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Gayana Marine Resort
Ranked #3 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 1 November 2014

I've just spent nearly a week at Gayana, I was also here at the time last year. It was like coming home to the best family ever. From arriving at the office at Jesselton Wharf to arriving at the resort the staff all remembered me and greater me with hugs. As a returning guest I was upgraded to the ocean villa. What's not to like....being able to swim off your own deck. Such luxury. I read a recent comment from someone saying how bad the water was. If you come at this time of the year you take the risk with it being monsoon. I was obviously lucky because I snorkelled every day for hours in the lagoon and it was so clear. Now for the food, it was amazing at both restaurants. At Alu Alu which is the seafood restaurant, I found the staff were happy to explain anything I didn't understand. But really, what's not to understand......I picked my crayfish from the tank and they cooked it. I actually had it half one way with garlic and the other half with buttermilk. The oysters were also devine. Macac restaurant has delicious Asian dishes including very local delicacies which I found beautiful.

I had a cooking lesson one afternoon with the chef and learned to cook Hinava (fish ceviche) and Malaysian beef rendang which was the chefs mothers recipe. I had that for dinner that night and was impressed by how well I did!

Overall I had the most beautiful holiday at Gayana. The staff are just amazing and I can't wait to come back. I'm currently staying at the sister resort and will review at the end of this stay.

Room Tip: Ocean villa gives you direct access to the lagoon. You can also have you breakfast served to you at...
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  • Stayed: October 2014, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank Sam H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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163 - 167 of 491 reviews

Reviewed 30 October 2014

Before you read this review, I took a video of the room we stayed in. When I was booking, I found these personal recordings the best to determine the quality of a room as they don't hide behind fancy lighting and super cameras that can be quite deceptive. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDPZhxoatw8

My wife and I stayed at Gayana Eco Resort as the last destination for our honeymoon. We really wanted something special to wrap up our honeymoon, and I had always wanted to stay in an overwater bungalow or something similar and we wanted it to be in a place that was in the vicinity of some other cheap hotel options. So upon endless research - we found the Palm Villas at Gayana Eco Resort.

We had just stayed 5 nights across the water at Gaya Island Resort, and we were quite surprised at how close the 2 resorts were! Anyway, we'd had an awesome time at Gaya Island Resort and so we were very excited for our 3 nights at Gayana Eco in the Palm Villa.

So first, the room. Wowza! This room really does make you feel like royalty. It's probably unfair to call it a room, as it feels like a 3 bedroom apartment! A really nice design helps you feel very spoilt as soon as you walk in the door. The bathroom was incredibly beautiful, and having your own deck that led to the water was really nice. They added the nice touch of a glass floor, although you quickly realise this is really nothing more than a novelty - but still a very nice touch!

Also, the “plunge pool” addition is a really nice idea, but you also quickly realise its also just novelty. Given how small it is you can’t swim around, and given how cold the water is in it, you can’t just sit there and relax in it. Again, not wanting to waste it, I forced myself in for a few minutes once or twice, but like I said, it really is just a novelty.

So I hear you ask, why wasn't this resort worth the amount of money we spent? Well, a few reasons. First of all, the whole "being over water" thing is really only good if you can actually swim in the water. Okay, maybe a little harsh... it is physically possible to enter the water, but is it nice and relaxing? Nope. In fact, I forced myself to jump in twice (and only stayed in for about 5 minutes each time). The first time the water was literally brown - but I couldn't stay in an overwater bungalow without going in the water, right? To give you perspective, my wife never went in the water the whole time we were there. As plenty of the other reviews have mentioned, there is a LOT of gunk floating about, although this is more in the water between the Ocean Villas, and nearby to the shoreline. The issue out where we were was that it appeared that there was some sort of brown concoction of perhaps a combination of petrol, waste and other stuff. From memory, the water would be somewhat clean each morning, but as the day progressed, so does the brown gunk. So yes, there are elements of cleanish looking water, but not for long, and seeing the water the afternoon before puts you off from swimming in the supposedly clean looking water the next morning. So, let me just say, if you're looking for that clear blue, Maldives/Tahiti type water that they are renowned for, this is far from it. If you're looking to snorkel and stay in the water for hours each day - then don't come here. You will only be (sadly) disappointed. Whilst you can't fault the hotel for the brown muck that fills the water, you can say they've missed a trick here by selling this resort based on the fact that it is over water, as you really can't swim in the water.

That leads me to my next negative; there really isn't any place to swim in the ocean at this resort. They have a make-shift "beach" - but the sand is minimal, and the water is filthy. I have a feeling that someone cleans the sand once in a while, but unfortunately that doesn't really help the situation with the water. Not once did we see anybody sitting on that beach, let alone swimming in the water. So that pretty much leaves the pool as the only swimming option. As you can probably guess, that takes out a lot of the "activity" side of this resort. Even reading a book on the beach isn't really an option.

And this leads me to the rest of the resort. How does it fare? Well, given that my wife and I were constantly looking around the resort thinking of ways they could improve the quality it doesn't bode too well. The design and quality was just a bit dated to be honest. Sure, 10 years ago this resort would've looked awesome! But it appears they really haven't done any updates since.

There are 2 options for dining directly within the resort. The 2nd option was completely seafood, and was really hard to understand, so we didn't go there at all. So we were pretty much left with one dining option for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are a couple of good meals at this restaurant, and by no means are there any 'bad' ones - but there's just a lack of decent ones. There is the option of going of to the sister resort, "Bunga Raya Island Resort" - but it's a bit of trip out, and there's also not heaps to do there either, so we only went for a half-day and didn't really feel the urge to go back again.

You might read this and think, wow they're just nit-picking, and had I been paying $250 a night like I was over at Gaya Island Resort - I would have no issues with any of the aforementioned items. But for $750 a night, these are the sorts of things you notice.

So in conclusion to this rather long review, the only thing that I can really fault about this place is the price. It's not the hotel's fault the water isn't really swimmable, which is the main issue - but if you're paying $750 a night, you don't really want any complaints like the ones I've mentioned. As I said, the room was spectacular! And if it was just a bit cheaper, like $500 a night - I would definitely recommend it! In saying that, I'd say this is a place to go for one or two nights if you're happy to lounge around in your room/on your deck.

I will just say, there is every possibility that it was just a bad time of the year when we went, which might have caused the water to be uneasy on the eye - so keep that in mind in your research. Other times of the year may be better!

Average is too harsh a rating for the resort, but Very Good is too generous as well. If there were a "Good" option, I would have gone for that.

Anyway - hopefully that helps :)

Just FYI, for the price and value for money - Gaya Island Resort was really awesome - no complaints there!

Room Tip: Palm Villas are awesome, but too pricey unless you're happy to just stay inside the whole time!
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  • Stayed: February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
7  Thank sambeckman
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 October 2014

We stayed here for 2 nights and thoroughly enjoyed it , I am being a bit unfair with a 4* rating as it should be 41/2* . Great transfer from their own private reception at jesselton marina in KK . The room was excellent with our own steps directly into the water . The staff were very friendly and helpful and the food in the both restaurants was of a very high quality , we had breakfast delivered to the rooms by boat , which was fun , but wouldn't recommend it , as it attracts the local hoodlums in the form of Macaque monkeys . Our check out was at 5am and the staff even then were smiling and friendly , despite there being a plague of flying insects ( not the resort's fault ) . There was a happy hour in the bar from 5-7pm , with a complimentary first drink and 50% off the next , each evening , which was an excellent incentive .definitely recommend it , I am staying at the next resort at present , which supposedly is 5* , we all wish we were back at the Eco resort . ( review of Giya Island Resort to follow at end of stay )

Stayed: October 2014, travelled with friends
Thank mog120
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 October 2014

went with 2 friends during a long weekend. this is an unfortunate case of beautiful place but poorly managed. not worth the price we paid for. there is no where you can go around the resort from our without getting wet is it is raining (it was raining the whole time we were there) as there is no cover. we paid for 3 people in the room but we had to ask for extra towel, extra robe, extra glass, extra everything. it is a hotel that cost 400-500USD per night but their service is definitely not worth the money. they have boat transfer to KK town and we booked it for 11am. waited an hour for the boat and they keep telling us they are doing their best. (all i see is the receptionist sitting at his desk doing nothing) on our way to KK town, we were drenched by the water (rain and sea) because the boat is not covered. good thing we had good sense of humor and just laugh it off but i do not think it is particularly amusing for other passengers/customers. BUT...the restaurant food is good and good service as well.

  • Stayed: October 2014, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank pyloh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
TomasAndersen, General Manager at Gayana Marine Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 3 November 2014

Dear Pyloh,

Thank you for highlighting our short comings during your stay with us. I shall make certain the team is faster at responding to guest request in the future.
I am terribly sorry you stayed with us during the worst storm we have had for years. Being on on an island and utilizing boats safely is a priority. Having said this you should be updated on a regular basis when boats are safe to leave the port.

Once again thank you for your feedback.


Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 October 2014

We stayed at the Gayana Eco Resort for 2 nights in a rainforest villa. The service was excellent and all the staff from the people on reception down to the gardeners were friendly. There didn't seem to be many other people staying in the resort, in fact one evening we were the only couple in the restaurant . The food was extremely good, however expensive compared to other hotels we stayed in during our visit. We were also shocked to discover that two cans of diet coke we ordered at dinner cost us £10.

The snorkeling from outside the dive centre was good with lots of different types of fish close to the steps. We also spent some time around the swimming pool which was a nice place to relax. A visit to the MERC was a pleasant way to pass away an hour.

Before we traveled we had read lots of comments about the rubbish in the sea. We were lucky that we did not stay during a red tide but there was still some rubbish around, mainly floating between the villas.

We would definitely recommend staying at the Gayana Eco resort however if you were staying more than a couple of days you may feel the need to take advantage of the free boat transfers back to Kota Kinabalu to find things to do.

  • Stayed: September 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Helen85442
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Gayana Marine Resort

Address: Malohom Bay | Gaya Island, Pulau Gaya 88778, Malaysia
Phone Number:
Region: Malaysia > Sabah > West Coast Division > Kota Kinabalu District > Pulau Gaya
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 3 Hotels in Pulau Gaya
Price Range: $315 - $883 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — Gayana Marine Resort 5*
Number of rooms: 52
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Gayana Eco Resort rests serenely at the edges of Gaya Island off the coast of Borneo. 52 over water villas designed to enhance the soothing sounds of the surf, while capturing the enduring vistas of Mt. Kinabalu on the distant horizon. At its heart is about protecting and re-generating our precious Marine Ecology, and the only property to feature its own Marine Ecology Research Centre propagating Giant Clams and restoring damaged coral reefs. Striking the perfect balance of forward thinking ecology and indulgent luxury which pampers both the body and the enlightened soul. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Gayana Eco Hotel Kota Kinabalu
Gayana Resort
Gayana Marine Resort Pulau Gaya, Malaysia

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