REVIEW: My stay in Gaya Island Resort by YTL Hotels

Comfy bed at Gaya Island Resort

If there is any resort that I’ll gladly return to again and again, it would be the Gaya Island Resort.

gaya island resort - arrival

BELOW: The villas in the distance, up on the hill.

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YTL portfolio of resorts are truly enchanting.
I have not been to the Cameron Highlands Resort (another of YTL’s properties in Malaysia) but my stays at Pangkor Laut Resort, Majestic Melaka, Tanjong Jara and Majestic KL had left me with great pleasure and pleasant memories.

Each of their resort has its own charm, though I still name my favourites Tanjong Jara & Gaya Island.
A triumph card in GIR is its surrounding beaches; where unlike Tanjong Jara and Pangkor Laut Resort, Gaya Island is surrounded by the most alluring clean and clear waters right at its waterfront, without having to take the boat out.

The Tavajun Bay is breathtaking though it requires a short boat ride from the main resort (say about 5 minutes?).
Spending an afternoon here is most ideal. You might even sight the occasional wild boars.

gaya island resort - beach

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It is secluded and safe, plus the sand is like a soft bed just made for tanning or lazing.
The water is pristine, magically green and blue.
I generally avoid swimming in the sea as it leaves me all icky but swimming in the ocean here left me invigorated and refreshed.

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And of course, if swimming is not your thing, head back to your villa, for there is always this huge bathtub to soak in. 🙂

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Take a quick look of this video so you will get a better idea of the space and layout of the suite.
As usual, I took the video as soon as I checked-in (so that the suite will still be clean and orderly) so pardon the uncertainty in some parts of my narration.

My spacious air-conditioned deluxe villa feature a private veranda with large day beds, great for private workouts and well, sun-tanning if you wish.
I was tempted to go naked (yes I would if it was private enough cos I really hate tan lines) but since it is pretty open, I had refrained from doing so.

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Instead, I did my daily runs on the beach, then uphill sprints on the hilly terrain connecting the villas followed by stretching on my verandah.

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I’m the active sort, but if you prefer a more languid lifestyle, a flat-screen TV and minibar can be enjoyed in the separate living room. En-suite bathrooms have an oversized bathtub.

Comfy bed at Gaya Island Resort

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If you skipped the video (why??!), here’s a pictorial tour of my villa:

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Walk through this walkway to access the vanity and restrooms.
There are separate his-and-hers sinks on each side of the bathroom and a big bathtub at the end of this spacious space.
Really, one could almost do a HIIT workout in the bath area itself! 🙂

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Review - my stay at gaya island resort - sabah

I think it is a good idea to isolate the work desk from the room, keeping the room solely for leisure.
The WIFI is pretty iffy, but then again, you are not supposed to be obsessing over work while you are here right?
I’m a bit of a workaholic but as long as no heavy downloading/uploading is required, the YES 4G connection here was sufficient.

On the right of this “connecting walk-way”  is the walk-in wardrobe.
Here a pretty craft bag is provided for personal belongings for those short trips up and down the villas to the pool and other recreational areas, and an umbrella as well as a shield from the sun and rain.

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There are his-and-hers sinks on each side of the bathroom plus separate toilet and shower room.
If you watched the video, you will notice that the wash area is half of the whole villa, almost like an entire R & R section of its own.

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Hand towel – check.
Bath towel  – check
Face towel – check.
Bathrobes – check.
Floor mat – check.

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This same Mangosteen brand is used at Majestic Hotel KL and Vistana Hotel KL too.
I do like the Mangosteen range of amenities very much; they have lovely fragrances of fruits and vegetables (mint, cucumber) and very pleasant to use. All of them are great; including the shampoo, shower gel (it lathers well so it was great as a bubble bath!), conditioner and lotion.

Another reason for my support?
It is a Malaysian toiletry brand and the profits from its sales is claimed to be distributed to charities or re-invested in growing the business (find out more HERE).

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There were complimentary mosquito repellant patch to keep the mozzies away, a thoughtful gesture considering the location.
However, keep the doors and windows close and you shouldn’t have a problem!

Gaya Island

And to continue, here’s an overview of the resort.

Gaya Island (Pulau Gaya) is just 10 minutes off Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and forms part of the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. It is also coincidentally the largest island.

Gaya Island Resort is YTL’s luxury, nature-rich retreat, and happened to be one of the 3 retreats on the island.
There are still parts of the island that are off-limits to the guests, especially areas which are home to illegal immigrants.
But on the whole, the resort itself offers plenty of amusement so there wasn’t any reason to venture far.

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Lodgings are in individual villas perched on a hill with a respectable distance from each other.
The standard is 2 villas on a particular spot upon the hill, but the clever angling of the built of each ensures sufficient privacy (both sounds and view) for its occupants.

The villas - my stay at gaya island resort - sabah
The resort is a walking resort and the use of motorised vehicles are strictly for necessary operational purposes.
With this ecologically-sustainable practice in place, guests are encouraged to walk as they make their way around the island, mostly from the villas to the resort centre where the pools, library , restaurants (Feast Village/Fisherman Cove/Pool Bar & a new Japanese restaurant which I didn’t try), Spa Village and beach are located.

Although the distance isn’t far, it can get strenuous for the less than fit individuals or anyone with reduced mobility.
It is better to select the lower villas (Bayu) which still offers glorious views over the higher villas (Kinabalu/Canopy).
The views are frankly, such as gorgeous and there are no difference in the styling or space of the rooms, save for the 2 Suria Suites.

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sunrise - gaya island resort

gaya island resort - sunrise

On a cloudy day:


Rebecca Saw - my stay at gaya island resort - sabah

All in all, YTL’s Gaya Island Resort creates an experience which is a magical blend of nature, comfort and luxury.

The resort is wonderful, extremely well kept and well run.
When I was there in end-June there were still some work being done at one side of the resort but it didn’t hinder nor cause any major discomfort to the guests.
However, end of the day it is the staff who made our stay exceptional. We found the staff to be incredibly helpful, personal, genuine and kind.

How to get to Gaya Island Resort:

I took a flight via Air Asia & arrived at Kota Kinabalu airport.
The Gaya Island Resort reception lounge is situated at Sutera Harbor Marina, about a 10 minute drive from the airport and we continued our journey in a speedboat (15 mins) to the island.

gaya island resort sabah malaysia - review

Sutera Harbour Marina:

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Speedboat Transfers Schedule: It is required for all passengers to arrive at the Sutera Harbour Marina 15 minutes before departure time.

Route: Sutera Harbour Marina – Gaya Island Resort Gaya Island Resort – Sutera Harbour Marina
0800 hrs 0900 hrs
1000 hrs 1100 hrs
1200 hrs 1300 hrs
1400 hrs 1500 hrs
1600 hrs 1700 hrs
1800 hrs 1830 hrs

**If the guest is unable to make the scheduled times, a chartered boat can be pre-arranged @MYR500.00 per way between 7.00am and 9.00pm. Private charter boat @MYR700.00 per way between 9pm and 7am.

You can expect a warm reception upon arrival and a refreshing calamansi sorbet plus drinks. The staff will then proceed with the check-in and escort you to your booked suite.

The jetty of arrival:

The villas - my stay at gaya island resort - sabah

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More of my stay at YTL resorts:
Tanjong Jara
Pangkor Laut Resort
Majestic Melaka
Majestic KL

Gaya Island Resort
Malohom Bay, Pulau Gaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park,
88000 Gaya Island, Malaysia.

Video of my villa:

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