We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Peace and tranquility, at a high cost”

Best prices for -
Check In dd/mm/yyyy Check Out dd/mm/yyyy
Prices are for 1 room, 2 adults
Show Prices
Compare best prices from top travel sites
and 12 more sites!
Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa
Ranked #2 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Certificate of Excellence
London
Level 6 Contributor
123 reviews
68 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
“Peace and tranquility, at a high cost”
Reviewed 19 March 2014

I always try to review hotels based on a plain concept: does it represent value for money? I am struggling to answer that for the Bunga Raya, so let's park that for a moment, and go to the specifics:

This is a true "resort" nested inside Pulau Gaya, and from the moment you step in, you get the all important feeling of being "in the middle of nowhere". Even more important, all the time I spent there I did not see more than one or two couples on the beach or the pool. In one word: peaceful.

You reach the resort after a 20 minutes boat trip from the Jesselton pier (where you check-in), with one stop first at their sister resort, the Gayana Eco Resort. The trip although short, can be exciting if the weather turns, as it did on our return. It got scary for a short while. Once in the island, you are met by your own personal representative who shows you around, and drives you to your room.

As many other people remarked here, most of the villas have steep stairs, and the "cheaper" ones are on the top of some steep hill. Not a problem for me, but if you have any mobility problem, and don't want to depend on being driven, either get a beach front villa, or choose another resort.

Room: I stayed on the most basic (Villa Superior), but from the Bose sound system to the amenities in the large bathroom, there isn't anything basic about it. It is not incredibly big, but it has a great king bed, free soft-drinks and beer in the mini-bar, and a balcony overlooking some of the forest and the sea. Running the risk of repeating myself: peaceful.

I also had a chance to peek into the "Royal Villa", their £3500/night exclusive two-bedroom house with private infinite pool, chef and butler. Awesome, if you can spare that extra dime.

Breakfast: Really good, fresh fruits, fresh juices, eggs, variety of pastries and breads, and more hot options catering to the chinese audience.

Food: This being an isolated resort, there are no outside options, so you must eat on one of their two restaurants. I am no food critic, but the food seemed to be adequate in size, taste, and surprisingly, price. It is of course more expensive than any restaurant in Kota, but nothing to break the bank, if you are already paying £200+ for a room. Meals for two will set you back MYR200 and up (very much "up" if you go for barbecue NZ steak, or fish).

The resort has all the water activities you would expect, plus some interesting forest trails (they all need a guide and cost $). I did not have time to do the long one, from the Bunga Raya to the Guayanna Resort, but it must be incredible.

To summarize: this is an awesome and peaceful resort, ideal for you to just kick back, enjoy a good book by the pool, or trek your way through the forest.

Negative stuff: House keeping could be better. I had to ask more than twice for shampoo and soap. Not really what you would expect for the price, but to my mind it is the only negative.

A note about other negative reviews here: A lot of negative reviews refer to the sea, which is subjected to red-tides (true while I was there), and rubbish washing on the shores (did not see it). The sea is not great, but the pool area integrates so nicely with the beach that you can live without the sea for a while. And blaming the hotel for red-tides is like blaming them if a solar eclipse ruined your day in the sun...

As for the rubbish, come on people, think... who is responsible for the pile of rubbish that endangers and pollutes our seas? A hint: look at your mirror. We travel all over the world, requiring bottle water wherever we go, using bottled sun protector, bottled shampoos, etc. Well, unfortunately plastic does not disappear from the planet, ever. They work hard to keep the sand clean (successfully while I was there), but it is a losing battle: they clean the beach, and supply each room with two bottles of water every day. Math and nature are against them.

Back to the original question, is it value for money? If you are already in Kota, or want to include Borneo in your itinerary, yes, it is, just about. It is not cheap, and there are lots of other places in the world were you get either more for your money, or pay less for the same. But it is not rip-off, and I know one when I see it.

Special final note here: the people in the hotel are really nice. You get tired of saying good morning, good evening, and smiling at people. The reception immediately knows your room number, and treats you by name, which is a nice touch.

Room Tip: Ask about access, as some rooms (numbered 45 and up) requires an uphill walk
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank jcn_uk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Write a Review

485 reviews from our community

Traveller rating
    268
    139
    42
    24
    12
See reviews for
118
280
8
5
Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (123)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Chinese (Simplified) first
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Polish first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Sydney, Australia
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 14 March 2014

We stayed a couple nights while we were on our honeymoon in December 2012 in a beautiful bungalow on the beach. Very peaceful location and we experienced great customer service from the hotel staff. We did a short canopy walk through the lovely forest, that was quite nice and will definitely recommend it. The beach was a little dirty during that time of the year but that didn't phase us too much. We enjoyed relaxing by the infinity pool and chilling out! Good detox location, not that much to do but it was good place to break the holiday up a little bit.

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Chrissy_Grace26
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Singapore, Singapore
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 March 2014

We only stayed 2 nights at this resort, and wished we could have stayed longer. The rooms were clean and classy, the resort itself was a beautiful mix of beach and nature/foliage, breakfast spread was generous and hearty, there were so many facilities and amenities for guests' use (e.g. snorkeling equipment, kayaks, yoga classes, gym, etc!), but above all, I can't speak more highly of the service we received. The staff were always attentive, helpful, friendly, but never intrusive. All transport arrangements / activity bookings were a breeze, room service was prompt and reliable, we were pampered beyond belief and never lacked for anything. They also went out of their way to ensure that we wouldn't miss our boat, for example, and literally went to search for us when it was time for our boat to leave, so that we wouldn't have to wait another few hours for the next one. All this was done with good cheer, conversation, and a smile :) Made us feel perfectly relaxed and in some kind of paradise!

What wasn't so great: Not sure if the resort can do anything about the sandflies... but be careful, they can be vicious. Rooms are a bit dark, if you don't mind the dim lighting. Also just be careful cos after all it's in the middle of greenery, you can expect lizards every now and then.

But overall, the experience was top-notch. I'd recommend this resort to anyone!

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank childermass
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Beijing
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 February 2014

We stayed here for 2 nights/3 days. It's a lot of fun. We too had some issues with the sea, but the staff did their utter best to clean it up, and in the mornings it was actually quite ok.

The staff is extremely friendly, and will try anything to make sure you are having a splendid time.

The food is excellent, especially if you go for the more local food.

We also took a spa session, and while pricey, it was definitely very relaxing!

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Kristof_v1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kingston upon Thames, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
108 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 February 2014

We spent three nights at Bunga Raya in Feb 2014. This was the end of the monsoon season, so for the first two days, the red tide was in (algae bloom) which brought in a lot of rubbish, and meant you couldn't go in the sea or do any watersports. This is, of course, no reflection on the hotel, and they did their best to clear up the beach, but it was offputting. It was gone by the last day, and the sea and beach were lovely. I would beware of this during the monsoon though. The villas were lovely. We didn't use the sitting room at all, but it's nice to have this extra space particularly if you come as a family. The first lunch at the main restaurant was poor, which worried us for the rest of the trip, but after that, the food was very good. The hotel prides itself on a (very) extensive wine list, but I personally think that this is a mistake, as it is not stored that well, so it would seem to be better to have a few selected high quality wines with a faster turnover. The check in process is a bit chaotic (the first step at the ferry terminal and the second when you arrive at the island) - a quicker process at the terminal and doing the rest at the main reception at the resort could be easier.

The spa treatment was very nice. Massage excellent, facial a bit odd (three masques, one of which then involved putting paper all over your face and then rolling with ice cooled rollers - an unpleasant and seemingly pointless experience) but apart from that it was a very nice experience. Not a spa in a western hotel sense, and frankly much the better for it.

The staff were extremely nice - very friendly. There had clearly been some good training, without becoming too 'corporate' or losing the sense of local hospitality. There were some things that needed to be done a little better. For example, although the pool only has about 20 loungers, the service at the pool was very haphazard - you needed to go to the bar for service, there were often too few towels around, and the plates etc. were not cleared away, often for hours at a time. If the hotel was full, I imagine there would be a lot of frustration.

We went to the market in Kota Kinabalu one day, which was fine - Kota Kinabalu is not a terribly interesting city though so if you're staying more than a day or two (particularly if the sea/ beach are inaccessible during the red tide season) it makes sense to book some excursions.

Overall, a nice experience, I would probably not stay longer than the 3 nights we went for, but convenient for Singapore/ HK, good food and nice staff.

Room Tip: Numbers 36 (I think) through to 42 are great as they're not too far to walk to the main receptio...
See more room tips
  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank HalfwayCottage
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hong Kong, China
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 February 2014

We (family of 5 with a 2 year old plus grandparents) stayed in a 2-bedroom beach front villa for 3 nights over Chinese New Year (early Feb 2014). While initial impressions were very concerning, it improved dramatically over the few days we were there.

When we arrived, the red tide (red algae) was all over the sea and had brought with it a massive amount of sea garbage. Unfortunately, this collected right around the jetty you arrive at so our first experience of the resort was really shocking - plastic bags, bottles, wrappers, straws - everything just all across the water. Even worse was the amount of rubbish that had then washed up on the beach making it really unpleasant to even walk onto the beach. While I understand the red tide only comes for a matter of days each year and is out of the resort's control, there seemed to be very little attempt to tidy it up. I would have expected a constant patrol in the water by the jetty to collect the rubbish and likewise on the beach. A completely thankless task, I know, but a necessary one for a resort of this calibre.

We were of course thrilled the next day when the red tide had subsided, the water was clear and the rubbish had gone with with the tide (to where, one doesn't know). The sun shone and the resort really was at it's very best. The breakfast is delicious (full buffet of fruit, cereals, yoghurt, juices, eggs, waffles plus a menu to order extras), they were only too happy to accommodate meals for our 2 year old, the room service was excellent and the mojitos are very yummy!

We went on a short (30 min) canopy walk, tried paddle boarding, kayaked and went on the flying fox which was a real adrenalin rush! All of these activities are included in your room rate (except the flying fox which is RM150 pp). The guide on the canopy walk was able to find flying lizards and chameleons on the walk and was knowledgable about the area. They also offer fitness classes and when I enquired, they said pilates was on offer. We did a session with a lovely instructor however it became quickly apparent that she had minimal experience and ended up asking us what moves we knew. Thankfully, we were both reasonably experienced and knew when to minimise postures to avoid injury but if you were hoping to 'try' pilates, be aware that you are doing it at your own risk.

We had massages and facials at the spa (quite possibly one of the best facials I've ever had - thanks Veronica!) and prices are reasonable and the quality is very high.

The staff are definitely on 'island time' so things happen at a gentle pace. As an example, we had requested a baby cot in our room and when we arrived (exactly at our baby's nap time) we followed up as it wasn't in the room. We asked if we could have it quickly as our baby was very tired and overdue for a sleep. When it hadn't arrived 15 mins later, we just made do by putting her in our bed and it arrived a couple of hours later after another follow up phone call.

It always perplexes me when hotels invite you to minimise your environmental impact by reusing your towels and bed linen and, as was the case at Bunga Raya, all the drinking water is provided in small plastic bottles (rather than a large water dispenser in villas, especially in the large villas that are likely to have families), the room services all comes covered in masses of plastic wrap and rubbish collects in the waterways around the main restaurant (which created a nasty smell wafting up and looked like it had been there for longer than the red tide had).

But all in all, the location is just spectacular, the beach is pristine, fine white sand (when the rubbish isn't on it), the food is very good (especially the roti!), the beds are terrific and the villas are beautifully big with gorgeous views. They put on a lion dance for Chinese New Year which was very popular and well received.

Room Tip: Some villas are right down by the beach and near the main longhouse. Very convenient if you have fa...
See more room tips
  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Jambert73
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 February 2014
Dear Jambert73,

Thank you so much for your review of Bunga Raya island resort & Spa. I am thrilled you enjoyed your time with us although mother nature didn't make it easy.
The Red Tide has nearly all disappeared, this was the worst we have seen in 5 years. As for the rubbish it can sometimes arrive with the tide during the North East monsoon (Nov-Feb). We clean the net and our beach every day from 3am until 6pm, hence the clean beach the following morning of your arrival, you are right this is a thankless task but necessary nevertheless.

We hope to see you back in Bunga Raya again.

Best wishes

Tomas
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 January 2014

We didn't like this place,sea and beach very dirty and people very lazy not cleaning the beach
Complained 3 times but no one interested,not recommended at all,food quality average
They only focus on how to get more of your money without even providing a clean beach
The photos and reality is very different

Room Tip: you will regret going there
See more room tips
  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Selim B
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 February 2014
Dear Selim,

It's a little disappointing to see your blog considering we talked about what happens in our part of the world during the North East monsoon (Nov-Feb). We take immense pride in our resort and you will find that beach cleaning is happening daily from 3am until 6pm. Its not just a duty of our landscape staff but all departments and you know we were all there assisting under the hot sun.
I even explained all the marine efforts we do through our Marine Ecology Research Center to hopefully one day lessen the pollution in our ocean.

I am sorry you did not enjoy your time with us.

Best regards

Tomas
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hotels you might also like...
Also consider these accommodations in or near Pulau Gaya
2.3 mi away
Gayana Eco Resort
Gayana Eco Resort
#3 of 3 in Pulau Gaya
453 reviews
12.4 mi away
Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort & Spa
5.0 mi away
Sutera Harbour Resort (The Pacific Sutera & The Magellan Sutera)
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices
4.8 mi away
Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu
Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu
#5 of 92 in Kota Kinabalu
2,064 reviews
8.6 mi away
Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai
Nexus Resort & Spa Karambunai
#12 of 92 in Kota Kinabalu
1,331 reviews
4.8 mi away
Hyatt Regency Kinabalu
Hyatt Regency Kinabalu
#6 of 92 in Kota Kinabalu
1,414 reviews
Show Prices
Show Prices
Show Prices

Been to Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Additional Information about Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa

Property: Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa
Address: Polish Bay, 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 
Reservation Options:
TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Expedia, Southall Travel, Booking.com, Travel Republic (UK), Agoda, Odigeo, Ctrip TA, Ebookers, Priceline, TripOnline SA, 5viajes2012 S.L., HotelQuickly, Evoline ltd and Cancelon so you can book your Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
Bunga Raya Island Resort And Spa
Bunga Raya Island Hotel Kota Kinabalu

Is This Your TripAdvisor Listing?

Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.

Claim Your Listing