Rasa Ria Resort: An Escape Worth Squealing About

10 March 2015

My travelling companion stepped inside the door of her hotel room and let out a scream.

The hotel staff member who was showing us to our rooms said: “Don’t worry. That happens a lot around here.”

When we stuck our heads inside to check if everything was in fact alright, we caught her bouncing on the bed with a huge smile on her face.

 

Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria resort in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, has many wow factors, but the amazing inside-outside rooms probably top the list. Firstly, the rooms are large - about the size of an average inner-city two bedroom apartment.

The Malaysian-themed rooms in the Ocean Wing have views out over the serene Pantai Dalit Beach. You can take in the beach views either from your two-person day bed or from the indulgent outside spa bath.
Staff will even prepare you an outdoor bubble bath if that is how you would like to spend your evening.

 Poolside view at Rasa Ria Resort in Kota Kinabalu. All images: Brian Crisp

.........................................................................................................................................................

Spend Time With The Amazing Orang-Utans

.........................................................................................................................................................

The Rasa Ria is perched on a hill and surrounded by 400 acres of tropical forest. It is about a 45-minute drive from the airport.

Kota Kinabalu is a two-and-a-half-hour Malaysian Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur. It is in the fast growing Sabah region which has a population of about 450,000.

Sabah is famous for having the highest mountain in Southeast Asia, Mount Kinabalu, exotic sights such as the Rafflesia (the largest flower in the world), and orang-utans.

 Orang-utan at rasa Ria Resort in Kota Kinabalu

The resort established an orang-utan education centre and guests can daily spend time with these amazingly cute, and funny, primates.

The Malay word for orang-utan means “person of the jungle” and that’s an apt description. The hotel’s Jungle Walk allows them to get close to you, should they choose. It’s an easy five-minute walk from the hotel, completely safe and something you should consider doing more than once during your stay here.

The orang-utans came to within a metre of us as we stood on the viewing deck watching them. The sun was shooting beams of light through the canopy of leaves and the orang-utans swung from tree to tree with the utmost of ease. Their arms have an enormous span - in fact the arm span is much longer than their height.

 Swinging through the trees without a care the Rasa Ria resort

Protecting the 'people of the jungle'. Protecting Orangutans In Borneo

Spot the teeming Sabah wildlife. Spotting Wildlife on Sabah’s Sungai Kinabatangan


.........................................................................................................................................................

One-Stop Resort Comes With World-Class Golf Course

.........................................................................................................................................................

The ginger-haired orang-utans are highly intelligent and considered to be very close relatives to us. They weigh anything between 33 and 83 kilograms and have a lifespan of between 30 and 40 years.

The Rasa Ria Resort is almost a one-stop holiday destination.

Not only are the orang-utans on-site, but there’s also a world-class golf course; a recently renovated spa (the one-hour traditional Malay massage is fabulous); and enough swimming options (beach and pools) that nowhere ever seems busy.

The 18-hole championship golf course, bordered by the Tambalang and Mengkabong rivers, certainly showcases Sabah’s natural and rugged beauty.

From many of the holes golfers tee off with the impressive Mount Kinabalu in the background.

A round of golf will cost you about the same price as you would expect to pay at Australian courses like Hope Island and Sanctuary Cove. So, it’s not cheap, but it is an experience you will always remember.

 Lunchtime at the Rasa Ria is eagerly awaited

The other thing you will remember from your stay here is the food. The day always starts well with a buffet breakfast at Coast where you can dine on almost anything you desire, and hear the waves breaking on the shoreline just outside the door.

If you fancy Northern Indian spice you can sample the flavours of India at Naan, or get a sense of Malaysia’s street food culture at Makan Street. My favourite was Kozan where Teppenyaki chef Jimmy Lo slices, dices and tosses a tasty Japanese meal.

.........................................................................................................................................................

Adventures Are On Your Doorstep

.........................................................................................................................................................

If you do need to leave the resort, general manager Jean-Marc Michel has some suggestions.

“There are various activities you can do close by," he said.

“The authentic fishing village is on stilts over the water. Then if you want to be more adventurous you can go water rafting and you have an exclusive treat of climbing Mount Kinabalu. It takes two days and one night - you don’t have to be too fit to do this trek.

“If you are a nature fan you can head to Sandakan where baby orang-utans go before they are released back into the wild. You can discover many different animals and wildlife.”

Brian Crisp

I've has been a journalist for more than 30 years and travelled to more than 60 countries. When I travel I love getting lost because that's when you find the true heart of a city. I love country music, but as yet I haven't made it to Nashville. Perhaps next year!