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Gem Island Resort & Spa
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Marang
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 6, 2012

This is the second time I have visited Gem Island, the first being in 2009, and it still remains a beautiful and totally relaxing place to spend some time.
The rooms are quite spacious with great views from the balcony of the water villas.
The beaches are excellent and quiet perfect for relaxing. I did intend to have a couple of days diving around Pulau Kapas, but after snorkeling off Gem Island I didn't think I would see anymore. The reefs around the island offer a wide variety of marine life from clown fish to sharks and its a must to spend a few hours drifting in the sea looking at the marine life. We were also lucky to be present one night to witness the release of some baby turtles.
The food is also excellent offering a wide variety of both local and western cuisine.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this resort to anyone who wants a few days to relax and unwind, it's just a shame I had to come home.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Jeff P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 1, 2012

We stayed at Gem Island for 3D 2N on the recreation package. For this, we were given a water villa, full board (eating a set menu - although the food was delicious and as a non-meat eater they accommodated my needs), boat transfer from Marang and use of snorkel equipment and kayak. We had such a wonderful time that we actually went back for another night two days later, whilst we were still in the area! The room was comfortable and clean; I particularly enjoyed sitting in the swing seat on the balcony, admiring the view of the crystal clear waters and white beaches of the neighbouring Pulau Kapas. As already stated, the food was delicious and portions generous. What really impressed us was the service - all of the staff (waitering staff, cleaning staff, reception staff, recreation centre staff) were friendly, helpful and seemed to go that extra mile to ensure an enjoyable stay. We went on a snorkelling trip and enjoyed the seeing the corals, clown fish, angel fish... beware of the jelly fish! Had such a lovely time, will definitely go again.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank ChloeM85
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2012

It could be perfect except…
A 15-20 minute boat ride out from Marang Jetty we arrived at Gem Island Resort and Spa. We were met with a welcoming fruit juice and a warm smile. Our room, like all of the Water Villas had a balcony not only facing the sea but the sea laps it’s waves under the stilts the rooms are built on. The effect is a bit like looking over the edge of a boat. The entrances to the Villas follows a path bordered by a steep rocky hill covered with trees in which live colonies of Fruit Bats, so noisy at times but only adding to the charm of the place. Every evening just before it gets fully dark they take flight, a fascinating sight.
There are 3 small extremely clean beaches on this privately owned island. There is a small booth where you can rent kayaks, snorkelling gear and arrange dives (though no PADI signs were evident). Boat trips to other local islands can also be arranged. We rented a kayak and paddled across to a nearby island Kapas, had a swim in the crystal water & then paddled back, exercise done and conscience clear.
There is no WiFi available, though there is a computer in Reception, which guests can use for Internet usage if necessary at a charge of 10RM. The electricity is turned off each day for 3 hours, 2:30-5:30 (they say it is to do with the generator), not generally noticed or any bother, as our few afternoons here were spent at one of the beaches.
Really, this is a place to come to for relaxation, a break from being busy, a break from noise, and a break from buses, airports and taxis.
Why ‘perfect except’?
There is only one place to eat on the island, the main restaurant. Breakfasts are buffet style, and having been in 6 Hotels in the previous weeks we found the breakfast offering on a par with them. The food was fine but not in any way memorable. The dinners are offered either as a Set Menu or A La Carte, we were unsure up to the time we left whether we were on a ‘package’ which included Set Meals or whether we were allowed order from the A La Carte menu. Strangely we had to ask what the Set Menu was each night, there was no display on either a menu or even a chalkboard, and having to ask what we about to eat seemed a bit strange. The A La Carte menu had both local and more Western fare. The drinks prices are, however, expensive even allowing for Island logistical problems: 130MR for a glass of wine and 15.90MR for a small can of beer. It was noticeable that as soon as most people had finished dinner they left the dining area. Other Hotels seem to encourage guests to linger, have another drink and if Wi-Fi was available I have no doubt that the many guests would be utilising their IPods, IPads, Tablets and Laptops (probably most have a beer, soft drink or glass of wine… if the prices weren’t so steep). But maybe a few days away from ever-present technology & keyboards isn’t a bad thing.
This leads in to the niggly problems. There was no booklet in the room providing basic information on menus, prices for the Spa treatments etc, maybe a map naming the other visible islands, a note on how the Resort developed. A single sheet had, though, a price list for the recreation rentals. Despite the room being cleaned every day sandy feet quickly dirtied the floor, maybe a brush in each room could solve this? It would also be helpful if there were a wider selection of snacks available in the Reception shop. There is a kettle provided in each room with sachets of Nescafe & tea bags. Likewise, most rooms have at least two occupants but bizarrely only one swing chair is provided on the balconies? Why not have a second? Parts of the Resort seem a bit dated and could do with some TLC, being so close to the water this may be an ongoing concern.
So overall Gem Island is a fantastic place to ‘get away’, relax, swim in crystal clear waters, spot multi-coloured fish and do…nothing.
I forgot to mention one of the highlights of our stay. Gem Island Resort is part of a Conservation Programme that helps Sea Turtles. You can see the hatchlings in one of the one of the sheltered ponds. On one our evenings there was a ‘release’ of hundreds of them. The Staff were more than helpful in answering the multitude of questions aimed at them. Their pride is seeing so many little turtles being sent back to the sea were evident (though only 2 in a 1000 make it to adulthood we were informed).
So much about this place is perfect, the settings, the views, the Staff (always helpful, smiling and ready with advice on swimming & snorkelling). Noticeable as well was the final farewell waves from the staff as our boat pulled away from the dock. My criticisms are minor compared to the overall gentle ambience this island exudes. So if you visit be sure to bring snacks, coffee and if your bags will carry them, a couple of bottles of wine, but do visit.

Room Tip: Bring snacks & wine
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  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank jgb660
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 22, 2012 via mobile

I stayed on the 4 day 3 night half board package which is great value for money considering the price of meals. Book through the resort website for best price. Gem Island is a great place to unwind, and decompress; especially if you are a nature lover. The journey starts from the airport whicj will set you back RM50 (the resort charges RM 80). Subsequently you face a 30 minute boat ride (please check the boat schedule) which may be bumpy. The sea villas I stayed in was rustic but comfortable (think Taman Negara chalet and you are not too far off). The balcon on the villa is a great place to watch fishes, baby black tip sharks, squids, crabs and monitor lizards. Throw food off the balcony to witness a feeding frenzy. The house reef is one of the best I have seen - no fins are rented may have helped. I saw sergeant fishes, parrotfishes, oscars, triggerfish and a squid. Clams and corals are present as are sea urchins n jellyfishes ( july is jellyfish month). Snorkle out in the morning when the tide is out to go out further, while snorkelling in the afternoon lets you go to eyeball distance with corrals and fishes. I found a clump of amenome with clowm fishes at calf deep water. Curreny goes right to left and is strong near the boat lines. In the evening mosquitoes abound so use the proviced netting. Power goes out from 230-530 pm each day. The spa offers ok service. Food is great though pricey ( starts at 15 RM for kids portion n rm
20-60 for adults. Coke goes for rm 7
. There's a turtle hatchery for observing baby turtles. Overall its good for unwinding.

  • Stayed: July 2012
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6  Thank peyter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 11, 2012

We stayed only one night at Pulau Gemia's Gem Island Resort, and wished that we could have stayed longer. We had a spacious water villa with a balcony facing the clear blue waters. During high tides, we could see schools of fish swam by. Although the island is small, it contains a turtle sanctuary and a pool of adorable newly hatched baby turtles. We were pleasantly surprised by the house reef as there were many anemone fish and other reef fish to satify any snorkelling enthusiast for at least a couple of hours. Water visibility was about 10 - 12 meters. If you want more, sign up for their day snorkelling trip to the nearby coral garden. Food served at the one and only restaurant onsite were delicious! If you like something spicy, we highly recommend its Nasi Goreng in Malay style, it was one of the best we had during our trip round Malaysia, and its Club sandwich was excellent with four layers of different ingredients! We were very impressed by Gem Island's well-trained and friendly housekeeping, front desk and restaurant staff - they had made our stay a very memorable and enjoyable one. We will not hesitate to make a trip to Gem Island Resort again in the near future!

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank DWELSingapore
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 10, 2012

We booked this as a family retreat for 3 nights. It was pretty much what I had expected with a few pleasant surprises. The island itself is tiny but this was also its main attraction for me as it meant there were not many people on the island.

We were upgraded to their best units (suites) and had a fantastic location with a beach on both sides where we stayed. The sunsets were worth waiting for every evening.

This is not really a spa or a resort in the real sense and you need to remember that the place has been around for quite a number of years and looking slightly tired, although still comfortable and enjoyable. Put another way, you should come for the sea, the beach and the tranquility and beauty of the islands, not the hotel.

They try hard to promote ecological tourism by discouraging the use of fins for snorkelers (and will only rent them to people they know) but people still bring their own and the hotel finds it hard to stop unenlightened guests from plucking up coral near the beach. When we were there there was family that had come specially equipped with gloves and some other who could have been told they were in a marine reserve. The hotel needs more signs telling people about proper conservation behaviour and staff that know how to deal with guests who need more than just a hint.

They have a turtle conservation and egg hatching programme and staff go out to the nesting sites at night during the turtle season (May to July) and try to save the eggs after they are laid before locals arrive and dig them up for sale or consumption. We saw them release a batch of about 200 hatchlings on one of the nights we were there.

The sea is very clean and the water is crystal clear. There are grottos, caves and rockpools in some parts. Snorkelling is easy and the food is mainly local cuisine and fresh cooked by their chef. There is a large population of flying foxes on the island and add to the charm of this beautiful island.

Room Tip: For the best views and rooms, book the premium villas, the hideaway villas and suites.
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  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled with family
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Thank Legal_itinerant
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 27, 2012

I visited Gem Island off Marang 2 weeks back. I must say, it was wonder!! the island is small, as compared to Pulau Kapas, Redang, Tioman but it's so beautiful. Clear waters, nice lil beach with fine sand. Let me give a more detailed review.
1. Service - 10/10
- Friendly staff - though they have a small grp, everyone was frenly and helpful. From the cook, waiters, receptionist to the outdoor/boatsman

2. Food - 9/10
- Do not expect ur average BBQ seafood or continental buffet here. they served us malaysian and western food thru our 3D2N stay. we had choices of Ala Carte western or malaysian food for breakfast. Then lunch, we had rice with chinese/malaysian dishes. For dinner, we had western food with 4 meals - starter, soup, main dish and desserts. Good variety!
- there 2 cooks at gem island, a chinese and malay - thus, expect authentic food on ur table!!

3. Rooms - 8/10
- we stayed at the Water villas. though the chalets were a bit old, it was well maintained. Cool air conditioning with clean sheets and bed. the balcony is facing the open sea, overviewing Pulas kapas. beautiful....the fun thing is, u may feed the fishes through your balcony as well..clear waters below the water villas.

4. Activities - 8/10
- our 3D2N was purely relaxing. the island is not as commercialize as Redang or tioman..or even Pulau kapas. thus, expect a very very slow and relaxed place with no water sports, rides etc.
- we had a guided snorkeling tour around the island, it was wonderful...the corals are well kept and colorful. tons of fishes to see, clown fishes, parrot fishes etc.
-kayaking/ boat transfer to Kapas is also available here
- theres also a small pond / santuary for turtles at the resort. though we are not allowed to touch them, its a good experience looking at them

5. Price - 6/10
- a little higher than other resorts or islands in Malaysia especially the East Coast. but its worth every penny!

Overall, i've rated the island highly as its a wonderful experience for us, me and my wife. the island is more for a relaxed,chilled holiday..and its more for couples and small families.if u were to go there for fun filled,happening outing with frens....probably not a good choice :)

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Superpoyo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Gem Island Resort & Spa

Address: Lot 2804 Jalan Rusila | Daerah Marang Terengganu, Marang 21600, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Terengganu > Marang
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Marang
Price Range: $85 - $143 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Gem Island Resort & Spa 3*
Number of rooms: 45
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The resort have 45 sea frontage villas, comprising of 2 suites, 4 hideaway Villas, 4 Premier Villas and 35 water villas. All villas are equipped with air conditioning and king sized beds with aside lounger. All villas have a balcony with a swing chair for your convenience. Villas are all ensuite with a toilet and shower room. The resort is built on the ridges of the coastline, thus preserving the hills and its natural physical formation. There is a main beach and 2 other smaller beach for your private use. There is a restaurant where all meals are served there. Seaport facilities like kayaking and snorkelling are also available. Guided snorkelling is also available upon request with minimum of 4 pax. Airport transfer can be arrange upon request with some charges. Rates are available on our official website. Thank you and hope to see you in Gem Island soon. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Gem Island Hotel Marang
Gem Island Resort And Spa
Gem Island Resort & Spa Terengganu/Marang, Malaysia

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