Gaya Island Resort

Kota Kinabalu, Borneo

The hotel

Just 15 minutes from the mainland, this resort features a house reef and provides some spectacular views of the ocean and the haunting slopes of the mountain beyond. Set within a marine park — a natural conservation area — the island boasts an onsite marine centre aimed at rehabilitating and releasing sea turtles and a wildlife centre dedicated to the protection and preservation of proboscis monkeys. The treatments at the tranquil spa reflect the cultural healing traditions of Sabah's many indigenous people. Discoveries, authentic experiences and a sense of intimacy with the natural world prevail throughout the resort offering travellers and families an escape that is distinctively Borneo.

Amenities

  • Bar
  • Romantic
  • Spa
  • Swimming Pool
  • Families
  • Honeymoon
  • Room Service
  • Safety Deposit Box
  • Fitness Centre/Gym
  • Internet Access
  • Anniversary and special occasions
  • Beachfront location

Where is it

Lying on the shores of Pulau Gaya, against the hillside and amongst the lush landscape of an ancient rainforest. Transfer time approximately 30 minutes from Kota Kinabalu Airport to the Gaya Lounge at the Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal and approximately 15 minutes to the resort by boat. Guests need to arrive 20 minutes before the scheduled boat transfer.

Hotel information

120 villas and 1 suite. All with an outdoor terrace, spacious bedroom, flatscreen TV with satellite channels, an open bathroom with oversized bathtub, double dresser, writing desk and safe. Bayu Villas are situated on the hillside and offer 47 sq m of living space, spectacular views of the surrounding tropical mangrove or rainforest and sleep maximum 2 adults. Connecting rooms are available.

Full Board option: includes lunch: appetiser, main course and dessert at Feast Village, Pool Bar and Lounge or Tavajun Bay. Dinner: appetiser, main course and dessert at Feast Village, Omakase or Fisherman's Cove. Beverages include house mineral water, tea and coffee.

Canopy Villas are located amongst tropical mangroves, set on the gently sloping hillside with a beautiful outlook, offer 47 sq m of living space and sleep maximum 2 adults.

Kinabalu Villas offer fantastic views of the South China Sea, 47 sq m of living space and sleep maximum 2 adults. Connecting rooms are available.

The Suria Suite is located on the sloping hillside and offers 188 sq m of living space, divided into two levels. The ground floor features a spacious living area, private dining room, TV room, powder room and a pantry, opening onto an outdoor terrace. The first floor is divided into 2 bedrooms, each with a separate en-suite, walk-in wardrobe and vanity area, and opens onto a private balcony, equipped with its own outdoor bath. The Suria Suite sleeps maximum 4 adults.

  • Booking Bonus: book by 60 days or more prior to travel and adults receive up to 15% off the accommodation cost between 1 Apr–19 Dec '19, 6 Jan–23 Jan '20 and 3 Feb–31 Mar '20 when staying 3 nights or more.

    Any applicable offers have been calculated into the prices shown. Offers may not be combinable.

  • Booking Bonus: book by 31 Mar '20 and adults receive up to 10% off the accommodation cost between 1 Apr–19 Dec '19, 6 Jan–23 Jan '20 and 3 Feb–31 Mar '20 when staying 5 nights or more.

    Any applicable offers have been calculated into the prices shown. Offers may not be combinable.

  • Booking Bonus: book by 60 days or more prior to travel and adults receive up to 20% off the accommodation cost between 1 Apr–19 Dec '20, 6 Jan–10 Feb '21 and 22 Feb–31 Mar '21 when staying 3 nights or more.

    Any applicable offers have been calculated into the prices shown. Offers may not be combinable.

  • Booking Bonus: Book by 11 Feb '20 to receive up to 30% off the accommodation cost and a complimentary room upgrade from a Bayu Villa to Canopy Villa or a Canopy Villa to a Kinabalu Villa between 6 Jan '20 and 31 Mar '21 when staying 5 nights or more in a Bayu Villa or Canopy Villa. 

    Any applicable offers have been calculated into the prices shown. Offers may not be combinable. 

Omakase (open for dinner; serving Japanese cuisine in 3 different omakase-style dining experiences: teppanyaki, shabu-shabu and nabe). Feast Village (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; dynamic open kitchens offer Japanese/Korean, Asian and Western selections). Fisherman's Cove (open for dinner; serving seafood themed dishes. No children under 12 years. Dress code: smart/casual including full-length trousers and smart shoes). Pool Bar and Lounge (open all-day; serving light refreshments). Tavajun Bay (open for lunch). Private dining. 40 metre swimming pool. Spa Village*. Its PURE activities programme also provides an array of cultural and natural experiences that include jungle walks, yoga, snorkelling trips and cookery lessons. Marine Centre conservation efforts include coral reef restoration and a turtle rescue programme. Wildlife Centre conservation projects include the preservation and rehabilitation of the rare proboscis monkeys that reside on the island. Water sports centre*. Complimentary WiFi. Concierge service.

2 nights between 1 Apr-19 Dec '19, 6 Jan-23 Jan '20 and 14 Feb-31 Mar '20.

3 nights between 20 Dec '19-5 Jan '20 and 24 Jan-2 Feb '20.

* Denotes local charge.

Please note: The Royal Malaysian Customs Department have introduced a Tourism Tax on accommodation across the country. A flat fee of RM10, approximately $2.34, will be taxed per room per night on all types of hotels and accommodation options. This tax is solely for foreign tourists and they will be liable to pay directly to the hotel upon check-in. 

Sabah Parks Conservation Fee: a fee will apply to each guest, including children, payable at the end of your stay. Fees are MYR 30.00 (approx £6) on the first night and MYR 20.00 (approx £4) for each additional night, subject to change.

Please note: The resort is committed to minimising its carbon footprint within its environment. Therefore, it is a walking only resort.

Rating summary

  • Location Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Sleep Quality Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Rooms Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Service Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Value Image of the Tripadvisor rating
  • Cleanliness Image of the Tripadvisor rating

Traveller rating

  • Excellent (1172)
  • Very good (461)
  • Average (198)
  • Poor (60)
  • Terrible (27)
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Rain forest, beaches and coral gardens

Jan 19, 2020 iancQ4440GW

We spent eight nights and saw in the New Year at this wonderful YTL hotel situated in its own bay opposite Kota Kinabalu on the Gaya island reserve. The boat transfer from central Kota Kinabalu is 15 minutes or so. The rooms are spacious suites within blocks of four, built in the jungle overlooking the beach. The views are stunning,… Read more
We spent eight nights and saw in the New Year at this wonderful YTL hotel situated in its own bay opposite Kota Kinabalu on the Gaya island reserve. The boat transfer from central Kota Kinabalu is 15 minutes or so. The rooms are spacious suites within blocks of four, built in the jungle overlooking the beach. The views are stunning, particularly from the upper deck rooms which are almost within the canopy. We were woken up one morning by the local hornbill, which then posed on a branch in front of the sunrise. The wildlife is spectacular with lots of bird species, longtailed macaques, lizards, and the occasional snake. If you’re really lucky you might see a proboscis monkey or flying squirrel. There is coral off the beach to both sides of the jetty, and the snorkelling is excellent. Trips are all by boat, and don’t miss the coral garden snorkelling at a nearby island. The resort has its own marine biologist, Scott, and a number of guides - Sylvester and Justin - who lead the nature hikes through the jungle and snorkelling trips. The private beach or another part of the island has a small aquarium where Scott is growing corals, and looking after turtles that get into trouble, often due to ingesting plastic bags. There are three restaurants, And barbecues on the beach three times a week. Many thanks to Ramesh, Burhan, Debora, and Layla for Looking after us so well. We enjoyed the cookery course, the bar snacks, and sampling the fantastic array of dishes from Malaysia and beyond. Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Awesome Holiday

Jan 18, 2020 Y2739VNlindah

We stayed 7 nights in January 2020 at Gaya Island Resort. Everything was really perfect. We enjoyed it very much. The rooms were large, nice, clean and they are well serviced twice an day. The nature is so beautiful and green and the beach have a beautiful view. We ate at all the restaurants and the food was always well cooked, prepared with… Read more
We stayed 7 nights in January 2020 at Gaya Island Resort. Everything was really perfect. We enjoyed it very much. The rooms were large, nice, clean and they are well serviced twice an day. The nature is so beautiful and green and the beach have a beautiful view. We ate at all the restaurants and the food was always well cooked, prepared with fresh ingredients and tasted very good. The chef Agus is absolutely incredible person who always did everything for you and the chef personally goes around to ensure everyone is happy and satisfied. Our son thanks you so much for the tuna. We will miss his laugh for a long time. 😊 The hotel has many small extras that we appreciated a lot like beach bag, flip flops, new sand artwork daily on the beach, snacks by the pool, the staff who served cold water during the day by the pool...etc. The private beach is a must visit.Beautiful beach with clear water and many beautiful shells. We also especially want to thank Jack and Sylvester for taking such good care of us. - Jack arranged for us an incredible trip to Sandakan. The trip was very nice and everything ran perfectly. We will never forget that trip. - Sylvester arranged an unforgettable sunset cruise last night for us. Coral garden snorkeling was also a very nice experience with Sylvester. We are so grateful for everything you two did for us. You are lovely types. We wish you all the best in the future. We also want to thank the hotel nurse for taking so good care of our son when he was ill. The entire staff treat you like family and want to do their best for you. Such a great holiday that we will remember for the rest of our lives.This is definitely a place we will return to again. Thank you so much for the warm hospitality Catherine, the General Manager, and the entire staff. Love: Linda Petteri Emil Anton ❤️ Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Great resort in the marine national park

Jan 13, 2020 DGE2014 Munich, Germany

Gaya Island Resort is a great resort located directly in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Gaya Island. There are no public boats but the hotel offers frequent scheduled transfers- check the resort’s website. Transfer included if you book directly with the resort (recommended). What I really love about this place is that the resort takes… Read more
Gaya Island Resort is a great resort located directly in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park in Gaya Island. There are no public boats but the hotel offers frequent scheduled transfers- check the resort’s website. Transfer included if you book directly with the resort (recommended). What I really love about this place is that the resort takes environmental protection serious - they have both, a marine and a wildlife breeding base offering support for animals in need. The naturalists are really knowledgeable and provide great tours and. Information Sessions - some of the best I ever attended in a resort! The villas are spread across the large resort grounds - be prepared for some walking as they offer no transport (remember - you‘re in a national park!). The resort primarily targets Asian guests with China to be by far the number one guest nationality. Not all of the Chinese guests are used to international travel what might cause some frustration for both, hotel personnel and other guests the like. Go for the Kinabalu suites as location and view is much better than from the other rooms. Rooms come all with the same size and are large and equipped with what you would expect at a hotel belonging to SLH. The hotel and rooms are in a critical age (opened 2002) and you perceive at details that they are worn or even broken. The hotel offers plenty of restaurants (make sure to check out the Japanese restaurant Omakase) while buffet restaurant Feast handles most of the guest including breakfast. Great breakfast selection - in line with what you would expect in this category. Unfortunately no a la carte at the evening. Generally portion sizes offered are way too large and prone for huge amounts of food waste which really surprised me for a hotel that is otherwise very environmentally concerned. One of the best things at this place are the great activities ranging from guided nature walks to Yoga, meditation, Mangrove kayaking or snorkeling. Some are charged with a small and appropriate fee, others like nature walks, yoga and meditation are free of charge. The primarily local personnel is outstandingly friendly and helpful- they will for sure give you a great time there! The hotel remains in some specific areas behind its possibilities. To give some examples: The Spa is super nice but super expensive and - sorry guy’s- I don‘t pay 450 MYR for a 80 min massage in Malaysia regardless how good or fancy it is which is more than it would cost back home in Germany. Lower the price and skip some of the fancy stuff and guests will come! Same with yoga: Yoga teacher Christine from the States is just amazing! But why do you fly in a yoga teacher from the States giving Mo-Sat just one hour yoga and one hour meditation class? Why not to offer a yoga retreat or several classes for different levels and charge a reasonable fee (not 450 MYR/hour ;-))? Beside of this, just a great place with great personnel and certainly a „go“! Many thanks to all from Gaya Island! Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Amazing setting and service

Jan 12, 2020 princesspollyg Cleckheaton, United Kingdom

This hotel is not our cup of tea but that’s personal preference and not the hotels fault, although we wouldn’t return the hotel is amazing and we will review it fairly. The resort is beautiful, villas perched on hillsides nestled into the rainforest. We opted for a Kinabalu Villa, it’s worth paying for, the hike as others have called it is an… Read more
This hotel is not our cup of tea but that’s personal preference and not the hotels fault, although we wouldn’t return the hotel is amazing and we will review it fairly. The resort is beautiful, villas perched on hillsides nestled into the rainforest. We opted for a Kinabalu Villa, it’s worth paying for, the hike as others have called it is an easy walk, we liked it as some of the villas lower down are close an area with standing water which can be a bit smelly, plus the views from the top are stunning. The room had a lovely balcony, great bedroom with shutters all round, walk in wardrobe, dressing area and a bathroom to die for, the bath did take ages to run but just think about the location before complaining! Food was amazing and not overly expensive, the buffet is like A La Carte, especially in the evening where they will cook meat and fish to order. We ate at Fisherman’s Cove, I don’t eat Seafood so they arranged a special menu for me on NYE, much to my husbands upset as my food was much nicer than his! Wine is expensive and they don’t have the best choice, alcohol isn’t cheap in general but we found this to be the case across Malaysia in general as it is heavily taxed. We did the guided walk, which was really interesting and our guide was a real character. Service is amazing, the manager is constantly walking around talking to guests, all the staff can not do enough for you. Watch out for the monkeys, if they are in a pack don’t think they are cute and walk towards them, let them go ahead! Slight criticism, hotel was most likely at capacity and if you went down after 10am it could be difficult to get a sun lounger. We had no problem with bites, just the odd one, use the mosquito repellent they provide. So why is it not for us, too many children and there was a lack of atmosphere in the evening, we like to have a drink at a lively bar, with some kind of entertainment, not a full on rave but just something! If you want somewhere to totally relax and zone out, this is the place for you. Read less
Image of the Tripadvisor rating Relaxing with great service

Jan 11, 2020 652manjit Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

This resort is similar to Pangkor Resort but slightly smaller. Nevertheless we enjoyed our stay as the place was beautiful and most importantly service was good. Ramesh and his team ensured our stay was pleasant with their impeccable good service and Chef Dolis was wonderful and created a delicious seafood spread for us. The snorkelling… Read more
This resort is similar to Pangkor Resort but slightly smaller. Nevertheless we enjoyed our stay as the place was beautiful and most importantly service was good. Ramesh and his team ensured our stay was pleasant with their impeccable good service and Chef Dolis was wonderful and created a delicious seafood spread for us. The snorkelling expedition was good and Sylvester was a great help. Read less