Style Tropical Bornean luxe
Setting Jungle-strewn Gaya Island
If you’re after a tropical-island escape without too much of a schlep, whisk the family off to Bunga Raya boutique hotel, a laid-back Sabah getaway in Malaysian Borneo. Its powdery white beach, rainforest backdrop and endless ocean views will ensure you’ll feel miles away from the real world, even though the airport is just half an hour away. Your villa is a cool enclave of simple luxury from which you can step directly onto the beach or into the jungle.
Need to know
Rooms 48 villas, including two- and three-bedroom suites.
Facilities Spa, gym, watersports including PADI scuba diving, snorkelling and kayaking, beach volleyball, clubhouse with pool table, jungle canopy walk, library with books, DVDs and board games, 24-hour butler service, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flat-screen TV, CD/DVD player, free minibar (excluding wine and champagne), Thann toiletries. Plunge Pool Villas boast espresso machines and private pools with balcony decks; Tree House Villas have a private plunge pool and outdoor Jacuzzi.
In the know
Sleeping Bunga Raya is very child-friendly although the number of family rooms is limited, so you’ll never feel overrun by kids. Baby cots are free and extra beds for older children cost RM350 a night. If you’re after more space, the Two-bedroom Deluxe Suite offers separate king and twin bedrooms, with a sea-view balcony. Hilltop retreat, the Three-bedroom Deluxe Suite, comes with a master bedroom upstairs and two matching bedrooms below, plus a plunge pool with deck. Reached by a jungle walkway high among the canopy, Tree House Villas will appeal to junior Tarzans.
Playing Most kids will be easily distracted by the beach and fab mix of swimming, snorkelling and watersports on offer, including kayaking, pedal and banana boats, paddle boards and jet skis. Daily activities for children can also be arranged, including art sessions, cookery classes, treasure hunts, beach and pool games, sandcastle building and tours of the nearby marine centre. Older kids will also enjoy the resort’s forest canopy walk, jungle treks and zip-lining.
Splashing The hotel doesn’t have a kids’ pool, but inflatables and armbands are available at the main pool, and a lifeguard is on duty from 7am to 7pm.
Feasting Occupying the ground floor of the Clubhouse, Koi restaurant is a spacious, open-sided dining room offering a choice of pool or waterfall views. Informal oceanfront eatery Pantai Grill serves barbecue treats, seafood platters and snacks down on the beach. Children are welcome in both restaurants, and highchairs are provided. The kitchen can whip up packed lunches and prepare baby food or milk.
No need to pack Baby cots, highchairs, bathing tubs and changing mats are available for free.
Time-out Hotel staff are happy to babysit for RM35 (around US$11) an hour, given a day’s notice, so why not take the opportunity to slip off for a guilt-free session in the Solace Spa. Accessible by a suspended bridge, the day spa draws on indigenous flower ingredients, with a natural water feature in each of the foliage-fringed treatment rooms and jungle sounds to lull you into relaxation. If you’re a Smith member, you’ll be treated to a romantic dinner set-up for two on your first night; SilverSmiths also get a one-hour guided jungle trek, kayaking or snorkelling session for two; GoldSmiths also receive a 45-minute spa treatment for two on arrival day.
To book a child-friendly Smith stay, visit www.mrandmrssmith.com or call the expert Travel Team on 800 905 326. What’s more, if you sign up as a Smith member, you can enjoy exclusive offers at more than 850 hand-picked hotels around the world.