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“Memories made here”

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Sukau Rainforest Lodge
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 1 July 2013 via mobile

I stayed sadly only 2 nights here with my 18 year old daughter during a island/river/rainforest adventure. Before we even arrived we had stopped to witness a herd of Pygmy elephants on the riverbank. In our boat we were able to get extremely close, it was exhilarating. First impressions count and Sukau Rainforest Lodge succeed at making you very welcome. In one day we witnessed the big 5 - elephant, crocodile, rhinoceros hornbill, orangutan and proboscis monkey. We used Borneo Eco Tours for our trip and always had a knowledgeable guide to escort us. Meals were looked forward to. The chef obliging of any special needs. We loved the clean rooms and as the title said we had adorable experience.

  • Stayed: June 2013
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1  Thank SquishyBeetle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 21 June 2013

I thought we were going to a remote, deep jungle lodge. Well not quite. The jungle is a thin strip of regrown rainforest along a river which is dotted with other lodges (active and abandoned), and native houses. Not so remote and not much rainforest. Palm oil plantations come within 100 metres of the river and at some spots right down to the river. Having said that, and forgetting the civilization nearby, we enjoyed the slow dingy cruises along the main river and smaller tributaries looking for wildlife. Like most similar activities (eg.scuba diving) you require a bit of luck and being in the right place at the right time to catch the best wildlife. We regularly saw a couple of monkey species, quite a few birds, but unfortunately no wild orangutans or pygmy elephants. We also saw many other human species in boats just like ours. Well I have already declared that the place is not so remote. But altogether a worthwhile experience which complemented our scuba diving stay further south at Marbul/Sipadan. We travelled from Semporna to Sukau by minivan thinking we would see some of the country on the 4.5 hour road trip. Well if you like viewing non stop palm oil plantations with occasional ramshakle habitation then go for it. The best access is by comfortable boat to and from Sandakan (2.5 hours) which is how we finished our stay. If there were any Phillipine terrorists out there I don't think they would be fast enough to catch this boat.

The Lodge experience was very good. The rooms were very nice with all facilities except for air conditioning; and we could of used it as it was very hot and humid. There were roof fans everywhere, including the rooms, but our room fan's highest speed setting was not adequate when escaping to your room to rest and recover after a hot and sometimes wet boat trip. Drinking water is only from a special chilled or heated bulk bottle in the nearby lounge. We were constantly refilling our room jug to keep hydrated, in-between tea/coffee. In-room bottled water would have been more convenient, but I guess this would not be consistent with the management's eco philosophy opposing plastic bottles. The rooms are well protected from external bugs, providing you get the door closed quickly. However, although well smothered in insect repellant, we did not notice any significant swarms of mosquitoes, either in the boats or the lodge. Maybe June is not the insect season.

All meals were in the elevated dockside open dining area; an excellent spot to relax and watch the river traffic while you eat. Meals were all bistro style with a reasonable choice for western and asian tastes. Waiting staff/cooks were very courteous and service oriented and could not be faulted. Like most other non-mainland resorts, the price of wine here was ridiculous. So as usual I chose beer. My wife did enjoy the foot spa treatment.

  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Francis J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SRL_ADMIN, Owner at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 24 June 2013

Dear Frank189, thank you so much for your detailed review and we are truly glad that we got to host you on your recent Scuba Diving trip here in Borneo. You are right, this part of the rainforest is actually secondary rainforest that had previously been logged during the 1950s era of widespread deforestation and exploitation, an era we wish never happened. Nevertheless, we are blessed that wildlife can still be found in abundance in Sukau, having come back from the brink during those terrible days. Honestly, if it was not because of tourism, corporations would have moved in long ago and wiped off what is left of the rainforests and its wild inhabitants. With regards to wine, unfortunately the Malaysian government puts a harsh 100% import tax on alcoholic beverages due to the country being Muslim. Coffee shops and cafes often can sell cheaper because they get supplies of smuggled beers and wines, thus do not pay this hefty tax. We do hope you'll recommend us to your friends and we look forward to hosting you again, hopefully in the not too distant future. Thank you.

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Reviewed 18 June 2013 via mobile

Stayed for three nights following a trip to the equally beautiful Lankayan Resort. Sakau RL did not let us down, the staff were great, food was plentiful & tasty, the river cruises and board walks were informative and relaxing. The daily evening rainfall did not dampen our spirits and the additional nature slide shows & painting classes were a bonus. Be prepared to wear your 'sarong' in the evenings! Each room has male/female options included and it helps you get into the experience while showing some respect to your Malay hosts (most of whom are from local villages), don't be boring and opt out....
The lodge is environmentally aware and supports the local community & wildlife, however I was shocked by the deforestation and subsequent planting of palm oil trees. Borneo is in self destruct mode so get there before the wildlife has vanished!!!

  • Stayed: June 2013
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Thank Sapper501
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SRL_ADMIN, Owner at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 21 June 2013

Dear Sapper. Your excitement is infectious and we're glad you enjoyed yourself here in Borneo as our guest. We owe it to the next generation to protect the little forests that remain. Thankfully with tourism and the international exposure, what's left has been successfully gazetted as protected. Thank you for your feedback!

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Reviewed 15 June 2013

This resort is 2.5 hours via boat from Sandakan. It is accessible via road I gather, but the water route is quicker, smoother and much more scenic along the Kinabatangan River (we were lucky enough to see a small group of elephant cooling off in the river on our way there).
The resort is located on the banks of the river and most activities are focussed on the river- with mini-cruises going out at various times to look for birds and other wildlife- and the guides and boatmen are terrific at spotting birds or monkeys/apes high in the trees.
The food was plentiful and available via a buffet at designated times each day when a gong was struck to let guests know that it was time to eat. The standard of the food was good- not great, and guests were directed to sit at table in groups dictated by the identity of the guide allocated to them. We got on fine with our rather disparate group, but did think it was odd we were expected to have breakfast, lunch and dinner with them…
I think most visitors are enchanted by the location of the lodge and the things you can see there- and we were too, but frankly it’s no better (or worse) in design than other similar resort lodges elsewhere in the world - or in Boneo even. There is a common foyer area with lounge seating and games etc and large ceiling fans. The rooms are not large but perfectly adequate – although the beds in the twin room we were given (in lieu of the double we had requested and paid for) had insufficient room to walk past down to the bathroom area (on a lower level) which meant we stubbed our toes a good many times. There was no balcony or outdoor seating areas attached to the rooms, which was a shame – and which other similar places seem to have. Also, the rooms are not air-conditioned - there are only ceiling fans, which means the rooms are VERY hot in the middle of the day. As Australians we are used to the heat to a degree, but I would imagine some Europeans or North Americans would find the heat difficult to cope with- and nowhere to escape to (there is no air-conditioning anywhere in the resort). We were informed rather piously that the reason for the lack of air-conditioning- is because Sukau is an ECO-resort, but I don’t really buy that as justification. There are ways to run air-conditioning in an eco-friendly way e.g. solar power, so I think the resort needs to look at that rather than trying to make guests feels guilty about wanting air-conditioning; it would only be needed for a few hours in the heat of the middle of the day anyway. I did gain the impression at times that the management rather relied on the location of the lodge to work its magic with the guests and ignored some little touches which could easily have made the whole thing almost perfect. Another example was the drinks situation. There is no suggestion this resort is ‘dry’ and there was a limited wine list of over-priced wine- as one might expect, and also plentiful supplies of locally-brewed Carlsberg beer. What I could not understand was why they had a vast array of spirits and fortified wines on display in the ‘bar’ area (gin, dark rum, tequila, Jack Daniels, triple sec, vodka, blue Curacao, dry and sweet vermouth, Bacardi) - but no mixers other than coke and diet coke. A gin and tonic would have been lovely before dinner, or a vermouth and soda- but nothing doing here. I can’t believe it would be that much harder to get in supplies of tonic and soda water (or even a soda water machine) and a selection of other mixers whilst stocking up on coke. I heard a number of comments about this from other European guests, but I have no idea if anyone bothered to speak to management about it. I doubt this would be the first time if they had complained. Perhaps the management thinks it doesn’t matter- but I would say these small touches make the difference between a good resort (largely because of its location) and a great resort- because of its location and attention to what guests want while on holiday.

Room Tip: if you think you need air-conditioning, this is not the place for you....
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  • Stayed: June 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank traveller-eater
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SRL_ADMIN, Owner at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 21 June 2013

Dear traveller eater, we appreciate your feedback and will strive to implement the suggestions that you've made to transform this place from good to great, from almost wonderful to truly wonderful. The double rooms and twin rooms are the same price and were provided on first booked basis. We are working on modifying our rooms to being convertible between double and twin. As for the lack of air-conds, we get varying feedback from guests, some who prefer and some who prefer not to have aircond and we are working on new chalets that provide that option for those who prefer it though I'm sure you understand the problems of electricity in the middle of the rainforest. Currently we get three phase electricity from the mains but we get a lot of power surges (every day) and overloads due to the poor infrastructure and quality of the sole provider of electricity. As such, this entails high electricity usages, blown compressors due to surges and frequent blackouts which we bridge by diesel generator. We are striving to provide better and more varied alcoholic beverages but this is limited by the fact that a lot of it just isn't available locally. Believe it or not, supplies of tonic and soda water is actually very scarce in Sabah. Thank you again for your helpful feedback and we will keep improving the quality of facilities and services. Glad you had a great holiday here in Borneo and we hope that you'll be back someday soon.

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Reviewed 30 May 2013

I recently spent 2 nights at Sakau Rainforest Lodge located on the river bank of the vast Kinabatangan River in western Borneo. It's a 2 and a half hour cruise by speedboat from Sandakan to reach this lodge. We came through high humidity and a thunderstorm but were greeted by an oasis of calm. You arrive by boat and walk along a jetty which climbs up to a wooden platform where all meals are served.From here there is a long wooden walkway which leads to the arrival lounge area. 20 rooms are divided 10 per side of wooden boardwalks with a tropical garden in between. Another boardwalk leads to the recreation area with games, books and a pool table. Rooms are comfortable with wooden floors, modern shower and toilet. There's no air conditioning but the ceiling fans provide sufficient cooling at night.A small nook with tea and coffee making facilities is near the bathroom. A glass window looks straight out into the jungle with lush tropical grwoth in profusion.
Meals are good with professional and unobtrusive service.. The early morning boat cruise along the river in the mist is an experience in itself which is not to be missed.We saw 2 snakes curled in trees, an orangutan as well as many birds, fish and several species of monkeys.
I would recommend this place for travellers seeking a unique experience combined with simplicity and comfort.

  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank mary111
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SRL_ADMIN, Owner at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 21 June 2013

Dear Mary111, We appreciate your kind comments and I know our staff at the office and there in Sukau read comments such as yours on Tripadvisor and get encouraged and uplifted by it. Thank you for staying with us and we're so glad that the service and facilities were just right for your stay with us. As much as possible, we try to let the experience of the rainforest and wildlife speak for themselves while providing a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere here. Thank you and Jumpa Lagi (See you again soon) !

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Reviewed 24 May 2013

I went to Borneo inmarch 2011 as a part of a ECO studytour from Australia
After days of bus travelling and half decent hotels and long houses we finally arrived.. ALMOST
we got out of the bus by the water and there was 4 boats welcomming us. 1 for baggage and the rest of the boats were taking us on a little scenic trip before heading to the lodge.
The nature and local life was amazing, and then to arrive at the lodge
we were welcommed by Albert Theo the owner and guided on our whole trip by his son.

The walkway up to the reception was like in a farytale, the rooms were beautifully decoraded, beds super comfertable, and the animal and birds sounds you wake up to just puts a smile on your face.

We were woken up by the staff arround 530am for a morning cruise before breakfast, and this could last from 1hr -3hrs depending on what we would see.

Then all meals are searved on the deck right by the water, and they encouraged all guests to wer sarongs at all meals. This was a nice way to be a part of their culture.

Would absolutly recomend this for couples and families who wants that little bit of difference in a holiday.

  • Stayed: March 2013, travelled on business
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Thank Cilia198
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
SRL_ADMIN, Owner at Sukau Rainforest Lodge, responded to this reviewResponded 21 June 2013

Thanks Cilia! We were so happy to have the group of you all around Borneo and in Sukau. Still remember it like it was yesterday. That was fun and hopefully you can come back sometime in the future. Happy graduating! Regards, Timothy

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Reviewed 26 April 2013

From the moment we arrived in the rain we were welcomed with umbrellas, big smiles and a refreshing welcome drink. The boat trip to the lodge was exciting, spotting the wildlife along the way. We cannot praise the Sukau Rainforest Lodge enough. Excellence in accommodation, clean and welcoming. Excellent meals, lots of variety & delicious. Excellent staff and nothing was too much trouble. The spotters on the boats were excellent at spotting the wildlife, thankyou to Marvin. Apart from seeing an orang-utan and a gibbon in the wild, it was the highlight of our trip. We could of spent a week here, 2 nights just wasn't long enough. Let's hope next time we might get to see the pygmy elephants, but we were very lucky to spot a helmeted hornbill, the rarest of the 8 varieties. Thankyou to all at Sukau Rainforest Lodge....well done

  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled with friends
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3  Thank debbie p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Sukau Rainforest Lodge

Address: Sukau, Lower Kinabatangan River | 2 1/2 hours from Sandakan by boat, Malaysia
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > Kinabatangan District
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Spa Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 10 Speciality Lodging in Kinabatangan District
Hotel Class:3 star — Sukau Rainforest Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 20
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The award winning Sukau Rainforest Lodge nestles on the banks of one of Borneo's most important waterways, the Kinabatangan River, home to many of Borneo's magnificent wildlife. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the rainforest and the cacophany of its inhabitants, its majestic birds, all 7 species of Borneo Primates including Borneo's iconic Proboscis Monkey, Orangutans in their natural habitat as well as herds of Borneo Pygmy Elephants. Sukau Rainforest Lodge offers the rare comfort and luxury in the midst of the Borneo Rainforest whilst retaining an Eco-Lodge ethos, the delicate balance of true sustainability. We promise to give you and your family an experience you'll always remember and one you'll never regret. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Sukau Rainforest Hotel Sabah
Sukau Rainforest Lodge Kinabatangan District, Malaysia - Sabah

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