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“Fabulous place and service”

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

Great hotel manager, lovely staff, cute villas, luxurious pool, good food, pristine water, flowers everywhere, beautiful spa... What else do you need? We loved it for our honeymoon. We were there in May, no trash problem. We stayed 7 nights.

Room Tip: Les plunge pools sont un vrai +
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  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Djoulli
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 reviewResponded August 9, 2013

Thank you so much for your contribution on Trip Advisor, we enjoyed looking after you and hope to see you back in our part of the world in the not too distant future.

Best wishes

Tomas

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299 - 305 of 504 reviews

Reviewed July 28, 2013

I had such high hopes for this resort but they were shattered by shambolic service and appalling food. For the prices they charge and the image they project I expected a whole lot more.

Just some of the incidents of note that were typical:

- we had 9 meals as you have to eat in the resort and every meal had some calamity attached it it, Basil Fawlty would be right at home at this place....

- our first meal at the resort we asked for Pinot Gris (white) wine and were given Pinot Noir (red) wine and only when the wine was being poured did the staff notice it was the wrong one..

- at the same meal my partner asked for peach and cheese salad which came without the cheese and with tinned peaches...

- at the same meal i asked for yellow noodles with seafood/tofu/veg and tomatoes...the first attempt came with noodles and seafood and no chilis, veg or tomatoes..the second attempt came with no seafood!

- that night we had dinner in the main restaurant and on coming back to the room found it locked.....as we had a baby with us we wanted to put him to sleep but couldn't....i had to go back to the reception and ask why when we had not locked the doors they had and how they expected us to get into the room without a key! Instead of actually giving us a key they got housekeeping to unlock it....we only got the key half way through the 2nd day!

- we had lunch at the grill and regretted it...my partner ordered minestrone soup which came without pasta/veg...anything bar tomato...when this was pointed out to them they came back and said they had run out of minestrone soup.....they had tried to pass off tomato soup as being minestrone and thought she wouldn't notice...

- pastries are not their strong point: the morning pastries are stody, oily and salty and poor imitations of any kind of French breakfast...their breads are all the same whether you order panini or ciabatta all you get is a 6 inch wedge of a white sandwich! This despite that panini for example is supposed to be slim and ciabatta made of olive oil....neither factors seemed to matter as they mislabeled their offerings

- we had a special evening in the wine cellar for my birthday which was more like Fawlty Towers than a fine dining special experience....we asked for champagne and perrier for two....the waiter came down with firstly one small perrier, one glass and one champagne glass, then he came down with our wine and two more still empty champagne glasses that were chilled but had no champagne to go in them then finally came down with two filled champagne glasses! My partner then had to show him how to uncork an expensive bottle of wine.....in their wine cellar! I hate to think what people who were buying really expensive wine from their list of 4,000 would think of this kind of wine service...

- my partner asked for Tom Yam soup which when it came had no chilis in is so in effect it was not Tom Yam soup....

- at lunch my partner asked for a grilled vegetable sandwich as there were two sandwiches which could be converted into a vegetarian sandwich but both had meat in...when it came it was the steak and onion option on the menu but without the steak...an onion sandwich!!! It was sent back and eventually after a great length of time it came back with grilled vegetables in....

- they fundamentally have a problem with anyone who doesn't want fish or meat...there is nothing on the menu as a main course for vegetarians at the main restaurant...not one dish...every dish has to be converted from other dishes...

- the cot they gave us for a 6 month old baby had a mattress 3/4 the size of the cot....a deathtrap....we had to find cushions to fill in the gaps so that our baby didn't roll around and get stuck down the side and smother!

- for a resort that wants people to go out and enjoy romantic experiences at various locations they have a weird babysitting service...you have to pay the babysitter yourself in Malaysian currency...even though there is no way of getting any on the island and as its resort that you just pay for at the end with a credit card no reason to have any currency...after refusing to pay directly and the front of house making three phone calls eventually they agreed to pay the babysitter directly and charge us on the bill....surely logical but why did i have to demand this?

- on our final night we decided to have dinner in our room which isn't a great idea because although they advertise it they give you no lights in which to see your meal! The meal then was a disaster...my partner asked for a vegetarian curry....this came but was cold and cabbage only....it was sent back and she asked for a margherita pizza...simple you might think...it came tasting and smelling of pepperoni...we had to go into the light of our room to check that it wasn't and it wasn't it just tasted and smelt like it did....it was at this point we called the manager who listened and apologised and gave us a free bottle of wine and a discount on the food but explained the difficulties he faced and we empathised but ultimately we were paying good money for this experience and it was not 5 star, it was bearly 2 star...
- my final meal, breakfast, summed up the entire place. I thought by this stage that I would make it really simple. I asked for smoked salmon, poached egg and toast....their first attempt came back with hollandaise all over it......i sent it back, repeated the order.....it came back with spinach and mushrooms and worse the cold smoked smoked salmon i was expecting had been cooked! I had never heard of smoked salmon being cooked! I asked to see the manage and instead of getting him the staff ran into the kitchen and had a good laugh with the kitchen staff at what they had delivered. Luckily the manager was in the breakfast room so i showed him what they had done....cooked the smoked salmon.....he was appalled. At the third attempt i got my dish. That gives you a clue as to the level of competence in the kitchen, 3 attempts to get the simplest of dishes right.

The bright sparks....the spa experience was exceptional, the beach was sandy and gorgeous and the atmosphere was relaxed and fun.

I have to excuse the new management team and new GM Raina who clearly knows his stuff but can't get the staff. They let him down, let themselves down and let their colleagues down. Only a few of them seemed to even care. For some reason the male staff especially Dantes and another gentlemen in white shirt who served us knew what they were doing but the female staff just didn't get it, didnt listen, couldnt take simple instructions, thought they were above certain tasks especially those in the restaurant wearing purple who would rather take our menu away than take our dirty dishes....

They may have bought new furniture for the outdoors area but it will take a whole lot more than this to mask the frankly laughable, atrocious and 2 star food and service.

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank ChrisJR2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TomasAndersen, Manager at Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded August 8, 2013

Dear ChrisJR2013,

Thank you for taking the time to share your feedback after your recent stay at Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa. I have taken note of the comments you also shared with us when departing from the Resort and will follow up as promised.
It is always disappointing to hear from a guest that their stay was not flawless. While compliments are nice to receive, it is constructive criticism, such as yours, that help us pinpoint areas where corrective measures are necessary to bring us closer to our goal. I appreciate the frankness of your comments as it will help us to continually work on our product for the mutual benefit of our guests. After reviewing the events that have transpired, it is clear that we failed to deliver on our promise. Please be assured that all of your comments have been shared with the team and management as it will benefit us in our strive to provide a unique and memorable experience equal to our guests expectations.
On a more positive note I was glad to hear how much you enjoyed the natural beauty and surroundings of the resort as well as the overall friendliness and hospitality of our team which is our biggest asset.
Again, I would like to apologize on the overall disappointments that you have experienced during your stay and assuring you that your valuable comments are now on my list and further corrective measures are already being taken on the areas mentioned. I hope you will give us an opportunity to redeem ourselves as Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa is a wonderful destination and we will do whatever it takes to restore your confidence. We hope that you will take the opportunity to stay with us again when your plans bring you back to Sabah.

Rainer
Executive Assistant Manager

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Reviewed July 25, 2013

We had read some critical reviews of this place and especially of it's service before we arrived to this paradise. We have to admit that some small things did not go so smoothly upon our arrival. We talked to the Manager (Rainer) and he took our claims very professionally. He took immediate action and made sure that all staff adjusted their service approach and restored warm and personally caring service - this "turnaround" was really exceptional. Villas were spacious, cozy, beautiful and well-equipped (such as with Thann amenities), hill-top views were really nice. Breakfast at KOI restaurant was good, even though the buffet was a bit limited it was well compensated by ala carte meny (included). Even though selection of restaurants and meals was somewhat limited, we had nice dinners at KOI and also one dinner at neighbour Gayana resort's Alu-Alu restaurant. Beef Rendang was awesome ! Special recognition to Fauzi who was probably one of the happiest client serving persons we have ever met. The place is like paradise, and there is some finetuning to do to make it perfect. We'd recommend to include all beach sports into the room rates, now they are partly payable and looked like no-one is renting Hobie Cats. Kayaking and paddling was free of charge.

Room Tip: We were travelling with 4 children and had two deluxe villas (20 and 21), which was more than enough...
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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2  Thank Helsinkifoodies
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 11, 2013 via mobile

Admittedly, I am not a connoisseur of 5 star hotels but for around $300 a night - this hotel offers pretty good value. The most basic villas are large and have all the amenities you need - including free wifi, free soft drinks and beer in your mini bar, cable tv, DVD, sound system (including an iPod dock) and lovely toiletries refreshed daily. In addition, you get a hefty and personally made brekkie AND all non-motorised activities are included (snorkelling, kayaking, paddle boards, guided walks etc). The infinity pool is gorgeous and there's great snorkelling off a secluded beach. Plus you get one trip to Gayana Eco Resort. I am guessing that bad weather could push rubbish into the area, as there's lots around KK and the nearby fishing villages - BUT while I was there the water was crystal clear, so clear I could take a photo of a stingray on the ocean floor and capture its fluorescence whilst standing on the jetty! It was also impeccable compared to the three other islands I visited. As for being 'abandoned' - this resort will never be teaming with people and its less crowded that the other resorts on Gaya. As some of the villas are fully equipped, I think some guests don't really venture far. You also get far less day trippers. The main annoyance, was actually other guests (sorry to say), more specifically their kids - particularly around the pool. The staff are genuine, sweet, helpful and friendly. On the negative side - food is really expensive and there is no snack shop or boutique, so if you want anything you need to pay a lot or pay to go to KK. I'm also not sure it's worth the money for a plunge pool villa, unless you're on a romantic holiday or honeymoon...I really feel some of the VERY bad reviews are highly undeserved and potentially a result of bad luck, unrealistic expectations and/or one off bad experiences. I'm sure they're very genuine, but don't let that put you off. The overwhelming majority of positive reviews seem more accurate.

  • Stayed: July 2013
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2  Thank ChrisL75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 10, 2013

We paid about $50 aus to get a day trip to the island resort. Left jesselton at 10:30am and stayed on the island until 4pm.
We got to use the resorts snorkelling equipment (and kayaks if you want). The snorkelling was not so good compared to what we had seen before but so much less crowded than the other islands you can visit be yourself.
3 course lunch was included, and the food was ok, not amazing. Snow fungus dessert was interesting to say the least...
Got to sit by the sea and enjoy the pristine surroundings for the day at a much reduced rate.
Lovely. (drinks are somewhat expensive...)

Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
Thank Halz84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 9, 2013

The Bunga Raya was the first stop on our honeymoon and we had a lovely, relaxing few days there. Our beachfront villa was beautiful, complete with plunge pool, double sunbed, hammock and a 30 second stroll to the sea. We visited in low-seasons so there wasn't much atmosphere (about 10 of the 50 villas were occupied) and we often found ourselves dining alone at night which was a bit strange. We probably saw more wildlife than people (warty pigs, oriental pied hornbills, geckos and grey macaques), which was fine by us! The staff were very attentive and helpful, and I'd particuarly recommend the free canopy walk. It's short but interesting and the guides are very knowledgable. The only drawback really was the food, which I'd say is more 3 star than 5 star. The Malaysian meals were quite good but the rest was fairly basic although having read other reviews, we weren't too surprised about this as it's been mentioned before. Overall, a lovely, relaxaing few days and unless you're a massive foodie, I'm sure you'll love it here.

Room Tip: Definitely opt for a beachfront villa!
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  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank p0psicleh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 8, 2013

What a fantastic vacation location. The grounds are immaculate, covered with hibuscis of every kind in the world, some extremely rare. Your service begins at the pier where they take you for a short boat ride over to the resort. Once at the resort, service really begins to shine. Everyone you meet is so friendly and will do anything for you anytime. They remember your name and will speak to you daily. In particular, Isa, Hedron, Erny, Easter, Brian, Kasim and Shah went above and beyond, making our stay spectacular. You are made to feel at home while visiting.
Our room was beautiful with a huge balcony overlooking the sea. Since you are in the jungle, you have some mosquitos, but they provide repellant, as well as coils. We ran into the wild pigs and monkeys, but they were completely harmless and the staff does their best to keep them at bay. The infinity pool is kept in pristine condition, with poolside food and beverage service. Snorkeling is excellent right out in front of the hotel. Stingray, turtles, and every type of fish you could imagine. You could easily stay out there for hours. The water is completely clear.
They offer a shuttle boat back to the mainland several times a day, as well as over to the sister Gayana Eco Lodge.
We had breakfast at the Gayana Ecolodge one morning and found it to be delicious, with a better selection than BR. However, we had no complaints about the food at BR. The best reason to go to Gayana is the MERC. What a great educational facility. Fascinating and important work being done regarding the giant clam. We also went to the giant grouper feeding, which is not to be missed. One can't imagine the enormity of these fish until you are up close with them! We heard dinner is fantastic at their restaurant, but we simply ran out of time to go back over.
We only had one complaint and that was the price of the drinks. Absolutely ridiculous considering what they charge to stay here. I highly recommend going over to KK and purchasing any type of drink you may want and bringing it with you. They also don't sell cigarettes, so make sure to bring some if you happen to smoke.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank txcornbread
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

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: $215 - $435 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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