Extra Photo Gallery: Ocean Wing | Borneo Wing | F&B Outlets | Swimming Pool | Karambunai Beach | Borneo Spa | Landscape & Gardens
Nexus Karambunai Resort is located some 30 kilometres to the north of Kota Kinabalu city. To be exact, the resort is located on the Karambunai Peninsula, just outside the town of Menggatal and the port of Sepanggar Bay. The distance from Kota Kinabalu International Airport (BKI) is slightly more at 40 kilometres. Most incoming guests will hire a taxi from the city centre or the airport and it could cost anywhere between RM50-RM80 each way.
I do recommend hiring a car from the city or the airport just for the sake of mobility as the resort sits in a fairly isolated location and is quite a distance away from the nearest town of Menggatal. Car rentals from Kota Kinabalu should cost anywhere between RM100 per day for small-size cars like Perodua Kelisa or Kenari, to RM150 per day for Proton Wira or Iswara, etc. Alternatively, there are shuttle services that ply between the resort and Kota Kinabalu. The schedule is predetermined by the resort and the shuttle fares are very affordable for those looking to tour the city and its surrounding areas.
Throughout your stay in this 3,335-acre resort, you will probably come across its official catch phrase, which goes something like this: "Nexus Karambunai... Some Say Its Heaven". In general, the resort nestles in one of the most coveted location in the Karambunai Peninsula, which boasts miles of crystal-clear ocean and white sandy beach, undulating hills covered with million-year-old rainforest and idyllic coves at the river estuary of Sungai Mengkabong. Truth be told, it is probably hard to appreciate the geographic location from the ground level as the most illustrious features of the area are often portrayed by aerial photographs which reveal azure blue ocean, secluded coves and lagoons. Despite its massive size, only a small portion of the peninsula is developed with the resort itself and the adjoining 18-hole golf course. Only recently that the developer of the resort, Karambunai Corporation Bhd, launches a new phase of development consisting of luxurious spa villas and apartments.
Sprawling over the resort are 485 accommodation units ranging from regular deluxe-class choices to luxurious villas. The resort can generally be differentiated by two distinct sections, namely the Borneo Wing and the Ocean Wing. As for the room categories, there are Ocean Deluxe (229 units, sized at 42.5 sq metre built-up), Ocean Executive Deluxe (13 units, 50 sq metre), Ocean Suite (1 unit, 127.5 sq metre), Borneo Deluxe (203 units, 42.5 sq metre), Borneo Executive Suite (6 units, 85 sq metre), Nexus Club Deluxe (25 units, 42.5 sq metre), Nexus Club Executive Suite (2 units, 85 sq metre), Presidential Villa (4 units of 2-bedroom each, 208 sq metre) and Royal Villa (2 units of 3-bedroom each, 315 sq metre). In general, all rooms feature a private balcony that faces either the ocean or the rainforest, IDD telephone inclusive of bathroom extension, complimentary broadband internet access, electronic safe box, mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities, colour TV with the much-expected satellite channels, bedside room control panel, hair dryer, etc. This review will cater mostly for the Ocean Deluxe room, and to a certain extent, the Borneo Deluxe room as well, which has a similar built-up size.
At 42.5 sq metre of built-up size, the Ocean Deluxe is extremely spacious for a room of similar class. The room opens into a plush king-size bed that emphasises enough comfort with its high thread-count bedsheet. To accentuate the space, a 2-seater cushion sofa is placed at the room corner which effectively forms a personalised lounging area to wind down after a long day. Opposite the cushion sofa is a writing desk from which a broadband cable is available to get you hooked-up to the internet in a matter of seconds. For rooms located on the ground floor of the Ocean Wing, a sliding glass door opens out directly to the landscaped garden of freshwater ponds, towering casuarinas and other tropical shrubs. Two wooden chairs are placed to highlight the soothing view where the intense greenery embraces the azure-blue ocean. Relative to the room size, the bathroom is equally spacious and well-appointed. The bathroom door opens into a marble-top wash basin and a large dressing mirror, while an oversized bath tub sits next to it and can easily accommodate a couple. The bathroom features a separate shower stall which is glass-enclosed. The Ocean Deluxe room, in a nutshell, is exemplary for its size and the outdoor view, although I could not say the same for the deployment of carved wood paneling throughout the room that is a reminiscence of the in thing of the 1990s. Big thumbs up for the free broadband internet access which seems like a disappearing perk even for the more fanciful hotels in Kuala Lumpur.
Activities are abound in Nexus Karambunai Resort due to its closeness to various natural features such as 6-mile of pristine beach, rolling green hills and mangrove forests which points to a rich biodiversity landscape. Patrons should not fret on the isolated location as numerous water-based activities like jet skiing, banana boating, kayaking, windsurfing and hobbie cat sailing are available at the water sports centre by the beach. For avid sun lovers, plenty of sunning beds and umbrellas are scattered along the periphery of the beach or the swimming pool. The resort boasts three free-form swimming pools although all of them are actually confined next to each other. One of the swimming pools is actually a children's wading pool and another pool even features an outdoor jacuzzi. For land-based activities, the resort facilities can accommodate for beach volleyball, beach soccer, archery, jungle trekking, cycling, horse riding, etc. More exquisite programmes are also available such as mangrove river cruise, sunset firefly watching, nature walk, plant nursery tour and even snorkeling or scuba diving at nearby Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Avid golfers would not probably skip the chance for a few rounds at the 18-hole, par-72 Karambunai Golf Course, as it is the case with the ultimate body pampering sessions at Borneo Spa. If the idea of getting a massage in an indoor ambience is not enticing enough, Borneo Spa also offers a beach-fronting massage hut for a head-to-toe treatment.
The resort boasts eight F&B outlets, a whopping number by any standard. The two main dining outlets are The Penyu and The Kingfisher, both located on the ground level with views of the swimming pool. The Penyu generally specialises in international and local fares in a la carte or buffet menus. The Penyu's interior is somewhat ordinary and rather old but there are also options for alfresco dining with views of the landscaped gardens and the swimming pool. The Kingfisher, on the other hand, specialises more on fresh seafood items and Asian cuisines. In fact, its interior is nicely embellished with thematic food counters of either Chinese, Thai or local influence. For fine dining, the resort features Olives Restaurant which prides itself with great selections of Mediterranean cuisine and wine. For Chinese food lovers, Noble House on the ground floors specialises in Cantonese cuisines and delectable dim sum spreads. Naturally, the resort would have a beach-fronting outlet, and it is called Sunset Bar & Grill which offers char-grilled food items as well as wood-fired pizza selections in an alfresco setting. Tucked at a section of the expansive main lobby is Horizon Lobby Lounge which sports a raised floor for a commanding view of the resort and the beach amidst the open-air environment. The lounge serves light snacks and cocktails throughout the day with live band often performs in the evening and at night. Speaking of night joints, the resort offers Darlin' Darlin' night pub which also features live band performance, DJ mixes, karaoke rooms and pool tables. The last but not least, Splashes Poolside Bar nestles between the three swimming pools and serves light snacks, beverages and ice-cream.
A few things to note before I pen down my review. Nexus Karambunai Resort prides itself with a well-organised landscaping programme which can easily be evidenced from the meticulous gardens and water features throughout the sizeable resort. In fact, there is an in-house nursery centre at the resort which should continuously source the various types of tropical shrubs for use in the landscape. The aim is to create a landscape that resembles the nature as close as possible and the existence of certain animal species such as burung merbuk and resident monitor lizard should somewhat lay testament to that. The architecture is also among the best in Malaysia, with the utilisation of traditional roof design that has become an iconic character and is easily associated with Nexus Karambunai Resort. The upkeep and maintenance is generally very good which should not come as a surprise for a highly reputable resort like this. Indeed for Nexus Karambunai Resort, some (might) say its heaven.
Superb resort setting and excellent tropical landscaping. Extra spacious rooms although the interior might need some fresh outlook. Good F&B selections of local and international delight. Fantastic beach. Highly recommended for a gratifying vacation experience.