Right- The Shangri-La Rasa Ria in Sabah, Borneo… Where do I even start? This place is paradise. Even if you never go anywhere else on the whole island (but you definitely should!) you could stay here and never leave. From the moment you drive through the gates, past the spa and the golf course and right up to reception it’s instant relaxation. The staff are there anticipating your every need and this slice of paradise has everything you need for the perfect family holiday. The resort sits on over 2km of private beach, backing onto the rainforest- it’s just spectacular. There is so much to tell you, so let’s get started…
Shangri-La Rasa Ria Accommodation
There are two accommodation wings at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria- The Ocean Wing and the Garden Wing. The Garden Wing is very popular with young families because of the child-friendly facilities and variety of eating spots (we will go into that later!). The rooms can be booked as one bedroom suites, studios or family rooms (with interior doors connecting them.) If you book a room and would like a connecting room for children under 12 all you need to do is let customer service know and they will give you a 50% discount on the second room. The prices start at about $250 p/n for the Garden Wing Delux Garden Wing Room.
The Ocean Wing is the premium wing, popular with families with teenagers or just couples looking for a relaxing holiday. It’s an extra level of luxury, each room has its own covered deck with a double bath and ocean views. We were lucky enough to stay in one of these rooms and they really are amazingly luxurious. These rooms start from around $330 a night. Guests have their own breakfast area or they can eat at the Garden Wing restaurant.
Shangri-La Rasa Ria Facilities
Shangri-La Rasa Ria caters for families with children of all ages, they have worked hard to have something for everyone so that you’ll never get bored.
Zone Kid’s Club
There is a kids club for children over 4. It runs from 10am-7pm for free and then from 7-10pm it costs 30 Ringet (AU$10). There is and indoor and outdoor play area, a movie room and lots of fun activities taking place every day. You can also order lunch to the kid’s club for your kids from room service. If you have children under 4 there is a play area parents can supervise the children in, fully stocked with toys. Babysitting is also available in-room for AU$10 p/h.
Ria Hang Out
The Ria Hang Out operates in school holidays and is a dedicated, parents free area for older kids and teenagers. The staff run activities like archery and games and there is a juice bar plus the kids can order in food.
Unpowered water activities such as boogie boards, kayaks and the catamaran are free for the first hour. You can also hire jet skis, stand up paddle boards and windsurfers or book a banana boat ride or try parasailing.
Other Fun Activities and Facilities
The pool at the Garden Wing has a water side, which is very popular! There is also horseriding on the beach, golf, guided rainforest walks and Wildlife Wednesday when the rangers show guests some of the local animals and insects at the conservation centre on site.
Oh and don’t forget the spa! It’s a pure piece of luxury where you can get massages and treatments and unwind. I had the aromatherapy massage and it was magic. They also offer mother/daughter spa days which is lovely.
Shangri-La Rasa Ria Eating Options
I’m pretty sure I didn’t get hungry from the moment I arrived until we left. There is SO MUCH FOOD! So let me talk you through *all* your options.
Oceano Italian Restuarant
In the morning Oceano is exclusively for Ocean Wing guests. It’s the only restaurant situated in Ocean Wing and they put on quite the breakfast spread! You can have everything from the standard fruit, cereal, toast and pastries, as well as crepes, waffles, eggs, Asian dishes and even Pizza. Oh and doughnuts which my 15-year-old was very fond of! As a side note, if you have to check out or leave for an early tour ask them to pack you a breakfast bag- it’s very impressive!
We also had dinner here one night, they serve contemporary Italian food such as pasta, fish and a whole range of others. It was really good!
Naan- Flavours of India
This is an Indian restaurant which makes amazing curries! I was so full from lunch when we ate here that I was disappointed I couldn’t eat more. But we gave it a good shot- the cheese naan was so yum and I had the lamb rogan josh. Two thumbs up all round! (Make sure you try the lemon mint drink too- you won’t regret it!)
Tepi Laut- Makan Street
Ok so I’m saving the best for last- Tepi Laut was my ultimate favourite place. I could have eaten there for every meal. It’s an area by the Garden Wing pool which is set up like traditional Malaysian street stalls and it’s amazing. There is anything you can want there. They also serve western snacks in the centre and a dessert bar to die for. We were lucky enough to be there during Malaysia’s national day so it was an extra special celebration.
Also- make sure you have sunset drinks at the Sampan Bar- it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset.
Other places to eat that we didn’t have a chance to try are Kozan Teppan-Yaki, Coffee Terrace (where breakfast is served in the Garden Wing) and Golf Terrace, the cafe on the golf course.
*Just a note though that, like in most resorts, food is pretty much western prices. For example, our dinner at Naan which was 2x mains, 1x rice, 2x drinks, 2x naan came to about $70. Just for your budgeting.
So what else to tell you… The resort is about 1 hour from the Kota Kinabalu airport so if you are planning to combine a resort holiday with heading to Sandakan to see the orangutans or if you want to do a Kota Kinabalu city tour I would recommend staying closer to town for a few nights rather than travelling from the resort. The flight to Sandakan leaves at 7am so we had to leave the resort at 4:30am- this would not be fun with small children!
I really can’t fault the Shangri-La Rasa Ria- we were treated like royalty the whole time we were there and all the staff was absolutely amazing- nothing was too hard for them and they went above and beyond every step of the way. We didn’t want to leave… ever!
To book your holiday with them visit www.shangri-la.com/kotakinabalu/rasariaresort
*We stayed at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort as guests of Sabah Tourism. All opinions are our own.