Family Holiday Bliss at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, Borneo
Family Holiday Bliss at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, Borneo
After visiting Kota Kinabalu for two nights, we decided to stop off at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, less than an hour away from KK and en route to Kudat and the Tip of Borneo, our last stop before heading home.
We had a fantastic start to our holiday at the Shangri-La in Bangkok and so we had high expectations for our two nights at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort. Situated amid the lush tropical vegetation and crystal clear seas of Pantai Dalit, the resort comprises of 499 rooms and suites. It’s split into two sections – the Garden Wing and the Ocean Wing. We had an Ocean Wing room with a gorgeous room, the biggest bed I’ve ever seen and a day bed. The best bit about the room is the balcony with its gorgeous beach views. It’s a spacious area with a love seat, a table and chairs and an oversized bath with the best view of the stunning sunset.
Customer service plays a massive role in my high expectations of the Shangri-La. The Rasa Ria didn’t disappoint. The staff members were friendly, attentive without being intrusive. Everyone says hello with a smile and eye contact when passing and many greeted us and the kids by name. It was very impressive and as a result we were made to feel part of the family, which is an instant winner for me.
We spent our days by the children’s pool complete with two waterslides and paddling areas for the kids. We’ve had plenty of waterslides on our adventure but this was the best set up yet – the main slide which had a couple of great twists and was fast enough to be thrilling for adults too – ended in water shallow enough for Romilly and Jasper to stand up in. This meant that Romilly was up and down tens of times without me having to catch her every single time. There were plenty of lifeguards and the guard at the top of the slide was vigilant at all times without being a party pooper – Jasper was allowed to come down the slide on my lap and Romilly and Jez descended in all sorts of formations!
The Cool Zone for kids was state of the art. The outdoor area was lined with a race track with several cars available. Indoors, the range of toys available and the layout of the room was better than my children’s London nursery! The kids’ club is a complimentary service from age 5 until 12 to give mums and dads a bit of a break. I’ve never left my kids in a kids club before – and I didn’t on this holiday either – however having always said kids clubs weren’t for us, I’m now warming to the idea. There weren’t many other kids using the club while we were there but the few that were there seemed very happy playing in the sand, using the mini playground and watching films with three or four staff keeping a watchful eye.
There are a range of different activities available each day which come at an additional cost (in and around £10 per child). While we were there, Romilly made a tie dyed t-shirt during one session and both kids made kites to take home during another. The staff were engaged, creative and patient and my kids really enjoyed the activities.
Several nights a week, the Rasa Ria Resort runs a sunset ceremony where children are picked to be the princess and prince for the ceremony. Guess what? Romilly and Jasper got to be the Princess and Prince! This definitely goes down as a memory maker for our whole trip. Both kids were dressed up in a Princess – make up and accessories included, and Prince outfit. Jasper got stage fright and didn’t want to do any more than dress up, which left Romilly to take the limelight which delighted her. She was carried on a chair to a little grassy mound in front of the Sampan Bar where people had gathered and a tribal dance took place to mark the sunset. The whole experience was a total holiday highlight for her and us – it’s funny the things that can make a parent burst with pride!
One of our favourite bits about staying in beautiful accommodation is the wonderful food that so often goes hand in hand. On our first night we ate at Tepi Laut, the Shangri-La Rasa Ria’s nod to Malaysia’s heritage of street food stalls. This was a buffet option – which makes life for family meals so much easier – and was a hit with all four of us. There was so much to choose from which was heaven for my husband who loves nothing more than a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I on the other hand, tend to stick with familiarity and if it’s good, then I’ll go back for more. Beef rendang has been on my hit list for the entirety of our holiday. I had the most delicious rendang in the world from a street food stall in London just before we came away and despite having at least five rendangs on our holiday, I couldn’t find one that matched the quality of my London experience. Thankfully I found what I was looking for – rich rendang flavours combined with succulent soft chunks of beef. With coconut milk rice mixed with cashews, I didn’t look any further at what the other stalls had on offer. I was totally sold and very satisfied!
During our meal, we were treated to a tribal dance and fire eating performance that was simply stunning. It was an interactive show and they invited guests to come up on stage and try their hand at some of the dances. Somehow or other, I ended up on stage with my two left feet! Whilst it was a little scary for the kids in parts (the show rather than mummy being on stage, that is), on the whole this is great entertainment for all the family. I’d definitely recommend booking a meal at Tepi Laut at the same time as one of these performances. As well as getting a taste for the culture of the area, it was highly entertaining.
On our second night, we ate at Kozan, a teppanyaki restaurant. This was my first experience of teppanyaki and what a show it was! Our chef didn’t stop smiling all night as he chopped and danced and joked and created our meal to perfection. We loved it.
I’ve said it on numerous occasions before, we are major breakfast fans in our house and happily spend a good hour or two working our way through the delights of a five star buffet breakfast. Breakfast was included during our stay at the Rasa Ria and we ate at Oceano on both mornings. At a basic level, I love a good selection of great quality local fruit, soya milk, decent coffee, freshly made pastries, variety of egg options. Oceano met all my requirements with bonuses too – homemade ‘jams’ – the hazelnut and coconut jams were amazing; the best granola I’ve ever had – also homemade with all sorts of roasted nuts including cashews (my fave), freshly made crepes (as well as pancakes and waffles). You heard it here first – the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort has great breakfast game!
All in all, our two days at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort left us feeling more relaxed than at any other point during our trip. We were so well looked after, the kids were happy as Larry and Jez and I loved indulging in the delicious food, relaxing surroundings and also some of the many activities available to adults – Jez tried windsurfing and played golf at the Championship course. I used the gym, had a Pilates session with an instructor and had a reflexology treatment by the pool. The Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort is a great base to explore other parts of Borneo either via the resort or under your own steam. We are sure we will return to Borneo at some point in the future to tick off a few more bucket list items and some R & R at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort will most certainly be a part of our itinerary again.