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“Amazing Experience”
Review of Gaya Island Resort

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Gaya Island Resort
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Certificate of Excellence
Royal Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Amazing Experience”
Reviewed October 5, 2012

We have just returned from our holiday in Borneo, whilst there we stayed at the Gaya Island Resort (YTL Hotels) The Hotel deserves a seven star rating as the staff & manager could not do enough for us during our stay, the staff were so helpfull & attentative & the food was just like dinning in a top world resturant. The setting is directly on the beach with all the facilities that you would expect & the villas were very clean, large & with everything that you would require. We would highly recommend this hotel visiting the area of Borneo.

Room Tip: Any of the villas, as they are all very good for veiws
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank merryhill186315
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
James_YTL, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, January 6, 2016
Thank you very much for your review of Gaya Island Resort, we are all glad that you enjoyed your stay with us, and I hope we will have the pleasure of welcoming you back to our resort soon,

Kind regards,

James
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
London, United Kingdom
1 review
Reviewed October 4, 2012

first thing to mention is the staff, who are all great and appear to have a genuine desire to help. Its clear some are new to the job but all are pleasant, polite and will go out of their way to assist. Combined with the obvious experience and good nature of team members like (apologies for any misspellings) Keong, Joshua and Joy, the service is very good.

Secondly, the food is fantastic in both restaurants, but smugglers cove is a cut above - I've never had prawns so big in my life (bigger than my girlfriend's hand)! And cooked beautifully as well. Ate there twice and both times were excellent - although the wine is fairly pricey for what you get. Nevertheless, the entire restaurant team has been assembled really well.

Karoline also deserves recognition - the Norwegian with an Irish accent, prone to breaking her toe apparently, but incredibly helpful and friendly.

Its a nice place to visit currently, just a little scruffy and in need of a tidy up (some of the comments people have left regarding the ponds should be noted as they are not good!). The room we stayed in could also do with some attention, but nothing major - this will no doubt happen with the completion of the remaining building work/snagging.

The cost of the boat transfer is ridiculous, especially when the boat does not look in such great shape. When there is a large number of guests to transfer, they use a much nicer boat, but still, at MR 140 return per person (around £30) for a 10 minute boat ride to the marina, its a little steep to say the least!

The view from the resort is a little ruined by the tankers in the bay (although looking across toward the neighbouring resort, the view is pretty awesome), and there is an awful lot of rubbish floating around in the sea which is disappointing. Additionally, the beach is currently not great but I assume this has something to do with the building/maintenance work thats ongoing (its not loud, doesnt smell and doesnt impact on your stay very much at all).

overall it was a nice stay, with fantastic food and great service.

If the resort is tidied up properly it will be a lovely place to visit (unless you want uninterrupted views of the ocean & rain forest and crystal clear waters to dive/snorkel) as its well laid out and beautifully designed.

Room Tip: the higher up your room, the nicer the view.
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Daniel B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
James_YTL, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, January 6, 2016
Thank you for your feedback on your stay at Gaya Island. I can see from your review that your stay was far from your expectations and apologize for the various shortcomings and inconveniences which you experienced.

These are far from common occurrences and certainly not representative of our usual high standard of service, facilities and upkeep of the property.

Rest assured I have been through your feedback with our team and analyzed where opportunities for improvement lie, how we best achieve that task and will be acting swiftly to see it through

I understand your disappointment but sincerely hope we will have the opportunity to welcome you for a return stay in the future to rebuild your confidence in our brand and resort.

Warm regards,
James
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed October 3, 2012

We went for a 3 day, 4 night holiday in September and arrived a more of a building site than a island resort. We were expecting some constructions and finishing activities because of previous reviewer's comments, but we were not prepared for the condition when we arrived. Our room was dark and difficult to navigate (the light switches are buried and difficult to find / access) and the built-in outdoor seating is of no use as it faces away from the sea and back into the room. The main restaurant is fine for breakfast, but a bit like a cafeteria / canteen for dinner - perhaps good for families, but very little ambience. The roof-top seafood restaurant has great ambience. Expect 5 star prices for 3-4 star food as other reviewers mentioned. Many of the amenities were not available during our trip with the staff simply apologizing. There is a daily happy hour, but we learned this by chance when we tried to rectify our bill that only charged us for one drink. All in all, there were just too many "little things" that prevented us from having a truly relaxing holiday. We won't be going back...our suggestion is to keep looking. This resort has a lot of work to do before they can provide a 5-star experience to guests.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Brianne F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
James_YTL, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, January 6, 2016
Thank you for your feedback on your stay at Gaya Island. I can see from your review that your stay was far from your expectations and apologize for the various shortcomings and inconveniences which you experienced.

These are far from common occurrences and certainly not representative of our usual high standard of service, facilities and upkeep of the property.

Rest assured I have been through your feedback with our team and analyzed where opportunities for improvement lie, how we best achieve that task and will be acting swiftly to see it through

I understand your disappointment but sincerely hope we will have the opportunity to welcome you for a return stay in the future to rebuild your confidence in our brand and resort.

Warm regards,
James
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
guildford
Level Contributor
14 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed September 30, 2012

Ytl,should be proud of this resort,the staff were fantastic, so friendly. The restaurants,the service was really good,if it was not on the menu,they would see if they had it, & cooked it just for you,quite expensive for food & drinks,but well worth it. The rooms were on a hill side on the edge of the jungle.it was the best rooms we have ever stayed in,so big & we both had our own basins,the bath was enormous,shower was large, walk in wardrobe, the bed was so comfortable,the resort is getting there,they are planting all the time,saw snakes & monitor lizards by ponds, jungle walk with Justin was really good, saw green pit viper & lots more. Justin is such a great guide & so helpful. Overall I would go back tomorrow. We are missing it already

Room Tip: One lower down the hill,still some building work going on near spa
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank needabreakGuildford
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
James_YTL, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, January 6, 2016
Thank you for your feedback on your stay at Gaya Island. I can see from your review that your stay was far from your expectations and apologize for the various shortcomings and inconveniences which you experienced.

These are far from common occurrences and certainly not representative of our usual high standard of service, facilities and upkeep of the property.

Rest assured I have been through your feedback with our team and analyzed where opportunities for improvement lie, how we best achieve that task and will be acting swiftly to see it through

I understand your disappointment but sincerely hope we will have the opportunity to welcome you for a return stay in the future to rebuild your confidence in our brand and resort.

Warm regards,
James
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed September 29, 2012

THE GOOD

YTL has indeed lived up to its promise of excellent customer service. The recruitment team and process is to be commended. Excellent customer service in particular Bowie who goes all out for customers ensuring that all our needs are attended to and being extra nice to waive corkage charges for us over our anniversary dinner. Mixology Edwin by the pool bar had great techniques and very entertaining. We loved having conversations with him about his passion for his job. Spa therapist Noney she was the best. I had her on the first day and booked her for my subsequent visit. She has the right pressure, knows her technique very well, and the most loveliest smile. Michel our handcraft guru was very patient with us in teaching us to make mengkuang leaf bookmarks. Gosh it was hard and complicated but we made it through with Michel's patience and tolerance! It was also very kind of her to show us how to bead. I made an anklet whilst my husband an incomplete bracelet. Later to find out that Michel finished for us and left it with her colleague for me. Thanks for that! Justin the Naturalist was very knowledgable about the forest and the ecosystem within it. Our walkabout was very enjoyable. He never failed to greet us and speak to us when we bumped into him. U Keong was in the FnB department, a member of the special task force, sent to expedite the development of Gaya and assist in getting operations to expectations. He recognised us from JW Marriot Kuala Lumpur - Shanghai Restaurant, and we immediately connected. A very informative, friendly, helpful and accommodating person. We can tell he has a passion for his job as well and very eager to learn. Great traits to have in an employee. He would be at the top of my list to recruit if I had a restaurant to run. Kirin the Resident Manager also made our stay a pleasurable one as well. We had recognized him from Cameron Highland Resort before. He was genuinely concerned of our "complains" and even helped to carry our luggage on our way out (we couldn't get a porter as the resort mobiles were not working). He had it sent to us to the reception whilst we were checking out. This is what I call leading by example!

Little treats like calamansi sorbet at the marina lounge whilst checking in, refreshing welcome drinks and iced Popsicles served at the pool in the hot afternoon, were nice touches!

Not to mention a bouquet of red roses handed to me at the reception in celebration of my husband and my anniversary. First night turn down service surprised us when we returned to our room, a pair of handcrafted beaded key chains was waiting on our bed.

THE BAD

The rest of the experience unfortunately I cannot say the same.

Imagine being in the centre of a construction site with fresh cement and dirt now take a deep breath. That's the scent of GIR when we arrived and walked into the lobby lounge. Later to realize that the entire resort smelt the same. What a shame.

There are many workers still loitering around and in the resort completing works, a bunch of them even spotted inside a villa, losing the experience of exclusivity and privacy. Sounds of drilling in the afternoon spent in the library was not at all pleasing to the ears.

Wifi - yes? No! YTL's very own 4G YES has not yet reached the island of Gaya. Wifi on another network is complimentary in the library which is open 24 hours but chargeable in the room at rm50 per day.

There are no fixed lines or intercom. The resort uses Samsung Galaxy mobiles connected over wifi. Idea is great but execution wise... Epic fail. We simply could not get any stable connection throughout. When you do get connection you can't even finish the conversation on the phone before the reception is lost again. The battery runs out pretty quickly so you practically need to charge the phone at all times. But then again we hardly use it due to poor connectivity. This is get very frustrating.

The difference between YTL and the other 5 star resorts are the finishing touches and details they care about that sets them apart from the rest. Gaya has no finishing touches. There were cement patches almost everywhere, mosaic tiles in the pool looked like they were left there for 5 years without cleaning, switches in our room were not fitted nicely in its case, spot light above our bed were flickering all night even after switching it off - was a bit freaky. The toilet malfunctioned with overflowing water after flushing one morning. The water pressure in the shower not high enough. The room just didn't give you a sense that it was a YTL resort. Rather disappointing really.

Landscaping... Don't even know where to start. Guess they got it right only at the reception area. The rest around and within the resort is still work in progress.. My amateur landscape at home looked better. I don't think it had been executed they way it had been conceptualised. It is no way near the landscaping that impressed us in Tanjung Jara Resort.

Lastly, do check our bill upon checkout as they made some mistakes on ours. It's always a good habit to check our bill before you pay!


DINING EXPERIENCE

Feast Village is where the guests have most of their meals. Unless if you happen to be at the pool area during lunch then you can opt to dine at the pool bar. Fisherman's Cove is only open for dinner, fine dining. Breakfast was served in buffet style. Poached eggs and soft boiled eggs are about technique and its understandable for hotels/resorts below 5 star to not even know what they are. But there's no excuse for a resort like YTL with established chains and chains of world recognized and award winning restaurants to not deliver. Both styles I ordered were overcooked, the yolk cooked through and any reputable chef with respect for their profession would not have served those eggs.

Lunch at Feast Village was disappointing. Fried rice was recommended by the waiter but was tad too dry for my liking. Dessert - blueberry cheese cake taken out from the fridge, plate was damp from condensation and least they could do was to replace the withered mint leaf used to garnish the cake. An indication that the pre-plated dessert had been left in the fridge for some time. Overall Feast Village is nothing to shout about during lunch.

However, there was a turn of events over dinner. Angus ribeye was cooked to perfection with complimenting sauces by the side. The local lobster which I ordered had a bouncy texture cooked just right unfortunately the tepanyaki sauce overpowered the freshness and taste of the lobster. The chef was able to accommodate my request to grill the lobster the next night with just some seasoning and serve as is. This was just perfect. The lobster was fresh and cooked through. Simply delicious. The tiger prawns was also grilled to perfection. Exactly the taste and texture I had imagined.

In summary the resort opened way too early before its even ready to be patronized for world class experience.

Room Tip: We stayed in Bayu Villa, quite a bit of walk to the Feast Village and activities but after a while y...
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  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank jennykoay
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
James_YTL, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, January 6, 2016
Thank you for your feedback on your stay at Gaya Island. I can see from your review that your stay was far from your expectations and apologize for the various shortcomings and inconveniences which you experienced.

These are far from common occurrences and certainly not representative of our usual high standard of service, facilities and upkeep of the property.

Rest assured I have been through your feedback with our team and analyzed where opportunities for improvement lie, how we best achieve that task and will be acting swiftly to see it through

I understand your disappointment but sincerely hope we will have the opportunity to welcome you for a return stay in the future to rebuild your confidence in our brand and resort.

Warm regards,
James
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
10 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed September 28, 2012

We have just returned from 9 nights at Gaya.

Positives- some really strong staff who understand the quality of service to be considered a luxury resort (Joy in fishermans cove and Ling), the snorkelling was good, villa is spacious and quiet, setting is serene.
Negatives- the resort is not finished and a highlight was watching a toilet being carried down the beach at lunchtime (not so romantic!), walk to room was along a concrete path passing the staff entrance to the restaurant and was a 10 minute hike, rooms are not sealed and we used a towel to wedge the bathroom window to try and minimise the mosquito bites, housekeeping burst in twice while I was undressed despite do not disturb being on and our sense was the staff want to do their tasks regardless of guests needs ( aside from exceptions above this bunch should spend some time at chedi club ubud where we experienced real leading hotel of the work service earlier this year). Expensive food was good quality but the main restaurant is a London city staff canteen nothing"distinctly Borneo" about it and so loud due to open plan that we couldn't hear each other across the idea style furniture.

It is a good quality basic 5 star but holding itself out to be luxury feels ambitious at the moment but could be attained once the work is finished and the staff are trained. The spa is excellent as was food in fishermans cove along with the service there. No room service was a shock though. An immediate help would be to burn the constantly playing depressing cd in the bar and find out where the manager is because we didn't see him/her although Ling and others made a great effort.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank natalieedwards6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
James_YTL, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, January 6, 2016
Thank you for your feedback on your stay at Gaya Island. I can see from your review that your stay was far from your expectations and apologize for the various shortcomings and inconveniences which you experienced.

These are far from common occurrences and certainly not representative of our usual high standard of service, facilities and upkeep of the property.

Rest assured I have been through your feedback with our team and analyzed where opportunities for improvement lie, how we best achieve that task and will be acting swiftly to see it through

I understand your disappointment but sincerely hope we will have the opportunity to welcome you for a return stay in the future to rebuild your confidence in our brand and resort.

Warm regards,
James
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed September 26, 2012

Having returned from a Honeymoon which included a stay at the Gaya resort, our message would be this: if you have already booked, you will have good time--we did, don't worry; but if you haven't booked, wait until you are satisfied this resort is pumping on all cylinders and has sorted out the problems.

On the up-side we had probably the best massage in the delightful (if unfinished) spa village that we have ever had, at any hotel or spa anywhere in the world (indigenous massage for 2). There is a good beach with some decent snorkelling and the staff are extremely friendly and accommodating. There was a fantastic brother-sister band playing in the bar one evening.

The biggest problem with the resort is that access to the apartments is along the service road. It is far too far for most apartments, and--although less important--impossible to do in high heels for dinner at the Fisherman's Cove, we discovered. It does not help that the road is currently unfinished concrete. Access to the apartments higher up the hill (unfinished) will be even worse. To even compete with the best Malaysian beach options (e.g. Lankayan Island) there has to be access to apartments from the beach.

Other problems are more easily fixed: - beach is far from pristine and is raked only in the central part; the surrounding parts need a thorough clean; - tiles, walls and surfaces have been hurriedly finished throughout, showing paint and plaster marks all over the place; - windows in the apartments are not always clean; - drinks orders should be taken from the pool area (water was served, a nice touch); - all cups and glasses in the main bar were plastic, I mean, what ?!; - need to improve internet access (the free service is hopeless, so you have to pay, should be included); - the so-called 'library' had 36 books and a copy of auto trader (all apparently left by guests in their rooms). For a 'luxury resort' charging full price these problems should not be present.

In short, we agree with many of the reviews, although more than one appears to be a stooge--one hilariously so!--given that they are charging full price for the resort we couldn't give it more than 3 stars ...

Room Tip: Close as possible to the main building
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Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
Helpful?
2 Thank LondonFrequentFlyers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
James_YTL, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, January 6, 2016
Thank you for your feedback on your stay at Gaya Island. I can see from your review that your stay was far from your expectations and apologize for the various shortcomings and inconveniences which you experienced.

These are far from common occurrences and certainly not representative of our usual high standard of service, facilities and upkeep of the property.

Rest assured I have been through your feedback with our team and analyzed where opportunities for improvement lie, how we best achieve that task and will be acting swiftly to see it through

I understand your disappointment but sincerely hope we will have the opportunity to welcome you for a return stay in the future to rebuild your confidence in our brand and resort.

Warm regards,
James
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 Gaya Island Resort

Property: Gaya Island Resort
Address: Malohom Bay, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park | Malohom Bay, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Pulau Gaya 88000, Malaysia
Phone Number:
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > West Coast Division > Kota Kinabalu District > Pulau Gaya
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — Gaya Island Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 121
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Gaya Island Resort is located on Pulau Gaya, the largest of a cluster of five islands that form the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, a natural conservation area off the coast of Borneo, close to Kota Kinabalu. Gaya Island Resort has a unique setting: the land is fringed with a golden sandy beach, rocky coastal outcrops, and surrounded by coral reefs. The hilly island landscape is covered with lush tropical rainforest and an abundance of flora and fauna. And to complete this perfect setting, visible in the distance, is the stunning outline of Mount Kinabalu. The guest villa exterior respects Sabahan architecture uses local materials and blends harmoniously with the natural environment. The interior living space is designed with contemporary elegance to create warmth, comfort and a serene indoor setting. Gaya Island Resort is committed to ecologically sustainable practices to minimise the carbon footprint within its environment. Therefore the resort is a walking resort and only minimal motorised vehicles are used for operational purposes. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Gaya Island Resort Malaysia/Pulau Gaya

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