After our strenuous successful efforts in climbing Mount Kinabalu, we were more than ready for some rest and relaxation to allow our tired muscles to repair themselves. We found this in the Manukan Island Resort.
Manukan Island Resort is an exclusive 5* retreat run by a company called Sutera. How did we end up here on our shoestring budget, I hear you ask? Well, Sutera also own the accommodation located at Laban Rata some 3300 metres above sea level on Mount Kinabalu. The fact that they are the only available accommodation on the mountain means that they charge you through the nose to stay the night there on your package deal as part of the 2 days, 1 night climb. Our accommodation on the mountain had been extremely less than desirable with no electricity (due to a thunderstorm), no hot water (a general problem for everyone apparently), an outside toilet some walk away, and oh the cheeky rats who visited us in the night. If we’d only paid a low rate for the night I wouldn’t have minded so much (after 5 months in Asia, we are used to a lower standard of accommodation afterall!) but the fact that we paid more than 7 times the average Borneo rate for this bed for the night, made me quite frankly livid.
When we were back safely down the mountain, I wrote to the management at Sutera to tell them what I thought. I honestly didn’t think I would get very far (this is Asia afterall, and it’s not usually worth wasting your breath complaining as they just shrug their shoulders and smile). But in this case, my stiff emails paid off. The assistant general manager wrote back to me offering us a 2 night free stay at one of their other four properties of our choice, so that they could ‘compensate us and allow them to take care of us’. His email arrived in my inbox at just the right time for us to be able to take up his kind offer for our final 2 nights in Malaysian Borneo.
As we were already in Kota Kinabalu it was a no-brainer which accommodation of the four on offer to choose. All we had to do was pack our bags, catch a 20 minute boat ride from KK and we would be on the island of Manukan in Borneo’s Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park. We were not disappointed this time. Plus, the assistant general manager had obviously phoned ahead and pre-warned all staff to make a good impression, and we were given the royal treatment from the moment we set foot on the island to the moment we left.
Our 2-storey villa for the weekend was just gorgeous, like something you might find at the Chester Grosvenor Hotel. As it was only 3 weeks until our 4th wedding anniversary, we decided to treat the weekend as an early celebration as we knew that we wouldn’t be staying in such lavish accommodation again on this trip!
A stone’s throw away from the villa was the beach. It’s only a small island, and a very pretty one. We were lucky with the weather and enjoyed all day sunshine. The snorkelling was a little disappointing but we easily overlooked this minor detail as everything else was so perfect! Our villa backed onto the jungle, and every time I walked past the back window I went on ‘lizard watch’ for the huge Monitor Lizard who would come lumbering out of the jungle to have a nose around out back.
We spent the two days chilling, sunbathing and exploring the island. It was the perfect end to our 3 weeks in Malaysia. Late on Monday morning after breakfast, we had to make our way back to the mainland to the airport to catch our onward flight to Brunei. A quick call to mainland by the manager and our boat was sent to come and pick us up. A small entourage of staff and management escorted us to the jetty where we were to feed the fish (for good luck apparently) and climb aboard our boat. As we sped away back to the mainland we left behind the Sutera team standing on the jetty waving us off.