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“Beautiful hotel but...”

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Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Certificate of Excellence
SG
Level 5 Contributor
65 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 41 helpful votes
“Beautiful hotel but...”
Reviewed June 16, 2014

First off, let me say that this is certainly a beautiful hotel, with great staff who are always friendly and professional. The island setting, the beach and the way the hotel is planned to blend into the environment works very well to make this an idyllic place.

Unfortunately, there were some hiccups from the booking which did not start us off well; we had originally booked a two bedroom villa as a party of two adults and three children as it was a family holiday. Subsequently we had an additional adult join the party, and we asked for an additional bed to be added. At first, we were told that there was insufficient space to add more than one roll away bed; however, when we said that it was fine, we only needed one extra bed as the kids were used to sleeping on one bed anyway, we were then told that resort policy did not allow more than 5 people in the room. As a result, we had to make a last minute booking (literally the evening before we flew in) for an additional room. When we arrived at the resort and saw the two bedroom villas, we realised the room had more than sufficient space for 3 adults and 3 children, which was very dissappointing, considering how much the 2 bedroom villa already cost, which was honestly exorbitant, relative to other resorts in this part of the world. They were however able to arrange for the extra room to be right next to the two bedroom villa, which helped, but it would have been more of a family holiday to have had everyone in the same villa.

Other than that one incident, the rest of the holiday passed well, and the kids enjoyed themselves doing the nature walk, the snorkelling and the visit to the Marine Ecology Research Centre. The staff were very friendly and knowledgable, and were always happy to oblige the kids requests to have a front row seat in the buggies.

  • Stayed June 2014, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Relakjack
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, June 22, 2014
Dear Relakjack,

Thank you so much for your contribution on TripAdvisor. We are very pleased you enjoyed your stay at Bunga Raya .In response to your initial booking request I can share that we must set some rules for our guest to follow when it comes to how many we allow to sleep in each room. Failing to adhere to this will not be looked at favourably by the authorities should an incident happen and your safety is our number one priority. I hope you do understand.
Please don't hesitate to contact me personally should you wish to discuss further.
We hope to see you back in Bunga Raya in the not too distant future.

Thanks

Tomas K Andersen
General Manager, Resorts
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Bury St. Edmunds, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
37 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed June 11, 2014

We spent a couple of nights here to finish off our tour of Borneo and it was very peaceful. The staff are all lovely, especially the lady who showed us to our room. The rooms are beautiful, and we spent a very relaxing few hours walking around the property. The beach is beautiful. The food was only OK, it was fine for a night or two. Make sure you get the guided tour that includes a trip up to the suspension bridge!

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank lianne26
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Evesham, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
41 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed June 10, 2014

When booking we were trying to decide between here and another resort on the island and I am so glad we chose Bunga Raya. The staff were friendly, service excellent, the infinity pool area was stunning and we just generally liked the feel of the resort.

We arrived just on the cusp of wet to dry season and we were told we were lucky to have arrived on such a perfect sunny afternoon. We walked along the jetty to reception taking in the beautiful surroundings of the sea, beach and the stunning jungle behind the resort and we just instantly felt relaxed.

We were booked into a Superior Room but we were lucky enough to be upgraded to a Deluxe. This was much appreciated and we loved our room. We had an amazing view of the beach and ocean and a quirky living room which was separate to the main sleeping area.

Yes the beach did have a little rubbish and I do mean a little but not masses like some reviews make out on here. In addition they make an excellent effort to try and keep the beach clean and I didn’t have a problem with it. The colour of the sand is lovely and I think depending on what time of year you travel, the sea is clear. We were lucky that the sea was fairly clear for our stay. See the pictures I have attached, does this look like a horrible beach? No!!!!

The food was good and I especially loved the king prawn rice for breakfast. In fact I was slightly annoyed that I didn’t try it until our last morning and so I couldn’t have it again!!

On one of the days I didn’t feel 100% and one of the staff went away and made me a drink that he said would help settle my tummy and told me there was no charge. I thought this was lovely of him.

You should give the complimentary nature walk a go. It doesn’t last long, maybe half an hour but it is worth it. I remember seeing a chameleon, a snake (green tree viper I think), different types of birds and got a little sneaky peak at the Royal Villa too! You may see wild boar (at night), monkeys and water monitors around the resort too.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Bunga Raya and I urge you not to be put off by negative reviews on here. Yes I think at some times of the year perhaps the rubbish on the beach is more of an issue than other times and the sea may not be as clear at certain times of the year but it wasn’t a problem when we were there so I have based this on my personal experience of what Bunga Raya was like when I stayed there. In addition if you want to stay on Gaya Island, I would say this is the best resort on the Island.

  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
4 Thank Lisa-summer-baby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Stroud, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed June 7, 2014

Stunning resort and surroundings, the most courteous and respectful staff you could wish to encounter. Well maintained beach and grounds, even jungle wildlife pops up to say hello in the form of Hornbill's, wild boar and monitor lizards, all when it suits them of course and not in any way threatening. Exquisite food and plenty of choice. After one and a half weeks of site seeing, jungle trecking, river travel, cultural intrigue and internal flights, Bunga Raya is the perfect place to relax before the onslaught of the homeward journey and the thought of returning to daily routines. Down sides.........there aren't any!

Room Tip: Our room was up the hill. Fairly steep but well worth the view. we enjoyed ambling to and from the r...
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  • Stayed May 2014, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
2 Thank Si E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
England
Level 2 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed May 28, 2014

The staff at the bunga raya were excellent, very friendly, happy to help and full of knowledge about their country and culture. For those that haven't been to Borneo this is a great place to recoup after a long flight before you see what else the island has to offer. The only negative thing I have to say is that I did think the bunga raya was expensive in comparison to prices throughout Borneo.

  • Stayed May 2014
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Nutty29
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kingussie, United Kingdom
Level 2 Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed May 22, 2014

We landed here after about 17hrs travel. It was dark (and hot) and we couldn't see much. We were led to our villa which was high up in the trees and thought we were a long way from the main bit. Come morning, being awoken by the sounds of the jungle we realised we were in the best place.

This resort is beautiful. Yes, the first morning there was rubbish on the beach brought in by the onshore breeze, but at 10am the tractor went along the beach to collect it all and when required throughout the day the staff would be seen also collecting rubbish. It is not the fault of the resort that the breeze is the wrong way and they do all they can to keep in clear.

The Pantai grill was a little disappointing but I may have just ordered the wrong thing. The Longhouse food was exquisite. The bar is busy at happy hour but the staff keep their cool and keep smiling.

Room Tip: The rooms are air-conditioned but it is so hot that it does struggle at times. Get the sunbeds on t...
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  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Debie_James
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, May 25, 2014
Dear Debie_James,

Congratulations on your marriage, we are so happy you enjoyed your stay with us and left with lifelong memories. Please don't forget to visit us again should your travels bring you back to Sabah.

Best regards

Tomas
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed May 20, 2014

We had a hectic two week honeymoon in Borneo, trying to fit in as much as we could. We decided to keep Bunga Raya to the end of the trip so we could have five days to unwind and enjoy the sand, sun and sea.

We took the honeymoon package which was by far the most expensive part of the trip, but my husband and I both agree it was worth it. Included in the package were five nights accomodation in one of the two treetop villas (we opted for the outdoor hot-tub villa), four spa treatments, two private honeymoon dinners, a nature canopy walk and a visit to the MERC eco centre on the sister resort Gayana.

I'll start with the only negative of the whole trip so that you can see how the positives outweigh. As I mentioned, we opted for the hot-tub treehouse villa. This was one of the furthest villas from the facilites on Bunga Raya and included a walk up some very steep hills. We could have asked for a golf buggy to take us everywhere but as Brits,unless we saw someone in a buggy we wouldn't ask as we don't like to be a bother.

This would all be fine if when we got back to our villa our hot tub was waiting, but as we found out on night one it takes over an hour to fill and the water is definitely on the colder side of tepid, the hot water seemed to run out in 5 minutes for the tub. This marred our first night where we had a room beautfully decorated with rose petals, a goregous bouquet of roses and towels in the shape of hearts and swans, we had sparkling wine in our room, so we planned to hop in the tub and watch the waves lap the shope from our treetop, but we spent less than 5 minutes in a cold, quarter-filled tub before it got too uncomfotable to sit in.

Anyway, like I said that's the only negative.

From the second we arrived we were taken such good care of. We were taken by golf buggy on a quick tour of the island by our host Kate, she was so friendly and took great care of us the whole week. She took us to our room and our luggage soon followed - I really felt for the team that had to carry my bag up the 100 stairs up to our treehouse.

We had our itnerary set for the week on arrival so we didn't have to think about anything at all, just follow the plan. So we sat by the pool, tried the free watersports, snorkeled by the jetty*, and just had the most relaxing week that we so needed after the whole run-up to our wedding.

*One piece of advice, stick to where they tell you to snorkel. My husband decided to swim on the right hand side of the jetty which was so sandy you couldn't see a thing and we got stung from head to toe by something the whole swim in to shore, it felt like something from the hunger games! We were told by one member of staff they were sea bugs (?!) and another they would have been little jellies with stingers long and thin like hairs so we would never have seen them - who knows. As soon as we were out of the water and we showered we couldn't feel a thing so nothing to worry about, but just a not an experience I'd recommend.

The food on Bunga Raya was wonderful. Most nights we went to the Pantai Grill where we had a laid back dinner by the beach. We can recommend the Ostrich burger, but it all looked amaxing and so fresh. One night we watched a fantastic electrical storm roll in over the sea whilst we ate, and signed for our food just in time for the rain, a lovely experience.

Our one night in the Longhouse/Koi restaurant I had THE most delicious malaysian curry. I'd been on the hunt the whole of our honeymoon for some real Malay food, which I know is a mixture of Asian cuisine but I was always disappointed when the food on offer around Borneo was Thai and chinese food mainly, or Indian curry houses (felt very Western at times). But my search was over and it was worth the wait! We also left the restaurant with a little gift of a bag of spices that they use in the curry which smell delicious and are a nice reminder now they are back in our UK kitchen.

The other nights were our set honeymoon dinners. We arrived by boat at Alu Alu, where we found our beautifully decorated table in prime position so we could watch the fish in the water whilst we ate our seven course fish meal which was presented to us on our own printed menu with our names on it, such a lovely touch and we've kept as a souvenir.

Some of the food was to our liking, some not, but it's the beauty of trying new things. What we couldn't eat (so much food) amazingly our waiter showed us what cannibals the fish are as he tossed our uneaten fish into the water - apparently chilli/garlic doesn't bother them. We were so well looked after, the staff were so friendly and they even arranged for our boat back to Bunga Raya to wait for us as we were a bit delayed by the courses.

The second planned meal was on our last night. Again it was a meal with lots of courses and so many things to try. It was in the Koi resturant but on a private table at the end of a jetty on the beach. It was so romantic. The wine from the wine cellar was lovely, so much choice. The food was lovely and the evening was rounded off by being serenaded at our table (we'd seen the same singers at Alu-Alu the night before). They picked two songs that mean the world to us, so it was a really special moment.

The four spa treatments we had at the Solace spa were a bamboo massage, a signature massage, foot reflexology, and a facial, which we had together in a couples treatment room on four different days, a lovely way to break up the day and have a break from the 30 degree heat. The spa staff were so lovely, we had the same therapists every day which was great.

We then had our trip to Gayana. This was a slightly disappointing day for us. For an eco resort we were shocked by the amount of litter and dead fish surrounding the swim-up chalets. I understand that it's the tides from the mainland that bring the litter so it's not the fault of the resort but still very sad to see.

Also there just seemed to be no-one around at all, we assumed based on the resort that they were diving. Bunga Raya had such a great atmosphere with enough people to feel busy but quiet enough that you could always find a peaceful spot and have your own space together. In Gayana, after our tour of the MERC eco resort, we were literally the only people wandering around until the next boat came.

The MERC tour was interesting and we adopted our own coral which will be re-planted to help conserve the coral around Borneo, and great to see the work they are doing to protect the giant clams, some of which we saw when snorkelling around Gaya and Selingan.

One of our final things was a nature walk. Our guide was so knowledgeable and had an eagle eye. We walked all around the resort and he showed us all the varieties of hibiscus flower (Bunga Raya is the Malay name for hibiscus) and all the other plants and flowers on the island. I'd noticed how many beautiful flowers there were on the island, but this made me really take them in. He somehow on the trip managed to find a chamaeleon on a tree that we would never have spotted, a baby snake, lots of lizards it was so great. We walked along the canopy high up on the resort where you can see down to the beach, it was a sweaty, steep walk, but so worth it.

The wildlife really made the trip, especially for my husband who is a big kid at heart. During our first spa trip we heard grunts below our treatment room and walked out to see two of the wild boar just roaming around the trees.

We then walked back to our villa where we spotted a macaque monkey in the bushes. We stopped and watched him for a while until he started coming closer so we retreated to our room so as not to startle him. Then another came up through the trees, then another, then another. Before we knew it we had dozens of macaque monkeys on and around our villa, including a number of babies. It was so fabulous to see them so close, as we'd previously seen them at Sepilok on the feeding platform at a distance.

We were told when we arrived that the monkeys liked our outdoor bathroom, and they were right. We had about five monkeys walking around the top of the 'walls' and didnt take to kindly to us looking at them through the window. We let them be and they wandered back into the wilderness, but such a treat to get such a view of these cheeky little monkeys that wander the island.

These five days were all that we wanted from our honeymoon and more, it was luxury, but laid back luxury which is perfect for us.

I'd go back in a heartbeat but in hindsight I'd go for one of the plunge pool villas on the beach. Less of a walk and at least you know it's going to be cold!

Thank you to all the staff who really made the trip special.

Room Tip: As per above. We loved the novelty of the treehouse, but as the hot tub didn't work that well we...
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  • Stayed April 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Mrshesstobe
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, May 25, 2014
Dear Mrshesstobe,

Firstly a big congratulations on your wedding, we wish you a long and happy life together.
Secondly, thank you so much for sharing, in detail, your stay with us. It makes me proud that the team responded well to all your queries.
Rest assure a plunge pool villa is awaiting you on your return.

Best regards

Tomas
Report response as inappropriate
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 & 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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