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.
- 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