This was our 3rd visit to GIR since its launch last September. As I had truly enjoyed our previous two getaways here, when 6 other friends were looking for a place to celebrate their wedding anniversaries, I had no hesitation in recommending GIR because both my 80-year-old spouse and I had enjoyed every moment of our 4-day 3-night stay here in the previous two visits and left the place feeling totally rejuvenated and at inner peace with ourselves. Such was the ambience that had a sublime and a subliminal effect on us; and we even regretted that our vacation was just too short to enjoy the Nordic walks that had become a way of life with us. We Nordic walked morning and evening on the beach and on the tarred road. So we had brought our Nordic Walking poles to Nordic Walk on this holiday too! In fact that was amongst our purposes of choosing GIR.
We had arranged for a GIR pick-up at the KK airport and were amazed at the efficiency of the staff that met us here so punctually in their two spacious vans and before we even knew it, we were at the luxurious lobby of Sutera Harbour where instantly we were registered without much hassle. Yes, we were pampered - that's YTL's way of service - with towels and health drinks and comfortable seats. The staff ( (the knowledgeable smiling passionate Sonia in the lead ; Bowie and trainee Calvin, Lampard the concierge) at Sutera Harbour handled our airport transfer and registration with much ease and ensured we were made comfortable even while waiting at this lounge.
But what caught our attention and remains ingrained in all the 8 of us was the way helpful Sonia (we heard from the other staff that Sonia was actually not on duty as she had taken the day off to celebrate her son’s birthday) went out of her way to resolve the mystery of the wrong luggage of one of our travellers. It was only when we were about to board the boat across to GIR that suddenly Molly one of our group members realised one of the bags that she had with her was not hers and that there had been a mix-up at the airport. While others panicked as anxiety was certainly seen on our faces, the composed Sonia drove Molly to the airport in her own car and took upon herself to sort this matter whilst the remaining 6 of us continued our boat ride across to the island. The mystery was soon solved as Sonia acted very promptly and knew what to do! Brilliantly handled, Sonia! This incident does demonstrate to us that YTL staff has been well trained to handle emergencies!
Once on the island, we felt like we were on home ground for being regular loyal clients of YTL’s chain of resorts as my hubby and I together with my entourage , were warmly greeted with hugs and hand-shakes by the resort staff . To our pleasant surprise, General Manager Peter Neto, together with Resort Manager Kirinjit Singh were awaiting our arrival with the entire “family “ – most of the staff recognised us and were all smiles as they welcomed us with more towels and health drinks. We knew we were going to have a gala time as we knew almost everyone . That is the advantage of re-visiting the same resorts for you know almost everyone and can be sure of extra pampering. Isn’t that why we were on GIR?
We were personally led to our very spacious, clinically clean , beautiful Kinabalu villas – all facing the Kinabalu mountain. Another surprise awaited us in our rooms as the deco and the ambience created was more for honeymooners. Well, we have been married for half a century but the bed decoration made us feel as if we had just got married. We couldn’t believe our eyes. Next, we saw the bath tub prepared with flower petals and with such great care for a dip. Then my eyes gazed upon a personal card and on close scrutiny it was from the resort GM with a personal handwritten note , “ A very warm welcome back .. it was always a pleasure to host you at Tanjong Jara Resort and am delighted to see you here as well. “ The GM did remember his guests! These were very warm words and the personal touch touched us deeply and reminded us of the kind of service we have always enjoyed in the YTL chain that keeps bringing us back to its famed resorts especially when we want to celebrate an occasion for the YTL chain makes sure the occasion is made more memorable by attending to every detail.
This together with the tour of the island , for me it was for the third time, by the Resort Manager Kirinjit impressed us specially as the personal touch was indeed another reason why we often chose YTL chain for all our celebrations. Thank you Kirinjit for the special service in ensuring we were really well-taken care off , despite your being under the weather that week. Nothing is too much trouble for you and your staff – that’s what we have noticed during our frequent stays at your resorts.
To the F & B service staff – I remember some names : Litticia, Bobby, Fairuz, Yayoi, Adzeen and Samre – we thank you for the service with a smile and “sure” every time we requested for something. We had the privilege of meeting even the kitchen staff - Chefs Vivian, Ronald, Shim and Miguel - who made it a point to ensure we were happy with the cuisine served to us and were always ever ready to oblige us eg Marina one of my group members and I never tired of the molten lava dessert, so even though it was not on the menu, we got it be it lunch or dinner. “If you are prepared to wait for 15 minutes , you can have it” and true enough , we had the best of the molten lava cakes! I particularly liked the fresh fruit juices every morning and the omelettes I had with “less oil” .
My husband and I always ensure we quickly sign up for the spa at the wellness centre for the YTL chain has always given us unique experiences at the spa. This time we each had a 90 mins spa of the lower leg and spice revitalizer , Balinese Supreme with avocado and coconut hair mask. Ziah, Slyvia and Weslin, we still remember the experience we have had under your careful and skilful massages.
Being 73 years and unable to swim, I had decided snorkelling was a NO-NO for me; however, one of my team mates Regina, a snorkeller but far from a great swimmer herself, managed to convince the coach and me to have an experience at snorkelling. With my heart thumping like it had never thumped before I don’t know how I managed to convince myself to have my first experience at snorkelling under the guidance and coaching of Eric. “Yes, you created history,” he said as he was amazed to see how I had ventured out quite far out into the waters ! Thank you Eric for this memorable experience and now I thirst for more! Shall certainly come back!
Why I like GIR is that it has water sports as well as nature trails. The knowledgeable resort naturalist Justin led us on his daily nature trails . At the end of each trail, we realised we had more information than our poor heads could carry because Justin knows so much about all the flora and fauna .
We had all enjoyed our holiday on GIR especially the meals – we had something different every day – and especially the fine dining at the Fisherman’s Cove with soft music serenading us. The sea food – we had grilled lobsters – to top it all and these were so well prepared that they complemented the champagne and wine that went along with our meal – the highlight of our golden wedding anniversary. We danced with the sound of the waves lashing against the rocks to the soft music in the background. It was a perfect place for a golden wedding anniversary year of our celebration .
I guess I could go on and on about GIR and our satisfaction with the way we were pampered and the good service from the top management – Peter Neto, Kirinjit, Sonia and all the other staff – sorry there are too many names for me to remember – but I must say you left no stone unturned to make our golden wedding anniversary so special and extraordinary.
When it was time to leave, you should have seen how sad we felt leaving such a heavenly out-of-the-world resort to go back to the city of Kuala Lumpur. In GIR I must admit you have everything a visitor to the island is looking for. Just keep it up! To the staff a big thank you to you all for making our trip and celebration unforgettable . I know you will remember us for the Macarena and the PocoPoco and the Achy Breaky Heart we taught you and the other guest. As I write this review, I am beginning to feel nostalgic and am missing you all – my family members – once again! Of course, GIR will be my annual retreat but this time I could do with one week’s stay there.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Gaya Island Resort is located on Pulau Gaya, the largest of a cluster of five islands that form the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, a natural conservation area off the coast of Borneo, close to Kota Kinabalu. Gaya Island Resort has a unique setting: the land is fringed with a golden sandy beach, rocky coastal outcrops, and surrounded by coral reefs. The hilly island landscape is covered with lush tropical rainforest and an abundance of flora and fauna. And to complete this perfect setting, visible in the distance, is the stunning outline of Mount Kinabalu. The guest villa exterior respects Sabahan architecture uses local materials and blends harmoniously with the natural environment. The interior living space is designed with contemporary elegance to create warmth, comfort and a serene indoor setting. Gaya Island Resort is committed to ecologically sustainable practices to minimise the carbon footprint within its environment. Therefore the resort is a walking resort and only minimal motorised vehicles are used for operational purposes. ... more less
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