|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.
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.
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.
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 experience.”
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.
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.
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
Tunku Adbul Rahman Marine Park
88000 Kota Kinabalu
+6 018 939 1100
+6 03 2783 1000