Well where does one begin … from the moment you step onto the long jetty dotted with its beautiful displays of bougainvillea and quiet shady huts above the water, you have this feeling that you've come to a very special place.
Before we were shown to our room, we were given a tour in one of the resort's many golf buggies, and everyone we met on the way were so smiley and friendly. Our room was traditional Malay style, positioned high on a hilltop with a lovely large balcony where you could sit and take in the stunning view of the bay whilst listening to all the wonderful sounds of the jungle surrounding you. No need for an alarm clock here, we relied on the monkeys who would play mischievously with the ashtray on our balcony table first thing in the morning! Yes, you are on the edge of a 3,000 year old rainforest, and if you love wildlife you will be in your element. An early morning jungle canopy walk with Chris is a must, he is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about everything that lives and breathes on this island, including the very many different hibiscus grown here.
There are two restaurants - The Longhouse where one can enjoy either a traditional or continental style breakfast and in the evenings sample more traditional Malay fayre, and the Pantai Grill, which is set close to the beach offering a more European style menu including fantastic steaks or freshly caught fish. Food portions at both restaurants are extremely generous, and the food is really delicious.
Bunga Raya certainly has the best beach on the island, and you can snorkel off the jetty, or take a complimentary kayak into the clear waters of the bay. We spent most of our days lazing around the infinity swimming pool, which for the amount of time we spent there was very quiet and relaxing, and if you want to retreat from the sun there are a few little raised shady huts.
If you crave for a change of scenery, there is a scheduled boat (free of charge) between Bunga Raya and Kota Kinabalu, or its sister resort, Gayana Eco Resort. The good thing here is that you can mix and match the restaurants between the two resorts, but unfortunately we didn't have the time to sample the fresh fish restaurant, Alu Alu, but we'll save that for another trip. At the Gayana Eco Resort you will find the Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC). At MERC you can watch a 10-15 minute video in the coolness of their cinema room which shows all the commendable work they are doing to save the reef and giant clams. Unfortunately what this video does highlight is that there is still dynamite fishing going on in the surrounding waters, so it is a massively challenging task they have in hand!
Anyway enough, as Bunga Raya's secret is my secret, some of which I have just reluctantly shared with you, and if you're fortunate enough to visit I can guarantee that you will leave with a beaming smile on your face and a heavy heart filled with the warmth and kindness that the staff of Bunga Raya shower upon you. Thank you to Tomas (General Manager) and all the lovely staff who made our first trip to Borneo an unforgettable one, and we can't wait to come back.
- 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