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“Lovely villas & location, 3 star food.”

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Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Certificate of Excellence
Manchester, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
26 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Lovely villas & location, 3 star food.”
Reviewed 9 July 2013

The Bunga Raya was the first stop on our honeymoon and we had a lovely, relaxing few days there. Our beachfront villa was beautiful, complete with plunge pool, double sunbed, hammock and a 30 second stroll to the sea. We visited in low-seasons so there wasn't much atmosphere (about 10 of the 50 villas were occupied) and we often found ourselves dining alone at night which was a bit strange. We probably saw more wildlife than people (warty pigs, oriental pied hornbills, geckos and grey macaques), which was fine by us! The staff were very attentive and helpful, and I'd particuarly recommend the free canopy walk. It's short but interesting and the guides are very knowledgable. The only drawback really was the food, which I'd say is more 3 star than 5 star. The Malaysian meals were quite good but the rest was fairly basic although having read other reviews, we weren't too surprised about this as it's been mentioned before. Overall, a lovely, relaxaing few days and unless you're a massive foodie, I'm sure you'll love it here.

Room Tip: Definitely opt for a beachfront villa!
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  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
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1 Thank p0psicleh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Arlington, Texas
Level Contributor
162 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 July 2013

What a fantastic vacation location. The grounds are immaculate, covered with hibuscis of every kind in the world, some extremely rare. Your service begins at the pier where they take you for a short boat ride over to the resort. Once at the resort, service really begins to shine. Everyone you meet is so friendly and will do anything for you anytime. They remember your name and will speak to you daily. In particular, Isa, Hedron, Erny, Easter, Brian, Kasim and Shah went above and beyond, making our stay spectacular. You are made to feel at home while visiting.
Our room was beautiful with a huge balcony overlooking the sea. Since you are in the jungle, you have some mosquitos, but they provide repellant, as well as coils. We ran into the wild pigs and monkeys, but they were completely harmless and the staff does their best to keep them at bay. The infinity pool is kept in pristine condition, with poolside food and beverage service. Snorkeling is excellent right out in front of the hotel. Stingray, turtles, and every type of fish you could imagine. You could easily stay out there for hours. The water is completely clear.
They offer a shuttle boat back to the mainland several times a day, as well as over to the sister Gayana Eco Lodge.
We had breakfast at the Gayana Ecolodge one morning and found it to be delicious, with a better selection than BR. However, we had no complaints about the food at BR. The best reason to go to Gayana is the MERC. What a great educational facility. Fascinating and important work being done regarding the giant clam. We also went to the giant grouper feeding, which is not to be missed. One can't imagine the enormity of these fish until you are up close with them! We heard dinner is fantastic at their restaurant, but we simply ran out of time to go back over.
We only had one complaint and that was the price of the drinks. Absolutely ridiculous considering what they charge to stay here. I highly recommend going over to KK and purchasing any type of drink you may want and bringing it with you. They also don't sell cigarettes, so make sure to bring some if you happen to smoke.

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
2 Thank txcornbread
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Paris, France
Level Contributor
160 reviews
49 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 June 2013

As the boat sped out of KK harbour and across towards the island I wondered whether the resort would live up to my expectations (from descriptions and price paid) and as we slowed down and approached the jetty I had to look very hard even to see the hotel buildings so carefully hidden by the jungle. I was thrilled to find such a beautiful quiet location. We had a warm welcome and were taken around the resort by a very enthusiastic member of staff, showing us all the different villas as well as our own. It was magical and enthralled the boys. Hidden up in the trees our magnificent villa had a superb view across the bay, with enormous rooms and lovely beds - my expectations were exceeded and that is unusual for me! The Hibiscus flowers, a hobby of the owner, were in spectacular bloom(despite the dawn raids by the monkeys that I witnessed one morning). The resort was quiet when we were there and we more or less had the beach, pool and the snorkeling to ourselves - there were other guests but we just didn't see them! The scuba diving service was great and very flexible top our needs. I was thoroughly spoilt by the massages in the spa and the wonderful lotions I still have take me straight back to the lovely time we had in the resort. I can't praise the staff highly enough. Without exception everyone was friendly and went out of their way to help us. This really made the trip for us all. The wine waiter showed us the wine cellar with great pride and the dining staff made sure that we had what we required to eat. The spa team were superb and the guys running the zip wires and jungle walkway made a big effort to give the boys their rides before the boat took us back to the mainland. The only criticism was the rain, which didn't stop us swimming but did reduce the snorkeling visibility, I'm sure if the staff could have altered the weather they would have done so for us! The three nights we spent at Bunga Raya was superb thank you very much to everybody there for making our stay so good!

Room Tip: They all look good to me - but for the best views try one slightly higher up the hill! You can try...
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  • Stayed May 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank Wizak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
65 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 100 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 June 2013

This is one of the best resorts where we've been so far! And I can only rate it 5 stars!
Basically, you literally feel home and is if all staff are there only for you, to cater every little need or wish you would have. I'm pleased with the level and quality of service. We took a Deluxe Villa and it was just impressive: incredibly big, with an extra independent living room. Borneo style architecture, and most of all: seamlessly integrated in the surrounding jungle. Villas are spacious and provide enough privacy (for being distant from each other). You can walk in the alleys to reach the restaurants of the pool/beach, or staff can give you a lift with a buggy (and there are many of them there). Quality of sleep was very good with the sound of the waves (as the beach is at a few meters away from the Villa). You feel like you are totally immersing yourself into nature, and that really helps to disconnect city dwellers (like myself) from all sources of stress.
Food was very good, fish is fresh and you can have a variety of Malay food or Chinese food. You can also have a dinner at the grill - which is located on the beach, and they would kindly arrange a table for you literally on the beach if you ask them for (which provides a wonderful romantic experience!).
Activities are pretty various: from sunbathing by the infinite pool to jungle trekking you can have both relaxing and active days. We've chosen non-motorized water sports: snorkelling, sea kayaking and it was just great! You can do diving as well there. We had a walk in the jungle (with a guide of course) and did the "canopy walk" a nice walk on the bridges hanging on the trees. but they propose also a number of trekking paths ranging from 2 to 5 hours walk in the jungle to visit the island.
I would highly recommend this resort and hope we will go back there often again.

Room Tip: If you have kids, chose the Bunga Raya resort instead of the Gayana resort, it's safer (as the G...
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
3 Thank lonely g
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 9 June 2013 via mobile

I am typing the review in the transit reception office at Jesselton Point. From the first day of arrival we have been treated first class, the personal associates are very helpful and hardworking. (We even saw the General Manager cleaning out the dry branches and leaves with the gardener!)

How can we forget, when we woke up with the sound of nature, birds singing, monkeys yakking, and wind whistling. We were staying at the superior villa, up on the hill and got the perfect view (I requested for the ocean view and so they gave me one!). Villas are scattered all over the island and jungle. Well we occassionally saw the wild boar, monitor lizard, hornbills, and geckos around the resort, but these creatures didn't do any harm though.

My husband and I didn't leave the island eventhough we were offered boat trip to the city. We spent the whole getaway in the island. Except to the Gayana Eco Resort (the sister resort) for a day trip, to the MERC, and diving centre.

The spa was blissful, the resort have several private rooms up to the hill and if u want to have the massage together with ur spouse they have 'couple' room too!

You can either have your breakfast, lunch n dinner in the restaurant or in your own villa's balcony. We cant forget the nights we had at the Pantai Grill where there were two musicians singing the oldies song and they even sang the song we requested! Food choices were limited in Pantai Grill but my husband enjoyed the Kebab! And he even ordered it everytime we had our dinner there. As for the Koi Restaurant, there were ample of chinese and malay cuisine choices. Price wise, yup its a little too expensive, but then both of us think it was worth the taste, location wise.

All equipments for kayak snorkeling are free, and the staffs were always available to help you out. Yup, maybe they were not hospitality trained but there were trying hard to please their guests. We are malay muslim couple and yet the staffs were still conversing in English with us. To move around the resort, the personal associates will bring you around with the buggy/golf cart. During our stay the weather had been so perfect that it was only raining the last two nights we were there, we woke up to cool, jungle green breeze!

There are few more activities provided but we opt for the water activities only. If only we have more time, we would like to try the canopy walk and jungle trekking to gayana resort. Usually the personal associates/butlers will ask you at the end of the day (usually dinner time) on what will be your plans the next day so that they will get all things ready for you.

Some basic neccessities like balsem, mosquito coil, insect repellant, torch light, raincoat and umbrella were provided in our villas. So if you have problem with sandbugs or other insects you can use one of it! Sunblocks are sold at the frontdesk.

I know this sounds a little bit exaggerating but we really enjoyed our stay. We don't want to compare with other resorts, but we never felt sad leaving a resort. Both of us felt like as if we are in our own Home. Its something we have been missing, peace, serenity and tranquility, away from the city buzz. The time must be the perfect one when we had our stay there.

Both of us wish that we could come back again to enjoy the tranquility and serenity of the resort. Well done to the team!

Stayed June 2013
Helpful?
Thank Mujaheedah
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Level Contributor
8 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 June 2013

We stayed in the resort in June 2013. Very thrilled about this trip but disappointed once arrived in the resort. The location is amazing, with the tropical jungle literally entering the villas and dozens of hibiscus flowers surrounding the area. Beach is OK and one can enjoy kayaks and snorkelling, but you would expect something more special from the 5* resort. Villas are spacious and comfortable. Those ones located at the beach come with a pool but if you want more privacy, you would probably go for a hillside villa. The spell is broken when you go to dine in one of the two restaurants. The service needs a lot of improvement although the staff is very friendly and trying hard to do their best. Whenever we asked for something we got it quite fast which we really appreciated. But.... our cutlery was dirty, there were birds' droppings on the serviettes and the plates. The menu was sticky and their food was far from what you can get in a good restaurant. The only place we enjoyed the food at, was a grill restaurant by the beach. I recommend their pizza. When we asked about how fresh the meat was, they said they had to ask and check it which was not very promising. Their vinaigrette has nothing to do with a salad dressing and the beer was served in a plastic cup... The coffee machine in our villa was broken, the shower was not working and the bathtub was with hair and other trash. The smell of sewerage or a septic tank was all around the place. In general - we enjoyed, but we wouldn't give this place more than 3,5-4* although the location is amazing.

Room Tip: If you go for a beach villa ask for a one located in the middle. There is a smoke coming from the be...
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  • Stayed June 2013, travelled with friends
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank 847_13847
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 review, 15 June 2013
Thank you for your feedback, we obviously did not live up to your expectations which I apologise for. I only wish you had made me aware of the issues while staying with us so we could explain and/or fix which ever problem you were facing.
We never stop training our staff, this is the only way of getting better. Having said this nothing is ever too much of a trouble for any of us, exceeding expectations is what we must try to achieve.
On the issue of "plastic cup", I would like to explain these are actually polycarbonate glassware which we use by the pool and our beach grill. Sudden wind gusts are common which means shattered glass everywhere should we use our Schott glassware in the open.
Once again, thank you for your comments.

Tomas
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Playa Flamenca, Spain
Level Contributor
21 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed 7 June 2013

We currently live/work in KK and have recently returned from our third visit to Bunga Raya. Haven't critiqued this resort before so thought it time to do so. In the past have read many snide comments on TA about BR which make my husband & I wonder if some of the authors are really writing about the same place that we know and love. So glad that recent reviews have been kinder. With so many places to see in the world, it is not the norm for us to do repeat visits anywhere but, to us, this is a very special place. The grounds are kept beautifully, likewise the beach and pool are pristine. There are ample, comfortable, loungers & parasols both poolside & beach-side and an endless supply of beach towels. The villas are immaculate. We always have a Superior villa set on the hillside and think they are truly lovely and very private. Buggies transport you from A to B. The king size bed is very comfy and we love the the feel of the luxurious quality bedding. The bathrooms have constant hot water and the bath towels are huge. Another plus is, no restriction on A/C. It doesn't switch off as you exit the villa, it can be left on for you to return to a nice cool room. The fridge is stocked with water, beer and soft drinks, all of which are included in the room price. Also included is a drink in the bar between 6 and 7pm with a second drink at half price. You can choose between a cocktail, wine, or soft drink, plus some nibbles. Boat transfers are also included in the price as are the use of kayaks and snorkel equipment. We love to wake up to the sounds of the jungle each morning. On our last trip we were entertained from our balcony, by monkeys performing a cabaret with their early morning romp, and another time were privileged to witness a pair of Hornbills sitting on a low branch of the tree immediately in front of the balcony. We stood there hardly daring to breathe. They stared back at us but as my husband moved to reach for his camera they flew off. Phew..... what a thrilling experience! We have also seen wild boar on several occasions so, it really is close to nature here. Breakfast is included and is cooked especially for you. It's not sitting around for hours in a “bain-marie” with all and sundry breathing over it. When you have placed your order you can help yourself to cereal, fruit, pastry’s etc. whilst your breakfast is being cooked. Since our first visit, the lunchtime menu now has more options and service is swifter. As this is an island resort and provisions have to be ferried across, we consider food prices at lunchtime are reasonable. The evening meal however, for us, is a problem. The Koi restaurant serves very good Asian food at reasonable prices. As Westerners, we sometimes like to try the local dishes but not every night. The Koi also has an extensive fish menu for fish lovers. The other option is the Pantai Grill which is in an idyllic setting at the foot of the beach. It is here where the more Western options are served and, unfortunately this is a bit hit or miss. The quality of the meat is excellent but, is often spoilt because sometimes it is almost cold when it arrives at the table and the accompanying dishes are not that appetising. We believe the meat gets cold while being rested, possibly to do with fans cooling the kitchen. We chatted to Tomas (manager) about this and he told us that lights are soon to be installed for the food to be placed under so hopefully when this is done it will resolve the problem. The Western dishes are not cheap and this, we feel, may be part of the reason why BR receives mixed reviews. Perhaps it would be wise for the owner to invest in a chef at the Pantai who is an expert in Western cuisine, thus satisfying all palates. This may also address the problem of people not getting their food at the same time as their partner. The exact same problem occurs at most food outlets in town.....it just seems to be the way things are in Sabah! Often criticised at BR is the price of wine. This is a Muslim country so, tax on alcohol is high, even in the local supermarkets the cheapest wines are very expensive. Since our first visit there have been many improvements including competence of the staff, all of whom are lovely. They try so very hard to please and are noticeably more confident now. They have their own culture and are probably not “au fait” in the social graces of others from different parts of the world but, they are so very willing and it is always service with a smile. With regard to some reviewers comments on the problem of rubbish/trash in the sea and on the beach. There can occasionally be a problem if there has been storm or if the wind blows a certain way. We witnessed it on our second visit but be assured, Tomas the manager and his team were on to it immediately and worked like slaves till all was clear. Finally, to sum up, Bunga Raya is total relaxation in one of the most gorgeous settings we have found anywhere in the world..........hopefully we shall have at least one more visit to this resort before leaving KK.

Room Tip: Have only been in Superior room and wouldn't choose to upgrade because the hillside rooms are lo...
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  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank BritintheOrient
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 review, 15 June 2013
Thank you so much for your comments on Trip Advisor, we really look forward welcoming you back soon again.

Tomas
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa

Property: Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa
Address: Polish Bay | Gaya Island, 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 (Based on Average Rates): £££
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 Hotel Kota Kinabalu
Bunga Raya Island Resort And Spa

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