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“What a beautiful place”

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Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 6 November 2012

Partner and I visited here for 4 days in September 2012, and were joined by another couple of friends for three days.

We arrived here after a somewhat shaky stay in Kota Kinabalu earlier that week.

Check in occurs at the port in KK where Bunga Raya and her sister island resort Gayana, have a check in lounge. We then boarded a small boat with another couple, for an 10 min ride to Gayana the other couple were dropped off. We were then brought to Bunga Raya which was another 10 mins further down the island.

Turning the corner into the sheltered bay where Bunga raya is situated, partner and I both had a bit of a “finally!” moment – our impression of KK had been a little less than intended, though we had stayed there with 3 other friends and had a good time. We just had a few hotel hiccups which wouldn’t go away, and which unfortunately left a poor impression.

Not so with Bunga Raya. We were greeted on a very long wooden pier by the duty manage who sat us down with some cool drinks and explained where everything was on the island. She then brought us in our golf buggie to each of the main buildings: Restaurant, spa, pool areas and finally to our villa.

We had a standard villa but it was anything but. The quality of accommodation here is very high, with excellent finishes on the rooms and bathrooms. We had a wraparound balcony, overlooking a mangrove at the end of a small stream. King size bed, double air con, ceiling fan (and incredibly ornate ceiling), work desk, wifi throughout island. Bathroom amenities were, officially, the best I have ever experienced. We all raved about them. Bathrooms were beautifully tiled with off green stone, twin sinks, huge rainforest showers.

Staff were incredibly friendly, and happy to go the extra mile to help. Golf buggies were dispatched for any trip if required.

Spa was a beautiful sanctuary, with very experiences staff. The layout was wonderful, crossing a rope bridge to get to the reception area, then being led uphill to each of the individual and custom treatment rooms along the side of the hill, all perched around a stream. We each had several treatments all of which were a very high spa standard. Again, products were excellent.
Pool and beach were without doubt, amazing. The best infinity pool I have experienced in terms of actually lining up with the sea and being “infinite”.

Should point out, we visited during the low season, so there were few guests and like any hotel it would certainly be busier at max occupancy. However, we were delighted to experience a kid-free hotel for our 4 days.

We had a lovely chat with Tomas and Robert, both of whom were very professional, excellent staff and a credit to the proprietors.

Beach toys include snorkels and kayaks, and we did a fair bit of snorkelling. Some great visibility. The hotel’s sister resort, Guyana, has a breeding centre for giant clams, and these can be seen in the depth, along with some reasonably big barracuda and a host of other wildly coloured fish. We kayaked around the bay one day to do some further snorkelling. It’s surprisingly exhausting!
We ate lunch either in the main restaurant or the beach side bar. While the food was good, true Malaysian cooking is certainly not high brow. Nor is it western. We had some very tasty and filling lunches, like burgers and pizzas available at the beach bar, and then smaller helpings for dinner. I did however had a good New Zealand steak on our last evening. If we had only experienced this hotel alone we perhaps would have felt the food was below par – but having travelled to a few other places in Borneo we all felt that the hotel’s cooking was well above par for Malaysia in general.

For a change of scenery, we visited Guyana Eco resort, the sister hotel, one evening for dinner. This resort is marketed more to the Asian market, and the food is very orientated this way too... there is literally a zoo of fish tanks on the way in, with a massive variety of live seafood product to distract you on the way tot he table. We don't particularly like live product in restaurant so this was a little unexpected, and we went for some of the more standard spring roles and rice/noodle dishes.

We also took the opportunity to have a look around, and the very helpful staff showed us some of the rooms. While very good, we were much happier that we were staying in Bunga Raya.

We also did a canopy walk and zip line with Anna who was great.
Look out for the wild boar who quietly roam through the island.

The dual aspect main restaurant overlooks the sea on one side and a massive fish pond with waterfall on the other. Feeding the koi there really got us excited, somewhat surprisingly.

The overall island setting is exceptionally relaxing, encouraging you to switch off, so if you can turn off your phone do.

Room Tip: ask to see the wine cellar!!!
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  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled with friends
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3  Thank TomInDublin
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 2 November 2012 via mobile

Just back from our honeymoon at Bunga Raya, what a paradise of beautiful nature, warm & blue ocean, fantastic service and luxury accommodation. We stayed in an Ocean Villa with Plunge Pool and were completely spoiled. It is pricey, but worth every cent if you want peaceful and luxurious service.

  • Stayed: October 2012
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2  Thank SarahPiper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 October 2012

We recently stayed for a week at Bunga Raya and we were delighted with it.

The resort is set in its own bay surrounded by jungle. The sea is calm and warm and teeming with fish ( at least when we were there) the sand is really soft, like flour, and is cleaned at least once a day by he hotel.
There are two restaurants and the food is excellent in both. (We struggled to understand previous reports on TA of poor quality). You can pretty much have whatever you want for breakfast and the setting is lovely, either looking at the sea or the Koi pond. Happy hour is 5 to 7 where first drink is free and the second half price. A nice touch.
The accommodation is spectacular. We were lucky to be able to stay in one of the two tree-houses. Amazing! Big bedroom with everything you could want. Nice bathroom. Balcony with plunge pool and even a pavillion. All totally private. We looked at one of the beach cottages and this looked really nice too, also with a plunge pool, though you can walk directly onto the beach.
This resort is on he edge of pristine primary jungle and this should be considered if you are uncomfortable with being close to nature. The resort is in a national park and, therefore, they are not allowed to use pesticides - we were bitten by sandflies (we are told as we never saw the little blighters). Nothing was dangerous or scary though. I didn't even see one spider, thankfully! The hotel arranges jungle treks with a guide and they have an extremely high canopy walk inside the jungle close to the resort. Our guide was Chris who was knowledgable about everything in the jungle but also told us all about the many different hibiscus plants grown there, (Bunga Raya means Hibiscus in Malay and is their national flower). All this for free.
There is a free shuttle boat to sister hotel Gayana. Only takes about 15 mins. Guayana is nice but we just wanted to return to our paradise, Bunga Raya.
Beautiful surroundings, luxury accommodation and a totally facinating place. But .... It was the staff who really added to our wonderful stay. I am not sure if its their motto but I frequently heard " If you are happy then we are happy" ALL the staff were really lovely. Considerate, caring and friendly. They come across as a big happy family. We were sorry to have to leave.
I really do hope that I can return one day.

Room Tip: All cottages seem good but for total privacy, if you can afford it ! , the treehouses are spectacula...
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  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Manx/Traveller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TomasAndersen, General Manager at Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 15 October 2012

Dear Mr and Mrs Crowley,

Thank you for your review, we thoroughly enjoyed sharing our home with you. You will be pleased to know, since you departed we have intensified our fight against the sand fly and seem to be making some headwind. I shall share this review with my staff, I am certain they want to know when the service they deliver is appreciated. Anyhow we thank you for your visit and look forward welcoming you back again.
Best regards

Tomas

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 8 October 2012 via mobile

We absolutely loved our stay at Bunga Raya and were delighted from the moment we stepped off the boat and saw the beautiful clear blue water & white sand beach (in stark contrast to the brown and polluted water at Kota Kinabalu).

We would rate Bunga Raya much higher than the sister Gayana resort where the water isn't as nice for swimming. Gayana is worth a day trip for the snorkelling, marine ecology research centre and a meal at the Chinese seafood restaurant. Ofcourse, the snorkelling is also good off the jetty at Bunga Raya and there are other activities such as zip lining and a canopy walk that are fun.

The location of your room in the resort depends a bit on the luck of the allocation. Rooms up on the hill are accessed by buggy and therefore less convenient.

All room types are expensive but the bill for meals/extras at the end wasn't too bad reducing the overall cost of our stay.

  • Stayed: September 2012
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2  Thank KJChan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TomasAndersen, General Manager at Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa, responded to this reviewResponded 15 October 2012

Thank you for the review on Trip Advisor, we are so pleased you enjoyed your stay with us.
I agree with you that Bunga Raya has one of the most beautiful locations around Sabah and being situated in Marine Sanctuary and within a National Park only adds to its uniqueness.
I hope to see you back in Bunga Raya in the not too distant future.

Best regards

Tomas

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 August 2012

There have been a few changes since our last stay and for the most part they are changes for the better!

Food is good (contrary to other reviews) at Grill, Koi, and room service - a greater selection on offer this year and more reasonably priced than last year. Grill open the entire time we visited except for the one beach buffet night.

Overall service has improved throughout with staff more efficient and professional whilst maintaining the casual nature of the resort. Check In and check out slick with staff happy to assist with transfers, airport check in, etc, etc. There is still room for improvement with restaurant service sometimes inconsistent.

Motorised water sports gone (hooray). Peace as it should be in this place of beauty.

Pre-breakfast baskets delivered to room gone (boooo). But breakfast at the Koi improved with greater choice.

Sing Song on arrival and departure gone (boooo). But replaced with personal and attentive welcome and goodbye.

Flying Fox live (hooray). Great way to see the forest and beach from the top of the trees - not a massive adrenalin rush but good fun and value all the same.

Cocktail hour (free last year) gone (boooo). But retained free first drink and half price all those following for the hour.

Pool Villas remain the room of choice for me as the location is sublime and pools better than we remembered (I think better maintained too).

This place is relaxed, beautiful, and truly ideal for those wanting to get away from it all. You will not regret staying here. We have never returned to a hotel before for a holiday together as there is so much of the world to see but we couldn't resist returning here. When in the region I do not believe there is better (and we have stayed in a few!).

Room Tip: Beach Pool Villas are great, try to avoid the ones closest to the reception jetty as they are set ba...
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  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled as a couple
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7  Thank SMB_2000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa

Address: Polish Bay, Pulau Gaya 88778, Malaysia
Phone Number:
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > West Coast Division > Kota Kinabalu District > Pulau Gaya
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Price Range: €192 - €436 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa 5*
Number of rooms: 48
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
As sensual and exotic as the hibiscus flower that bears its name, Bunga Raya Island Resort is a luxurious jewel set on a coral reef island just off the coast of Borneo. A secluded island hideaway of 47 timbered villas, the resort is framed by white sand beach and virgin jungle. Hillside villas reflect the simplicity of the Borneo architectural style. A hilltop spa blends the finest Traditional Asian and Western treatments using restorative powers of indigenous plants and oils. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Bunga Raya Island Resort And Spa
Bunga Raya Island Hotel Kota Kinabalu

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