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“Great holiday - Good rooms. Better food.”
4 of 5 bubbles Review of Gaya Island Resort

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Gaya Island Resort
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Certificate of Excellence
Level Contributor
6 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Great holiday - Good rooms. Better food.”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 14, 2012

My colleagues & I were at this resort for a 3D/2N company holiday mid-October 2012. Rooms have contemporary designs, quite like many other resorts out there nowadays. Gardens need some more time to grow, has much potential. My favorite place are the library & "cave retreats".

Activities: (1) Hike up the hill. we went on a hike the first afternoon we were there. Bring good shoes. It can get very muddy if it rains. Lots of tropical plants. Guide Justin grew up in tropical forests, knows a lot of it. (2) snorkeling on the first morning. Loved it! Resident Marine Biologist Scott & his team made it fun. So much fun, I had to do it again the next morning before we left the island, (3) paddle surf. Tried my hand at it for the first time. Very calm waters at this lagoon makes it very easy. (4) massage at the spa. A holistic experience. From the greeting to the time we left.

Food: (1) buffet Breakfast. Food from around the world = many choices, (2) Bajau BBQ seafood. Chef Dollis was on-hand to cook our food for us at the beach while lovely waitress dressed in Bajau costume served us. Fish was so good, so fresh. Had lots of variety, we were absolutely stuffed! (3) sunset cruise & dinner on the yacht. The steak I had was so good, it's now my profile picture on Facebook!

Service: everyone, from managers to gardeners, were extremely polite & did their best to make our stay wonderful. Contractors were still fine-tuning the finishings in some parts of the resort. Had some dust & noise.

Stayed October 2012, traveled with friends
Helpful?
3 Thank Claudina W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, November 14, 2012
Dear Guest,

Greetings from Borneo!

Many thanks on choosing Gaya Island Resort and taking your time to share with us on your stay experiences.

I am happy to read that overall you had a relaxing holiday and enjoyed the services and facilities through out. Me and team is looking forward to see you back with us again, in time to come.

Till we meet again, my very best to you, family and friends.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh
(Resort Manager)
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
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Level Contributor
22 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 6, 2012

The Gaya island resort is the latest addition to the YTL resort’s list. It is located on Gaya Island in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Sabah. It is nestled in the Malohom Bay with Gayana Eco Resort to the right and Bunga Raya Resort on the left. Check-in was seamless at the Sutera Harbor Marina lounge. Drink was served while waiting for the boat transfer to be ready. From the marina, the speedboat took approximately 15 minutes to reach the resort.

Once berthed at the resort’s private jetty, Ling together with her team welcomed me at the pier, escorting me to the lobby. The resort’s open air lobby resembles longhouse of the indigenous group of Sabah. Cold towel and welcome drink were served before I sit down. Ling escorted me to my villa for the next two nights. It was about 15-20minutes walk to my villa on the hill slope. At the moment, there isn’t any other means of transportation to take you to your villa except by your own foot. It can be a challenge for elderly guests or those who are physically unfit. Even for guest who are physical sounds, it will be disaster if it rain suddenly. I forgot to ask whether there are planning to provide buggy service in time to come.

My Villa occupied the top floor of a double storey semi-detached building. Entrance was through the balcony. The Bedroom has a high roof ceiling and the bed is right in front of you once you opened the door. My first impression of the room; it is a bit clammed, just enough space for you to walk around. The wardrobe & working desk are located on the middle section of the villa while the inner section consists of the rain shower, toilet & the huge bathtub.

The outdoor balcony has two sitting areas with just a glimpse of the sea. It was not very practical as the seats were wet almost every morning, too hot to sit down at noon and too dark at night. The white cushions are getting dirty 2 ½ months after the opening.

There are two restaurants and a pool lounge at the resort. The feast is an all day dining restaurant with an open kitchen concept. Personally I think it was not as bad as some reviewers quoted “canteen style”, unless you have a 5-star canteen at your work place. Nevertheless, price was extremely steep. Imagine a dish of 4 tiger prawns charged at Malaysia Ringgit one hundred & twenty-five? I could have brought 3 kg at the market. The fishermen’s cove on the upper level is a fine dining restaurant. I was prohibited from entering as I did not have the proper attire. I was not informed neither the hotel’s own website ever mentioned the restaurant‘s formal dress code policy. The waiter did offer me to sit at the Feast restaurant but took order from Fishermen’s cove which I turned down as it sounded offensive to me.

The infinity pool is located next to the lobby building with swim up bar pool & lounge. There are few desk chairs & 4 floating cabana around the pool. Nevertheless the pool and the beach never get busy during my stay.

Location of the resort is not the best. It is facing east and the city. Don’t expect anything like the Maldives. It’s not facing directly to South China Sea but sometimes ugly oil tankers berthed in a distance which were really an eyesore. There is nothing to shout about the beach at the resort. The other private beach at Tavajun Bay is not ready yet and might only open to guest by year end.

There are still lots of teething issues as the resort was just opened 2 ½ months ago. In fact too rush to open its doors yet. I just couldn’t understand why YTL needs to rush for the opening. As for my villa, the safe box failed to work. In the end, the technicians asked me to push the cover up a bit when opening and locking the safe. Water pressure was weak. The rain shower was not strong enough and the huge bathtub took a long time to fill up. The hot water also took sometimes to heat up. The shower did not drain fast enough & almost flooded the shower room. The bedroom is small comparing the size of the whole villa. A lot of space was taken by the bathroom but how much times we spend in the bathroom? There were limited choices of TV channels. Of course you may ask, are you here to watch TV? Trust me, you have nothing much to do at night.

Workmanship of the resort is extremely poor. These should not be happening to YTL's group.

The resort houses a library next to the restaurants. Not sufficient reading materials but 2 PCs with complimentary internet service. The view from the library was magnificent.

The ugly ponds are being tidy up and water lilies have being planted. It will take a while for the ponds to develop a natural feel. Plants have been planted around the resort & just give them another half a year for the vegetation to grow, put into shape, the landscaping will be nice.

There are numerous activities organized for the guests daily. These include the morning sunrise walk, snorkeling, culinary demonstration, local dances, blow pipe demonstration, story-telling for the children and the nature walks. I joined the nature walk conducted by the resident naturalist Mr. Justin. It was a knowledgeable and interesting walk. Justin is an expert with all the vegetations and habitants in the rainforest. Remember to put on the proper walking shoes and attire for the trail. Insert repellent is a must.

YTL is blessed with a group of high quality, qualified, hardworking employees. All my encounters with the resort staff were positive ones. They are really an asset to the resort. The whole team is working real hard to rectify problems, fine tunes, in creating a better experience & making the guests feel pampered. All the efforts by this pioneer team must be recognized by the management for their efforts contributed during this critical soft opening.

I only realized I was charged RM70.00 for the boat transfer at check out. This was not mentioned in the hotel’s website, neither by the staff during my check in. I was highlighted on the conservation fees of RM20.00 per night per person only. So the boat transfer sounded like a hidden charge to me.

The resort could be better in time to come, when all the issues were being fixed, when the plants start to bloom....

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
9 Thank Huat88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, November 6, 2012
Dear Guest,

Greetings from Borneo!

First and foremost, I would like to thank you very much for taking your valuable time out to share with us your stay experiences.

I would like to unreservedly apologize on the overall disappointments that your self experienced as shared in your review. Assuring your good self, further improvements are now in progress on the areas mentioned. Your comments are very important for us to constantly improve and better our areas.

I also note that the staffs, especially Ling, stood on an exceptional platform in her dailies into making sure that you are well looked after. I have shared your comments with Ling and thanked Ling for looking after you through out your stay with us.

Again, I would like to assure you that the areas are now being looked after and further improvements are now in-progress. I hope this will not deter you to visit us again in future.

If I can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to email me at your earliest convenience.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh
(Resort Manager)
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Windsor, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
23 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 5, 2012

What can I add that hasnt been said already?

It will be a fantastic hotel next year, when the folliage has had a chance to disguise all the concrete. However, having said that it's a shame that some parts appear to be of inferior workmanship and quality....chipped tiles, cracked paving and chairs that already showing the wear of being in a damp climate.

Service was exceptional though, especially from Karoline and Paul. Everyone bent over backwards to make your stay a memorable one - although sometimes you were asked so many times it did get a little tiring! I think some kind of "flag" system is required!

If you go, make sure you go to the Spa......we had a couple Indigenous masssage which was superb. A really relaxing treat at the end of the day.

Snorkling is fantasitc and you can you use all of their brand new equipement for free.

We did the cooking course in Fishermans Cove restaurant too. Excellent way to spend a lunch hour as you get to learn how to do an easy recipe aswell as eat it afterwards.

Room Tip: Kinabalu Villa worked for us as not too far to walk. Although we had the lake outside with a founta...
See more room tips
  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Holiday_EKIN
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, November 6, 2012
Dear Guest,

Firstly, many thanks on choosing Gaya Island Resort for your recent break and more importantly taking your valuable time out to share with us on your stay experiences.

I note, overall you enjoyed the services and facilities offered and the Karoline and Paul excelled in their dailies on making sure that you are well looked after through out your stay with us. I have shared your comments with Karoline and Paul and congratulated them on their efforts. Me and my team are all very proud to have Karoline and Paul in our team.

Again, I would like to record my highest appreciation to you on choosing Gaya Island Resort and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best in your business and personal endeavors.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh
(Resort Manager)
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
487 reviews
117 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 201 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 22, 2012

We visited the island with friends during the early monsoon season. This resort is still opening and is a work in progress. It has two faces:
1) Staff are wonderful. Super friendly, very competent.
2) Food is excellent. We had a group package and it's hard to believe a la carte could be better. Yusra, the pastry chef, is outstanding.
3) The pool area and bar are very comfortable and the view is great, all the way to Mt Kinabalu (on a clear day)
Not so good:
1) The rooms are all on the side of the hill. There are very few rooms with a view of the sea. Blocked by the jungle. It's a long uphill walk to the room. There is no internal transport, which is a very real shortcoming.
2) The rooms are OK but there are some real design flaws. Most rooms are overlooked by other rooms. To get total privacy you have to close the dark shades and turn the room into a cave. You can see right through to the shower from the front door.
3) The shower alcove in our room had the drain in the high corner. I have not encountered this since Sri Lanka in 1979! Stepping into an inch of cold water takes the gloss off a bit.
The spa is OK and the snorkelling was not amazing, but better than I expected.
All in all quite a nice place, but I doubt I would return.

Room Tip: Close as possible to the main complex.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank TukoPomojaAustralia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, October 27, 2012
Dear Guest,

Greetings from Borneo!

I would like to thank you on choosing Gaya Island Resort and most importantly sharing with us on your stay experiences.

I would like to apologize that our concept of walking resort as well on the room layout and set-up did not meet your expectations and I hope this will not deter you to choose Gaya Island Resort in future.

I also note that the staffs stood on an exception platform in their dailies into making sure that you are well looked after during your stay, special mentioned Chef Yusra for her on-going efforts on crafting the best gourmet experiences for you and many more from around the globe.

Again, many thanks for your comments and all the best from me and team here at Gaya Island Resort.

Kirinjit Singh.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Perth, Australia
Level Contributor
146 reviews
51 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 15, 2012

On our continuing search for a resort establishment in Malaysia that takes our breath away, we came across a brand new development called the Gaya Island Resort. Advertising gloss was very good, so after reading generally negative Tripadvisor reviews soon after the resort opening, we were very disappointed that this may not be the place we were looking for. However, after satisfactory assurances being provided by the YTL company executive we contacted, it was apparent that the issues reported were associated with typical opening glitches that can affect hotels when undergoing a “soft opening”. Consequently we decided to make a reservation. We reserved the most expensive room on offer, which was advertised as offering views of Mt Kinabalu on clear days (more on this later).

The experience starting from being collected at the airport to transfer to the private ferry service at Sutera Harbour to arrival at the resort is no doubt second to none. What strikes you at this early stage is the warmth and friendliness of the staff. Of the resort itself, it may not take your breath away at the start, but it tends to grows on you as the days go by. You get to look beyond any points that may have initially annoyed you and in the end we looked back on the days there as a fantastic experience.

Being brand new and still partially under construction, the place has a way to go before it gets an established feel, but overall the premises have a really nice ambience. The restaurant facilities are truly excellent and the staff, from the gardeners to the General Manager, is amazingly warm, attentive and friendly. In fact, I believe that the staff is key to this place being remarkable.

What were the annoyances you may ask? Well, if I was the owner, I would have sacked the architect and then got rid of the construction company. The rooms just miss the mark of true luxury you would expect at a high end facility such as this – going by the rates. I got the feeling that we were in a run of the mill hotel room that was not very well thought out, with “luxury” finishes that have been shoddily constructed. There is a huge bathroom at the expense of a mediocre sized bedroom and this is of course not much use as you don’t live in the bathroom. Room amenities are still rather sparse and hopefully will be improved as time goes by. There is not even a sound system available and you are only presented with radio stations over the satellite TV and played through the tinny TV speakers. Lighting is rather confusing and there is a prize for the guest who finds the hidden A/C temperature control quickest before freezing to death.

We reserved a room with a view of Mt Kinabalu, but our room looked directly back on the resort. In the end this is not a big deal, as Mt Kinabalu is rarely visible, but it would have been more cost effective if I had simply reserved a cheaper room (I believe that all rooms are basically the same in any case). I suspect that this room type is meant to be one of those that are not yet complete.

No matter what I have reported above, I can still recommend this resort highly. But sadly, I still have not found the Malaysian resort that takes my breath away.

Room Tip: Distances to rooms can be quite far depending on where you are. If you have problems with walking, a...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Beamer23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Level Contributor
169 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 198 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 10, 2012

This is one resort where we really have a mixed feeling about. The staffs and food ranks one of the best we have experienced but the condition of the room leaves a lot to be desired. I find it so hard to rate this resort and finally give it a four star rating simply because of the exemplary service shown by its staffs.

Now, the room is really where all the problems are. Here is a list of the shortfalls:
* Blinds won't close and the light from outside disturb my sleep (took them two visits to fix it)
* Some switches and power sockets not working
* Drawers and cupboard doors can't close properly
* Air cond has no temp control (it has two options - cold or freezing cold)
* Tissue was never replenished (there were about 5 pieces in it and never replenish even when housekeeping came the next morning)
* Toiletries are extremely basic (no toothbrush, shaver, etc.)
* Half a toilet roll provided (again, never replenished by housekeeping)
* Room (Bayu villa) has practically no view

One annoying thing is that there is no gate at the main entrance of each villa. So, as you are taking a bath or changing, you might be surprised by a worker came knocking on the glass door. A simple solution is to install a small gate at the entrance with a bell and option for guests to lock or unlock the gate for more privacy.

Also, we arrived at about 1pm and were made to wait for our room, which was not ready until 3.30pm. This, to me, is unacceptable but the staffs were rather apologetic about it.

However, if you can look beyond the shortfalls, the resort is a rather pleasant place to rest and relax in. The quality of the food is really good. The seafood is fresh and the selection is reasonable.

What impresses us most is the friendly staff. They go out of their way to make your stay as pleasant as possible. It is the friendliness of the staffs that made us forget about the issues and truly enjoyed our stay.

Other useful information:
* The lounge has excellent live band in the evening. Cocktails are on 1-for-1 promotion from 6pm to 7pm every night.
* The resort organises activities but limited participants are allowed for each session. So make sure you enrol early.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank penangowl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this review, October 14, 2012
Dear Guest,

Firstly, I would like to thank you for taking your time and sharing with us on your stay experiences and I would like to unreservedly apologize on the overall disappointments that your good self experienced.

I would like to take this opportunity to share with your good self that all our villas comes with individual air-conditioner control, it's located on the bottom of the wall, next to the bed-side light switches. On your comment of villas without a gate and lack of privacy, all our villas comes without a gate before the villa main entrance door. For further comfort of our guests. all our villas are equipped with adjustable blinds and sliding door panels and one could easily customize the closings of these facilities as per their comfort level.

Again, I would like to apologize on the overall disappointments that your self experienced during your stay and assuring your good self that your valuable comments are now on my list and further corrective measures are now being taken on the areas mentioned.

Thank you very much on the valuable comments shared and till we meet again, my very best to you, family and friends!

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Royal Tunbridge Wells, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles 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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Additional Information about Gaya Island Resort

Property: Gaya Island Resort
Address: | 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
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Also Known As:
Gaya Island Resort Malaysia/Pulau Gaya

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