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“Truly pampered & treated like gold on our Golden Anniversary”
Review of Gaya Island Resort

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Gaya Island Resort
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 27 September 2013

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.

Room Tip: Get the Kinabalu view
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Jagjeet S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 31 October 2013

Dear Mrs J,

Thank you for your continue support and Me and Team is happy to read that your third visit to Gaya Island Resort was a memorable one. I am thankful to you on your support and loyalty towards the brand.

Again, thank you very much on your visit and your little family here is looking forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort again.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.

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Reviewed 27 September 2013

We arrived in Gaya island for 9 nights at the end of our three week honeymoon in Malaysia. The first half of our trip was spent in KL, Taman Negara and Sandakan, so involved a lot of travelling and sightseeing.

We came to Gaya to end our honeymoon for some relaxation and it was brilliant.

Despite being here for longer than most, we found plenty of things to entertain us, including snorkelling, jungle walks, arts and crafts and a Malaysian cooking session or just sitting around by the pool reading. I also did a two day scuba course, which was fantastic.

The private beach was very nice and the snorkelling was much better there. The friendly boar with piglets was great to see, as were the monitor lizards and turtle being rehabilitated.

On the Friday, they hold a party on the beach at 5pm. Here you can eat some little treats and drink local rice wine and tea tarik. There are also traditional games to be played and people helping you make things out of banana leaves. Most of the hotel (staff and guests) seem to come to this and everyone joined in together which created a really nice atmosphere.

Some reviewers have stated that there isn't much to do. I'm not sure exactly what they wanted (unless they was naive enough to come to an island and expect entertainment like in the city) and I can't help but feel they would have found things to do had they made a little more effort.

All of the staff are very friendly and eager to help. While we didn't ask a great deal of them, we did not notice any sign of their lack of experience, which had been mentioned by others. Sonia met us on arrival and appeared to have memorised our entire itinerary, which was very impressive and made us feel valued.

We obviously had a lot of cleaning to be done after moving around for the first 9 days but found that the washing service provided was incredibly expensive (probably would have cost us about 50 GBP for a load and a half of washing. We therefore washed the clothes ourselves and hung them out to dry. They offer an ironing board on request, so we were happy.

A few people have mentioned the lack of internet in the rooms, which I would really struggle to mark the hotel down on. There is a 24 hour library with computers which can be used for checking emails etc and, if I come to such a beautiful island, internet access isn't exactly a top priority.

The cost of a day trip to the mainland is expensive, but they offered us complimentary trips given the time we were staying for. We didn't take them up on this because we found enough things to do on island.

Negatives
Inevitably there are going to be some negatives with any hotel and the only one for us was the full-board option. We would certainly have given the resort 5 stars had it not been for this.

Based on previous reviews saying that food is incredibly expensive, we decided to plump for the full board option so we didn't have to worry about it when we arrived. This cost around 75 GBP per person per night, which is rather a lot.

Unless you have three courses for lunch and dinner (and eat steak and lobster each time) you won't get the value of paying in advance. We consider ourselves big eaters but couldn't manage three courses for both lunch and dinner.

We were also only able to have lobster once; on every other night the lobster and steak (the two most expensive things on the menu and the only things which would make the full board option even nearly viable) were 'unfortunately' not available.

The point of a full board option is that it should save you money by paying in advance and not having to pay the menu prices. However, I would estimate that by us going full board for 9 days, we ended up between 300-500 GBP out of pocket (1,500 - 2,500 Malaysian Ringgit).

Overall
In spite of the full board option leaving a slightly bitter taste in the mouth, the resort itself is fantastic and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The staff were friendly, there were plenty of things to do and it was the perfect way to end our honeymoon. Just don't go for the full board option!

A big thank you to all of the staff at Gaya Island for making our stay so enjoyable.

Tom and Eliana

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank JerseyBean027
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 31 October 2013

Dear Guest,

Greetings from Gaya Island Resort - A walking resort!

Me, Sonia and team is happy to read on your positive stay and we all look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in future.

I also note that the full-board option were less pleasing on value and I am very sorry that our offering were not to your expectation. We take your comment into our records for our next evaluation of our offerings.

Again, thank you very much on your visit and we wish you all the best.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.

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Reviewed 26 September 2013

My husband & I stayed 3 nights at GIR with resident package.

Pro: Is a short distance from airport to Sutera Harbour and a short speedboat ride to the resort.
The room is big & have a big bathtub.
The room temperature was fine for us, we got no issue with that.
The food has met our expectation & we were well fed.
The snorkeling experience was good. The guide is knowledgeable with marine life. I really
enjoy self-snorkeling. The house reef has plenty to offer.
We attended the handicraft session, and made a few bracelets:)
The towel & cold water were always ready at all area.

Cons: Kinabalu villas were located uphill & required some hike. If there is buggy services or
even hidden elevator like PLR would be good.
Our room 821, some view has been obstructed by trees.
I got bitten by sandflies, till now still itchy.
The GIR office at mainland not clearly visible from the harbour. More signage would be
good.

Room Tip: If you choose Kinabalu Villa, room 815, 816, 817, 818 would be good.
See more room tips
  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank mcwee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 29 September 2013

Dear Guest,

Greetings from Gaya Island Resort - A walking resort!

I would like to thank you very much on your review and I note overall you had a relaxing stay despite some areas that reflected less pleasing to your self in particular, walk up to the rooms.

I would like suggest for your future visit, please ask our Travel Center for a room on the lower hill which comes with more pleasant walk to the rooms. I would like to apologize that our concept of walking resort did not reflect as a positive approach to your personal opinion and we fully respect your opinion as a comment for our use for our future developments/improvements.

Again, thank you for your support and we look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in future.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.

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Reviewed 24 September 2013

My partner and I had the most memorable wonderful stay at Gaya Island last week and did not want to leave. From the speed boat to the resort (which is btw priced a bit too steep), we were met by the most friendliest staff who took the time to show us around the resort, introduce us to staff and show us all the amenities. It was our anniversary when staying and we were lucky enough to be upgraded to a suite with prosecco on arrival! we were so touched!! The private island, (with air conditioned toilets) was just beautiful and is just a 5 min complementary boat ride away. The beach is unspoilt (unlike Manakan) and even has a marine life centre where they rescue and rehabilitate turtles!! Sonia and Simona in particular was amazingly attentive and I cant recommend this resort highly enough!

Room Tip: I would go for a room facing Mt Kinabalu - beautiful unobstructed views!
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  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Seeb08
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 29 September 2013

Dear Guest,

Greetings from Gaya Island Resort - A walking resort!

I would like to thank you very much on taking your time to share with us on your stay experiences. Sonia, Simona and the rest of the team are all very happy to read on your positive stay and we all look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in future.

Again, thank you very much on your support.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.

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Reviewed 20 September 2013

Gaya Island, a short boat ride from Sabah's capital is home to Gaya Island Resort which is a spectacular nature park come rain forest. The Gaya Island Hotel is supposed to be a five star resort on the island with all the accouterments that go with it. It just doesn't live up to its hype. Tourists are brought to the island via speedboat and are checked in and "processed " on the mainland. When there are more than four people checking in at any one time, it begins to loose that "exclusive" 5 star feeling.

The arrival at the resort is impressive, however once the" wow" factor wears off, serious flaws set in.

The rooms are large but the air conditioning in the room blows either warm or cold air. The light switches are almost impossible to reach from the bed. Water pressure is poor and the room terraces are almost impossible to use, due to a massive design flaw in the outdoor sofas covered in dirty stains.

Food is the biggest disappointment.The Breakfast buffet is worthy of a simple 3 star hotel and is rarely replenished. Fruit selection was very poor and only the fresh juice bar was worthy of the detour.Cost wise the buffet breakfast was on par with a European hotel. The so called gourmet" restaurant lacked panache and in a country ( Malaysia) where its so easy to get good produce and food at very low prices, the hotel missed literally missed the boat here.

I would recommend a day trip here to the private beach and no more....although overall staff were kind and helpful.

Room Tip: The closer to the reception to avoid the long walks as there is no transportation and some rooms are...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled on business
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2  Thank maccimo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 29 September 2013

Dear Guest,

Greetings from Gaya Island Resort - A walking resort!

I am very sorry on the areas that did not meet your expectations as shared in your review. Your comments are on our list for further improvements, in particular our Food and Beverage offerings. We note every comment that we receive and improvements are made along the line on areas where applicable and our Food and Beverage offerings is now on our improvements planning and we expect to launch our new experiences as whole by end of this third semester.

I also note the overall staff stood on an exceptional platform and ensured you are well looked after through out.

Again, I am very sorry on the overall areas that did not meet your expectations and I would like to assure your kind self that nothing will be left unattended in our efforts to improve our areas and services further from time to time reflecting our promise of relaxing and enjoyable offerings.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best and we look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in time to come.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.

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Reviewed 19 September 2013

Stayed here for one night only and for the price that you pay, this place was only average. This property was very well-kept, but the beach was that beautiful and the food could use some improvement. More importantly, service lacked efficiency despite being quite genuine.

Check-in:

Took a while for the room to be cleaned up by housekeeping. Complimentary drinks was a nice touch.

Rooms:

Take note that all villas only come with a King bed. So if you are sharing rooms with friends and do not wish to share the same bed, you better ask housekeeping to set up a separate bed using the day bed. Turn down service never came after calling housekeeping twice. They didn't set up the day bed after coming over, so we had to call them again. The staff who came was very nice and apologetic. The people are great, but a bit more urgency and efficiency would be appreciated.

Other than that, the rooms were well-appointed with modern equipment. The bathroom is huge with a very nice tub.

F&B:

The food is ok. Since there are no other F&B options on the island, you are tied to what is offered at the resort. The dinner buffet was decent. Breakfast had quite a few options, but we expected more in terms of quality given the price.

Facilities:

The pool is great and the gym has a great view with Mount Kinabalu in the distance. The spa area didn't look that great. It feels like that building is not as well maintained. The area beneath the building was all muddy and it wasn't a very beautiful site for a spa.

Overall:

The villas were the highlight of this resort. The bed was very comfortable and the staff are genuinely nice. However, for the price that you pay, you kind of expect all that. There wasn't anything that really wow'ed us and service could be a bit slow at times. And so for a high end resort, especially in KK, Gaya Island Resort was only average.

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled with friends
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3  Thank CPA902
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 29 September 2013

Dear Guest,

Thank you for your review and I would like to apologize on the overall areas and services that did not meet your expectations. In particular, I have discussed your comment with my Executive Housekeeper on the day bed inefficiency and I am very embarrassed to learn on how poor we performed here. The flow and standards are revisited and area is now improved further.

On your spa surroundings comment, I would like to share that our spa concept is a mangrove spa hence the area is to be maintained to reflect our concept and approach. I am very sorry that our this concept did not meet your expectations and I offer my apologies.

Again, I am very sorry on the areas that did not meet your expectations and I hope this will not deter you to honor us another chance to prove our selves on areas that we poorly performed by choosing Gaya Island Resort for your next break.

We look forward to welcome you back on our shores and till then, our best wishes to you and friends.

Regards,
Kirinjit Singh.

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Reviewed 15 September 2013

Overall experience was very nice. Only this resort can offer a lot of things including the jungle walk in the backyard that has so many intriguing native spieces. So I guess not everything is perfect but here is the summary of things that were negative in the stay that could be improved or things that were good that I could really recommend to everryone.

Positives - the hotel is new so it s very clean.. I stayed at the beach front room and the view from the room was very nice. the location of the resort. it s in the nature that is also unique too. most of the staff are very friendly and trying hard to do the service for you. Jamie who took me around the jungle was very helpful and I appreciate the work of Sonia the manager there who tried to pay attention to my schedule during my stay. Henry at the spa did a fantastic job for me.

Negatives - the boat from their terminal in KK cost me extra 700 MRGT. I dont understand why they dont offer a speed boat that should basially costs almost nothing. Some of the staff were not very experienced and did not seem to know what they re doing too well. In order to move from the resport to the airport you have to use the ferry boat but they only offer the service every 2 hours. So a lot of idle time in the ferry terminal... Internet connection was poor in some room cus its away from the terminal point and they only have WIFI (no cable i found in the room too).

Neutral - Food was OK but it wasnt impressive at the buffet restaurant. I didnt go to another formal restaurant because it requires 'smart casual' which wont happen to most of the people who come here for vacation.

For the price i paid for I m not sure if it s worth overall. without the hefty 700 MRGT it made a little more sense.

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled solo
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2  Thank QualityMattersMost
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kirinjit, General Manager at Gaya Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 29 September 2013

Dear Guest,

Greetings from Borneo!

Firstly, I would like to apologize on the overall disappointments that your self experienced, as shared in your review. Your comments are noted for our further improvements, where applicable.

I note Jamie, Sonia and Henry stood on an exceptional platform on ensuring that your stay was a relaxing and enjoyable one as a whole. I have shared your comments with them and congratulated them on their extra miles.

Again, I am very sorry on the areas that did not meet your expectations and we all look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in future.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.

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Additional Information about Gaya Island Resort

Address: Malohom Bay, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park | Jesselton Point, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Pulau Gaya 88000, Malaysia
Phone Number:
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > West Coast Division > Kota Kinabalu District > Pulau Gaya
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Beverage Selection Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Price Range: £143 - £289 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Gaya Island Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 121
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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