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SHANGRI-LA RASA RIA
 

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Extra Photo Gallery: Rooms & Suite | F&B Outlets | Pool | Ocean Wing

LOCATION:

Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort is located in Tuaran, some 30 minutes away from downtown Kota Kinabalu or 40 minutes away from Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA, IATA code: BKI). Most patrons normally arrive by hired taxis from the city centre or the airport, although as in my case, I rented a car from one of the many travel operators in Kota Kinabalu and drove myself to the resort.

DESCRIPTION:
Fronting the 3-kilometre sandy stretch of Pantai Dalit, Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort epitomises the concept of "from rainforest wilderness to pristine beach". The resort fronts the beautiful beach of Pantai Dalit which is naturally endowed with powdery soft sands, while its rear is adorned by some 400 acres of verdant rainforest. It goes without saying that the resort is there to please its increasingly discerning guests, as being reflected by its unique name of "Rasa Ria" which aptly means "the Taste of Happiness".

Opened in 1996, the resort currently houses 330 rooms and suites. As we speak, the resort is undergoing a construction project for an additional ninety rooms which shall be called the Ocean Wing (more on that later). At the writing time, the breakdown of room categories are: 40 Superior Rainforest (36 sq metre), 143 Deluxe Garden View (36 sq metre), 137 Deluxe Sea View (36 sq metre), eight Executive Suite (72 sq metre) and two Premier Suite (108 sq metre). In general, each guest room is equipped with private lanai, IDD telephone, central air-conditioning with individual control, electronic safe, complimentary broadband internet access, various models of colour TV including LCD TV depending on the room type, coffee and tea making facility, etc. Obviously the amenities will keep perking up with the higher room categories, which I shall elaborate further.

The Superior Rainforest room, as the name suggests, opens out to the view of the intense green foliage of the outdoor jungle. The room is done in a split-level fashion; the lounging area right before the outdoor lanai is built on a lowered floor from the rest of the bedroom area. A cushion sofa is cleverly placed to create a pseudo private living space with soothing views of the outdoor. The bed is plush and comfortable, obviously, synonymous with any rooms by Shangri-la. As outlined previously, the next two room categories, namely the Deluxe Garden View as well as the Deluxe Sea View, have similar built-up size as the Superior Rainforest. In fact, these two room types have almost identical interior arrangement as well, with choices of either two single beds or one king-size bed. The major differentiation between any of these room categories is the view itself. The Deluxe Garden View rooms are located the lower floors of the Garden Wing and boast almost the entire view of the renowned Shangri-la's landscaped garden and partial views of the South China Sea. The Deluxe Sea View rooms are located on the higher floors of the 6-storey Garden Wing, hence the magical view of the azure blue waters of Pantai Dalit can be enjoyed almost in its entirety. In any case, I find either the Superior Rainforest, Deluxe Garden View or Deluxe Sea View is done in a meticulous fashion with tasteful arrangement of internal decor, which is not too surprising as I am all too familiar with the renowned attentiveness of a Shangri-la resort.

Doubling the room size of any Superior or Deluxe rooms, the Executive Suite is a different ball game altogether. In fact, upon stepping inside the Executive Suite, one will immediately notice that a whole built-up equivalence of a Superior or Deluxe room is transformed into a contemporary living area. A 42-inch LCD TV is neatly placed close to the wall with minimalist-style furniture are arranged to encapsulate the whole modern living concept. Near to the door entrance is a four-seater dining table as well as an L-shaped wall cabinet equipped with some basic utensils. The split-level floor lowers down for the placement of a comfortable lounging couch right before the lanai terrace which opens out to the superb view of blue and green hues. A connecting door from the living room opens into the bedroom area, with either two single beds or one king-size bed placed in the centre. There is also another outdoor lanai immediately accessible from the bedroom as well, which effectively makes it two balconies altogether in one unit of the Executive Suite. As always, the attention to details is not taken lightly in the room design. As an example, most other resorts will simply place the TV remote control on the bedside, but this resort goes a wee bit further by placing the item in a traditionally woven mengkuang casing. I also like the usage of seeding coconut tree instead of typical freshly-cut flowers. Not only such feature item is unique, it also gives out informal yet educative info on the growing stage of a coconut tree. Overall, I find the earthy tones of the Executive Suite hits all the right spots, and the meticulousness for the internal arrangement is a tough act to follow by most other five-star resorts.

Nestled in a fairly isolated location, the resort has lined up various indoor and outdoor activities, especially for the long-staying guests, by way of its handsome selection of recreational facilities. Snugged between the main building and the beach of Pantai Dalit is a large free-formed pool. The swimming pool is beautifully done with adequate amount of tropical landscaping, while a generous number sunning beds are provided along the periphery. There are also a small children's pool as well as an outdoor jacuzzi pool within the main pool area itself. Another main activity that the resort guests can participate is golfing at the 18-hole course of Dalit Bay Golf Club. It is often seen that a certain husband is basking in the sun to tee off, the significant other tend to be left out without much things to do. Dalit Bay Golf Club seems to offer the panacea to such delicate situation by placing The Spa @ Dalit Bay within the clubhouse building. Together, a holidaying couple can get to the clubhouse before parting ways to the golf course and The Spa, respectively. Other than that, the resort offers a fitness centre which houses a well-equipped gym, jacuzzi, steam bath and sauna room. Other recreational activities that can be arranged at the resort are horse-riding along Dalit Beach, water-based sports, jungle trekking, nature walk as well as the highly-acclaimed visit to nearby orang utan sanctuary which is chargeable at RM68 per pax. It must be stated that fee to the orang utan sanctuary goes directly towards the conservation and rehabilitation programme of this highly-endangered primate species.

The resort hosts a number of F&B outlets that are both fashionable and delectable. The main dining outlet is called Coffee Terrace which has recently been refurbished and renamed. Previously known as Pepperoni Restaurant, the outlet currently boasts a more impressive interior arrangement that is synonymous with any Shangri-la diners with open-kitchen concept and meticulous indoor or outdoor dining configurations. Next to the pool is a unique outlet called Tepi Laut which is styled after hawker food stalls which are typically found all across Malaysia. Patrons will have the option to choose from a number of stalls at Tepi Laut before enjoying their meals in an outdoor setting overlooking the swimming pool as well as the beach. On the ground floor of the main resort building is Naan Flavours of India, which specialises in delicacies from the Indian subcontinent. After all, the name "naan" is actually a type of Indian bread that is uniquely baked in a clay oven, which in a certain way should signify the type of delicacies the restaurant has in store. In fact, Naan Flavours of India has recently bagged the Tourism Malaysia's award for the 'Best Restaurant for Indian Cuisine', which should serve as a credential of its exquisite meal selections.  Housed in an isolated building just a few metres off the beach, Coast Restaurant is a chic dining outlet that serves exquisite Californian cuisines in an intimate setting overlooking the azure blue South China Sea. This fine dining outlet is only open for dinner and proper attires are expected. Adjacent to the main lobby is the Lobby Lounge which sports an open-air ambiance and stylish seating arrangement that emulates tropical setting overlooking the landscaped garden. Another cocktail outlet is Sampan Bar which is located close to the beach and it serves refreshing drinks as well as bite-size finger food.

Before the end of this review, I would like to write a little bit on the upcoming Ocean Wing rooms which is currently in the pipeline. Expected to complete before the end of 2007, the Ocean Wing shall boost an additional 90 rooms for the resort. The Ocean Wing room shall boast a jaw-breaking 90 sq metre of living space which should appeal to a certain type of guests, such as families and honeymooners. The interior will be opulently decorated with modern and traditional items, while the overall colour scheme will exude a more garish undertone which is rather atypical from the current preference of neutral and earthy underlying colours. The main feature of the Ocean Wing room definitely goes to the spacious outdoor balcony that boasts a private bath tub or plunge pool, of course with fabulous views of the greenery and the ocean. Also under construction is a new swimming pool within the Ocean Wing compound and it will be landscaped in Balinese-style architecture. In my opinion, the Ocean Wing will indeed tip the balance among the increasingly astute vacationers when deciding on the type of accommodation in the resort. In fact, according to the Communication Coordinator of the resort, the new rooms have received numerous booking enquiries well before their scheduled completion.

As I have come to the end of my write-up of this fantastic resort, I would like to extend my heartiest gratitude to Mr. Jeremy Kabinchong, the Communication Coordinator of Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort, who had been a great assistance in providing all the necessary resources to get this review up and running. With numerous accolades received by the establishment, the latest award being the 'Excellence in Hotel Service - 5-star Resort Category' by Tourism Malaysia, I have no doubt that Shangri-la Rasa Ria Resort will continue to enchant its visitors.

REVIEWED ON:
July 2007

MY VERDICT:
Superb resort setting where the rainforest meets the ocean. Fantastic room selections with fastidious attention to details. Great selections of F&B outlets. And of course, the legendary Shangri-la's guest services. Truly deserves my 5-star rating.

MY RATING:

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