well stuck at the resort. You can also drive back down into KK for dinner, or to other restaurants which are not at the hotel. You will be glad you have a car, even if only to head off after breakfast for a few hours and then return to the resort after lunch to lie in the sun and generally act like a sloth.

And as a weight loss tip: I would walk onto the beach at about 4pm each day and then walk for an hour in one direction along the beach and then turn around and walk back. I swear I lost 10 kilos when I was there. Bonus! I didn't even bother looking at the spa because I was getting heaps of exercise walking up the beach which was good for the body; the mind and the soul.

Room Tip: Hire a car at the airport and drive up yourself and keep the car until you fly out.
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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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Blenheim, Marlborough, New Zealand
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2013

Strangely your in a large complex but except for meal times hardly see anyone. great food, lovely beach and sunsets.....nice cold Henekin and the Orangutans are georgeous in their santuary area. Take the horse riding on the beach at sunset, you'll never regreat it!

Room Tip: I would suggest staying in a room on the top floor
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 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 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Derbyshire
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2013

This was our second holiday to the Rasa Ria staying for 10 nights and another wonderful experience. The staff are the most sincere, friendly and helpful we have ever met. Nothing is too much trouble. We stayed in the Garden wing in a Deluxe Garden view room and were later upgraded to the room from our previous visit, once this became vacant, in a Deluxe Sea View room. With the Ocean and gardens at the front and the jungle at the back, amazing. The service is excellent and the food beautiful, with a fantastic selection, so everybody can enjoy. We asked to see the kitchen as i am a cook, and within minutes we were given a tour. I was very impressed with how clean and organised they were, with the chefs in perfect whites. The Nature Reserve is well worth a visit or two, especially for the Orang Utans, with friendly and knowledgable staff. We were lucky enough to see a Slow Loris on our night walk, along with a Bear Cat, Tarantula and scorpion, all pointed out by our ranger.

Room Tip: Better view of the jungle canopy, to see the birds and sunsets from the higher floors. There are 3...
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  • Stayed March 2013, 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
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa

Address: Pantai Dalit Beach | P.O. Box 600, Kota Kinabalu 89208, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > West Coast Division > Kota Kinabalu District > Kota Kinabalu
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Business Hotel in Kota Kinabalu
#1 Spa Hotel in Kota Kinabalu
#1 Family Hotel in Kota Kinabalu
#1 Luxury Hotel in Kota Kinabalu
#1 Romantic Hotel in Kota Kinabalu
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Kota Kinabalu
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 499
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

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