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Gaya Island Resort is a luxury resort on the little known Pulau Gaya, the largest of a cluster of five islands that form the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. Gone are the days where visitors to the island had to settle for a rustic beach hut, Gaya Island Resort has set the precedent for hotels in one of Original Travel’s favourite destinations.
Each of the 120 villas at this stylish and contemporary resort is in keeping with nature and the surroundings - wooden furniture is complimented by earthy tones, the villa exteriors respect Sabahan architecture, and verandas (many complete with day beds) look out to the South China Sea, the mangrove canopy, or the surrounding rainforest. Mod cons include tellys with satellite channels, and there is also one two-bedroom suite with unbeatable views from an outside bath.
Dining options at Gaya Island Resort include Feast Village that provides a vibrant, interactive dining experience serving a diverse range of Asian and Western cuisine; Fisherman's Cove, a seafood restaurant which focuses on sustainable fishing practices and the freshest ingredients; the Pool Bar and Lounge with views of the infinity pool and the sea beyond; and finally Tavajun Bay. Tavajun Bay is a private beach just a five minute boat ride away where the chef whips up a single dish meal that changes daily for lunch in earthenware skillets, or guests while away an afternoon with a gourmet picnic.
Set amongst the mangroves is the Spa Village, which has six treatment rooms and a yoga space, and there is also a swimming pool at the hotel. For the more active minded, the setting of Gaya Island Resort could not be more perfect - fringed by a sandy beach and rocky coastal outcrops, and surrounded by coral reefs, there are number of activities on offer from diving and snorkelling to guided nature walks and mangrove kayaking. Part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park reserve, the coral is relatively unspoilt and home to a large and varied fish life. The marine biologist takes guests along the snorkelling paths at Malohom Beach, where he points out the wonders of an underwater world. To continue to explore the fascinating flora and fauna of the island, visit the resort's Marine Centre with its turtle rescue programmes and the Wildlife Centre to learn more about their proboscis monkey perseveration project.
Why we love it
Guests can join the resident naturalist in his quest to find the 'bearded pig', or look out for one of Borneo's 32 indigenous bird species.
Holly, Original Traveller