Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hotel Review: Gaya Island Resort, Sabah, Malaysia

Gaya Island Resort, a luxury resort by YTL Hotels is located in Sabah within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu and the shores of Pulau Gaya. Beautiful sandy beaches and lush rainforest paired with luxurious accommodation and great hospitality makes Gaya Island Resort a wonderful holiday destination for all.

Gaya Island Resort is ideal for families, couples or simply anyone looking for a memorable vacation.

A few months back, we were here for a family getaway and we had a truly amazing time. My kids were so mesmerized by the whole experience and we definitely made many memories which we can fondly look back on in future.

To get to Gaya Island Resort from Kuala Lumpur, you can either fly via Malaysia Airlines or Air Asia to  Kota Kinabalu International Resort. Private transfers via luxury sedan or MPV for families between Kota Kinabalu International Airport and Sutera Harbour Marina can be arranged. We were then escorted to the lounge and refreshed with a welcome treat (lovely sorbet) while being checked in to the resort. Then, it is another 10-15 minutes ride in a speedboat to the resort.

Sutera Harbour Marina

On the speedboat - towards Gaya Island Resort

We were greeted by a natural sanctuary nestled in the hillside of an ancient rainforest with a stunning outline of Mount Kinabalu on the horizon. Breathtaking! There are a total of 121 villas and suites, set amidst lush greenery. The resort's architecture respects local Sabahan elements, by using local materials and blending harmoniously with the natural environment while villa interiors are designed with a contemporary elegance.

We have arrived!

There are 3 types of villas here - Bayu Villa, Canopy Villa and Kinabalu Villa, each offering a different view (either the mangrove, canopy, tropical rainforest and the South China Sea). There is also a 188square metre 2-bedroom Suria Suite.

Luxurious, comfortable beds

Large bath tub and two vanity units in each villa

Mangosteen toiletries

We stayed in the Kinabalu Villa, which has the best views in the resort of the South China Sea, and on a clear day, Mount Kinabalu can also be seen. The 47 square metre villa is luxuriously appointed and features a spacious bedroom, a writing desk, a safe box, a flat screen television with satellite channels, a large open bathroom with an oversized bathtub and two vanity units, and an outdoor verandah with day beds. There is complimentary wifi in the resort, however in the villas, connection may be temperamental.

Outdoor verandah, perfect for chilling

View from our room

Our kids were very excited when they saw their beautiful room and the huge bathtub (which they spent hours in on rainy evenings!). We also love waking up early in the mornings (before 6am!) to catch the sunrise and on our last morning, we were rewarded with a view of Mount Kinabalu plus a beautiful sunrise.

Beautiful sunrise

As Gaya Island Resort is committed to minimise the carbon footprint within its environment, it is therefore a walking resort. From the resort lobby/beach front to our villa is a 10-minute leisurely walk.  There is a 40-metre lap pool with floating cabanas fronting the beach and a wading pool for the kids at Gaya Island Resort.  Every morning after breakfast, our kids would go down to the beach by the Feast Village and play in the sand or just run at the beach. So peaceful here! Do remember to bring your sunscreen and mosquito repellent.


Pretty girl by the pool

Happy moments

Beautiful, clean beaches

Jump if you're happy!

Other than the main beach, there is also another private beach at Tavajun Bay. This tranquil beach is a 5-minute boat ride from the resort. Lunch is available here from 12.00pm to 3.30pm or a picnic basket could be arranged. At Tavajun Bay you will also find the Gaya Island Resort Marine Centre which main goals are turtle rescue and rehabilitation, coral reef restoration and conservation through education.

Picnic by the beach

There is also a Library located between the Gymnasium and Feast Village and several relaxation chambers for those who want some quiet time. Board games are available at the library. There is also a kids play room as well as KuRi-KuRi (meaning 'play' in the local Bajau language) Kids Club whereby half day programmes are available to keep young adventurers occupied with activities and games designed to nurture creativity and educate on the natural surroundings. 

In the resort, there are a myriad of dining selections. Feast Village offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, Pool Bar & Lounge offers a light bite for lunch as well as evening cocktails, and Fisherman's Cove serves fresh seafood for dinner (children under 16 not allowed).

Feast Village

Fisherman's Cove, serving fresh seafood with a view of the sea and Mount Kinabalu

There are also a host of interesting and unique activities to experience the cultural heritage of the region such as snorkelling explorations, guided nature walks, The Borneo Culinary Journey and Singgah Singgarung. Singgah Singgarung showcases the traditional Borneo life,thorugh native arts, leaf-weaving, traditional bamboo dance as well as trying local snacks and a local rice wine called lihing. There is also a Spa Village at the resort, a unique spa hideaway set in the mangroves which offer indulgent treatments that reflect the cultural healing traditions of Sabah's indigeneous people. 

Learning how to make local handicrafts from leaves

Tribal games

Guided nature walk

Our green friend

Daniel's first snorkelling experience

With resident marine biologist, Scott Mayback who was also our snorkelling guide

Kadazan Tribal Dinner, a private dining experience whereby we were treated to a tribal-style BBQ (moved indoors to Feast Village due to the rain) with live entertainment (Kadazan music, fire-eater and shooting with a blowpipe)

Fresh seafood 

The Borneo Culinary Journey - a fun cooking class which we thoroughly enjoyed

Spa Village Gaya Island - for a pampering, relaxing experience

Thank you to YTL Hotels for this wonderful experience.

Do check out their special packages here - resident's package from RM775++ per room per night, stay 3 pay 2 from RM800++ per room per night and more.

See other posts related to Gaya Island Resort here:
Hello from Paradise!
Gaya Island Marine Centre
Feast Village
Pool Bar & Lounge
The Borneo Culinary Journey
Spa Village Gaya Island


Location: Gaya Island Resort, Malohom Bay, Pulau Gaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, 88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, East Malaysia.

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  1. Geeee!!!! Your girl is big now, a real little lady, she is!

  2. As a sabahan, i've never been there but heard about it so much from my friends. I will definitely visit it one day :)

  3. Hi Yen,

    I will jump lots too if I'm having a holiday in this resort! This looks wonderful!


  4. Looks amazing! So clean and untouched...would love to go there some day:D

  5. gorgeous shots capturing the beautiful, idyllic tranquillity of the island ... and baby d and c both look like they're having a whale of a time with so many different and interesting activities :)

  6. Wow everyone looks like they're having an amazing time! It makes me want to get on a plane and stay there :D

  7. Wow, I want to go! I want to go! But let me save some money first! Hehehe. :D

  8. Wonderful and amazing experience for you and the kids. I love every single photo shot of your lovely children.

  9. Hi Yen,
    Wow! It is such a lovely resort. Love all your beautiful clicks and your two awesome models.
    I must go there one day since I am staying next door ..Sarawak.
    Thanks for sharing !

  10. I have been meaning to say via IG that your children have grown up so much! Here I feel like they are much bigger again! Looks like you guys had amazing trip. I want to tag along~~~! So beautiful. I need a vacation! :)

  11. Hi Yen,
    Can tell that your kids enjoyed this place so much.
    Beautiful resort!

  12. Wow what a beautiful resort . Love love love it :-D

  13. Just returned from Gaya yesterday. It was the perfect end to a wonderful holiday in Borneo. Everyone was so friendly. Highly recommend it.


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