Review: Gaya Island Resort, Borneo
Thursday, 20 Dec 2012
Gaya Island Resort is a spanking new and rather glamorous island resort, 15 minutes speedboat ride off the coast of Kota Kinabalu.
The resort has a fabulous jungle backdrop and a dreamy view of Mount Kinabalu. Think contemporary gorgeousness influenced by local Sabahan heritage.
The 120 47 square metre villas have the usual mod cons, a walk-in closet (a must in our eyes), an enormous bath, and a verandah with day beds. Thumbs up to room service – it’s complimentary for kids.
Our Kinabalu villa was a good walk away from the main area. This kept us fit but is not ideal if you have littlies. That said, the view was impressive. Top tip: request a room near the resort.
Food was first class and the portions were huge. We loved the open-air restaurant Fisherman’s Cove and the private beach barbecue is a must. Don’t miss the steamboat either, you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to seafood heaven.
The beach is great for kids and was always deserted. There are hammocks to play on and the all-important sandcastles to build!
Every resort’s must-have: a great pool. Adults won’t be disappointed here and tiny tots will relish in the splash pool. We gladly tested the huge beds over the water (two thumbs up), but for those who don’t want to get wet, there are also sun loungers (though sadlly without much shade). Psst: make sure to enjoy a cheeky margarita at the swim-up bar.
The complimentary activities will keep even the most active bee busy. Try the guided nature walk (don’t forget long trousers and mozzie-repellent); go canoeing or paddle boarding; or try craft-making and local dancing – believe us when we say it was great fun.
Diving and snorkelling fans won’t be disappointed; it is in the Coral Triangle after all. The sunset cruise was a blast, but be sure to book a sitter and leave the kids behind (we wish we had).
The spa, set amongst mangroves, offers yummy treatments using ancient local practices. We recommend the Tadau Kaamatan couples experience.
Gaya Island Resort would make the ideal 5-star escape after a climb up Mt Kinabalu or a jungle adventure on the mainland. Whilst it is great for young kids, we’d say it’s more suited to families with older ones. Parents of toddlers should be vigilant in certain areas, especially by villas as they are high up. There are also lots of steps (a buggy nightmare), although we were assured they are addressing this.
Gaya Island Resort, Malohom Bay, Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park?88000 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, P. 6836 2455.