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“Lovely little paradise”
Review of Gaya Island Resort

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Gaya Island Resort
Ranked #1 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Certificate of Excellence
Copenhagen
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Lovely little paradise”
Reviewed 4 October 2013

We stayed at the Gaya Island Resort for 2 nights booked via Hotels.com and were suitably impressed with the stay. The island is only a short speed boat trip away from the mainland Kota Kinabalu (however, the cost for this is way overpriced, RM70 per way). The rooms on the island lived up to all our expectations, with a beautiful view of the beach and the rainforest just below. The facilities in the room are very good. Everything is nice and new incl. a big bath tub and lovely outdoor decking where one can enjoy a drink etc. On arrival you get a very comprehensive introduction to the island, the facilities, and your room. Each day we had cleaners come in the morning as well as in the evenings to turn down your bed. leaving a small gift on the bed for each of us.
The restaurant was okay, however, when in Malaysia, I would not expect to pay European prices, not even at a 5***** star resort. The food was okay, but we were not overwhelmed by the dinners, we had. The breakfast is, however, extremely good. The pool is really nice, and we spent most of our day time relaxing by the pool, enjoying the view of Mt Kinabalu. Again, the drinks were way too expensive. We almost felt like we had gone out for a drink in Copenhagen.
Also, we only stayed on the island for a couple of days so we did not need to go back to the mainland whilst here, however, we heard from others that the charges going back (15 min by boat) were outrageous. Basically, some people felt a bit stranded at the resort.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank KHPuli
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 review, 31 October 2013
Dear Guest,

Greetings from Gaya Island Resort- A walking resort.

I would like to thank you very much on your visit and I note, overall your stay with us was a relaxing one. I have shared your comments with the team and congratulated them on their dailies, ensuring your stay was nothing less then a memorable break.

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

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
25 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 October 2013

My husband and I have just returned from 8 nights at Gaya Island. This hotel has only been open since 2012 so there are definately things that need attention and improving on. The walk to some of the rooms (like ours) was not particularly fun as it was all up hill and in the heat not great and for an older couple could be a problem, I believe this is something they are looking into. There are only two restaurants although they consider the pool bar a '3rd one' but this consists of the same menu as the buffet restaurant but again believe that they are now adding another one which I would say is in need of. The fine dinning is meant to be fish only but as I dont like fish they were more than happy to accommodate me and it was excellent whilst my husband enjoyed the fish. The staff are brilliant and couldnt be more helpful. The Spa again is a 'nice walk up a hill' but is beautiful once there, the treatments are amazing and would definately recommend the various types of massages and facials on offer.

Room Tip: All of the rooms are exactly the same at this resort but in order to avoid a long walk ask for one o...
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Eve B
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 review, 31 October 2013
Dear Guest,

Greetings from Gaya Island Resort - A walking tropical resort!

I would like to apologize on the inconveniences that your self experienced on regards to hilly walk to your villa. Being a nature resort, guest villas are located on the higher and lower hill.

The villas on the higher hill are Kinabalu villas(ocean and mountain view) and on the lower hill are the Bayu and Canopy villas(jungle view). Kinabalu villas are the highest category villas and due to the location, it does come with some level of up-hill walking.

I also note, overall you had a memorable stay with us. Me and Team look forward to welcome you back to Gaya Island Resort in future.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Southampton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
37 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 September 2013

Honeymoon stay. Beautiful location, amazing rooms, very relaxing until the bill arrives, two tins of Pepsi approx 6 British pounds. Staff are very friendly and helpful, however once the wow factor has worn off, (like the other trip advisor said). The cracks really show. Not worthy of a 5 star. One restaurant and one communal eatery, wasn't sure if a la carte or buffet. A la carte prices but help yourself canteen. One set of knife and fork to be re used for starter, main and dessert. Once you are on the island, which is stunning, you are captive for a rip off hotel. We expected higher prices before arrival, but the hotel does not justify them. If you fancy a cosy drink in the eve with friends, the only bar starts to shut down approx 10.40. Lights out by 11. The real beauty here is the wildlife and forest, the hotel would struggle in any other location. Could be amazing with a bit of tweaking.

Room Tip: All rooms are equal quality. No need to upgrade.
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  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank debbi12328
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 review, 31 October 2013
Dear Guest,

I would like to unreservedly apologize on the overall disappointments that your self experienced, as shared, mainly on regards to the price. I would like to share that our prices are align with other 5 Star establishments around the areas and I am sorry that this was not your opinion and I offer my apology again.

I am very sorry on the disappointments and I would like to assure your self that your comments are now in our record for our future improvements.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for choosing Gaya Island Resort for your recent break and we look forward to welcome you back in future.

Kind regards,
Kirinjit Singh.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Malaysia
Level Contributor
99 reviews
34 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 218 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
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 review, 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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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
St Helier, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
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 review, 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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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Singapore, Singapore
Level Contributor
28 reviews
24 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
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
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
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 review, 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.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
37 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
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!
See more room tips
  • Stayed September 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
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 review, 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.
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 Gaya Island Resort

Property: Gaya Island Resort
Address: Malohom Bay, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park | Malohom Bay, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, 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 (Based on Average Rates): ££
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 waling resort and only minimal motorised vehicles are used for operational purposes. ... more   less 
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