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“As good as it gets if you love your diving”

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Avillion Layang Layang
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Layang Layang
Welwyn Garden City, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
45 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 21 helpful votes
“As good as it gets if you love your diving”
Reviewed 14 May 2014

First another of our group did all our organisation so I can't comment on the efficiency of the booking process from "their side". For me it was exqusitely simle. Thank you Louise.

The Layang Layang experience begins in a light aircraft at Kota Kinabalu airport climbing over the sea and heading out for 300K to an astonishing atol.

On landing the "transit" to the resort is a one minute stroll to reception.

The rooms are comfortable and minutes from the dive centre and pool / restaurant.

...but to the diving. The briefings are good, divemasters friendly and boatmen experienced.

You dive out into crystal clear waters out into the Blue where you meet Hammerheads Silky sharks, oceanic white tip etc. etc. heading back onto beautiful coral gardens to "decompress" while watching Tuna, Jack, Bump Head Parrot Fish Unicorn Fish and a plethora of reef life.

If you're an inexperienced diver or uncomfortable in the blue - don't go. If you're uncomfortable at depth .. stay shallow.

The staff are friendly, attentive and professional but if you want Club Med, a night club or a "brand" experience this is not for you.

If you love diving you should go at least once in your life.

Room Tip: Go for low numbers they're closer to the dive centre
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
1 Thank NickyTwoHats
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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116 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (25)
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Florida
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 May 2014

OK...I read all the Trip Advisor reviews....good grief !.....what a bunch of whiners ! Here's the reality:

The Bad
1) Administration and booking is a little disorganised. The multiple booking offices don't communicate very well and we had multiple enquiries of 'did you pay ?'.....this was minor amusement value.
2) The walls are thin....VERY thin....we were lucky to have an end room, but our friends next door were amused by the nocturnal activities of the couple on the other side of them and I was (purportedly) snoring on another night.

The Good
1) The diving and visibility (in May) is absolutely unbelievably crystal.
2) The dive organisation is incredibly good....spacious areas, good wash areas, organised boats with lots of space on the boat.
3) Good briefings, good dive guide and extremely attentive boat captain.
4) Resort was busy....but never seemed in the slightest bit crowded.
5) Food was buffet-style and OK, not gourmet.
6) Hammerheads were there for us (twice in three days)...yah !
7) Resort staff from barman to bedroom staff very, very eager to please.
8) It's an extremely peaceful/serene place and the little plane ride from KK to LL was an experience in of itself.

Layang Layang is for divers and definitely NOT for non-divers (or children). Further, you need to be comfortable with swimming in the blue and deep (30m+ diving), as well as comfortable with deco diving (not for beginner divers).

Room Tip: end rooms have a little extra balcony and neighbours on one side only !
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Berrymanl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
62 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 May 2014

I was part of a group of 6 divers who regularly dive together, staying here from 9 - 13 May 2014. Having read some of the recent reviews on Tripadvisor we were filled with trepidation. Our experience, however, was very positive from the moment we took off in the small plane from KK to Layang Layang to the moment we landed back in KK at the end of our holiday. This flight was part of the excitement and added to our overall experience. Our first aerial view of Layang Layang sitting in it's perfect lagoon isolated in the bright blue sea is something I won't forget. Yes, the resort is quite "lived in" but we saw that as part of its charm. Rooms are fairly basic in comparison with many non diving holiday resorts and the walls are thin, but they are spacious, clean, had working aircon, balconies, ensuite bathrooms with hot showers and the beds were comfortable.

The overall atmosphere is very laid back and everything is designed with divers in mind. If you want to do anything apart from the usual "dive, eat, rest, repeat" formula, don't come here - it's a dive resort not suitable for non divers. Food is fairly typical divers' fare - plentiful and pretty good when you consider that everything has to be flown in and they rely to some extent on tinned or frozen food. This place is unique - if it tried to emulate the typical 4* resort formula with fluffy towels and all mod cons it might attract a different clientele, which would change the atmosphere - and not for the better in my opinion!

The staff, whether in the restaurant, the bar, the housekeeping staff (who put towel sculptures on our beds each day), reception, or in the well organised dive centre, were all very friendly and attentive. There was a happy atmosphere amongst them which in my experience usually reflects good management.

And the diving ....... this was really very good and stacks up with other top locations like Sipadan, Similans/Richelieu Rock etc. We went in hammerhead season and were lucky enough to see several large ones on 2 of our 11 dives. Quite apart from hammerheads, we saw a wide variety of other creatures - many of whom were larger than usual including reef sharks, tuna, trevally, bumphead parrot fish, napoleon wrasse ...... I could go on. There were also large shoals of baracuda, jacks, unicorn fish and fusiliers. The reefs are healthy with lots of coral and many small creatures to entertain divers. You should bear in mind that hammerheads tend to be deep, so searching for them involves swimming out into the blue and being prepared to go down to around 40m. Also, groups are large - 10 divers per DM, so you need to be quite self sufficient and confident in your buddy. Our DM was Alvin, who was very good, emphasised the safety issues and gave good briefings before each dive. He was accompanied by Johnny who drove the boat and did an excellent job of being just where we needed him at the end of each dive. Bearing all this in mind, you need to be competent, PADI advanced level, happy with your dive computer and controlling your safety/deco stops etc. A typical dive was out in the blue at depths of up to 40m for 15 mins, staying longer if finding interesting things, then swimming back to the reef and spending the remaining time in shallower water looking at the multitude of fish and impressive underwater landscape there.

All in all, we wished we could have stayed longer and would be happy to return in the future - it was quite an adventure!

Room Tip: A room near the dive centre is convenient.
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  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Amanda885
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Perth, Australia
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 April 2014

I stayed here April 22-27 2014. Having read the previous posts regarding cancellation of flights, I was very relieved when flights resumed on April 8. However, rather than one flight a day, MAS now runs 3-4 flights a day on Twin Otter planes, with only 10-15 people per flight (Due to the small size of the planes, luggage restrictions are fairly tight). So on arrival day, instead of reaching Layang Layang at 730am, if you are unlucky and on the last flight you may not get there until lunchtime.
Firstly, the good points:
Diving was excellent. Our dive guide ( Barry) was very safety conscious, and our boatman (Saiful) was excellent. I never had any concerns about safety diving with them. Having said that, we were doing three deep dives a day ( first dive to 40m, second dive to 35m, third dive to 30-35m) and it is really up to the individual diver to ensure they don't exceed their NDL time on any dive. In the group of 10 experienced divers I was with, one diver had to sit out 2 days with early DCS, another missed two dives, and a third had to do an hour of deco at the end of one dive. Hammerheads - yes, they are around, however the large school was only seen the last couple of days I was there- they seem to have arrived late this year. It is also a battle to convince the dive guides to leave the dive centre early enough in the morning to actually find the hammerheads at a reasonable depth. The only time we saw a school of 25-30 hammerheads was when we were in the water by 7am; we saw them at a depth of about 30m. As it gets later ( and more daylight) the sharks descend deeper, so if you are not leaving the dive centre until 730am, your chances of finding the sharks are not great.
Resort staff were very friendly and helpful, from check -in to check out. No problem was too big or small for them to deal with. Rooms were cleaned daily. Food was plentiful, and variety was pretty good given they rely on frozen and tinned food for the most part.
During my stay, the resort was probably only half to 3/4 full. So I'm not sure if any of the above would be affected if the resort was operating at full capacity.
Now the not-so good stuff:
The resort is quite dated, with the rooms definitely showing a bit of wear and tear. The partitions between rooms are very thin, so if you are a light sleeper you will likely be kept awake by your neighbour snoring or watching their TV. While there is wi-fi on offer, it is extremely slow and frequently it was not possible to get a connection.
While the team I dived with were excellent, I was lucky - I heard reports from numerous other divers about safety lapses eg open water divers descending to 50m; dive guides going into deco b/c they had gone too deep for too long in search of hammerheads; dive guides running out of air; divers being allowed to continue diving after being "locked out" by their computers for missing deco stops. Remember that You are responsible for your own safety, diving within the limits of your computer and diving in line with your experience. I'm surprised that divers with only an open water certification are even allowed to dive here, as every dive is at least 30m.
The bottom line is, the only reason to come to Layang Layang is to dive - and the diving is excellent. If you are expecting a 5star resort, you will be disappointed. If you just want to enjoy some diving, relax and unwind, then you will enjoy your stay.

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank wajen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hong Kong, China
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank Michelle T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Johannesburg, South Africa
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
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
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Tarbie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Glasgow, Scotland
Level 6 Contributor
130 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Jellybean7788
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Avillion Layang Layang

Property: Avillion Layang Layang
Address: Layang Layang 88005, Malaysia
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > West Coast Division > Kota Kinabalu District > Layang Layang
Amenities:
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 (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3 star — Avillion Layang Layang 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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