We arrived at Gaya marina to a fab welcome from the check in team; they were very efficient and friendly. They advised us then than we must pay an additional 40 ringitts per night to stay on the island for 'conservation charge? We were staying for 6 nights and they asked to scan a credit card for 4000 ringitts to 'start of with'. We said we had cash and no card as we thought this was cheeky.. Who pays a bill before you have service??
We transferred to the island by boat which was a lovely experience and took around 15 minutes; the sights were amazing!
On arrival we were greeted with a drink and cold flannel and asked to explore for an hour as our room wasn't ready.
There was a lovely pool area, a souvenir shop, library, gym and beach. The dining area was extremely large and airy.
We eventually checked in and our room was lovely although I was disappointed that there were used towels on our daubed outside!
There was the biggest bath I have ever seen and the room was well equipped and spacious; very nice. Well stocked mini bar with no price list which was worrying but hey, we were on holiday. The outside day bed needed a good scrub, it looked like it was covered in mold? Beautiful spot though and views were magnificent.
We spent a lovely day exploring and by 4.30 the sun had disappeared to the other side of the island. We went for dinner at 7.30. Having read lots of reviews about the food we were worried and we were right to be..
Sadly they just haven't got it right!! The chef was lovely; very friendly and concerned but the food choice resembled a poor buffet except you ordered from a menu. Starter was either shellfish or cheese and bread and mains were luke warm at best EVERY NIGHT without exception. We spoke to lots of other guests who said they felt the same; we were offered extremely over priced 'airport lounge' food. On top of that we often asked for drinks at least 3 times before they ever arrived, if at all!! My view is either make it self service set menu price and let us get on with it OR offer 5 star service which you charge for. It was just all wrong.
The fine dining experience was the same and people wondered in wearing flip flops and shorts which is against the hotel policy but no one seemed to care. I don't care if that is ok for everyone, but don't have a rule and then not follow it through.. We specifically asked about dress code before arrival and had to purchase long trousers and shoes for my husband to wear only to find people in beach wear!! Annoying..
The chef did make us a beautiful traditional meal one evening after we asked; we wanted to experience Malay food which you can't off the menu. The staff were always friendly and happy. They just need direction (or a note pad maybe).
It was the same by the pool, attention to detail was just lacking. There were a few key members of staff who couldn't do enough for you- Layla, Pen Edith and Larry deserve promotion and a huge pat on the back; they never stopped working... Amazing guys!! However having to constantly ask for water got a bit annoying; come on guys it's 40 degrees, we need drinks!!! I suppose we were spoiled as we had come from another resort where they were in constant supply..
We asked to take a trip to the main land but it cost £70 each return and latest return was 6pm; shame really as snorkelling which was further away was cheaper. Overall I can only conclude this was a way of keeping you on the island paying ridiculous prices for limited good and drink.
The toilets were clean and tidy but I lost count of the times the sanitary bin was overflowing and there was no tissue paper.. Other guests also commented on this.
On a positive the resort is beautiful; very small in terms of walks or exploring alone but the private beach was lovely and the service their was second to non.. The food was also fab there too! Shame it closed at 4.30 as we would have rather have been eating there in the evening!!
We snorkelled, kayaked through the mangrove, walked through the forest and saw sights I will never forget. The guides were enthusiastic and knowledgeable.
It is a fabulous resort; they just have something missing; space to have a nice evening drink before a smart dinner separate to swimmers, space to enjoy a lovely meal away from swimwear, attention to detail....
With some work and listening to guest opinion and thoughts it could be a five star resort.. They just ask the wrong questions.. For now I would say 3.5 based on what is lacking; what they have is gorgeous but there was not a single guest we spoke to who said they would return because of these gaps... Paying the bill- well that's a whole other story, take cash!!
- 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