Gayana Eco Resort nestles serenely on the edge of lush jungle forest against the calming surf of the sea, only a five minute ferry ride from its sister resort, Bunga Raya. But if these two resorts are sisters, they must be estranged, such is the soothing sense of seclusion and privacy. What makes Gayana Eco Resort special though, is its philosophy of protecting and re-generating the surrounding Marine Ecology. The resort features its own on-site Marine Ecology Research Centre that is conducting priceless work in propagating Giant Clams, restoring the natural coral reefs and protecting the Island’s marine life.
Furnishing a secluded cove of an even more secluded island, the resort’s 52 eco villas nestle between dense jungle and the gentle murmurs of the waves. Looking out into the expanse of the South China Sea, it’s amazing to think you’re only a five minute ferry ride from Bunga Raya Island Resort, another of the Island’s secluded spots. Despite feeling like a paradise at the ends of the earth, there’s everything you could possibly need here, including watersports, snorkelling and diving. You can also do your bit to reverse the effects of tourism in the region and promote its natural beauty by planting new coral. The crabs and fish will soon move in, providing them with a bountiful food source and you with a dollop of eco-tourism feel-good factor, ensuring both the sea life and the coral continue to thrive for many years to come
Once you’ve dried yourself off back at the resort, The Latitude Bar is the perfect setting for your mail-snorkel sunset cocktail. Then settle into some sensational food at one of the resort’s restaurants. Alu Alu supports claims as Malaysia’s finest Chinese seafood restaurant – the fresh seafood and fish here (from the resort’s own organic fish farm) will wake new levels in you of taste-bud bliss, while the Macac restaurant serves up poolside Western fusion with a Malaysian twist, including a menu of wood-fired Pizzas.
On stilts, directly over the water of the shore, the villas offer exquisite comfort, indulgent luxury and sleek modern touches. Many of the villas provide direct access to the sea from their deck and the private plunge pool at the Palm Villa is a lesson in refined luxury. Inside, the spacious rooms are finished in a polished wood and cream hue and all the rooms boast private balconies with either glittering ocean views or the astonishing vistas of Mount Kinabalu. All the villas are designed to nestle amongst the natural surroundings, made from traditional Borneo building materials and designed to echo the eco-tourist vibe of the resort.
Why we love it
The Marine Ecology Centre holds at its heart the philosophy of this resort: sustainable and eco-friendly luxury tourism. With the aim of developing and supporting the marine life of the region, the endangered Giant Clam has been successfully propagated here, as well as important work in replacing and repairing the surrounding coral. Guests can help to restore the vibrant ecological beginnings to their luxury vacation destination, leaving a utopian destination even better than when they found it. And while still offering an inspiring alternative to the tourist trappings of the mainland, Gayana Eco Resort has everything we Black Tomato-ites most seek: unknown luxury. So let’s keep this just between us.