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.
- 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