My Day in Paradise at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia is one of the most underrated tropical, romantic, and affordable beach vacation destinations in Asia. When visiting Sabah in February 2018, I was put in contact with the team at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort. They wanted to partner with The Toronto Seoulcialite, but had been fully booked early on in the year with Chinese New Year and Korea’s Lunar New Year! I was disappointed that I might not be able to see this magnificent space. Luckily, I was able to get a sneak peek through their program: A Day in Paradise at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort in Kota Kinabalu!
Getting to Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort
Bright and early after my evening flight to Kota Kinabalu, I was picked up at Dock In Hostel and drove in style about 30 minutes to Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort. It’s a little bit out of the way, but the drive was gorgeous. I saw tons of colourful houses lining the water. We even passed the floating mosque en route. Bucket list item checked off day 1!
Day in Paradise Package at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort
So here’s the deal – for RM 148 (just under $50 Canadian) you get to spend the day at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort and spa in gorgeous Kota Kinabalu pretending you’re a guest and soaking up the sun. You get access to the Garden Wing Pool (the only one in which I swam) the immaculate private beach (it’s 3 km long, guys), premium ice cream (so many decadent flavours) and a dining credit worth practically the cost of admission.
It’s almost as though the Shangri-La is paying YOU to spend a day of bliss! Golf and spa packages are also 20% off through this program. There’s something for everyone!
Who would have thought I’d have a private beach all to myself at a fully booked Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort in Sabah?
Day in Paradise Dining
I had lunch at Tepi Laut Makan Street Restaurant. I wouldn’t have even gotten close to the RM 128 dining credit and I had the beef rendang and a tom-yum inspired pineapple cocktail. It was served in an actual pineapple! I had never had true Malaysian food until I went to Kuala Lumpur last summer. Now, I can’t get enough! My meal at Tepi Laut was next level. The bartender and the chef came out and asked what kind of flavours I enjoyed and if there was anything I couldn’t eat. From start to finish even when I was meandering the vast property by myself the Shangri-La staff made me feel totally VIP. I find that the Malaysian people I’ve met have been extremely friendly and helpful, but the service at Shangri-La was better than I could have ever anticipated.
Arriving in Style at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort
I have to give a big thank you to Cynthia Malim – Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort’s Digital Marketing Manager. Cynthia organized everything from start to finish and answered all of my questions before arriving in Kota Kinabalu and since I’ve left. We even got to paint the town red together singing karaoke at a downtown waterfront bar, but that’s another story for another time. When I arrived at the Shangri-La, Cynthia was there with a warm Sabahan welcome. I was even adorned with a SABAH necklace right as I stepped out of the shuttle! Cynthia took me on a great tour of the grounds, amenities, and even some of the rooms at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort (click here to see the rooms!)
Lush, Green Grounds!
I would have never guessed the hotel was at full capacity during my stay. I was able to walk around the gorgeous, perfectly manicured lawns and paths without ever really running into other guests. The pool was busy, but there were plenty of loungers available there, by the beach, and there were cute little spots away from the water when you could sit and read a book. Since Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort is in Kota Kinabalu, a rainforest, I was expecting stormy weather. Don’t let the weather forecast talk you out of visiting Malaysian Borneo. While I didn’t have blue skies the entire time, I lucked out for about 95% of my vacation.
Golf, Spa, Meetings, and Events!
The Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort has a stunning golf course. The clubhouse doubles (and triples) as a meeting and events space for fundraisers and corporate meetings. The spa is also located in this building. Remember – even if you’re “just” there for the day in paradise, you’ll get 20% off!
I didn’t get to enjoy the services at The Spa a Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, but if I ever get married (hah! What a joke) I’d pretty seriously consider spending an entire honeymoon day getting couples services (would you take a look at that bathtub?), and enjoying the amenities of an ocean wing room. Bonus – they do destination weddings here, too!
Jungle Trekking at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort
Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort actually has an onsite nature reserve program. When speaking with other travelers who have been to Kota Kinabalu I’ve heard that their orangutan program was a let down. What most people don’t understand by doing a cursory search online is that Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort was never designed to be like a zoo. The design of the program wasn’t even as a sanctuary. The nature reserve at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort was designed as the first step in rehabilitation for the endangered orangutans of Borneo. Once they’ve assimilated into behaviour conducive to living with others, they’re moved over to the East side of the island.
I didn’t have a chance to visit the orangutans, sadly, but I did venture through the reserve where I got a good workout and some great views of birds of prey. No creepy crawlies – the only snake I saw was at the desk where my guide and I had a little visit and set it free.
Sabahan Sunsets at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort
After my hike through the nature reserve I got to use the shower and refresh facilities at the golf course at Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort. I headed over to the Sampan Bar for another round of killer cocktails as the sun went to bed. My Day in Paradise was over, but my night was just beginning! Stay tuned for reviews of the Sampan Bar and Naan – Flavours of India!