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“Great resort, but not without problems”

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Permai Rainforest Resort
Ranked #11 of 55 Hotels in Kuching
Stafford, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
53 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 134 helpful votes
“Great resort, but not without problems”
Reviewed May 3, 2013

On our recent trip to Malaysia and Borneo, the Permai was the place I was looking forward to staying at most of all but, unfortunately, our stay didn’t get off to a great start.
I had emailed the resort direct to reserve a treehouse for 3 nights some 6 months in advance, and I re-confirmed this 3 weeks prior to our arrival at the same time as arranging the airport pick up service.
We were picked up at the airport as arranged but when we arrived at the resort we were told that our booking was for a cabin for one night and a treehouse for the other two. I explained to the young girl at reception that this was incorrect and provided a copy of my reservation as evidence. Following further discussion with a manager, who admitted a mistake had been made with our reservation, it transpired there was no tree house available that day. Extremely disappointed, we reluctantly agreed to take the cabin (free of charge in lieu of their error) for one night. The one we were given slept 6 people in single beds in 2 bedrooms with air conditioning and ceiling fans, a seated area with a fridge and ceiling fan, separate toilet and shower room. The accommodation is probably best described as functional, more akin to a small dormitory than a hotel room and suitable for a group of people not intending to spend too much time in their room rather than a couple such as us who had intended to spend a lot of time relaxing at the resort.
One other issue we had was with the on-site restaurant. We had enjoyed good food and reasonable service on our first night (although the beers weren’t very cold) but our second night was very poor. The restaurant wasn’t as busy as the previous night yet we had sat for 20 minutes without even being offered a menu, despite adjacent tables being served and/or cleared. Only when my partner went to the counter, took 2 menus and ordered drinks did we get any service. Our order for food was taken, but a few minutes later we were told our choice had ‘ran out’, so we ordered an alternative, to which we were told this had also ‘ran out’. Deciding that it was unacceptable for a restaurant to be unable to prepare two of the simplest, most common local dishes we left and walked for ten minutes to the neighbouring Damai resort where we found very cheap, plentiful food in the food court.
Fortunately, our stay at the Permai did improve significantly. We did get our tree house on the afternoon of our second day and it was perfect, with a nice modern bathroom and a good sized bedroom with sliding glazed doors and fly screens that led onto a balcony overlooking the sea through the surrounding trees. Whilst on the balcony we saw lots of monkeys quite closely making their way through the trees and along the rocky beach below, and sleeping at night with the doors open listening to the ocean sounds was bliss. The wild beaches were also great places to be and, with very few people around, we had the smaller one to ourselves pretty much all afternoon on one day. We walked the jungle trek on site, which was enjoyable, and took us the one and a half hours that is indicated. It isn’t too strenuous but you do need to be reasonably fit as the terrain is pretty uneven in places and requires holding on to ropes sometimes. You also need to pay attention to where you tread as we saw a snake pass pretty close by!
On our third and final night we decided to give the restaurant another go. On this occasion we were greeted by a gentleman who we hadn’t seen previously, and who I assumed to be a manager. Both food and service were impeccable, beers were cold and we even got an apology for a slight delay on the food.
I have given the Permai a 4 out of 5 because, negative issues aside, it is a great resort, offering accommodation and a location that is quite unique. I would definitely stay in one of their treehouses again but the administrative and restaurant operations really do need to tighten things up a bit to ensure they don’t leave their customers disappointed.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank Busbar
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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New Delhi, Delhi, India
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
Reviewed April 29, 2013

This clearly caters for locals and tourists. The tree houses are fun to stay in but we moved to a chalet which I actually preferred as you feel more "in touch" with the forest at ground level. The chalets are basic. There was only one single socket in the hall area which meant choosing between the fridge and the kettle (let alone charging laptops or running hairdryers). The forest walk is great and more challenging than I expected whilst the jungle freshwater pool is great to cool off and a nice idea. The second beach is so clean - like the beaches were before bakelite and paper gave way to the awful tyranny of plastic. The cafe had no wine (although its on the menu) and alcohol in general seemed to be a sporadic resource in this Islamic country. I would recommend getting your favourite tipple in duty free and bring it with you. There is a sort of mall/restaurant complex 10 mins walk ways (you pass it coming in). There is a bar there with food and beer in jugs and a live band on the day we went. Good fun, good views. We also tried the neighbouring hotel which is unimaginatively built and a tragedy really that so much forest was cleared for this dismal place. The restaurants were empty yet it was Easter and the one we nearly ate at had dried cat mess under the table. fresh I can understand (sneaky cat) but dried? Do they ever hoover? Back at Permai the restaurant choices were a bit limited. I would definitely recommend Permai as this place is good value and great location but it isnt 4 star and has limitations. The chalets would be an excellent choice for a group of mates - bring a multi-way adaptor!

Room Tip: Tree houses are in a line so not much to choose between them really. The chalets are nicely spaced...
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
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Thank anywherebutcroydon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
1 review
Reviewed April 26, 2013

We stayed in treehouse nr 7. Here we enjoyed the voices of the jungle and the sea. Staff very friendly. Nice jungle trails. Food in the café not that good. I'd suggest to go to the Damai food court at 10 min. walking distance from the hotel.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Thank AnoukvanVelzen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Anchorage Alaska
Level 5 Contributor
54 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed April 20, 2013

We took a taxi here from Kuching and were impressed by the natural beauty and upkeep of this jungle paradise. The reception staff was okay but it was the cafe and beach staff that really shined. The treehouse in which we stayed was rustic but spacious and sparkly clean with a large balcony that came with a view of the trees and ocean. We opted for a relaxing time during our two days. We took the jungle hike where we spotted a pit viper, monitor lizard among other wildlife. The walk was pleasant and came complete with a waterfall for a great photo op. The beach was quiet and the sea was refreshing. Wifi was good in the Cafe as was the food. I highly recommend Permail Rainforest Resort for a peaceful jungle experience.

Room Tip: Treehouse was great. We had #3 but I hear there's a better sea view from #10. The cabins looked...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank fastawake
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Singapore
Level 2 Contributor
4 reviews
Reviewed April 15, 2013

-just one hour drive from Kuching airport
-walking distance to Sarawak cultural village
-awesome jungle pool
-beginning of March is low season, very few tourists, big chance that you will be alone on the beach but be careful as waves can be quite rough at this time. that also might mean no diving/kayak activities available
-lovely tree houses with balcony. very clean, with air-con and fan, just near the ocean but still in the jungles. big chance to see monkeys right next to your house
-wifi at the cafeteria and reception

Room Tip: just choose tree house!
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank SingaporeGirafelle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hong Kong, China
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed April 14, 2013

We travelled around South East Asia for a couple of weeks, visiting major cities and doing general tourist things. We saw some amazing temples in Thailand and totally loved seeing the sights in Singapore and Penang. None of that compared to our stay at Permai Rainforest Resort. Unfortunately we weren't able to book a tree house because none were available, but our disappointment didn't last long. The cabin we stayed in was pretty basic but that's what we wanted.

At Permai you really are surrounded by nature: we saw a bunch of grey leaf monkeys playing around on the path as soon as we arrived, and there were lizards scurrying everywhere in the leaf litter. On arrival we decided to check out one of the beaches and were amazed to find that, other than some crabs and birds, we were the only ones there. People pay a fortune for a private beach so we felt truly privileged.

The staff are all incredibly friendly and always eager to help. The people who take you on the boat trips are knowledgeable, and having them explain the habitat to you really enhances the experience. We took two boat trips and saw dolphins (although only really from a distance), proboscis monkeys, crocodiles and some fireflies in the evening. The part I found most enjoyable, however, was when we decided to go on the 2km jungle trail by ourselves. It's pretty hard going at times so maybe not recommended for the elderly but I think kids would absolutely love it - just remember to take plenty of water because it gets very hot in the rainforest!

The menu at the Rainforest Café is pretty good, we had no trouble finding something nice to eat every evening. The only problem I had with the food was breakfast. The first day was OK (definitely not great) and it got progressively worse after that. The first morning was buffet style, with a selection of cereal, toast, tea, coffee, pancakes and some local rice and noodle dishes. On the second and third mornings the buffet wasn't on, we figured this was most likely because there weren't many guests staying at that point. The selection of cereal went from 3 to 2 and there wasn't any jam for the toast, and the a la carte selection wasn't great. I ordered the big breakfast and was disappointed to see chicken hotdogs and potato wedges with a grilled tomato on the side. It did come with an egg but it was so over-fried that it was like a super crispy omelette. On our last morning there was only one choice of cereal, although it was the one I liked so it didn't bother me too much, and I ordered a chicken curry from the menu. Not really to my taste at 8 in the morning, especially since the 'sauce' was basically fire water with a knuckle of chicken in the middle. No rice, so I couldn't soak up the sauce and ended up leaving half of it.

You'll notice that I still rated the resort as 'Excellent' so don't let the breakfast put you off. We had a great time and would gladly visit again.

Room Tip: Don't be disappointed if you can't get a tree house, having a cabin in the forest is pretty...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank TimM1982
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level 4 Contributor
32 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed April 14, 2013

We stayed at Permai for two nights before we transferred to the city.

This is a great place - a must stay to do during your trip to Kuching area. It is situated right on the Santubong Peninsula... a lovely part of the country. There are a few places along the peninsula to stay, but we liked the sound of this one best when looking on Tripadvsor. As it was a smaller more rustic style place rather than being in some big complex place. There are several different types of accommodation to choose, from camping to bungalow style lodges to tree houses. We stayed in a tree house and you felt like you were really in Borneo. The Tree Houses are right on the beach front and the sound of the ocean really makes you fell like you are somewhere tropical. The are also kept very clean.. serviced each day.

The staff are very friendly and can organise pick ups both to and from the airport. However, we arranged for a pick up from the airport when we booked, but when we arrive at Kuching Airport there was nobody to collect us and ended up having to get a taxi. Was not a problem though.

They have a little café which is open all day for meals. Food was average and quite a choice!

Trips can also be booked via them as well. Wetlands and Bako National Park we would recommend a trip to. If you are in luck you will see monkeys wandering around as well.

There is a trek through the forest you can do as well around one and half hours. The trek is fun but can be hard going in the heat and there is a rope bridge that you need to cross over the stream as well.

Room Tip: Choose No 10 Tree House - best room of ocean and larger bed.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Mandy B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Permai Rainforest Resort

Property: Permai Rainforest Resort
Address: Teluk Penyu, Kuching 93050, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sarawak > Kuching
Amenities:
Beach Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Romantic Hotel in Kuching
#1 Top resorts Hotel in Kuching
#1 On the Beach Hotel in Kuching
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Permai Rainforest Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 39
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Permai Rainforest Resort is an eco-resort set in pristine Borneo rainforest located by the beach at the foot of mystical Mount Santubong, Sarawak. Carefully designed to minimize impact on the natural environment, it offers a unique rainforest experience and a variety of activities from dolphin watching to high ropes courses and guided kayaking tours. Just 40 minutes from the Kuching, its an ideal way to experience Borneo. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Permai Rainforest Hotel Kuching
Permai Rainforest Resort Kuching, Sarawak

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