Friday, June 26, 2015

Luxury, adventure, fine food and orangutans: Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort

It’s early morning and we’ve just climbed a steep hill behind the sprawling complex of the Shangri-La Rasa Ria, early enough in the day to have a clear view Mt Kinabalu, which appears above the morning mist in the distance.

It’s one of several early morning starts for us during our stay at the gorgeous Shangri-La Rasa Ria, and every one has been worth the wake up call. This one especially as there is a champagne breakfast waiting for us at the summit, that someone else got up even earlier to prepare for us and lug up the hill in 100 per cent humidity. All I had to lug up the hill was myself.

It’s a beautiful spread of fruit, cheese, cold meats, croissants, juice and champagne. I feel compelled to eat and drink as much as I can, partly because I MUST have burnt/sweated off a few thousand calories hiking up the hill and partly so these guys who don’t have to carry it all back down again.

The Shangri-La Rasa Ria resort has the concept of ‘luxperience’ down to a tee.

The rooms are without a doubt among the most luxurious hotel rooms I have ever stayed in and the setting is within a beautiful natural environment, which they make large efforts to conserve both with conservation projects and sustainable practices.

And did I mention the food? Wow.

5-star Japanese Teppanyaki, Indian and Italian restaurants, and a wonderful Malaysian hawker food market down by the beach for fresh seafood, satay, noodles and stir fry.

The range of activities on offer here is one of the widest I have ever come across. Everything from hiking, cycling, kayaking, sailing, jetskis, parasailing, archery, rock climbing, horse riding, cooking classes and (of course) spa treatments.

There are two swimming pools, several restaurants and for the kids, there is a large water slide, a floating trampoline, playground and kids club. Not to mention croquet, tennis, giant chess, petanque, golf and a whole range of off-site tours.

So each day we rise early and go exploring, each lunch we’re served something delicious at a different venue, and each evening we have a few drinks at the beach-side bar and watch the sunset, before being fed again.

But what makes this place really special is its Orangutan Sanctuary, part of Shangri-La’s long term commitment to the conservation of this lovable, highly endangered creature – our closest primate relative.