Avion Luxury International Airport Magazine

The pearls of Borneo


The island of Pulau Gaya lies only a few kilometres from Kota Kinabalu, capital of the region of Sabah in Malay Borneo, and is the largest of the five islands that make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Marine Park. Sabah is celebrated for its natural wonders which are among the most incredible in all of Malaysia. Legendary Mount Kinabalu, the tropical forest of the Danum Valley and the largest centre in the world for the rehabilita­tion of orangutans in Sepilok are all found here. Sabah is also renowned for its marine life abundant waters: Layang Layang, Lankayan, Mataking, Sipadan, Mabul, Kapalai and Pom Pom are loved by scuba divers from all over the world. Sea turtles, clown fish, groupers, coral fish, triggerfis­h, sea horses, starfish, bamboo sharks, barracudas and endless other coloured species can be seen among the coral reefs. A wonderful view can be enjoyed from the northernmo­st tip of the country, known as the Tip of Borneo, where the South China Sea dramatical­ly meets the Sulu Sea. In the town of Kudat lives the native tribe the Rungus, while in Penampang, 13 km to the south of the capital Kota Kinabalu, lies the village of the Kadazan. Among these natural beauties sit two sister eco-resorts: Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa and Gayana Eco Resort, which are set among unspoilt jungle and enveloped in a special atmosphere. Sitting on a coral reef island of Gaya, the Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa offers 48 elegant villas. Protected by a tranquil bay, the resort is framed by a white sand beach and an age-old forest. The villas, built by local craftsmen, reflect the traditiona­l architectu­re of Borneo. Private balconies offer extraordin­ary vistas of the beach below and the South China Sea beyond. Each villa measures 70 m2 and is unique in terms of details: the 6 Deluxe Villas have separate living room; the 4 Plunge Pool Villas are for beach lovers with pool and private terrace; the 18

Treehouse Villas are accessible along a route through the jungle and have open-air jacuzzi or private pool; the 8 Two Bedroom Deluxe Suites have two bedrooms and a terrace; the Three Bedroom Deluxe Suite is arranged on two floors with three bedrooms, jacuzzi and private swimming pool, and the Royal Villa offers 2 bedrooms, a dining area, living room and kitchen with butler and chef, dedicated service staff and an open-air area with two pools and a terrace. The villas offer every amenity including air conditioni­ng, mini bar, LCD satellite television, DVD player and safe. The restaurant­s and bars propose dishes for the most sophistica­ted palates: Koi, a contempora­ry bistro with wines from the entire region; Pantai Grill on the beach, open for lunch and dinner, and Wine Cave with over 3,500 bottles, but also a bar, private dining room and cigar bar. Areas for leisure time complete the excellent services: Padi Dive Centre and Jungle SPA. The resort also plenty of activities on offer, which range from

snorkellin­g, scuba diving and fishing to cruises along the reef and golf. The other resort, Gayana Eco Resort, a perfect balance between ecology and luxury, pampers body and soul and offers a unique experience. Alongside the resort, the Marine Ecology Research Centre (Merc), a nature reserve that protects giant clams and the developmen­t of rare molluscs, sits at the entrance to the Tunku Abul Rahman Marine Park, a protected area. The resort’s 52 overwater villas sit around a peaceful lagoon with breathtaki­ng views, which is dominated by the Kinabalu mountain. The simplicity of the traditiona­l architectu­ral style of Borneo blends with the sophistica­ted comfort of each villa, which range in size from 57 to 153 m2. The 8 Palm Villas have glass flooring allowing you to admire the wonders of the sea, while the terrace with private pool provides an unforgetta­ble view of the landscape. The 18 Bayu Villas, have views of the ocean and the Palm Villas have private balconies with direct access to the sea. The other villas offer different vistas: the 16 Rimba Villas have panoramic views through the jungle; the 6 Pantai Villas offer a panorama of the lagoon, and the 4 Bakau Villas look onto the mangrove trees. The amenities offered include air conditioni­ng, mini bar, LCD satellite television and DVD player, Wi-Fi internet, 24-hour room service and dedicated courtesy line. The welcoming bars and restaurant­s offer excellent dishes and snacks: Alu-Alu, a restaurant over the water which offers fresh fish from the organic fish farm; Macac, a fushion restaurant alongside the pool with wood oven, and Latitude Lounge, a place for snacks and drinks. There are also specialise­d leisure centres such as the Padi Dive Centre and the Solace SPA, which offers massages with therapeuti­c herbs and aromatic oils from the jungle. The island and both resorts qualify as heavenly destinatio­ns, educationa­l places in which the unique beauty of the undersea world and the lush jungle are waiting to be discovered.

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