Images: Shangri-la Rasa Ria
Not many luxury hotels can boast of having their own forest reserve right in their own backyard. Located in the Tuaran district of Sabah, some 34 km away from Kota Kinabalu, Shangri-la Rasa Ria is a 400-acre beach resort that also houses the 64-acre Rasa Ria Reserve. Home to the famous huge-eyed slow loris, long-tailed macaques, western tarsiers, bear cats, as well as over 60 species of birds, 100 species of butterflies, pangolins and a wide spectrum of native plants, the Rasa Ria Reserve facilitates a range of nature-based activities for guests of Shangri-la Rasa Ria.
Operating from the Discovery Centre within the resort, experiences are in abundance here, from bird-watching to jungle walk-throughs with six hiking trails to choose from, including a hike up the look-out point that overlooks the neighbouring town—best experienced at early dawn as the sun rises behind Mount Kinabalu, her majestic beauty lining the horizon. Be you seasoned pro or new explorer, the guest’s safety is always prioritised at Rasa Ria regardless of the chosen adventure, with friendly and insightful forest rangers supervising each activity. Inadvertently, the resort has even made a star out of one of their rangers, local girl Sharon, whose social media content (@p.sharon.j) on hiking tips and wildlife education has garnered views in the hundred thousands on Tik Tok.
The ultimate escapade, there’s more to Shangri-la Rasa Ria than just forest exploration. Bicycle tours take you to nearby villages or Sunday market, or perhaps commune with nature through firefly watching or traditional fishing. As a beach resort, water activites for adults and children alike are just as varied: apart from the swimming pools, jet skis, catamarans, paddleboards and kayaks are just some of the other activities made available to guests. Horseback riding on the sandy beach is also a popular option.
Sanctuary at Shangri-la Rasa Ria
This 5-star resort is made up of two wings—the Ocean Wing and Garden Wing, both within walking distance of each other—with six unique restaurants as well as a luxurious spa that offers treatments showcasing Sabah’s diverse cultural heritage through the therapeutic properties of local herbal and botanical products.
The Ocean Wing is designed as a luxurious private sanctuary with tropical and marine accents in mind, and each room here is fitted with a built-in bathtub made for two out on the spacious balcony—a bubble bath here (upon request) is a must-try, to soak in the bubbly comfort as you lie back and gaze into the blue waters and sky beyond.