Located on the Pantai Dalit Beach in Borneo, Malaysia among 400-acres of tropical bliss, Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort is a stylish “one-stop shop” for travelers seeking a destination stay. Whether it’s romance, kid-friendly or adventure, Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, with its vast amount of varied amenities and beautiful locale, caters to each type of vacation theme.
Although there’s construction underway until the end of 2014 in this wing, there are benefits to choosing a room here. Check-in takes place in the guestroom. A private pool is reserved just for Ocean Wing guests. The in-room Nespresso coffee maker alone is enough to choose a room here. A gourmet breakfast buffet is included at the Coast Restaurant, from Asian fare like chow mein and sushi to Western items like a made-to-order omelet and pancake bar. Every room has a giant outdoor tub on the balcony (perfect for a lil’ late night romantic rendezvous).
Choose a scent, such as jasmine or lemongrass, and experience aromatherapy via candlelit oil burner, tended to nightly by the housekeeper. Another lovely touch is the nightly turn-down service, which includes a different bedtime story, based on local Malaysian legends or folklore, placed on your pillow each night.
Although we didn’t get to spend much time exploring the resort’s activities, one of the highlights was seeing the orangutans (found only in Borneo and Sumatra) in the property’s sanctuary.
Located within the resort, the 64-acre Nature Reserve is home to baby orangutans and other exotic animals such as pangolins, tarsiers and slow loris. At 10 a.m., head to the reserve to watch the adorable primates fly through the air during their daily public feeding.
The Chi Spa menu at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort offers a fair amount of treatments. One that’s particularly interesting is the Sabahan Experience. Based on the native tradition of river cleansing, it consists of a mild body scrub with rice powder and stone; ending with a hot stone massage.
We both opted for the traditional massage: a warm foot soak and hardy rubdown with a variety of techniques used from Thai to acupressure.
In Malay (official language of the hundreds spoken in Malaysia), Rasa Ria means “taste of happiness.” There are several dining options on the property to do just that. Here’s a rundown:
- Naan – Traditional Indian fare.
- Sampan Bar – We saw what we called “the Malaysian Elvis meets the Everly Brothers” perform at this beachside bar. It’s a great place to catch the sunset, offering refreshing cocktails and delicious finger foods. Many guests enjoy playing a game of pétanque at the adjacent court while enjoying drinks and snacks.
- Tepi Laut Makan Street – Meant to simulate Malaysia’s heritage of street food stalls and open-fronted shop-house restaurants, this is a buffet meets Mongolie grill on steroids. Each food stall highlights a different cuisine of Asia. By day, the beachfront restaurant is transformed into a poolside bar offering Asian and western snacks, finger food and refreshing drinks. And don’t miss out on a tribal dance lesson as part of the nightly entertainment.
- Coast Restaurant & Bar – Contemporary western cuisine and award-winning restaurant, with Chef Alvrie Manangka at the helm. The outdoor terrace is a perfect place for a romantic dinner at sunset, as are three private, thatched gazebos for a truly memorable beachside dining experience. Breakfast buffets here include a made-to-order omelet and waffle bar, and an array of exquisite Asian soups (yes, even at breakfast Tom Kha Gai is phenomenal).
- Teppan-yaki Kozan – A traditional Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant, with a nontraditional aesthetic and modern design.
- Lobby Lounge – A great spot for a cocktail pre-dinner or post-dinner with a lovely and talented singer who covers anyone from Norah Jones and John Mayer to Frank Sinatra and Etta James.
Sunset Cruise – As part of the many extra activities available, you can arrange a sunset ‘happy hour’ boat cruise. Tasty appetizers and wine and beer are served by gracious staff.
What we liked:
With so much to do, from visiting the baby orangutan refuge to ATV safaris to simply chilling in a cabana with views of the China Sea, this is a superb destination stay. You never have to leave for a tasty meal, entertainment, adventure or relaxation. Rooms are chic and spacious, many with an outdoor patio bathtub. Kid-friendly amenities are some of the best we’ve seen with elaborate playgrounds, a pool with a slide, affordable babysitting and cool activities like “be a ranger for the day” or batik painting and tribal dance lessons.
What we didn’t like:
The only minor annoyances were a few “lost in translation” moments in getting what we asked for at the bars and the limited top-shelf liquor selection (especially brown spirits like whiskey, bourbon, and cognac).
Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, Pantai Dalit, Tuaran, 89208 Kota Kinabalu, KK, Malaysia Reservations: 866-565-5050
Travel info: Malaysia Air offers new direct flights from Narita, Japan to Kota Kinabalu.
Photos © Voyage Vixens.