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“WHAT SABAH HAS BEEN CRYING OUT FOR....”

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Manana Borneo Resort
Reviewed July 28, 2010

Many of you will know the score already. You've travelled round Vietnam, Thailand, west Malaysia and Indo, staying in cheap beach huts, mucking about on the beach and in the sea by day, and eating delicious fresh seafood washed down with a few beers by night - all for bargain prices.

In Sabah, an amazing state in Borneo, you have Mount Kinabalu and Sipadan that attract all the backpackers and tourists, via the gateway city of Kota Kinabalu. Unfortunately, after these two highlights, there are no cheapy beaches to stay on. Yes you can visit some for a day, and perhaps camp, but other than that, and the mega pricey 5 star resorts, there is nothing established for the backpacker market.

About 6 months ago Yan opened Manana-Borneo - a few years in planning and in the making, and his dream is ready. A very experienced beach worker / beach hut proprietor, Yan, a Malay national, has this secluded paradise sorted. Along with his uber friendly staff, they will do anything they can to make your stay the best ever. If you want to go snorkelling (see the 'big brain'), surfing, trekking, up the river to see the probiscus monkeys etc., they can arrange it. Apparently they will soon have a dive school also, for those of you wanting to get deeper under water to see the insane variety of marine life. If you want to experience Sabahan village life, that can also be arranged, with the very friendly locals at Kampung Pitaru Laut.

You can visit their website (google manana borneo), laterooms.com, asiarooms.com or facebook page to book accommodation, and they can pick you up from KK or wherever really - it couldn't be more simple!

The accommodation is sweeeeeeeeeeeet. Roomy bungalows right on the beach, with handmade comfortable wooden beds, mosquito nets and attached bathrooms. All 'balcony' areas have two hammocks so you can chillax, watch the world go by, read a book or have a kip. I'm told there will soon be cheaper rooms set back further from the sea, as well as a bargain budget 'house of hammocks'.

The restaurant serves delicious curries, the freshest, tastiest seafood ever, noodles and western fayre, and you can pick what tunes go on the sound system. There are always plenty of Tiger beers available, and soon to be a more established bar serving beers, wines, a massive variety of spirits as well as some seriously refreshing cocktails.

The main boys - Yan and Awi - can even put on a fire twirling show for you in the evenings, and teach you how to do it should you wish to give it a go.

After your stay, your new friends will be more than happy to take you to the airport or KK, and you will more than likely become a regular, dreaming of the next time you can visit Manana.

I absolutely loved my stay here, and I'm sure you will to. It is an absolute paradise, with utterly breathtaking sunsets, and the staff are experts at delivering that all important, unique to Sabah, backpacker beach vibe.

E N J O Y

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled solo
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12  Thank mjsw13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manana_Team, General Manager at Manana Borneo Resort, responded to this reviewResponded December 19, 2012

Very many thanks for your review - it's so great to have like minded guests, those who want to get off the beaten track and not be part of a massive package tour group. As Sabah is largely dominated by package trips, we were one of the first budget to mid-range independent operations, and we're so glad you found us so soon!

We constantly get phonecalls and emails from travel agents in Kota Kinabalu asking us to block book our rooms for packages for them to sell, but we want to stay independent, and true to the original ethos of Manana. It makes it all worthwhile when we get a positive review like this :-)

Terima kasih,

Team Manana

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156 - 162 of 180 reviews

Reviewed July 16, 2010

What a great break from the usual packpackers spots. Mañana has only 4 bungalows and is on a completely private beach. You can only access by boat. No Internet, no phone, no tv. Sounds scary at first but you can't help but chill right out. You won't be bored as there's a good little library, a mini pool table and cold drinks in a cool cafe feel area. And dont forget the beach and snorkeling. Each bungalow also has 2 hammocks when you need a siesta or just want to read a book in the shade. You could swing in a hammock and relax all day. At night, there's a Bose sound system and a bunch of CDs from downtempo to rock to dance music so you can have some drinks and play some cards. The food is yummy and there was enough variety on the menu for our 5 day stay. (Avoid the BBQ as its pricey and they don't have a proper grill...the rest is good!) It's all very well maintained too - they are often cleaning and even raking the beach for rubbish and washed up seaweed.

Mañana operates totally off the grid and really feels like you're getting away from everything and back to nature. In the 5 days we stayed we saw kingfishers at the beach, loads of huge butterflys that make monarchs look small and ordinary and we spotted macaque monkeys in the trees behind the buildings on a few occasions. The snorkeling is good too where we saw butterfly fish, anemone fish, nudibranches, gobies, brittlestars and an octopus among others.

A great stay and break from the 'real world'. Awie and Yan really make it a pleasant stay.

Bring:
* a few snacks - we had crisps, biscuits and cookies for between meals
* bug spray with deet. It gets a little bitey at dusk with a few midges. We saw very few mosquitoes.

  • Stayed: July 2010, traveled with family
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10  Thank SlaveToShopping
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manana_Team, General Manager at Manana Borneo Resort, responded to this reviewResponded December 19, 2012

Very many thanks for taking the time to review Manana. We are so glad you enjoyed your stay - after years of planning and toiling, it was great to finally have guests arriving - satisfied guests at that.

It seems like such a long time ago that you stayed, but we remain true to the original concept of Manana. A small, off the beaten track, paradise, for budget to mid-range, independent travellers.

Thank you again and best wishes from all at Manana - including Tommy :-)

Terima kasih,

Team Manana

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Reviewed July 14, 2010

The friendly owners (Yan and Nani) of Manana picked us up from our hotel in Kota Kinabalu for the hour's drive and ten minute boat ride before we reached the perfect beach of Manana. We stopped at an interesting local food market on our way, to pick up supplies for the 3 days and 2 nights we were going to spend there. Manana is the perfect place for relaxing and spending quality time with your family/friends. Currently it has 4 beach front chalets, only a couple of steps from a perfectly calm ocean. The chalets are comfortable with beautiful handmade wooden beds (made by Yan), mosquito nets, a large open-air bathroom and a porch with comfortable hammocks - perfect for that interesting book and afternoon siesta. There is a restaurant/library area where Awi (the chef), looked after us extremely well and cooked the most delicious meals. Currently there is no internet or mobile reception, which made it a perfect place for my husband and I to spend quality time together without work emails and calls interupting. There are a few snorkeling sites to explore, kayaking and a volleyball net for those who would like to be a bit more active. Yan is hoping to expand Manana quite a bit and enthusiastically told us about the dive school he would like to open there soon, a few more chalets he would like to build, a bar area, etc. etc. We will definitely be back at this piece of paradise to see how Yan progresses with all his ideas for Manana and to hopefully see the manta rays and whale sharks in the bay between January to March. After the 3 most relaxing days at Manana, Yan drove us to the airport and on our way he treated us to the most delicious Coconut Puddings at a local stall next to road. Thanks for all your effort Yan and Nani - we had an amazing time!!

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled as a couple
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8  Thank Explorer003
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Team_Manana, General Manager at Manana Borneo Resort, responded to this reviewResponded April 5, 2013

Dear Explorer003,

Thanks so much for visiting Manana Borneo, and for taking the time to write this awesome review. It's so great to hear when we're getting things right.

Thank you also for the wonderful photos you posted, they're great.

We remember your stay well, it was such a pleasure hanging out and getting to know you. We have expanded a bit since your stay, but we're still a small, basic establishment, with the emphasis on simple rooms, tasty reasonably priced food, ad hoc snorkelling trips, and cold beers at sunset :-)

We never want to move away from the original concept of a relaxed, friendly vibe - the sort of atmosphere guests like yourselves appreciate, and totally contribute to.

Wishing you fun, safe and happy travels from us all,

Team Manana

PS - the coconut puddings were our pleasure, they taste soooo good. In fact, I'm off to get one now :-)

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Reviewed December 30, 2016
Google Translation

  • Stayed: December 2016, traveled with family
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Thank Anders S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 18, 2016
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  • Stayed: February 2016, traveled with family
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Thank Lisenok_86
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 16, 2016 via mobile
Google Translation

Stayed: September 2016, traveled as a couple
Thank Wendy Z
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 30, 2016
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  • Stayed: August 2016, traveled with friends
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3  Thank Nick F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Manana Borneo Resort

Address: Kampang Pituru Laut, Kota Belud 89517, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Kota Belud District > Kota Belud
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 8 Specialty Lodging in Kota Belud
Number of rooms: 7
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Also Known As:
Manana Borneo Hotel Kota Belud
Manana Borneo Resort Kota Belud, Sabah

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