Spa Village, Gaya Island Resort by YTL, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia

Spa Village, Gaya Island Resort by YTL, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Captivating Architecture at Gaya Island Resort by YTL’s Spa Village

Spa Village, Gaya Island Resort by YTL, Sabah, Borneo

Ever so impressed with Spa Villages around the country, and
after respiting in most of them, I couldn’t wait to try out their latest site
at Gaya Island Resort. 
Expecting the traditional architecture I’d seen in the
others, I was surprised to see a modern construction on the island. Glass,
wooden beams, high ceilings and multi level platforms sit amongst the
mangroves. A contemporary, sustainable, raw feel imbues the experience. Neutral
tones blend with the surrounds and low-lying oatmeal hued seating areas dot across
an unstained deck.
Spa Village, Gaya Island Resort by YTL, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Spa Village Deck
The reception leads out to an open balcony through giant
double story glass doors. A pond gently trickles reflecting natural lighting. A
bonsai, the only sign that man has attempted to interfere with nature, is the
nucleus of the interior. It is here that guests are welcomed with a scented
cold moist towel and chilled juice – a revitalizing concoction featuring guava,
lime, pineapple, star anise and chili. If it were allowed, a curl up in one of
the round outdoor lounges, a carafe of this nectar and a good book could steal
a very pleasurable few hours.
Spa Village, Gaya Island Resort by YTL, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Welcome drink
There’s no pre-treatment questionnaire filled out here.
Rather, a casual conversation with the therapist before the service unveils any
special medical conditions, areas to work on and your individual heat and
pressure preferences.
Treatment rooms are in a separate building, a short walk
downstairs and along a boardwalk through nature. They’re equipped with private
bathroom, robe, slippers, disposable underwear and vanity products. Massage
beds are dressed in the central room lined by glass walls, but sheltered by
soft curtains. The room flows out onto a deck with a transparent railing
leading thoughts to linger in the lush mangroves and be absorbed by the sounds
of the wild.
Spa Village, Gaya Island Resort by YTL, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Treatment Platform

I’d booked in for the Aki Nabalu experience. Inspired by the
“tremendous biodiversity” of the “botanical and biological species” found
around Mount Kinabalu, the brochure assured me an “uplifting and unforgettable
Beginning in an armchair on the patio, my feet were scrubbed
with a salt base mixed with ingredients found in the forest including ginger
and pepper.  A warm herbal bath followed
where I was left soak for 10 minutes. Lastly a cool orchid soak (read freezing
dip!) enlivened my feet and brought my mind back to the present. As I develop
and learn more about what’s good for my body and, now on a personal quest to
reduce the number of chemicals going into it, I was grateful for the shunning
of plastic bottles of products with unrecognizable ingredients and this use of
raw additive-free locally sourced plants.
Spa Village, Gaya Island Resort by YTL, Sabah, Borneo, Malaysia
Foot Bath
A steaming with a blend of the many gingers found in the
ancient rainforest was next, finishing with a deep tissue massage. A
combination of long light strokes and shorter deep ones worked out the tension
between my shoulder blades (hard to do) and the rest of my body and, left me
with a smooth sheen of oil. Guests are encouraged the leave the oil on for an
hour after the massage to allow the herbs to permeate and do their work. In the
warm weather though, I preferred a shower and the private room with full range
of bath products was appreciated.
Spa Village, Gaya Island Resort
Treatment Room
Finishing back up on the upper deck, the ending of my
treatment timed perfectly with the going down of the sun. What a magical
experience to sip warm ginger tea under the starry sky. Living in big cities
for so long has meant going for long periods without seeing stars. This quiet
spot on the verandah though, surrounded by trees and enveloped by the heavens,
brought a peacefulness that only comes with childhood memories.
With a core philosophy of honouring the healing culture of
the region, Spa Village at Gaya Island Resort brings the traditional healing
practices of the Sabahans and wholesome, locally sourced spa products together,
to forge a nourishing friendship between man and the natural environment.
Reason to visit:  Signature service and appeal that YTL Spa
Villages are renowned for, treatments using natural ingredients, genuine
Sabahan therapies
Spa Village at Gaya
Island Resort
Malohom Bay
Tunku Adbul Rahman Marine Park
88000 Kota Kinabalu
Sabah, Malaysia
+6 018 939 1100
+6 03 2783 1000


  1. Malaysians do live in tree house but a classy one ! cool, surely it's back to nature !

  2. YTL has taken over the place? Sure was not like that when I went many many years ago. Hmmm…time to go KK, Sabah again. Lovely place, heaven is indeed a place on earth!!!

  3. well, this was special~ how much staying per night there?

    • Yep, very special. It's not a budget stay, but YTL does have packages for Malaysian and Singaporean residents that include meals and accommodation. Best to check their site to find the latest deals.

  4. i've never been to gaya resort, but every time you write about it, i feel like i'm one step closer to making a reservation to come here! 😀

  5. This place look amazing and what a refreshing welcome drink. Wish I have the chance to try their spa serves some day. It's a beautiful place!

  6. Looks like a fantastic place to relax.


  7. Pingback: Best Spas in Malaysia, Where to Get Pampered, 2013 – The Yum List

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