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“Tropical paradise! Fantastic place!”

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Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Certificate of Excellence
Isle Of Man
Level 5 Contributor
35 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“Tropical paradise! Fantastic place!”
Reviewed October 10, 2012

We recently stayed for a week at Bunga Raya and we were delighted with it.

The resort is set in its own bay surrounded by jungle. The sea is calm and warm and teeming with fish ( at least when we were there) the sand is really soft, like flour, and is cleaned at least once a day by he hotel.
There are two restaurants and the food is excellent in both. (We struggled to understand previous reports on TA of poor quality). You can pretty much have whatever you want for breakfast and the setting is lovely, either looking at the sea or the Koi pond. Happy hour is 5 to 7 where first drink is free and the second half price. A nice touch.
The accommodation is spectacular. We were lucky to be able to stay in one of the two tree-houses. Amazing! Big bedroom with everything you could want. Nice bathroom. Balcony with plunge pool and even a pavillion. All totally private. We looked at one of the beach cottages and this looked really nice too, also with a plunge pool, though you can walk directly onto the beach.
This resort is on he edge of pristine primary jungle and this should be considered if you are uncomfortable with being close to nature. The resort is in a national park and, therefore, they are not allowed to use pesticides - we were bitten by sandflies (we are told as we never saw the little blighters). Nothing was dangerous or scary though. I didn't even see one spider, thankfully! The hotel arranges jungle treks with a guide and they have an extremely high canopy walk inside the jungle close to the resort. Our guide was Chris who was knowledgable about everything in the jungle but also told us all about the many different hibiscus plants grown there, (Bunga Raya means Hibiscus in Malay and is their national flower). All this for free.
There is a free shuttle boat to sister hotel Gayana. Only takes about 15 mins. Guayana is nice but we just wanted to return to our paradise, Bunga Raya.
Beautiful surroundings, luxury accommodation and a totally facinating place. But .... It was the staff who really added to our wonderful stay. I am not sure if its their motto but I frequently heard " If you are happy then we are happy" ALL the staff were really lovely. Considerate, caring and friendly. They come across as a big happy family. We were sorry to have to leave.
I really do hope that I can return one day.

Room Tip: All cottages seem good but for total privacy, if you can afford it ! , the treehouses are spectacula...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Manx/Traveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TomasAndersen, General Manager at Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa, responded to this review, October 14, 2012
Dear Mr and Mrs Crowley,

Thank you for your review, we thoroughly enjoyed sharing our home with you. You will be pleased to know, since you departed we have intensified our fight against the sand fly and seem to be making some headwind. I shall share this review with my staff, I am certain they want to know when the service they deliver is appreciated. Anyhow we thank you for your visit and look forward welcoming you back again.
Best regards

Tomas
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Sydney, Australia
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed October 7, 2012 via mobile

We absolutely loved our stay at Bunga Raya and were delighted from the moment we stepped off the boat and saw the beautiful clear blue water & white sand beach (in stark contrast to the brown and polluted water at Kota Kinabalu).

We would rate Bunga Raya much higher than the sister Gayana resort where the water isn't as nice for swimming. Gayana is worth a day trip for the snorkelling, marine ecology research centre and a meal at the Chinese seafood restaurant. Ofcourse, the snorkelling is also good off the jetty at Bunga Raya and there are other activities such as zip lining and a canopy walk that are fun.

The location of your room in the resort depends a bit on the luck of the allocation. Rooms up on the hill are accessed by buggy and therefore less convenient.

All room types are expensive but the bill for meals/extras at the end wasn't too bad reducing the overall cost of our stay.

  • Stayed September 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank KJChan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TomasAndersen, General Manager at Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa, responded to this review, October 14, 2012
Thank you for the review on Trip Advisor, we are so pleased you enjoyed your stay with us.
I agree with you that Bunga Raya has one of the most beautiful locations around Sabah and being situated in Marine Sanctuary and within a National Park only adds to its uniqueness.
I hope to see you back in Bunga Raya in the not too distant future.

Best regards

Tomas
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ely, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
147 reviews
64 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 368 helpful votes
Reviewed August 24, 2012

There have been a few changes since our last stay and for the most part they are changes for the better!

Food is good (contrary to other reviews) at Grill, Koi, and room service - a greater selection on offer this year and more reasonably priced than last year. Grill open the entire time we visited except for the one beach buffet night.

Overall service has improved throughout with staff more efficient and professional whilst maintaining the casual nature of the resort. Check In and check out slick with staff happy to assist with transfers, airport check in, etc, etc. There is still room for improvement with restaurant service sometimes inconsistent.

Motorised water sports gone (hooray). Peace as it should be in this place of beauty.

Pre-breakfast baskets delivered to room gone (boooo). But breakfast at the Koi improved with greater choice.

Sing Song on arrival and departure gone (boooo). But replaced with personal and attentive welcome and goodbye.

Flying Fox live (hooray). Great way to see the forest and beach from the top of the trees - not a massive adrenalin rush but good fun and value all the same.

Cocktail hour (free last year) gone (boooo). But retained free first drink and half price all those following for the hour.

Pool Villas remain the room of choice for me as the location is sublime and pools better than we remembered (I think better maintained too).

This place is relaxed, beautiful, and truly ideal for those wanting to get away from it all. You will not regret staying here. We have never returned to a hotel before for a holiday together as there is so much of the world to see but we couldn't resist returning here. When in the region I do not believe there is better (and we have stayed in a few!).

Room Tip: Beach Pool Villas are great, try to avoid the ones closest to the reception jetty as they are set ba...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
7 Thank SMB_2000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed August 18, 2012

We stayed here a week as a stopover on the way to Sydney. The resort is in a splendid location rivalling the Maldives, on a par with Zanzibar and has a remote feel like Madagascar. At these five star prices you expect five star service. The food is massively overpriced and when it arrives which in our experience could be anything up to 45 minutes after ordering, the portions were small. Generally we had to chase the staff for everything including the bill, twice we eventually just left the table having not signed off the bill as we couldn't get anyone's attention !
Organisation in the restaurant is poor. One day three different waiters asked if you wanted coffee the next day you couldn't get the attention of a waiter (this happened on several occasions and in both restaurants). Often a waiter would forget that you had requested something and you would have to chase them for milk or water, or after 20 minutes a different waiter would cone to the table and ask to confirm what had been ordered. All of this with a lovely smile.

The person who wrote 5 star location, 4 star room, 3 star service and two star food got it sabsolutely pot on.

We are both certified divers and had looked forward to diving here. Suffice to say after one dive we decided the organisation in the restaurant was better than on the dive boat and decided one dive was enough.

  • Stayed August 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank wilberwreckage
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TomasAndersen, General Manager at Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa, responded to this review, October 14, 2012
Thank you for your constructive comments. We are fully aware we do not get our service right all the time, although we aim to. Needless to say we fell below the mark during your visit with us for which i am truly sorry for.
You will be pleased to know that we have taken significant steps in improving our restaurant service and food options. Our staff who joined us in August have improved and are showing consistent high level of service.
Please do let me know if your travels brings you back to Borneo, I would love to share our improvements with you.

Best wishes.

Tomas
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore, Singapore
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed August 18, 2012

Beautiful spot, very nice beach and resort is very pretty. We definitely preferred it to Shangri La. The problem is that you pay 5 star prices for average service and you get very mediocre food. The saving grace is that sister hotel Gayana has a nice seafood/Chinese restaurant, so eat there, food is pretty good. We had tiger grouper - amazing! also order seafood beancurd at Gayana!
Breakfast at Bunga Raya was good and chicken satay is good for lunch... skip all the other food at Bunga Raya to avoid disappointment.
If Bunga Raya is not fully booked, ask for a room with a sea view, they have those even in the cheapest category.
And do not expect good snorkeling!

Room Tip: eat at Gayana resort
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Mrubakahn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed August 17, 2012

We stayed here for the first six nights of our honeymoon before flying to the Maldives. We were originally supposed to be staying at the YTL hotel which was due to open in April but unfortunately it was not opened in time for our July honeymoon so we were left with limited choice of where else to replace it with. We had discounted Bunga Raya when we were originally choosing our hotel in Borneo due to the poor food reviews. I take all reviews with a pinch of salt but unfortunately in this case, the reviews were justified.

I'll start with the positives - the resort itself is lovely. We had a beach front villa with a plunge pool and it was fab. Couldnt fault it at all. The pool looked nice although busy, particularly with families and this isnt really our scene particularly on honeymoon so we didnt visit it. If you want some privacy then I'd recommend the pool villa. The free mini bar in the room was a nice touch and the staff were all very pleasant and helpful.

We took a trip over to Gayana to visit the Ecology Centre and it is definitely worth going although the return boat schedule isnt great. The centre is open from 1500-1600 and the return boats were at 1530 or 1830. The 1530 boat didnt give us quite enough time to look round the centre properly but we didnt want to be hanging around until 1830 for a boat back. We spoke to the reception staff at Gayana and they very kindly agreed to keep the 1530 boat waiting for us for an extra 10-15 minutes so we could take that one back. Fab service.

The negatives - the sandflies. They are everywhere on the beach and no repellant will get rid of them. We didnt see anybody sunbathing on the beach and I guess that is why. The bites are about five times more itchy than normal mosquito bites and stick around much longer too. I had 40 bites on my back alone by the time we left and a month later most of them are still there.

The food - what a let down. There are only really two places to eat, the casual Pantai Grill on the beach and the fancy Koi restuarant and the room service menu is really poor. Due to the beach location of the Pantai Grill it is closed in inclement weather. We were there for six nights and it was only open once. Most of those nights the weather was completely fine too so we couldnt work out why it was closed. On the night we did manage to eat there the food was good and reasonably priced. So disappointing we only got to go there once!

The Koi - nice enough restuarant but a very limited menu and very expensive for what you get. There was only one thing on the menu i really liked (and i'll eat pretty much anything) - or at least only one item i was willing to spend that amount of money on. Several other dishes might have been OK but I wasnt going to pay those prices to risk it.

The staff were a bit strange about what table you could sit on. Several times all the front tables were set up for three people and we were told we couldnt sit there because there was only two of us. Even though the restuarant was never more than a third full maximum and there werent any groups of three that we saw! I think it would have been nice to have a separate seating area for families too as on our last night we spent our entire meal listening to a child watching a cartoon on an ipad at the table next to us the entire meal. Not really what you want on your honeymoon. We were also never offered a wine list. I found that really strange for a resort that boasts a wine cellar.

The first day we arrived the Pantai grill was shut for dinner so we went to the Koi and were told it was "buffet night". Great. I hate buffet food at the best of times and it annoys me no end when you have no other option. £80 for food you dont want that's been sat out in the heat for hours on end and coughed all over by other guests. It was our first night however so we just got on with it. The buffet was all outside so I wasnt sure why the Grill was closed if the weather was fine enough for us to sit outside at the other restuarant.

The second day we slept late and missed breakfast so decided to go for lunch. The Pantai Grill was closed so we went to the Koi. We were seated and a few minutes later a first course was put in front of us. We were offered no menu, there was no sign up anywhere saying it was a set lunch and nobody mentioned it to us or even asked us if we were actually planning to eat so no good if we just wanted a drink! Three courses were served, the main unfortunately my husband didnt like. If we had known what it was going to be then we wouldnt have bothered to eat there. I dont have anything against a set menu but it would be helpful if there was a sign or something somewhere that informed you of this and they should at least provide a menu so you know what you are going to get! I dont like having to pay for a meal I didnt actually choose. We didnt bother with lunch again for the rest of the time we were at the resort.

We did a day trip to see the orangutans at Sepilok which was fantastic, I highly recommend. It was a very long day though as you start early and by the time we got back we were both exhausted and it was late so we didnt feel like getting dressed up to go to the Koi. The Grill wasnt open (are you seeing a pattern here!) so we had to order from the room service menu. Hardly any choice and nothing that really suits if you just want a quick snack. My husband had a spicy chicken sandwich which he said was OK but they came with the most disgusting limp chips. I had the satay which was fine.

Saturday night we arrive at the Koi (as the Grill was closed) only to be informed it was buffet night. Again. As previously the entire buffet and all the guests were seated outside so why was the Grill not open? We were slightly later to dinner than we would normally be so sat down at about 8.30pm and there was hardly anything left at this stage. The dishes seemed to be mostly squid based (I hate squid) and the three or four I would have eaten were empty. I had some rice and a dessert. My husband wasnt even lucky enough to get dessert as there was nothing left by the time he had finished his main. As I said above I hate buffet food and twice in six nights when you've got no other option is not good. It would be helpful if they put a sign up in the restuarant at breakfast so you knew it was buffet night as we could have made other plans to go to Gayana or over to the mainland if we'd known.

My last gripe was on our last night we were telephoned by reception to ask what time we wanted to check out so they could arrange our boat transfer. I worked out the timings and we agreed check out at 1130, boat at 12. The next day after completing check out we were informed that the boat back to the mainland for guests checking out that day was at 1. Why ask me then - why not just tell me "the boat is at 1". That meant we had to waste an hour after checkout sitting around by the jetty waiting for our transfer.

The place could be amazing but management have got it so so wrong on the food front. I wouldnt go back, nor would I recommend it. We had such a nice time during the day and then every evening would be ruined by the bad food. We were glad to leave and continue our honeymoon in the Maldives. Such a shame.

Room Tip: Get a beach front villa with your own pool if you want some privacy
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
8 Thank IcklePickle_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paris, France
Level 4 Contributor
41 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed August 14, 2012

This hotel is located on a preserved island (Pulau Gaya) in front of Kota Kinabalu. This part of the island is reserved for the hotel’s guests.

The hotel’s staff is very friendly and professional and they do everything they can to make you feel comfortable.

Snorkeling is such a pleasure there! After a few meters you can see many lovely fishes of all kind. Snorkeling kit is complimentary, as well as kayaks.

The beach is large and private for the hotel’s guests. The infinite pool is very pleasant.

We were in a Deluxe Villa – large and very well furnished. Amazing view from the balcony.

The restaurant is very pleasant with a sightseeing view. If you like the wine, they told me that they have the best wine cellar in Malaysia! I had the opportunity to visit it and they do have 4,000 bottles of the best wines in the world! Some of them are not for sale because they belong to the resort’s owner.

Just a remark – when I was there, there were sand flies on the beach and it was difficult to protect oneself against them. As the resort forms part of a natural park, they can’t apply any chemical product to repulse them.

  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Remi_Sg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa

Property: Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa
Address: Polish Bay, Pulau Gaya 88778, Malaysia
Phone Number:
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > West Coast Division > Kota Kinabalu District > Pulau Gaya
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:5 star — Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 48
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
As sensual and exotic as the hibiscus flower that bears its name, Bunga Raya Island Resort is a luxurious jewel set on a coral reef island just off the coast of Borneo. A secluded island hideaway of 47 timbered villas, the resort is framed by white sand beach and virgin jungle. Hillside villas reflect the simplicity of the Borneo architectural style. A hilltop spa blends the finest Traditional Asian and Western treatments using restorative powers of indigenous plants and oils. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bunga Raya Island Resort And Spa
Bunga Raya Island Hotel Kota Kinabalu
Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa Malaysia/Pulau Gaya

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