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“3.75 stars...”
Review of Gaya Island Resort

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Gaya Island Resort
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“3.75 stars...”
Reviewed March 31, 2014

If I could have given 3.75 stars, I probably would. It's way better than average, but not quite very good. Yet.
We read previous reviews of Gaya Island with some nervousness. We need not have worried.
This may not be a world-class resort, but it’s pretty good. If you want an accessible, tropical resort, quiet, not too packed with water sports and ‘all-inclusive’ families – with some good food and great accommodation – this works.
We wanted somewhere luxurious to spend some serious down time after two weeks exploring Borneo in less glamorous accommodation. This did that job well.
Approaching the island, it’s hard to spot the hotel hidden among the trees - and that adds to the excitement. The jungle seems to gather the buildings into itself. The rooms, built as stilted villas, climb steeply up the hillside. As a family of three, needing a second bedroom, we lucked out by booking the Suria Suite. Huge, spacious, light and contemporary design, with wrap around balconies on two levels, exterior bath and shower where hornbills and monkeys join you from the jungle. There are views over the forest, across the bay to Mount Kinabalu and down to the hotels’ beach. This is special. Large bathrooms, games room, kitchen and more.

The hotel has all kinds of corners to hang out in and relax; from the super-special spa to a glass reading room, plenty of loungers on decks overlooking the beach, or little shady niches near the pool, when you need to grab the shade. Beautifully planted, the grounds will only get better as the gardens mature around the villas and disguise more of the still-exposed concrete.

Food was less wonderful. The ‘Feast Village’, (the main restaurant), provides a good choice though quality is variable, and the ambiance is like a motorway service station/meets school canteen. It desperately needs to be made more welcoming, classier space.
The small bar by the pool serves great smaller meals, with friendly service, but it is very small, and as the hotel filled up, people competed for seats – both at lunch and the evening cocktail hour.

Another criticism is the lack of a golf buggy, or similar, to ferry people up the hill to their villas and the spa. It’s a 10-minute climb, at least, along an ugly concrete road. Just a small courtesy vehicle would make all the difference, especially as families with small kids tend to be allocated those more distant rooms… I have been to similar resorts in the tropics where this has worked well.

Some previous reviewers criticised the resorts setting and the views. If you are dreaming of an island idyll, with infinite sea views and endless beach walks, this is not for you. It’s not Turks and Caicos or the Maldives. But there are fine views anyway (see pics). We didn’t mind the large ships moored in the very distance. It’s all part of the tableau.

Plans are afoot to add a sushi restaurant and increased bar services, so that will help, though mostly aimed at the rapidly growing Chinese clientele, now the largest visitor group.

We had a great 5 days here. Fabulous spa treatment, snorkeling, forest walks and messing about on paddle boards. Beers and cocktails by the pool and time spent in a luxurious room. Not world class. But good with lovely staff.

Room Tip: All rooms very similar interiors. God for the suite if you can. I would tend to choose a room furthe...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
2 Thank FilmTraveller
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, April 12, 2014
Dear FilmTraveller,

Greetings from Gaya Island Resort- a walking tropic resort.

I would like to thank you very much on your stay and review as shared. I note, overall you enjoyed the services and overall resort location and views.

I also sincerely apologize on the areas that did not meet your expectations. As shared with your good self during your stay, we have further improvements planned in coming months to address the areas.

Again, thank you very much on your view and I look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in future.

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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Hong Kong, China
Level 4 Contributor
8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed March 26, 2014

Very Good Service, clean, nice room and feel relax. Many activites at hotel, we did not feel boring. Food are not well and very Expensive.

We Love Gaya Island Resort. Gaya Island Resort is the best in KK, We will be back.

  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank LemonTeaTea
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, April 12, 2014
Dear PerhapsLove,

Greetings from Gaya Island Resort- a fully tropic walking resort.

I would like to thank you very much on your review and I am happy to read that you had a relaxing and memorable stay with us.

Me and team look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in future and till we meet again, our best wishes to you, family and friends.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Georgetown, Malaysia
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed March 26, 2014 via mobile

My husband and I stayed in this hotel for 4 days 3 nights under the resident's package where it is full board. The location, room and activities were great. The spa service is HEAVENLY. We wished we could afford the time and money for more spa treatments.. Maybe next time :)

However, having visited Tanjong Jara Resort which is also under the YTL management, we felt that this place fall short of the glory of the name as YTL resort. This is mainly due to its quality of food and selection. The meal menu is always the same. Imagine 3 lunches and 3 dinners from the same menu with limited choice! And to make it worse, it didnt taste nice :( for a very famous dish such as soft shell crab, It tasted like cucur tepung (flour fritters) :( I hope that the management can look into this seriously and improve. Hope to see some improvements the next time we are back. We missed Chef Anne from Tanjung Jara Resort! Please hire someone of the same calibre.

  • Stayed March 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank tjolynn82
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, April 12, 2014
Dear tjolynn82,

Greetings and thank you for your stay and support. I read overall you enjoyed the services and resort areas.

I am sorry that the food aspect did not meet your expectations, as shared in your review. Your comments are very valuable to us in our efforts to constantly improve our services and offerings. I would like to share that we have now improved our menus in the outlet with having almost 50 different items on offer with additional specials-of-the-day on the chalk-board displays each night. We have recorded positive comments from our guests on this improvement made.

Again, thank you very much for your review and I look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in future.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Level 5 Contributor
30 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed March 24, 2014

We went to Gaya Island Resort on Mar 14-16 to celebrate hubby's birthday. The hotel is very beautiful, the room is huge and we love the huge bath tub. We stayed in the Bayu villa which is at the lower hill, this is the only villa type that provided bath tub and we highly recommend this villa as we do not need to walk too far to reach the restaurants and beach. The room amenities were great, we love the bath salt and the candles provided in the bath tub. The toiletries were luxury enough to give us a wow. The design of the villa is luxurious, we love the double basins concept "left for the male, right for the female" . The bed were so soft, comes with many pillows and long pillows. We spent a lot of time in the villa as we were really comfortable and the aircond is working great under the hot weather. There are 4 restaurants in the resort, we went to 3 of them, except the fine dining restaurant. The food was great, not much of the choices in the menu, however for the food we have ordered, they were delicious, the seafood and the meat was fresh. The buffet breakfast could be better if there were more choices. Anyway, we were very happy with the service especially the fresh fruit juice is serve during buffet breakfast. Another pros of this resort is they have a private beach at another side of the island. We went there once, it was a tiny beach with beautiful scenery. It was a relaxing afternoon as there were only about 6 guests at the private beach. Lunch was served at the private beach the prawns were so juicy and tasty we hope so much we could find this food back in our city!! We went to the spa village too, it was luxury and the design of the village is stunning. I tried the prebumi massage, it was fine and came with complementary food scrub and a 30 minutes Sabah Scent Adventure class. The staffs were polite and helpful, we were treated like a king and queen. The only down side was we informed the resort prior to our arrival that we are going to celebrate hubby's birthday, we were expecting a little something from the resort, however nothing happen. Anyway, we still love this resort and the trip were enjoyable and relaxing. In the future we might try other YTL group's hotel as the luxurious and service are guaranteed.

Room Tip: Bayu villa is a good choice, near to restaurant and beach.
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank XRuChiaX
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, April 12, 2014
Dear RuChiaJRLai,

Greetings from Borneo!

I am happy to read on your positive review and I have shared your review with the team and congratulated the team on the overall job well done.

Again, thank you very much on your review and stay. Me and team look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in future.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northamptonshire
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed March 24, 2014

Pick up from the airport and boat trip all worked well. Arrived in the dark and it was a bit of a hike to our tree-top room. The main 'Feast Village' restaurant is a bit like a school canteen and we only had breakfast there. Bit chaotic but the staff were more than happy to rustle up anything we asked for. Recommend the small pots of figs in syrup with Star Anise and cinnamon. Food at the pool side (which I assume comes from the Feast Village) was excellent. Did the tourist 'Tribal Dinner' on the beach (excellent BBQ fish) and then ate in the Fisherman's Cove for second night. A good meal - but the clue is in the title. Expect fish!

But the gem is the private beach. Just minutes by launch, it is secluded but has all the amenities. Try the picnic box from the restaurant, delivered to your spot on the beach. A small marine centre has some aquaria with various examples of sea life. Wonderful little bonus. We'd go back again. For nature lovers, we saw wild pigs both days (in fact, they seem almost domesticated on the main beach) and monkeys come to the small dining area on the private beach - but you are warned not to feed them! Oh, and you are on the edge of the jungle so, during the hours of daylight, the insects are noisy!

Room Tip: If you don't want to walk far, go for the beachside rooms or anything in the 600 and 700 range.
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank n_macleod234
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, April 12, 2014
Dear n_macleod234,

Sunny greetings from Gaya Island Resort!

I wanted to thank you for taking the time to leave such wonderful comments. It makes me incredibly proud to hear such feedback, particularly about the service you experienced from the Staffs at our resort, and I am delighted to hear that you will hopefully return to stay with us in the near future. We look forward to welcoming you back.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
41 reviews
39 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed March 22, 2014

The Hotel itself was beautiful, the grounds were stunning, the rooms were a very high standard, communal areas excellent and staff very polite. However what really let the place down was the food. Other reviewers have talked about the extensive nature of the food offering, but when we were there, there was no buffet and only an A la carte menu of very limited choice and the food quality could only be described as mediocre if you are being generous. What was more shocking was the price of food and drinks. For 2 dinners for 2 people and only a few beers the bill was well over 1,000 ringits (£225) which was shocking given the poor quality of the food. You really got the feeling that because you were on an Island and had no choice of alternatives they were fleecing you. A real shame as the hotel itself is very nice but the cost and quality of the food just couldn't offset this.

Room Tip: The higher up the rooms the better the view. It means more of a walk to the center of things but it...
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  • Stayed March 2014, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank FBrown1980
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, April 12, 2014
Dear FBrown1980,

Many thanks on your review.

I note on your comment of limited food choices on our menus. I would like to share that we have enhanced our menu offerings with up to 50 different dishes available for one to choose from. Since our this implementation, we have received positive comments from our guests.

Again, thank you for taking your time to write the very valuable review and lead us on our areas for improvements as shared.

I look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in future.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed March 20, 2014

I had to be harsh when reviewing Gaya Island resort as it was the final of 4 stops on our honeymoon tour of Borneo. We decided to go for ultimate luxury to finish our stay and booked 5 nights here. Had we not stopped at some of our previous hotels I may have scored it higher but I have to use them as a comparison.
This was one of the more expensive aspects of our stay and I don't feel it was the best way to spend our money.
The staff were faultless and of course paid us a little extra attention due to us being on honeymoon. I did, however, feel more attention was paid to certain other couples and families staying at the resort that clearly had a lot more cash available to them then ourselves, but I guess that's the nature of the business. We originally upgraded to the food package thinking we could save money this way but after a day we realised that unless we ate three course meals at all times of the day this just wasn't going to pay off so we cancelled it.
The food was very nice. We treated ourselves to a private meal on the beach which was beautiful and I would definitely recommend it for some extra romance. Families are restricted to the buffet area which is still amazing, with cuisine from all over the world.
We went to the private beach a couple of times during our stay and it's well worth a visit, particularly if you want someone a little quieter and enjoy a swim in the sea.
Our room was incredible! Very luxurious with a fantastic view. I loved the huge bath tub! The hotel grounds itself definitely needed more time to grow into itself. There was a lot of empty space between room that needed vegetation to grow around it to hide the foundations. The ponds were also a little low on water which made it look a little scruffy around the edges, but I'm sure this will be fine in time as it had only been open just less than a year when we went. We didn't do the nature walk, simple because we had spent two nights in the rainforest lodge in Danum valley and there was no way it was going to compare.
I was starting to feel a little cabin fever after 5 days as there isn't much to do except sit and sunbathe, which is lovely if that's what you want I guess.
Like I say, if we hadn't been to places such as Danum Valley and Kapali / Sipadan then this probably would have been rated much higher but for value for money it just doesn't compare experience wise. I had to be honest. (really I would have liked to give it 3 and a half as it was good, just not very good).

Room Tip: We had a corner room which gave us a fabulous view across the sea and resort.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank bug_et_denny
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, April 12, 2014
Dear Bug_Et_Denny,

Greetings from Gaya Island Resort- a walking resort!

Thank you for your stay and review. Thank you very much for your view and I am happy to read that your enjoyed the services and facilities as a whole.

I would like to share that we have now enhanced our activities calendar. Total 20 different activities/experiences are now available for our guests to choose from with averaging 5 to 6 different activities on offer daily.

Again, thank you very much on your review and I look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in future.

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

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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