Extra Photo Gallery: Water Villa Room | Nature Pool | Restaurants
On the secluded cove of Malohom Bay in Pulau Gaya (the biggest island in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marina Park, off the coast of Kota Kinabalu). Access is by dedicated slow boats which operate from Jesselton Point (a newly re-branded Sabah Port Authority ferry terminal as we used to know) directly to the resort. Boat journey takes about 30 minutes.
The round-trip boat journey costs RM20 for adult. Note that as of recent days, the revised Sabah Port Authority terminal fee is levied at RM3 per adult per way. That means for the return trip, one needs to fork out an additional RM6 for using the ferry terminal.
At the time of writing (November 2006), the boat schedule is as follows:
Jesselton Point (Kota Kinabalu ferry Terminal) to Gayana Resort
0800, 0930, 1100, 1230, 1515, 1800, 1930, 2130, 2300
Gayana Resort to Jesselton Point (Kota Kinabalu ferry Terminal)
0715, 0845, 1015, 1145, 1430, 1700, 1845, 2045, 2230
Nestled in a very secluded bay in the fairly massive island of Pulau Gaya, this eco-friendly resort is one of the latest additions of leisure establishment that has successfully stamped its mark in the ever increasingly popular tourism scene of Kota Kinabalu. To be honest, I have been long intrigued by the photos of this resort that had been circulating around for a while. What more with the Tahiti-like images of floating water chalets and crystal-clear ocean right at the doorstep. I guess it was about time I paid the resort my due visit.
Approaching the resort as the boat entered the secluded Malohom Bay, my mind raced with enormous anticipation on what the resort has to offer me. The balmy image of rows and rows of atap rumbia (thatched roof) chalets against the lush vegetation and turquoise-blue ocean was indeed a welcoming sight. Checking-in was a breeze at the reception counter, also built above water. A glass of cold tropical juice was handed to me while waiting for my room key to be ready.
There are 22 semi-detached chalets in the resort which made into 44 available rooms. Yes, all of them are water chalets (or officially named Water Villas by the resort). Unlike some other resorts, there are no hill or beach chalets here. And there are no Suites or different room classes either (no Deluxe, Superior and what not). In short, the resort intends to make it simple for everyone. Plus, who would want a hill villa when you can stay and sleep above water.
The semi-detached room can be considered very spacious considering some parts of it takes into form of your own private balcony. Superb view all day long, especially during sunrise. I loved the varnished black timber strips because they went quite well with the overall room ambience. The queen-sized wooden bed was acceptably comfortable. Interestingly, the room did not feature that much of anything else. Simplicity was the key - a small table lamp, a standing lamp, a mid-sized dressing mirror, a cabinet with colour TV, a set of rattan chair with coffee table, etc. My major beef with the room was probably the rattan chair which had blue-coloured cushion cover. Honestly, it was a travesty. On some other water villa units, I even saw the room curtain selection was poorly done. I am talking about tiny flowery curtains with unappealing colours that can easily be seen from the outside. Mine was pink in colour! (Sorry if I made too big of a deal on this, but I feel that it was an undemanding Design 101 skill that got lost on some people). The bathroom was also spacious with separate WC closet and hot shower. There was also a huge built-in cabinet at a corner of the room for that extra space should you need one.
Other than that, the resort hosts a number of facilities typically seen in this type of establishment. It features a unique "nature pool" where sea water is retained inside an enclosure that forms a swimming area. Safety nets are installed all around the pool for protection from precarious sea creatures like jellyfish or sand-dwelling stonefish. A number of pool umbrellas and chairs are provided, and to be honest, I would prefer to sunbathe in the sun by the swimming pool rather than getting into one. Right by the pool area is the Nature Pool Bar which seemed to be under repair during my visit.
Other resort facilities include a massage centre (advanced booking is needed because it is not a spa outlet which pretty much opens all day long), a water sports activity centre where you can rent the kayak or other beach-related equipment, a dive centre and two eateries, namely the Islander Restaurant (opens 0730 - 2230, serves daily buffet and a la cartè meals, had my buffet breakfast here) and the GB Cafè (opens 1100 - 2230, serves a la cartè meals by the beautiful beach).
The resort also offers scheduled boat service to the nearby Hornbill Beach for those looking for much bigger sunbathing space in Malohom Bay. I did find the "house beach" at the resort was somewhat too small for anything. Boats depart from the resort deck to Hornbill Beach daily at 0900, 1100, 1300 and 1600 and returns back to the resort at 1105, 1305, 1605 and 1800. The boat transfer is chargeable at RM10 round-trip for adult.
Room rates for the water villa chalet normally can be booked online at RM320 per night inclusive of buffet breakfast for two.
Superb island-resort experience. Beautifully designed water villas. Average facilities. Disappointing villa room.