Bunga Raya is on Gaya Island, about 45 minutes by private boat from Kota Kinabalu. It’s one of only two resorts on the island, lending a remote, secluded feel to the whole experience. Guests stay in treehouse-style villas set on the jungle-covered hillside overlooking the bay. Concrete paths connect all the villas with the resort’s amenities (infinity pool, restaurant, grill, wine cave, spa, gym, koi pond and waterfall), and staff are on call to pick you up in a golf cart and transport you from your villa to wherever you’d like to go, whenever you’d like to go there.
We descended a long staircase to our villa’s entry — double doors opening to a large elevated deck overlooking the beach with a cushy bench for morning coffee, afternoon beers and night caps with friends. Double sliding French doors opened from the deck to the bedroom, where a large king bed sat with neatly tucked sheets and beautifully patterned decorative linens and pillows. On the bed was a welcome letter and two sarongs — authentic dress for daytime or dinner should you choose to ditch your western attire.
In one corner, a modest desk with free and good wi-fi access. In the other corner, a flatscreen TV with plenty of cable to choose from (but why would you when the view is so magnificent?). A sideboard hosts tea and coffee set-ups (water heater, French press) to accompany your complimentary morning basket of muffins and OJ. There’s plenty of room for two in the modern bathroom, with double sinks and an enormous shower decked out in dark wood and slate blue tile. There are also lots of other useful and thoughtful accoutrements like a safe, a refrigerator, a bug zapper, rain ponchos and a schedule of regular events (like jungle trekking and Scuba discovery) held throughout the week.
Thomas and Xavier and the entire staff are effortlessly friendly and eager to make your stay wonderful. Bunga Raya is pure jungle chic. We stayed three nights — I wish it could have been three weeks.