Friday, March 28, 2014

Shangri La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa – Finding Luxury in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

If I were to chronicle my hotel disasters of yesteryear, pen would flow on reams to invoke memories of a blood-stained floor in a Bangkok 2* and the reception staff, who seemed bewildered that I had even raised the issue. I would tell you of the 2* Barcelona hotel that I resided in as a 20 year-old, the one with barely any light and a toilet seat stuck down with sellotape – a place which could have made a prison cell seem inviting.

But today, I put those memories behind me and breathe a sigh of relief because after a decade of hard work and penny pinching, I earned my reward and made it to a Shangri La property in 2013. I confess I may not have forked out unless I had found this bargain so when Travelzoo UK teamed up with Kuoni to put together an irresistible offer, we felt compelled to book.

Permitting it to fall like powdery sand through our wanderlusting fingers would have been our equivalent of losing a winning lottery ticket. My excitement about our impending 9 night stay at the Shangri La Tanjung Aru resort in Malaysian Borneo was beyond explosive and the 5 months between booking and departing couldn’t have gone any slower.

I looked a particularly pasty shade of tired when we arrived at the resort after a 16 hour journey. My make up was smudged, my clothes, well to be honest, they stank. You leave England in January – you are dressed for winter. You arrive in Borneo in 27 degree heat in your winter clothes – you are going to sweat.

The enormous pool stood out first with a huge central island in the middle. I wanted to dive straight in to cool myself down and get this holiday started.

The resort was lined with palm trees, the sun was tickling my skin with strokes of tan and the sky was bright blue. We had finally arrived and we were Shangri-loving every minute. When I wasn’t in the pool, I was spoilt for choice about activities.

I have been to other resorts, which have offered a similar array of activities but mostly with a charge. This is easily the most generous resort I’ve stayed in when it comes to free classes. I dabbled in pilates, yoga and the one I gelled least with – Tai Chi (perhaps because it involved me actually standing up – beach holidays are not for standing.)