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“Terrible management and bad quality resort”

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Layang Layang Island Resort
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Layang Layang
Reviewed 29 April 2014

Layang Layang Resort was a run-down, old resort, which I felt far over-charged for their rooms. The room I had was quite basic, quite terrible and in a bad state. The floor of my room was uneven and had a large stain on the cheap, office carpet by the door. The water in the shower smelled of rust and the toilet bowl took 10 minutes to fill and very noisily too. There was no hair dryer. There was a TV with 3 grainy channels and there was no remote control. The walls of my room were made of lacquered, plywood panels and so I could hear every cough from the room next door and every vibration and footsteps from the corridor outside. There was Wifi in the lobby and common areas but most of the time, it did not work.

The room price included 3 meals a day, but the quality of food was really quite basic. Even with food included, the resort was over-priced.

I feel that the reason they can over-charge is because there is no other place to stay in order to dive in Layang Layang, which is a real pity. I believe that healthy competition would do some good and could maybe improve service.

There were only 3 days of flights in and out of Layang Layang a week: Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. I booked my flights and trip to Layang Layang many months in advance with a diving agent (Asia Diving Vacation, Operated and owned by Duis Dive Sdn Bhd.) and was confirmed morning flights to and from the island from Kota Kinabalu. The agent then confirmed my flights again when I arrived in KK. But when I was at the resort in Layang Layang, I found out one day before I left that I was bumped off my morning flight because I had no connecting flight when arriving in KK. No one asked me if I had already made plans in KK, which I did and which I had even already paid for. And my local agent who booked my flights and confirmed them could do nothing to help me get back on my originally confirmed flight.

The general manager of Layang Layang Resort, Eugene Foo, then tried to explain to me that they gave priority to people with connecting flights but when I explained that despite no connecting flight, I already had made and paid for plans in KK and had work to do there, he did not listen nor cared, which I found unacceptable.

He told me that MAS no longer flew large planes onto the island and only had the small 16-seaters. What I did not understand was why they had not informed me of this days or even weeks before I arrived on Layang Layang? They already knew in advance that they would have small aircrafts instead of the large one and hence there was no way everyone could fit into one flight. Had they informed me in advance before I arrived, I could weigh all options and decide whether or not to go to Layang Layang in the first place. I feel cheated, robbed of my day and time wasted. They put me on the third flight out although I was originally confirmed on the first flight and then promised to be in the second flight. No compensation for my plans being changed and money wasted in KK.

As a Resort, I believe that it is their duty to inform me of all changes in flights before I arrived or at least even on my first day of arrival because they had my confirmed flight departure in their records. I felt that that they were not transparent in their communications with me because I only found out the late afternoon before the morning of my flight that I was bumped off my morning flight. And I found out only because I asked, not because I was informed, which was unacceptable.

I find the Layang Layang resort very unprofessional, badly managed and is only concerned about taking as much money as possible without really focussing on real service.

Admittedly, the diving was not all bad. The resort staff, with the exception of the front office managers and the general manager, Eugene Foo, were friendly. The problem lies clearly with the head office, the booking office and the operations management. It is disgraceful that a Resort that charges so much money cares so little about service.

I would definitely not recommend anyone to go to Layang Layang Island Resort. I personally would never return there unless I can find a liveaboard to dive there or if there is another completely different resort, preferably not run by Avillion, like this one, and run by people who really know what service is and what resort management is.

I feel that there are better places in the world to see hammerheads. I personally did not see the migrating school of hammerheads even though I dived 12 dives there. It is really a question of luck and skill of the dive master to find the correct areas. And a word on the dive centre: I was happy that I am naturally comfortable underwater and am an advanced diver because from my experience, it was important to be self sufficient and to have managed my own bottom time and depth. I had 11 people to one dive master in my group. And more often than not, the dive master could not always look out for everyone in the group because he was busy looking for hammerheads for us. I did not feel that safety was a huge concern, although we were told you so in the arrival briefing. My experience was that there was a lot there that was said, written and confirmed that was not true and not enforced.

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled solo
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4  Thank Michelle T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 28 April 2014

I was due to travel to Layang Layang in March of this year. The trip had been planned for 4 or 5 months with a stay in KL on the way out and 5 days diving in Sipadan the week after. The booking was cancelled by Avillion via email just 3 days before I was due to fly, to this day I still don't have a reasonable explanation as to why.

We have been trying to re-book the trip ever since, having agreed a new date at the end of May we were contacted this week to say that this booking too had been cancelled due to insufficient room on the flight from Kota Kinabalu to Layang Layang.

At the moment I am stuck with a non-refundable flight from Dubai to 3 locations in Malaysia and no booking at any resort.

Extremely unprofessional behavior by Avillion from start to finish. These guys are living off the fact they have a monopoly on diving on the island and have treated us like dirt. I'm one of the lucky ones in our group that can re-arrange the trip, many of them have missed out altogether.

  • Stayed: April 2014, travelled with friends
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3  Thank Tarbie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 April 2014

I have given this resort the lowest rating possible, if I could have given it no rating at all I would have. I would have liked to have given a review, but our trip was cancelled less than 24 hours before we were due to fly. The reason given was that the plane had broken down and they didn't know when it would be fixed. Fortunately our travel company managed to get us a room at Lankayan Resort (reviewed also) where we met another couple who had been due to holiday on LL at the same time, but they were told that it was cancelled because of work being done on the runway!!! We also saw stories in the Borneo press questioning whether LL was still trading. Whatever the reason for us being unable to holiday on LL, giving less than 24 hour notice was unacceptable. At best I feel that the owners of the resort were being disingenuous and at worst were using the deposit and money paid to them for the holiday as cash flow. If this is how they do business I wouldn't recommend going, no matter how good the diving is (and I'm a very keen diver).

  • Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Jellybean7788
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 March 2014

I had already booked the package half-year ago for diving in March and well planned everything in January 2014. However, the resort suddenly informed that your booking has been cancelled as air flight issues. Just 12 days before the trip!!!!!! Then, I sent email to all diving resort near sipadan island immediately. But, all of them had fully booked, excluded the most expensive SMART. The quoted price is higher than you stay in Maldives 4 stars hotel. ............!!!
The most ridiculous thing was that they updated the flight schedule in their website --- written "the cancelled day" is still available after we got the bad news more than 3days. I really doubt the cancellation reason.......

Stayed: March 2014, travelled as a couple
12  Thank Crystal c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 July 2013

The only reason to come to this place is the diving and snorkelling. If you do either one of these, there ought to be no regrets about coming to this place whatsoever - the place is built on corrals after all. This is not a place for children. The rooms are entirely simplistic and basic; and made entirely out of wood. I think you can only get 2 channels on the tv. The shower is basic and the toilet and rooms is clearly in need of a little tlc. Despite the other bad reviews regarding f&b, I found the food to be quite good.

Personally, I would think it is pretty difficult to complain about anything once you are on the island. It feels like there is a touch of heaven in this place – the way that you are unable to differentiate between where the sea ends and the sky starts at certain times of the day; the warm, clear blue water all around the island; and the peacefulness of being the only island in an open sea for miles. The two-day experience was entirely a privilege.

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled on business
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4  Thank Le Letteur M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 June 2013

On my first trip to Layang Layang Resort, I of course went to see the hammerheads and asked about them writing to the resort directly only to get there and be told that the hammerheads were out of season which of course was a massive disappointment. So the first rule of going to this hotel is to double check the hammerhead season! On this first trip the diving other then missing the hammerheads was very very good!

When writing to this hotel directly the lady who took the booking tried to pass me to an agent friend of hers, basically offering the same price but I assume this means that the booking lady and the agent share the commission. I should have known then just how dodgy this resort is! I didn't take her up on the offer as I preferred to be honest and book direct.

Having missed the hammerheads the first time I visited the resort again, and again the booking lady was trying to pass my off on her friend agent, switching emails to do so and asking me not to say anything to the hotel. If you are the hotel owner reading this - watch out for your dodgy staff.

Upon checking in, they made a point of handing back our passports where we found there was no safe in the room so we hid the passports in our bags and went out for the first dive. Unfortunately upon our return the passports were missing - now you have to understand this is an island with only one hotel and an army base and the access to the rooms could only be made by staff with keys! They also said we should have kept the passports in the reception safe - thanks for the late notice and of course this has never happened to them before!

Naturally we complained and after the usual scooby doo dumb faces of course no one knew anything about it so upon leaving (luckily we were allowed to fly back to KK without a passport) we had to then to get a police report and apply for emergency passports - which take about 4 days!

The embassy informed us that this was quite a common scam and I suspect not the first time it has happened in this resort - a perfect place for the scam as you can't report it to the police and can't bully them as there is the army base next door. If I had to hazard a guess by the time we were at this resort and on our first dive, the passports were stolen and on the same place departing!

We did see the hammerheads and the diving was ok but for the first time ever I would strongly recommend not going to see this dodgy little resort and if you must, check your passports and cash into the reception safe, don't leave any valuables in the room and if you do leave a bit lock it up securely in your bags. Also check that it is actually hammerhead season! Other then all that the diving is great ;)

Room Tip: There are none... it's backpack style!
  • Stayed: July 2012, travelled as a couple
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20  Thank Roger Y
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 June 2013

Heard a lot about Layang Layang and finally got the opportunity (and the leave) to make a trip to this world-renown location in the middle of nowhere.

The trip to Layang Layang was uneventful. It's not as convenient as hopping on a plane - had to spend a night in Kota Kinabalu, before taking the early morning connecting flight to the island. By the time we reached KK, it was already late, so we only had time time for a late dinner/supper before heading back to the hotel to rest.

After reading the reviews in tripadvisor, we were a little apprehensive - didn't expect much of the resort and advised my group to bring their own food to supplement their meals.

We got a pleasant surprise after we arrived - everything was not as bad as we expected. Other than the resort showing the signs of age (the usual wear and tear), we were well satisfied with what we got. Service was excellent, the staff were attentive and helpful, and they did everything to make us feel at home. Almost everyday, we got 'towel sculptures' of mantas and hammerheads and lots of flowers on our beds after the staff tidied up our rooms.

We also read that the food was below par, and that the menu was the same day-in day-out. We were glad to find out that this was not true. Food was great and there was variety over the course of our stay - perhaps they made an effort to change the menu after the reviews. The highlight was the BBQ dinner where everyone of us pigged out. Suffice to say, some of us were worried we couldn't fit into our wetsuits the next day...

Will not provide much feedback on the diving. It is one of the best places I've dived (and I've been to many places). If you want to see big stuff - pelagics like mantas, sharks, tuna, jacks, travelly, eagle rays, etc. this is the place to be. There are small critters too like the pigmy seahorse and lots of nudis, but we were overwhelmed by the variety and abundance of life. Visibility was one of the best I've come across - at the depth of 35m I could still see the dive boat on the surface.

And dolphins accompanied us to and from the dive sites almost everyday!

Bottomline - I guess we had very little or no expectations, and we got pleasantly surprised. If one expects the kind of resorts similar to the Maldives or the Caribbean, then get ready to be disappointed. Trust me, this place is loads better than some of the so-called 'dive resorts' I've been to in the region.

I'll definitely be back. Enough said...

Room Tip: Ask for a room nearer to the dive centre as the resort is huge.
  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled with friends
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7  Thank Jinooi
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Layang Layang Island Resort

Address: Layang Layang 88005, Malaysia
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > West Coast Division > Kota Kinabalu District > Layang Layang
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Layang Layang
Price Range: £178 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Layang Layang Island Resort 3*
Number of rooms: 86
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Layang Layang Island Resort Sdn Bhd is an exclusive resort that dominates the Layang Layang island - an oceanic atoll of Spratly Islands situated approximately 300km northwest of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Malaysia. Fondly known as "The Jewel of the Borneo Banks," it is truly a diver's paradise. As many as 14 coral reefs have formed here, creating a breathtaking underwater scenery. The dive sites are well known for the intriguing hammerhead sharks and pygmy seahorses among other rare creatures. An hour's flight north of Kota Kinabalu, the island on which Layang Layang Island Resort Sdn Bhd nestles lies in 2,000 m of ocean and, due partly to the depth, this atoll has become famous for sightings of large pelagic species and for wall diving. Layang Layang Island Resort Sdn Bhd is the only resort on the island besides a Royal Malaysia Navy base. The resort, designed to look like the traditional Long House, comprises 86 cosy rooms, restaurant and bar, outdoor swimming pool, dive center with certified diving instructors and a variety of diving courses among other facilities for modern comforts. Come for the exclusive and intriguing diving experience at this remote destination out of the world, where rare and uncommon underwater creatures await you! ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Avillion Layang Layang Island Hotel Layang Layang
Layang Island Hotel

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