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“Crescendo - luxury needs basics.”
Review of Gaya Island Resort

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Gaya Island Resort
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 16, 2013

As our visit to KK was about to be rounded off with a splurge stay at the Gaya Island Resort, expectations were high. The reception at the Sutera Harbour Marina was up to standard of luxury hotels. The boat ride was a good start of the total experience at GIR. We were welcomed and escorted to our villa by Ms Yoyoi, who elaborately informed us on the facilities of the resort; very well. The pool and beach were amazing, with cabanas on offer to have your daytime nap. The Borneo Fried Rice (RM 55) we had for lunch at the poolside was excellent.
The villa is well decorated as typical 'Asian', with finishing of dark wood and stone. The bathroom offers two separate basins - for him and for her - so no need to bother 'who is first'. My compliments for the comfortable slippers. So far, all positive.
However, the dinner turned out to be a bad experience as the pool side bar offered a reduced menu compared to the lunch menu. As we opted for pasta, we expected that nothing could go wrong. Amazingly, the fettucine aglio oglio with prawns was unique in its kind. The pasta was drenched in a soupy reddish broth with tasteless spices. The fettucine with pesto and softshell crab was also 'special'. Drenched in green paste, but no trigger to the taste buds as well with this dish. The softshell crabs were deep fried with oil still leaving marks onto them. How can pasta go so wrong at a 5-star resort?
Breakfast is served at the Feast Village, but offers mediocre selection of food to my opinion. The queue for the egg station is just too long. Also, the staff needs to get their eggs right. How can a scrambled egg show eggwhite in the end product? Obviously, the cook here was on practice.
As Ms Yoyoi took our complaint about the dinner seriously, Chef Vivian approached us to receive our opinion. Great response and handling of this. He later committed himself to prepare the lunch - Borneo Fried Rice with extra skewers of satay - for us. Well done.
Gets your basics right in the kitchen; pasta (many Italian guests i noticed), eggs (everyone loves them), wider selection and variety of food (sushi and sashimi wouldn't hurt). And: why no room (ehm..villa) service?
So, overall I would say that GIR still needs to put the dots on the i. If they do that, we come back.

  • Stayed: August 2013
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Thank Non-Naked-Traveller
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 reviewResponded September 1, 2013

Dear Guest,

I would like to thank you very much on taking your time out to write on your recent stay experiences with us. I note overall you enjoyed the services and facilities as a whole and Yayoi and Chef Vivian stood on an exceptional platform to ensure your comments on the food were addressed to your satisfaction.

Again, thank you very much on your stay and we look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in time to come.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 16, 2013

After climbing Mount Kinabalu we were very much looking forward to some pampered R&R at GIR. The start was great - we were warmly and personally welcomed by ''Yoyo'' who very informatively led us around the resort and ultimately to our room (note: it is a long hike and involves many stairs which normally wouldn't be problematic but as we were temporarily ''disabled' from our hike, it highlighted that anyone with physical limitations would not be able to stay here - electric buggys should be considered for those in need). She kindly pointed out the numerous 'design flaws' in the room so we wouldn't trip or bump into the poorly detailed room (only later did we discover on our own that the hot and cold taps were reversed on top, the lamp shade propped up by the wall, etc. - these on top of flaws pointed out to us). The setting of GIR is very special - rainforest as a backdrop and the South China sea with views to Mt. Kinabalu in front. The sea however is very polluted with rubbish. We shockingly watched another guest picking up plastic bags and other debris from the beach one morning. For being a one year old resort, it has not held up well which I can only assume means poor quality materials and construction as well as poor management. The pool area is mouldy with stained walls and obvious leaks that made one area of sun loungers appear as if they are sinking into the ground. Worse was the material on the sun loungers, deck furniture and even the reception area banquettes - so dirty, stained and disgusting. And now the food service. We politely asked for yogurt at breakfast 2 mornings only to be told that they were out of stock. The first morning we arrived at 10 am for breakfast which was listed as being open until 10:30. Most of the breakfast bar was depleted making us have to ask for anything. We had dinner the second night at the ''upscale'' Fisherman's Cove. We ordered a white wine which arrived warm and then took ages to chill once we showed the waiter how to immerse it in the wine bucket. My partner ordered the lobster bisque which was listed as including spinach tortellinis. No tortellinis were to be found in the soup. We asked the waiter who came back after talking with the chef only to tell us that they were out of stock (again). We tried ordering cocktails at the pool bar but both drinks, once finally delivered, were wrong. Sorry to carry on but for a SLH and at the price point they are charging, we expected much more. In sum, I think it is barely a 4 star property thinking it is 5 star. I would have shared our views with the reception staff upon check-out or with management but seeing that no one asked if we enjoyed our stay, I'm sharing our opinion here. We will not return.

  • Stayed: April 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank JJMinUK
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 reviewResponded August 23, 2013

Dear Guest,

I would like to unreservedly apologize on the overall disappointments that your kind self experienced upon your stay with us. I would like to assure your kind self our further corrective actions on the areas mentioned.

To share on our areas further, in particular on the cushions around the area. While we have placed replacement order for the cushion covers for the areas, we have also raised the issue on the current material poor performances with our supplier as we were assured the durability being all-weather cushion covers for a longer period, obviously it is not the case and we are very sorry on the inconveniences caused. Moving forward, for the reception cushions covers, it is scheduled to take a new look this coming week with work being scheduled for the area. Due to the recent long festive period break, these applications has taken more longer then the estimated schedule period to take effect and we are extremely sorry on the inconveniences caused.

Again, I am very sorry on the other areas mentioned, as shared, and assuring your good self our highest attention on addressing the areas.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 15, 2013

Just loved our stay at this beautiful island. On arrival we were greeted with a cold drink and the guide took us around the resort. On our way to the room, we walked passed the forest and could see wild life including monkeys. The room was large with nice wooden ceiling. There were quite a few activities on the resort including boat to the private beach, meditation, nature walk and movie night. Would definitely recommend this place and wish we could stay a few more days.

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank akrhk
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 reviewResponded August 19, 2013

Dear Guest,

Best Wishes!

Many thanks on taking your time out to write on your stay experiences and we are happy to read that you stay was a memorable and relaxing one.

Again, thank you very much on your support and we look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in time to come and till then, we would like to wish you all the best.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh and Team.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 13, 2013

Stayed at this hotel as few days ago with my husband. Loved the view and setting. I even enjoyed the hike up to our room. However , it is definitely not up to the Small Luxury Hotel standards that we were accustomed to.
1. Poor bathroom amenities. They were basic and not what you would expect from a luxury establishment.
2. Spa - service and treatment was alright . Again, nothing outstanding.
3. Food- they actually served buffet at the main restaurant in the evening. I have never been to a luxury hotel that does this. Food choices at the buffet were very poor and tasteless. We tried the restaurant upstairs which had ala carte menu but the food were also lacking in taste.
4. No skimmed milk available for your coffee or tea
5. The lounging area outside the room was never cleaned throughout our stay. It was always wet ( which is fine because it rained most of the time) but it was also full of leaves. They could at least make at effort the wipe it and clear the leaves but they did not.
6. Service could be slow at times which was not acceptable since it was not really super busy.

The price we paid was about RM1600 per night- which we thought was too much considering the above. However, this is the most beautiful and trendiest property for Kota Kinabalu as the rest were mostly chain hotels and family resorts.

  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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1  Thank Roziani Z
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 reviewResponded August 19, 2013

Dear Guest,

Firstly, I would like to apologize on the areas that did not meet your expectations, as shared by your good self in your review. Assuring your good self our prompt actions into correcting our shortfalls, where possible. I also note, overall, you enjoyed the resort and facilities offered as a whole.

Again, I would like to assure your kind self our focus on areas that stood below from other areas.

I would like to wish you all the best and I look forward to welcome you back to trendiest and beautiful Gaya Island Resort.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 13, 2013

We were a party of 7 who spent several nights at the GIR over the Hari Raya break and came away mostly satisfied and unanimously in awe of the service quality. Beginning with the seamless speedboat transfer from the Sutera Harbour marina to the waves of goodbye at the GIR jetty, the stupendous service from the entire staff was something to behold.

Yes, there were unforeseen incidences and niggles during the stay, but the recovery was exemplary, and in some cases exceeded all expectations. For example: a trip to Tavajun Bay for lunch turned into a huge disappointment. The food was cold, lacking and unappetizing. Our comments were swiftly met with an offer to waive the food bill (we hardly ate much anyway) and an immediate boat ride back to the main resort where we were met personally by the General Manager.

There were other small but significant touches during our stay that deserve mention:
1. Two of my friends didn't bring suitable footwear for the guided nature walk. Alvin, our assigned guest relations officer, borrowed a pair of trainers (with socks) so they won't miss out on the activity.
2. On discovering I had run of dental floss, Alvin (again!) arranged a box to be sent from the mainland by the next boat.
3. Our friends who arrived last were booked in a twin Canopy Villa but they were given a double bed instead. After a phone call or two, they were upgraded to a twin-bedded Kinabalu villa the same night close to our unit.
4. Chef Xavier at Feast Village tried his best to accomodate our dietary requirements which culminated in a memorable feast on our last night (including a little surprise birthday celebration).
5. All our requests for ice buckets, extra wine glasses, more bottled water, towels etc were met promptly and with a smile.

The resort is far from perfect and some of the hardware at GIR is not ideal. For example, buggies would be welcome to negotiate the steep trek to and from the Kinabalu villas. The villas have lovely spacious balconies but they're not sheltered and the day beds are rendered completely useless when it rains. The Feast Village serves up some delicious dishes but often feels like a large canteen, not a restaurant in a 5-star resort. The villas are lovely and beds extremely comfortable, but the hot water supply to our shower was annoyingly erratic. And how about an I-pod dock and DVD player?

We opted for the resident package and had a great time notwithstanding the wet weather conditions. The guided nature walk and snorkelling was great. The Spa Village is stunning and those of us who had massages enjoyed them. The bar served up some mean cocktails and always with a smile. In the final analysis, it's the service and the staff that really made the difference.

Special thanks go to Alvin, who gives new meaning to service above and beyond the call of duty; to the delightful crew at Feast Village especially chef Xavier, Deborah, Josua and Shukrin; the accomodating staff in the bar notably Severius and Rahman; and finally resort Manager Kirinjit, and GM Peter Neto. Thanks to all. We'll be back.

Room Tip: Superb views from Kinabalu villas 819 and 826.
  • Stayed: August 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Thank caipirinha
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 reviewResponded August 19, 2013

Dear Guest,

Greetings from Borneo!

It was nice to meet you and friends upon your stay with us we are all very happy to read that despite the minor shortfalls that you encountered due to the large number of guests that we had in conjunction with the Muslim's new year public holiday period.

I have shared your comments with the team, and congratulated them on their extra-miles on ensuring that you and friends are well looked after.

Again, Alvin, Chef Xavier, Deborah, Rahman, Josue, Shukerin, Severius , Me, Peter and team would like to thank you very much on staying with us and we all look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in future.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 11, 2013 via mobile

Beautiful resort, surrounded by nature from the jungle to the beach. Even with a resident wild boar. Great service except for the dive centre which has really limited programmes on offer.

The rooms are large and nicely designed but missing a few touches like the cables dangling from the ceiling fan. The toiletries in the bathroom are pretty bad- very oily soap and shampoo which feels like harsh detergent.

The massage was great woth very professional masseurs but the spa bathroom was mouldy and had cement stains on the floor.

Very convenient transfers from the mainland to the island. They also have a private island which they have hourly transfers to. Cute little education centre with a sea turtle that they just rescued. BUT and this is a big but, the beach was filthy and this was not during low tide. Crisp packets, bottle caps and bits of plastic on the sand and shore. Why bother having a private beach if the effort is not meant to clean it up?

Food is great with oven baked pizzas and fresh seafood. Super attentive and helpful wait staff!

Overall, the resort is four star at best. Which is a real shame considering the wonderful location and great staff. It needs quite a few extra touches to warrant the price that it charges. Very far off from an Aman or Four Seasons.

  • Stayed: July 2013
    • Value
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Thank Senyum
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 reviewResponded August 19, 2013

Dear Guest,

Greetings!

We would like to take this opportunity to thank your good self very much on taking your time out to share with us on your stay experiences. We are very sorry on the areas that did not meet your expectations while you enjoyed your stay with us.

Rubbish wash-ups are not a constant problems but it does occur from time to time warrant the tide levels and wind factor. We do accommodate this out of our control challenge by having extra gardeners to attend to the areas as of when required but at times we do get over-ride with the volume that washes-up. I am very sorry on the inconveniences caused.

Again, thank you very much on your support and we look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in time to come.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 11, 2013 via mobile

Beautiful resort located on a small island near Kota Kinabalu. All the ingredients for success are there but the operator manages to mess it up.
The biggest letdown is the service, which is friendly but forgetful and not what you'd expect from a Small Luxury Hotel.
Also the restaurant is a basically a big canteen with a buffet and some a la carte snacks. Again not exactly SLH standards. Moreover the food at the buffet appears in somewhat random order, so that you basically need to walk the entire line up every time just to compose a somewhat coherent meal.
There is also one small "fine dining" restaurant but it was not particularly good plus it is located right on top of the canteen, and therefore gets lots of noise from downstairs.
The resort offers complimentary Internet, but to get that you have to navigate through a set up screen that aims to sell you their premium option at MYR 50 per day - which I expect in a business hotel but not in resort. Taking the basic option, you are limited to 2 devices (we had 6 between the 2 of us) at painstakingly slow speeds.
The staff use mini vans to get around the resort as it is on a hillside. They are trained to stop every time a guest comes by, and as the engine idles it spews a cloud of emissions into the air which made us hold our breath every time we walked past one. Other high-end hillside resorts successfully use electric vehicles, which might be a good idea here as well.
There were also lots of mosquitos so make sure to bring some strong repellent!

That said, we still enjoyed our 3 days here but it could have been so much better if the place was properly run. The beach is small but nice, the pool & bar area are pleasant and the view from the room was great.

  • Stayed: August 2013
    • Value
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3  Thank Robbie R
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 reviewResponded August 18, 2013

Dear Guest,

Best wishes.

I am sorry that despite your good and enjoyable stay you had with us, there were shortfalls that have caused you the much inconveniences as shared in your review. Your comments are noted for our further improvements and corrective measures as where required.

Again, I am very sorry on the overall disappointments that your self experienced and would like to assure your good self that nothing will be left unattended in our further efforts to improve our selves.

We wish you all the best.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.

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

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: $180 - $463 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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