TTG – Luxury Travel News

TTG – Luxury Travel News

Gaya Island Resort in Borneo, Malaysia

As the morning dawned, I headed to the mauve and tangerine striped sky of the island named after Mother Earth. I spotted two oriental hornbills pecking on the roof, a long-tailed gibbon swinging through the trees, a cicada rattling somewhere in the canopy, and a monkey carrying a baby who accepted my gift of apples. This is Gaya from Malaysian Borneo. The island truly lives up to its name.

Located in Malaysia’s first marine conservation park, Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park, off the coast of Kota Kinabalu, this biodiversity treasure trove has been transformed into one of the region’s most important natural habitats, thanks to a marine and land conservation program funded by high-end eco companies. We are at the forefront of protecting our wealth. -Resort.

Weaved into the edge of the rainforest above glistening Marohong Bay, Gaya Island Resort’s luxury pointed-roofed wooden villas are barely visible from the ocean approach via speedboat from Kota Kinabalu, and the entire property is an ancient Designed to blend with the forest.

Though tucked into a hillside, my spacious suite offered views across the ocean to the top of Mount Kinabalu that were worth waiting for at dawn. With 3,700 acres of pristine nature, Gaya Island offers the perfect snapshot of Borneo’s enchanting Sabah state.

Canopy Villa Suite at Gaya Island Resort

Canopy Villa Suite at Gaya Island Resort

On my first morning, I went on a mini-expedition into the interior with Hajik, our resident naturalist. Climbing a steep, vine-laced path, Hajik paused every now and then to survey the jungle, noting that snakes might be dangling from the branches. He made a loud purr to alert the local long-tailed macaques, or “cheeky monkeys,” to our presence, but the shy proboscis monkeys, with their gonzo-like noses, remained elusive.

Apparently this force prefers to remain in the more difficult to access parts of the rainforest, but their numbers have recently increased thanks to Gaya’s intervention to widen the gene pool with newcomers from the mainland. His one such import, Rambo, is now successfully breeding and starting a family on the island.

Gaya, which is also difficult to find in the jungle, is home to a large population of pangolins, small armored mammals that tend to curl up during the day like giant woodlouses. Hazik showed me a photo of a rescued animal on his shoulder that was rehabilitated and released last year by the Gaya Wildlife Center.

After a humid hike through a 1,000-year-old lush forest, home to the world’s tallest tropical tree, the meranti, and crawling with all kinds of lizards, from large monitor lizards to red-bearded lizards, we arrived at Tabajun Bay. I went to a beautiful beach.

Tabajun Bay on Gaya Island

Tabajun Bay on Gaya Island

The beach is home to Gaya’s other conservation project, the Marine Center, which is currently home to three rescued turtles named Gaya, Barbara and, unfortunately, Corona, discovered during the pandemic. Marine biologist Divian showed us how to scrape algae from the shells, and we met the cheerful Gaya, who will soon be released.

The biggest rescue, the coronavirus, may have to remain in an ocean cage because it is no longer able to fully dive and search for food, possibly due to a bad case of “flotation syndrome” caused by an over-ingestion of plastic. be.

Due to the box jellyfish warning, we weren’t able to swim in the ocean that day, but the next morning, while kayaking to Gaya’s deep mangrove forest, we spotted the bad guys of the sea. The low tide left behind a film of plastic from the mainland, which we scooped out of the water and loaded onto the boat.

They mistake floating plastic for jellyfish, which they naturally eat, and unfortunately, this is the cause of most of the local turtle illnesses. “We send packets back to the manufacturer asking them to make changes, but we almost never get a response,” Haziek said. “Some people put recycling marks on their bags…”

Similar pollution is seen on Langkawi, but there is no greater call to action for tourists than seeing firsthand how such a paradise is being destroyed. However, Hajik is focusing on restoring mangroves and planting seagrass in hopes of bringing back the rare dugongs, and he showed me a nursery where seedlings are currently being grown.

Mangroves are undoubtedly important to the coastal ecosystem, but I much preferred the underwater gardens that Gaya Island fosters offshore, as they have an eerie, forbidden forest feel. Conservation Director Scott Mayback talked about the resort’s new initiative to partner with guests to grow a house reef and see coral up close.

At the watersports kiosk, we “used superglue and concrete to secure the reef,” as Scott puts it, and we sat in the shade as groups took turns picking live coral cutouts from a bowl of water. I selected it and glued it to the concrete. base. Once completed, I followed Scott into the ocean where he swam and placed his board on the ocean floor.

A solid shelf of pink, orange, and purple hard coral covers the shore, and I spotted sea anemones and the largest clownfish I’ve ever seen among its fluorescent inhabitants.

Gaya the turtle was rescued at the Marine Center at Gaya Island Resort

Gaya the turtle was rescued at the Marine Center at Gaya Island Resort

From kayaking to snorkeling, most activities and excursions in Gaya are nature-based, with the exception of perfume making and cooking classes, which are still firmly rooted in the local area.

In a spacious, temple-like pavilion, I spent an hour in a mind-opening meditation session with Katie from Choga and met Irene, the resort’s mom and perfumer. Irene leads the group in a mackerel scent adventure class where she creates her own unique scents using only natural essential oils. such as lavender and cloves.

Afterwards, Senior Resort Chef Wana, who leads the team at the elegant Fisherman’s Cove Restaurant, shows us how to make simple, mouth-watering local dishes, such as Pealen a Manuk, a coconut and spice stew.

private oasis

I arrived in Kota on a domestic flight from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is a bustling Asian city filled with modern skyscrapers and culture, sparkling malls and piping hot street food. The sophisticated Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur boasted high-ceilinged rooms, huge king-sized beds, an impressive library, and most importantly, Elvita from Sabah hosted my jet-lagged self. Equipped with a tranquil spa center, it provided the perfect rest after a long flight. – The best Malay aromatherapy massage surrounded by a cool pool and palm trees.

With reliable domestic flight connections, Kuala Lumpur is a gateway to uncrowded tropical islands, some of which are excellent alternatives to Thailand.

A peaceful sanctuary tucked into the rainforest-covered slopes of Langkawi Island, Ambon Ambon is the ideal private oasis for wellness seekers close to Cenang’s creamy bay. Our eight pool villas with ocean views offer secluded tranquility, while our yoga retreat offers a flow-enhancing balance between cultivating personal wellness and connecting with nature.

After a peaceful morning of exercise and meditation on the forest deck with our expert instructor Sal, an excursion to clean the castaway shores of the Kilim Karst Geopark was a real highlight of my trip . The hazy green humped bay has an attention-grabbing beauty similar to the famous Ha Long Bay or Phi Phi Marine Park, rushing over opal waves into deep purple skies and plunging into storms. While doing so, I needed silence to digest.

After collecting plastic on a deserted island, we were stranded for 30 minutes while the boat was about to reach us, taking shelter under a wide sea vine with wind and rain stirring all around.

Ambon Ambon overlooks the beautiful Langkawi coast

Ambon Ambon overlooks the beautiful Langkawi coast

As part of Ambon’s green ethos, this boutique resort has a farm in Langkawi’s lush north that is a treasure trove of tropical produce. I took a cooking class under a canopy in the garden with Chef Amen from Ambon’s popular restaurant Rimba, where we made a delicious lunch of spinach soup and coconut fish curry. Noticing my interest in the strange pink ginger flowers, the chef presented me with a sorbet made from the sweet and sharp fruit for dessert.

Langkawi, one of Malaysia’s most heavily forested islands, experienced a second moment of monkey magic after being hit by a tropical storm. As I warmed up in the steamy open-air bath, I spotted a flying squirrel clinging to a branch above the infinity pool. A group of cute yellow-leaved monkeys came frolicking overhead.

Unfazed by my presence, they stared at me with large white-rimmed eyes as I gazed out to sea. After a journey that balanced Zen wellness and mindful adventures dedicated to nature, I finally felt like I was part of a serene landscape.

How to make a reservation

audrey travel We offer an 11-day trip to Malaysia including 7 nights. Gaya Island Resort and 3 nights there Ritz Carlton Kuala Lumpur From £2,115 per person including accommodation, flights, transfers and excursions on a B&B basis.of Ambon Ambon Yoga retreat prices start from £85 per person. Pool villas from £324 per night.

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