Listen to the lapping South China Sea beneath your private villa as wild macaques jaunt among the encroaching mangroves. This hotel has tropical tranquility in abundance and there’s a genuine feeling of being right on the edge of nature.
>> Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan Malaysia
Situated in Malohom Bay, on Gaya Island’s south coast, the resort is just a 20-minute speedboat ride from the nearby metropolis of Kota Kinabalu. The city’s drab skyline is still visible, however, so it’s not totally perfect – but the sheltered inlet is a natural sanctuary for marine life. Behind the property there’s a dense and vivacious jungle that’s a refuge for birds, mammals and amphibians.
Address:Malohom Bay, Gaya Island, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia.
Style & character
This hotel is part of the Preferred Hotels boutique collection of properties with 70 rooms or less, and it’s this small scale that gives the place its pleasant and relaxing vibe. The overwater villas on stilts are more akin to a Polynesian style and the long, hibiscus-lined boardwalks that link up the property’s various communal spaces are pleasant thoroughfares on which to amble. Most of the resort’s villas are thatched in Indonesian Alang Alang grass and there are fish, and sometimes turtles, that swim right up to one’s doorstep.
Service & facilities
The dive centre has kayaks, stand up paddleboards, snorkels and scuba equipment for both experienced divers and novices. The Discover Scuba Diving experience is a half-day course in the ocean just off the shore of the resort and there are also fully certified PADI courses on offer. The spa is in a good location, overlooking the bay and has a range of local and international treatments. The Marine Ecology Research Centre is the resort’s showpiece, with a range of interactive experiences. Service is efficient but with a laidback, tropical ease.
Modern and stylish, the resort boasts 28 two-bedroom overwater villas. These are interconnected at their centre and are perfect for families. There are large private decking areas outside each and good, hefty air conditioning units that do well to keep the tropical heat at bay. The beds are vast, with dark wood headboards and crisp white sheets, and the bathrooms are covered entirely in local stone tiles.
Food & drink
There’s an award-winning organic farmed fish restaurant for people who don’t mind eyeballing their living dinner prior to it being served and an impressive selection of Asian and western dishes to choose from. The poolside Macac Restaurant is more informal, but no less delicious, with a good selection of salads, burgers, curries and meat dishes. Each day’s first alcoholic drink is complimentary and the health juices are both fresh and invigorating.
Access for guests with disabilities?
The journey to and from the resort is made by a speedboat that isn’t particularly accessible and it would be hard to move around with ease.
There are no age limits on children and there are snorkeling, kayaking and scuba diving adventures aimed at families.
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