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“Ups and Downs”

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Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Certificate of Excellence
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
25 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 33 helpful votes
“Ups and Downs”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 August 2013

Stayed here in July 2013 as part of the honeymoon package. Loved the hotel and setting but there are some issues to work out with management.

We arrived late at night as our flight was delayed. We had arranged an airport transfer to the port which was still waiting for us and the specially arranged boat took us to the island. We were transported straight to our room as it was late and dark. Normally I think guests get a tour and welcome drink which we missed out on. They had decorated our bed with flower petals which was nice - there was also a tray of slightly-past-it's-best fruit. Rooms are spacious and well equipped - loved the robe and slippers and daily free beers/soft drinks in the mini bar – but was surprised that there are no nets on the windows (just slatted shutters) to keep creepy crawlies out (they did get in). We saw some monkeys the first morning and a large monitor lizard. Our lodge was within walking distance to the main lobby/restaurant area, other lodges were further away and only really accessible by buggy. The staff ride around in the buggies and offer you lifts if they see you walking which is a nice touch and helpful in the heat.

We spent a lot of time by the pool or snorkelling off the jetty, there are sandflies on the beach so we stayed around the pool. Staff bring cold water which is nice. You can also rent paddleboards and other watersports equipment. We enjoyed the spa – it’s in a lovely setting in the jungle and we had several massages as part of the honeymoon package, the staff there were very friendly and the massages and products were of a good quality, although they did not read the information sheets we filled in before each massage – requests for a certain pressure/body part were ignored, filling these out was a waste of time. There is a happy hour each day where you get 1 drink free and 2nd half price, the cocktail choices were limited and service was so slow even though we were often the only people there. It would have been nice to have a small selection of snacks to purchase/included as part of the mini bar for when you get peckish.

The food generally was average/acceptable although overpriced. We enjoyed breakfast where you can order from an a la carte menu and a buffet selection. We visited Gayana one day for breakfast and to watch the fish feeding, the breakfast selection there was slightly better, I also had a nice pad thai there for lunch. I had a pizza from the Pantai grill at Bunga Raya which was quite horrible, although the staff had organised a table for us on the beach surrounded by candles which made up for it (it was exciting when the wild boars appeared and started sniffing around!). My husband generally enjoyed the fresh fish he ordered.

We experienced some issues while we were there which slightly dampened the experience. As part of the honeymoon package we were scheduled to have a meal at Alu Alu in Gayana Eco resort. We could not choose our own food but were given items from a set menu. The items included jellyfish, fish maw soup and undercooked lamb and quail (the waitress herself said the food was undercooked). We had been hoping for some nice fresh fish so we found the options very strange and limited. We could only eat the vanilla ice cream. We complained and the beverage manager at Bunga Raya said they would review the menu offered for the future but nothing was offered to compensate us.
We were due to receive a bottle of sparkling wine in our room as part of the package – this wasn’t there on arrival but when we asked for it, was delivered promptly. However for the rest of the holiday each member of staff we met continued to ask us if we had received our wine yet – they weren’t communicating.
Another night we were scheduled to have a honeymoon dinner at a beach pavilion. When we arrived they had forgotten to set up our table on the pavilion so we had to sit inside the restaurant as usual for our ‘special’ dinner. To compensate us they offered us a free bottle of wine, this was gratefully received as wine is very expensive at the resort. When checking out we found this wine was on our room bill. We reminded the manager that this was given to us for free, he did not believe us and had to ring the member of staff responsible. No apology when it turned out we were in the right.
We did the ‘flying fox’ zipline which was okay but the forest walk was a waste of money, a member of staff led us silently around a track in the forest, we learnt nothing.
We were scheduled to receive a ‘tour’ of ‘MERC’ at Gayana, no staff member was around when we arrived at our ‘tour’ slot, then we didn’t receive any tour as promised, just planted a coral and then were told to watch a video.

There is not much for children to do I wouldn’t recommend for families. One night we tried to play ping pong on the table in the ‘games room’, but they could not find a ball. There were about 3 members of staff running around trying to find one for us. It’s a lovely setting for honeymooners as it is very quiet and idyllic, but I wouldn’t bother paying the extra for the honeymoon package.

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank silly_old_amy
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, 8 September 2013
Dear Trip Advisor contributor,

Thank you for your valuable feedback on your stay at Bunga Raya. While I can read that on a whole you enjoyed your visit with us, you also highlighted areas where we need to improve.
When we have "communication breakdown", service issues might appear. this is an area we constantly need to monitor so once again thank you for sharing your experience with us.
If i can be of help in the future, please do not hesitate in contacting me.

Tomas
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Indonesia
Level Contributor
7 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 20 August 2013

We stayed at Bunga Raya on 10-12th August 2013, chose 2 bedroom Villas from the website.
The check in at Jesselton was swift, despite the problem they charged us twice (details below)
The boat ride was about 20 minutes. As soon as we arrived at the Bunga Raya jetty, the view was awesome.
The room that we stayed in awesome! Despite the bugs and mosquitoes which is natural, the layout was impressive, not to mention the BOSE radio really keeping the mood up despite we were having a thunderstorm during the first and 2nd evening. Free mini bar (soft drinks and beer) and mineral water was great.
Our first lunch at Koi restaurant was poor, the tom yam soup is far from great, fortunately the “average” satay saved us.
We headed to Pantai Grill for dinner, the food was great, being an Indonesian we asked for spicy chilli padi which the chef literally picked fresh from a little garden near the restaurant. The price was high which is understandable. We had a 2nd dinner here on the following day.
The next day we headed for Gayana Island for lunch, which is more reasonably priced and the seafood was extremely good, the view was also fantastic!
We swam at the beach which is awesome, and the swimming pool was awesome too!
Overall the whole experience was great, except for the cons which I will be describing below
1. They charged me twice on 2 different credit cards, I’m still waiting for their response to this problem.

First I made a reservation ONLINE under my Master Card
Then I was notified that it didn't get through so I gave my other Visa Card
It didn't get through either so again I gave another "C" Visa Card and it got through.
On 10th August, when I arrived at Jesselton terminal, they asked and swipe my Master Card
On 12th August when I checked out, again they swipe my Master Card
But they said it was a mistake and they didn't get any fund from my Mastercard and they needed "C" Visa Card , so they swiped that too.

Today I checked my BOTH my Master Card and my C VISA Card and it turns out that they charged me ON BOTH CARDS.

2. The food was below average at the Koi Restaurant, the Pantai Grill was okay but the menu is very limited, head to Gayana for much better seafood/chinese food.

3. There is a “manager” if I’m not mistaken “Benny”, which shows unpleasant attitude and being grumpy during our stay. There was also a “manager” who we saw on the second day, on the contrary was very polite and friendly, too bad he didn’t stay on the island instead.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank theslip
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney, Australia
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 August 2013

After an extensive international career in the hospitality industry, I now own and operate a company in a totally unrelated area of business. For this reason, limited precious holiday time is vital to ensure that I am rested and well, for the long hours necessary to ensure the success of my business.
 
This week, I was delighted to discover a resort which provided me with total rest and relaxation for six days. The wonderful Bunga Raya Resort and Spa is an island retreat off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. It must surely be one of the most magical places on earth. It’s the most amazing setting, literally in a jungle environment and other than the jetty, very little of the resort can be seen by passing boats.
My beach front villa was perfect for me as it provided not only the peace and quiet I was looking for, but a view over the pristine waters around the hotel.
 
The food at the resort was fantastic. Not only the gorgeous fish, but they even had banana bread on the breakfast menu...I can only assume that the chef has visited Australia, as it’s a favourite here. Whatever I requested was superbly presented and truly delicious.
 
The team at Solace Spa were fantastic...I had four treatments in six days, so I clearly loved their fantastic facials, not to mention a great back massage ...the therapists are so keen to look after you well; it was simply heavenly. 
 
There are hundreds of high end big city quality hotels around the world, doing a great job at offering efficient, formal service. When I stay at a resort, I’m looking for a beautiful location, in comfortable surroundings, with staff especially interested in caring for me. The delightful people at Bunga Raya have this approach to service in spades. It’s a very special place.
 
Many thanks to Manager Tomas and Chef Lung for allowing me uninterrupted peace and quiet, whilst accommodating all my needs.
 
I loved my visit to Bunga Raya.  In my view, this resort is absolutely divine and a perfect get away spot from “the real world”.

Room Tip: The beach frot villa was perfect for me. Only 10 metres from the gorgeous white sand beach.
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  • Stayed August 2013, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Denise M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Haywards Heath, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 August 2013

Bunga Raya is a truly beautiful resort which blends seamlessly into the rainforest as it tumbles down to the sea.

We were attracted by the beautiful white sandy beach and the snorkelling, and neither disappointed. The snorkelling to the left of the pier was fabulous and we saw a wide range of things. The beach was picture perfect and we loved being able to walk along it. The pool was also stunning, although I echo thoughts that they need more loungers by the pool.

The room was stunning. We stayed in a deluxe villa and got a 2 floor villa with a big sitting room and and huge bedroom upstairs. We also had a small kitchenette. The complimentary soft drinks and beers in the fridge were a nice touch.

We also took advantage of a trip to Gayana resort to feed the grouper. This was a great trip, well organised and we enjoyed seeing the sister resort. It made up feel glad to have chosen Bunga Raya as it had a beach, a bigger pool and better facilities.

I had read a lot of negative reviews about the food before we went. Much of the food was good. We mostly had Malaysian dishes, however, after 4 nights the options were limited if you didn't want to have the same thing twice. It would be good if they had a daily menu of specials for local food. This would make it all fresher and ensure that people staying for a longer spell could not get bored of the menu. The noodle dishes I did have were very good. Faizu was very attentive and ensured that he did whatever he could to make our mealtimes excellent.

The cocktail hour is a nice idea. However, the service was so slow that we only had 1 cocktail in that time. With lots of other staff stood in the restaurants, it would make sense for some of them to assist behind the bar at this predictably busy time.

We stayed 4 nights in August. We feared the resort would be very busy but it was quite quiet for much of the time we were there.

Room Tip: Room 8 is a 2 floor deluxe with a small kitchen - good for families.
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  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank travelmonkey2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Liverpool
Level Contributor
21 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 August 2013 via mobile

A true paradise island complete with stilted huts, white sands, blue waters and wildlife ( look out for Bob the wild boar and his family). I would strongly recommend the Koi Asian restaurant rather than the western Pantai, as you would expect the Asian food was far better and we had some lovely meals there.

Staff are very friendly and we received some exceptional service from Jonathan and Dantes. The manager, Tomas, is very visible, attentive and constantly checking the wellbeing of guests. Nice touches include free soft drinks and beer in the room, happy hour daily with free cocktails and 50% cocktails, free watersports of varying kinds.

To really be five star and justify the cost, there are a few areas to be improved: bar service is very slow, drinks service around the pool also; 20 sun loungers are not enough to serve customers at a busy time, you don't expect to have to sit on the floor at a 5 star resort; insect repellants should be readily available for free or to buy but when we asked they had run out and there was no promise of any coming.

Finally - beware the sandflies - they aren't always present and wont bother some people but we were covered in bites from head to toe. It might be an idea to mention this problem to guests on arrival so they can exercise their own caution unlike us who sat amongst them for hours without repellent not realising. ( I tried a host of relief strategies to try to sleep with the itch including afterbite, tiger balm , brandy but the one that worked was vinegar from the kitchen - just in case you need it).

Stayed August 2013, travelled with friends
Helpful?
1 Thank LadyALiverpool
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
34 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 August 2013

If you are looking for an idyllic luxury getaway on a tropical island that is totally relaxing and where you can be pampered to the highest standards then look elsewhere. If you are happy to pay high end 5 star prices for an idyllic location with service levels that are almost comical and eat french fries all day then this will be just what you are looking for.

On the positive side as I like to always see the positive the location is great, easy to get to trouble free airport and boat transfer but this is where the service stopped. Beautiful beach crystal clear waters clear blue skies tropical rainforest as a backdrop and beautiful gardens.

We stayed in a plunge pool villa which was a little disappointing compared to other similar resorts we have stayed in across Asia The pool was nice but the deck was a little small and there was a lack of lounge area you either had to sit on the bed or the double sun lounge area outside which is not practical in the evening due to the mozzies.

The same could be said of the bar when we arrived there was no lounge furniture only restaurant tables or high tables and bar stools. admittedly during our stay new furniture was arriving but we felt it was a bit weird that a relaxing resort that had been operating for 4 years had no lounge furniture.

We arrived just in time for lunch and headed to the main restaurant. Meal 1 - I ordered a tropical peach salad it consisted of lettuce and tinned peaches the ingredients and dressing on the menu were absent so it got sent back they corrected this but really tinned peaches on a 5 star tropical island? My partner ordered noodles with seafood veg and tofu the wrong noodles arrived with only seafood arrived when he complained they brought him noodles with veg and tofu no seafood. We ordered a bottle of Pinot Gris only for the waiter to discover it was Pinot noir a red wine instead of white but he only realised after he poured it. He couldn't find the wine we ordered.

The dinner experience was no less chaotic and confused with several things being sent back. I am vegetarian and there was nothing on the menu for me and instead of the chef suggesting what they could do for me I had to go through the menu and figure out what they could cook for me. when it came half the veg were cold half warm.

When we returned to our room after dinner to put our sleeping baby to bed we discovered we had been locked out. We had never been given a room key but we assumed on a remote island you didn't need one but even though we left our room open house keeping saw fit to lock it. When my partner went back to reception they couldn't give him a key they said they had to investigate so we had to wait to be let in.

The next morning the breakfast was pretty poor the croissants and pastries were weird tasted like they had been deep fried and were certainly not made with butter.

The comedy service continued at every meal, trying to pass off tomato soup as minestrone soup and hoping i wouldn't notice, Tom yam soup with no chilli or spice, vegetarian pizza that tastes of pepperoni, fried smoked salmon for breakfast. There wasn't a single meal without incident and calamity. it made having a meal feel like really hard work.

On our final night we completely ran out of patience and asked to speak to the manager. He was very apologetic and offered us 50% off all our food as compensation. But is there really any compensation when a relaxing holiday turns out to be really hard work? it also had to be noticed that there was no sign of improvement the morning after we complained.

This place needs a lot of work to justify the prices they are charging, they need to start by hiring a chef, a restaurant manager and a somalier. I am all in favour of employing locals but if they don't have the skills it doesn't work and the price point and marketing need to reflect the service level. If you hire unqualified locals they are significantly cheaper than qualified professionals so don't charge guests for 5 star service that can't be delivered. Unfortunately far too many people are willing to overlook incompetence if its served with a smile under the sun.

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
3 Thank larissamurphy
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, 22 August 2013
Dear Trip Advisor contributor,

You are right we fell below our normally high standard on this occasion. This has already been explained by Rainer, our Executive Assistant Manager in your previous blog dated 28 July. We do appreciate feedback it will allow us to get better.

Thank you very much

Tomas
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Paris, France
Level Contributor
11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 August 2013

Great hotel manager, lovely staff, cute villas, luxurious pool, good food, pristine water, flowers everywhere, beautiful spa... What else do you need? We loved it for our honeymoon. We were there in May, no trash problem. We stayed 7 nights.

Room Tip: Les plunge pools sont un vrai +
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  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Djoulli
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, 10 August 2013
Thank you so much for your contribution on Trip Advisor, we enjoyed looking after you and hope to see you back in our part of the world in the not too distant future.

Best wishes

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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