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“The best resort I had ever stayed”

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Bunga Raya Island Resort
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed March 3, 2013

As the title, the resort is valuable to stay and enjoy. It provided the services much better than what I expected. The trip I planned to celebrate my love's birthday and our wedding anniversary. They have made a very romantic atmosphere for my dinner and it really wowed my wife and surprised her. All the staffs at the resort are very friendly, interactive and well cared the guest's needs.

The environment in the island is wonderful. Even better then Maldives. The water is clear and the beach is clean. The villa is separately located at the jungle. Seems we leave from the city life and enter our own world. I must come again when we travel next time.

Room Tip: Room 15,the room I stayed, I think is good, near reception
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Alen T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed February 23, 2013

It is a great location but what a wasted opportunity.

Dirty beaches and sea, slow to non-existent service, poor quality food, and untrained staff. I do feel sorry for the staff - they try hard but clearly they receive little training and most of them look like they just left high school.

Here are some links to videos - a picture being worth a lot more than mere words.

http://youtu.be/IsOrpPCKlaU

http://youtu.be/i21mTmxeSiU

http://youtu.be/i21mTmxeSiU


The beach tractor and the smell of the grey coloured stream will stay with us for a long time.

We could only use the plunge pool for one day - some type of silt or sediment was pumped into the pool turning it a brownish, milky colour. While we were assured it was safe (by the undoubtedly highly trained pool boy) we choose to avoid taking the risk.

We would not return here if the trip was free. We could hardly wait to leave.

Room Tip: Avoid rooms with the plunge pools next to the stinky stream.
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank SG_Expat_UK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 19, 2013

We stayed for 3 nights in a superior villa after 3 days in Kota Kinabalu. It is a really nice get away from the crowded city, only a 20 minute speed boat ride away. The resort is well maintained with beautiful plants and flowers. The infinity pool is huge and the staff super friendly, though a bit challenged at sometime simple tasks, like a correct bill. Food and drinks are quite expensive. The Snorkeling area seems spacious and interesting, but we could not even use it once during our stay due to constantly high waves which made it impossible to get into the water from the jetty. But you can go to their sister resort, Gayana, a 10 minute boat ride away. The water is quite calm there and you can enjoy snorkeling and kayaking more easily.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Christina B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TomasAndersen, General Manager at Bunga Raya Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded February 21, 2013

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with other TripAdvisor readers. We are really pleased you enjoyed your time with us and hope to see you soon again.

Tomas

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 19, 2013

Where to begin? I want only to write wonderful positive things about this hotel , because it’s actually not as bad as some of the reviews below this one. However I need to be true to what Trip Advisor is about and write a full and honest review of the hotel as it seemed to me.

A few days before we arrived at the resort I sent an email to the general manager explaining my worries at the recent reviews on Trip Advisor. As I had booked the hotel four months before we got there, the reviews in here led me to believe that things had really gone downhill. The manager “Tomas “sent an immediate reply, promising us we would have a great time.

Having arrived, on that first evening I wanted to leave. This was not the 5* hotel I thought I had booked: the beaches were scattered with rubbish, the restaurant seemingly chaotic, the bar not a place to comfortably spend an evening looking at the sunset. And we were stuck there for a week … so we had to make the most of it … And I am really glad we did , as we had a GREAT time. - thanks to Tomas (the General Manager Along with the staff , there friendliness was unlike anything I have experienced in a hotel before. Unfortunately their skill base did not match up to this. On many occasions they simply did not have a clue. But at £ 500.00 night who cares!

We had 4 nights on a beachfront villa (with plunge pool), very nice . We then moved up to a tree house villa (also with plunge pool plus dining verandah): WOW – amazing . The spa buildings wound their way up into the jungle and had a great team offering a great range of good treatments.

If you looking for action -packed entertainment , this is not the place for you; the entertainment consisted of a very delightful couple walking around with a guitar- it some how suited the resort.

As briefly mentioned above the main negative was restaurant / bar service. The Staff are amazing,: friendly, engaging, and enjoying what they do but (just) adequately trained, every meal was a comedy performance in incompetence- after a few days one get used to it, and the staff are, as I say, so friendly and interested.

Going here you need to chill over the service , embrace the slightly chaotic nature, enjoy what the resort has to offer. If you do you will certainly have a memorable week as we did .

As a note, do not go to Bunga Raya in the monsoon season. If you do (as we did) you will see the pollution mankind is inflicting on the planet. The rubbish that is washed up from Kota Kinabalu and a nearby water village everyday is incredible . The staff TRY to keep on top of it but for these three months they’re fighting a loosing battle - it is revolting and so off putting. The staff did try their best !

BUT !!!! I was told Tomas said “we are not as sleek and refined as a Four Seasons resort’: the one problem is they charge Four Seasons prices.

Also we are writing this from Raffles Singapore a TRUE 5* hotel in every sense of the word – and cheaper than Bunga Raya!

Room Tip: Villa 35 for a true Tree top living experience
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  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Leigh O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TomasAndersen, General Manager at Bunga Raya Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded February 21, 2013

Thank you for your honest review of Bunga Raya, we all enjoyed looking after you and hope to see you back our way in the future. Incidently the wind has switched direction, the sea is clearing and the beach is back to its pristine best!

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Reviewed February 17, 2013 via mobile

Our agent booked us in at Bunga Raya for a few nights of luxury after spending earlier in the week in the jungles of Sarawak. I was very surprised to see the recent reviews and was worried when I saw them the day before leaving for KK. The crowded and poluted waterfront at KK did little to dispell concerns but the 20 min speed boat ride took us to another world.

The staff at BR could not have been more friendly and attentive and as recognised in even the damning reviews, the 'hardware' is magnificent. Wine is a bit pricey but the food at the two restaurants was of a reasonable standards and value for money; A$15-30 for a main course is not unreasonable.

We had a memorable Valentine's Day spread over two nights with gifts and complementary cocktails but the wandering guitar duo playing romantic requests was a lot of fun and the highlight.

So it was everything we anticipated and a little more. Perhaps the contructive criticism from the recent reports was a wake up call to them but we would recommend BR to anyone.

  • Stayed: February 2013
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1  Thank RicJClark
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 15, 2013

We have just stayed at Bunga Raya for 7 nights. We stayed at Gaya island resort for 5 nights, visited Guyana Eco resort and next go to Rasa Ria. It's troubling us as to how we rate and review Bunga Raya...
It has by far the best location and beach on Gaya island. It's luxuriant jungle down to a powder white sand cove with turquoise sea. It's gorgeous. The rooms are all detached and very spacious wooden villas. We tried 2 types - a entry level room (superior villa) and a beach level pool villa. Interiors are similar, barr you get a beach front location, plunge pool, bath and an espresso coffee machine in the pool villa. We loved them both, but on balance we preferred the superior villa, for its privacy, jungle surroundings and high level sea views.
Then the dilemma - if you stay here on a 2-3 night stay, then like us and others we spoke to, you will be angry. It's no where near a 5 star resort. At upwards of £380 per night for a room, with the wine list starting at £45 / bottle, with mediocre food and fawlty towers levels of waiter service and a tired pool, you will be frustrated. Then as the week progresses and you talk to Tomas the Manager and get to know the staff; as you start to chill, you see the beauty of the people, the characters eg Fauzi, Brian, Meen and May-Ann, your eye is drawn to the stunning setting, your lovely room (ok again starting to get tired), the wildlife - cheeky macaques and bearded pigs, and you simply laugh at what chaos can be caused in the restaurants.
Whilst Gaya Island Resort is pristine, with 5 star service and food, it's homogenous, you could be any where. What Bunga Raya has is beauty, heart and soul, it's memorable. We loved it.
One final point. You can't talk about the resort without mentioning the litter. It is terrible. Every morning the beach is covered with the south china seas evening dumping of our human trash. A tractor clears it up, but struggles to keep on top of it. It's a sad reality from Nov to March based on the currents we hear. The resort do their best (though I'd suggest they start earlier each morning) and most is cleared up by 11am.
Tomas thank you to you and your staff for a memorable stay in your beautiful resort. We can see your passion for the place. We do think you need to learn from the staff at GIR if you want to be a 5 star hotel with 5 star prices. The new competition could be a real help to you actually, rather than a threat.
Ps Get a decent shop - a girl likes to buy gifts plus its a revenue earner....

Stayed: February 2013, traveled as a couple
2  Thank juliet h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 12, 2013

We have just stayed there for 2 nights. The best part was being upgraded to the Royal Villa. That aside, the positives are it's a beautiful place and staff are exceedingly courteous. Unfortunately, that's it for the positives. The food is frightfully expensive - local dishes cost 10x what they would have cost on the mainland. One would have thought at that price, the quality and quantity of ingredients would be vastly superior but portions were small (like at roadside hawkers) and quality was mediocre. The staff, while very polite, were totally ineffectual. The restaurant staff just milled around aimlessly and everything (from ordering, to arrival of food and billing) took 3 times as long as it should have. The villa's cleanliness was a bit disappointing (on the last day, we even found a dead cockroach in one of our bags) and a number of things did not work eg. a toilet bowl was stuck, one shower handle was falling off, one shower head toggle was erratic. One of my children became sick from the food and threw up (I think it was the cheese in the pizza and omelette...). Right from the start, we repeatedly asked the staff about late checkout as we had a late flight but no one got back to us. Only on the last day, when we approached reception did we finally get a response. During our checkout, the buggy did not come at the appointed time and even when we called again, it was late, and in the end, we had to carry our own suitcases to the jetty. The ferry boat timings were all over the place and certainly did not tally with the timings on the ferry cards that they kept giving out. And while the main beach was ok, the private beach of the Royal Villa was filthy with rubbish. This place has the potential to be a 5-star resort but the software is absolutely the pits. It's staffed by village boys/girls who, except for a couple of senior people, do not seem to understand any of the fundamental concepts of running a fine establishment. We will never go back. Once is enough.

  • Stayed: February 2013, traveled with family
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3  Thank BernardTSingapore
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TomasAndersen, General Manager at Bunga Raya Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded February 13, 2013

Thank you for giving your feedback. it is much appreciated. We actually invite guest feedback after every service experience, being boat condition, checkin, spa performance and of course food and beverage experience. This allows us to identify which areas need improvement and hopefully it also allows us to speak to the guest immidiately, should service levels not be up to standard. I am pleased to say more than 95% of all our visitors rate their experience with us good or exceptional! Unfortunatly we did not manage to reach out to you which i am sorry about.

Our food prices start around RM25 for pool snacks which on an island, we believe, is very reasonable. Our live fish are organically reared from our own fishfarm, hence the cost will be a little higher but so will the quality.

I am sorry that the beach around the Royal Villa was not as pristine as the main beach, this has since been rectified.

I do hope you had the time to visit our Marine Ecology Research Centre, MERC, at our sister property, Gayana Eco Resort. This will truly put our environmental effort into perspective.

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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Additional Information about Bunga Raya Island Resort

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: $304 - $676 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Bunga Raya Island Resort 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 Hotel Kota Kinabalu
Bunga Raya Island Resort And Spa
Bunga Raya Island Resort Malaysia/Pulau Gaya

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