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“Luxury at the tip of Borneo”
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Excellent
46 reviews
Villa from Air
Villa at Dusk
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Overview
Villa -
3 Bedrooms, 4 Bathrooms, Sleeps 9
Kota Kinabalu, Kota Kinabalu District, West Coast Division, Sabah

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Excellent - based on 46 reviews
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Reviews from our community

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VanessaEr...
Singapore
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Luxury at the tip of Borneo”
Reviewed August 5, 2014 for a stay in July 2014

We have just returned from a fabulous stay in this luxury villa at the tip of Borneo. Be prepared to get away from it all whilst exploring this amazing part of Borneo. Villa Hibiscus has its own private beach and great staff who do not interfere with your daily activities. There is no wifi or cellphone connection at the villa but this ensured we were not glued to work and enjoyed some great family time (4 adults and 4 children). Fantastic dinners at the nearby Howard's bar and we also booked some scuba diving. You must have your own car as the villa is around 3.5 hours from KK airport. James is very helpful and happy to answer all questions.

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Travelling group: Extended Family
Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?   Yes.
  • Was the property as advertised?
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  • Was it a good value for the price paid?
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Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Susan C
Melbourne, Australia
1 review
“A dream destination.”
Reviewed July 19, 2014 for a stay in July 2014

Looking for somewhere away from the tourist crowds and somewhere we could call home for a few day to spend quality time with friends I came across Hibiscus Villa. From my first enquiry I knew I had found exactly what we were looking for , and how right I was. This villa has it all - spectacular location, high quality accommodation, welcoming and very efficient staff, atmosphere, amazing outlook, to name just a few. We felt very much at home from the moment we arrived and were greeted with cold drinks and towels. Organising the stay was especially trouble free as James is responsive, communicative and a wonderful host.
We can't wait to return to this idyllic holiday destination.

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Liked best: Everything
Liked least: Would like additional bedrooms
Travelling group: Friends
Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?   Yes.
Recommended for:
Friends getaway Older travelers
  • Was the property as advertised?
  • Would you recommend the location of this property?
  • Was it a good value for the price paid?
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
LAE25
Auckland, New Zealand
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“An idyllic santuary in an amazing hidden part of the world”
Reviewed July 18, 2014 for a stay in July 2014
1
person found this review helpful

We were a group of 7 friends from all parts of the world who met up for some down time. We wanted somewhere we could do our own thing, but draw on services as needed (eg Chef Jai coming to cook a feast for us one night which was delicious).
We were only able to stay 4 nights - and so wished we could have stayed longer. James and his team were fantastic hosts and met our every need - down to details like car hire companies and booking orang-utans (shame it rained and they cancelled it).
We loved having the pool in the villa and spent many hours there. The beach in front of the villa was great, and we also spent a few hrs at the beach near the Tip of Borneo. The water was the warmest I have ever been in. We did a little snorkelling at the front beach which was fine - no time to venture further.
We came equipped with our own snacks and drinks which was a wise idea - given there aren't really any shops much around. We ate locally one night which was ok.
We are already planning future trips back..
our only suggestion would be to think about the configuration of bedrooms. 3 rooms is difficult for a group - and we didn't really need all the living space (esp upstairs) so some options for additional bedrooms might be worth thinking about.
highly recommended!

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Liked best: The tranqulity
Liked least: leavng
Travelling group: Large Group
Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?   Yes.
Recommended for:
Friends getaway Families with young children
  • Was the property as advertised?
  • Would you recommend the location of this property?
  • Was it a good value for the price paid?
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management Response
30 Jul 2014
Many thanks for your review. Such a shame the orang utans were cancelled...I didn't realise. So we very much look forward to welcoming you back and next time you will hopefully get to stay longer AND see the orang utans!
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
coco_bkly...
New York City, New York
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“'Barefoot Luxury' Hut”
Reviewed July 9, 2014 for a stay in May 2014
1
person found this review helpful

This review is for James other property near the Hibiscus Villa. I know in my research to find places, I scoured trip advisor reviews for over 20 properties so I am leaving a very thorough account of my experience since I want to give out as much information for the next potential guest; since I often found myself emailing people to inquire on more information; I have a journalistic spirit and comb over information for details... details...details... so here I go...

James is a great host. He met us day we arrived, gave us a very thorough check-in; when we decided to stay an extra day and had issues contacting AirAsia via email and mobile to change our flights, he took it upon himself to call them, stop by HQ in KK and upon our request, changed our flight for us - definitely beyond any required host duties.

His bungalow is situated on a small cliff; the view is spectacular, the beach is very beautiful and very private. The water is very clean and quite clear; snorkeling is good; you will see a variety of small fish, corals and reefs. I did see jellyfish but not a school of them and from what I heard, not the stinging kind though maybe i saw one potential stinging kind; I will admit I have a phobia of jellyfish which I'm currently trying to work on.

The bungalow has a very nice deck & save the locals fishing, we hardly saw anyone; it is your own corner of paradise; the steps to beach are steep and two of the wood platforms were not bolted down which potentially could have caused an injury (i'm sure by now, it's been resolved); the steps would be difficult for someone like my parents or anyone with knee issues or not physically fit as they can be steep; harder going down than up.

There is a full staff; Jetol is property day manager, he's wonderful. One afternoon he BBQ'd a grouper fish he caught us the night before on one of his snorkeling expeditions after we told him about our disastrous attempt of buying a fish in Kudat. It was a lovely gift for us; a humble gesture which showed a lot of character and kindness on his part; he's also knows how to cook hella of a fish. He is truly an amazing person and works very hard for his guests.

At night, there is a nightwatchman; either Peter or Salistine patrolling the area. The bungalow is cleaned daily by the ladies; they restock the fridge with fresh fruit, white toast, corn flakes, boxed milk, juice, butter, jam and espresso caps; another huge plus is James provides ample of drinking water. Because I eat super healthy, I only ate the fruit and packed my own food which I quickly ran out of. FInding fresh fruit on the island wasn't very easy to find so stock up beforehand if you like to control your own food, if you're easy going with your diet, than what he provides should suffice.

There is hot water available in the hut but we rarely ever needed it. The bungalow is equipped with a strong ceiling fan and AC; only one night the AC didn't work properly but otherwise we were very comfortable. Because we were completely in nature/jungle we did see a lot of insects in our bungalow (esp on one night since we left the doors open past daylight) but that's to be expected; we learned to close the windows and doors before sundown which helped immensely in reducing the issue though not eliminating it - again, I'm a city gal but some of the creatures are fascinating and after this experience, I'm less jumpy about bees and buzzing insects (yay). I hope in the future he adds screens to the doors to better enjoy the night ambiance without the 'jungle elements' such as mosquitoes but James does hire a fumigator to come in and it basically kill mosquitoes, plus with all the other critters around eating them, it was much of an issue. My bf had to catch hornets? at night that were drawn to our night lights and released them outside.

It's remarkable what James has done with this small space, it definitely doesn't have a fancy resort feel but we weren't looking for that. If going to Borneo, this is definitely the place to be; you'll be in very good hands with his courteous professional staff, we were more than happy to leave generous tips as well; everyone needs to make a living and we believe in contributing to a thriving village and people who are less fortunate than we are.

This review is 2 months late but this past weekend I was telling a group of friends about our vacation for a couple hours, everyone was memorized when we showed them our vacation pictures. My friends from New York who surf, windsurf, paddle board, etc want to go; if they can manage the brutal travel time then I have no doubt they will love it.

The best part about this place is the water and sunsets. The water is the warmest water I ever swam in - almost like bath water, there are cool spots further out and down below, it's clear, crystal blue, sometimes Emerald green. It's fascinating to watch it go from low-tide to high-tide or watch the locals fish with nets.

I especially admire James attempts at keeping the integrity of the secluded beach as the peaceful tranquil experience it is; I hope it never becomes over saturated with tourists thus causing harm to marine life... fingers crossed.

If you're near that part of the world, it's definitely worth the trip. Flights from KL were cheap on AirAsia despite the lack of customer service. Rent a Jeep as the roads from KK can get rough and may cause damage to a compact car. The drive was about 4 hrs going there, 6 hrs to return because we were caught in a heavy downpour and the gravel roads can do a number on a car.

There is one good restaurant about 5 mins away. His staff will be happy to delivery food at a low cost. Food is repetitive but decent but pack your own food as there is a small fridge there.

James also provided snorkeling gear but they weren't the best since we spent 1/3 of our time adjusting them in the water and water often seeped in, but it made visibility somewhat poor; so bring your own if you have them readily available.

We didn't explore the area while we were there because we were happy just staying at the beach. Next time I will plan in advance to have Jetol take us out for a night snorkel; if you love the water, want a lot of privacy; if staying at a Hilton with lots of other tourist sounds like a nightmare to you, then this place is spot on; it's affordable for what you get... I spent 3 months researching on where to go while we were visiting family working in KL. I wanted the most complete opposite experience from where I live; New York and I found it at a price we could afford. James will get you in touch with his car guy; car rental per day is more expensive than USA and after doing some searches online, I asked him for a better rate but the car was convenient to have since we needed to check our emails, etc and there is no WIFI or phone service on the premises; the nearest place was a 10min drive.

Out of the seven nights we were there, we spent one night outside and the stars are amazing; I saw a shooting star; unfortunately we didn't stay out long because of the bugs, but it is the jungle!

As for safety concerns, I felt completely safe at night knowing the premises were being patrolled. James provides a safety box for passports, money, etc as well. The locals are very kind people so I never felt I was in harm's way.

There are a lot of stray dogs on the island; they are very docile and very hungry, they're often roaming on the streets which caused a lot of anxiety for me since I was constantly worried about one of them being hit (and they do get hit by cars). On the other side of the peninsula; where the restaurants are, you'll find young backpackers, mostly kids chilling at the restaurant, drinking beer, reading books or socializing. The young kids working at the restaurant are very friendly, they attempt making Western pastries and baked goods; they're open to receiving advice on recipes, etc. The mango cheesecake from one of the local ladies there is out of sight; my bf is a native New Yorker and he said it was better than NY cheesecake!

The weather while we were there was spectacular; it only rained one day. The days get hot very fast, even by 8:30am, our runs were limited to 15 mins. The beach on either side of the hut is littered with a lot of plastic water bottles and other miscellaneous items, probably because it's owned by the government and there isn't anyone to clean it up on a regular basis.

This hut was initially a veranda/ mezzanine for guests at the Hibiscus, James converted it into a bungalow/hut; you can tell he put a lot of thought into it and considering it's his first offered bungalow and like most properties, a work in progress, I think he did a phenomenal job. He's good at anticipating what guests will need and want and the end result pays off.

Thank you James for a wonderful experience and sharing your part of the world with us, we already miss are lazy days there, Miser, the beetle who came to visit us every morning and your amazing staff... the place was a slice of heaven for us.

How easy was it to book the property? How helpful were the directions to the property?
How easy was key pickup/access to the property? Overall condition of the property
Bedding & mattresses Kitchen & utensils
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Liked best: the ocean, the staff, drinking water provided, deck, iphone deck for music
Liked least: litter and trash on beach, no screens on doors, bugs in room
Travelling group: Spouse/Partner
Your age range 35-49
Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?   Yes.
Recommended for:
Friends getaway
  • Was the property as advertised?
  • Would you recommend the location of this property?
  • Was it a good value for the price paid?
  • Was your security deposit returned on time?
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
JULIJADE
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Heaven on Earth ... We already provide another booking...”
Reviewed May 6, 2014 for a stay in May 2014
1
person found this review helpful

A magical moment between friends with children aged 10 and 11 who have feasted. The house is just beautiful, spotless, the staff very smiling, chef extra: very good BBQ. We look forward to seeing us around the breakfast very varied with sea view. The positives: the house or should I say the luxury property, the view of the sea, calm, very comfortable beds, friendly owners and good advice. The house is decorated with quality material. All the equipment is there, nothing is missing.We are accustomed to luxury resorts and this house beats many 5 star hotel. We already provide another booking.
French Family in Bornéo

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Bedding & mattresses Kitchen & utensils
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Liked best: i like all
Liked least: nothing
Travelling group: Friends
Your age range 35-49
Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?   Yes.
Recommended for:
Friends getaway Older travelers
Families with young children Large groups
  • Was the property as advertised?
  • Would you recommend the location of this property?
  • Was it a good value for the price paid?
  • Did the property offer wi-fi/internet access?
  • Was your security deposit returned on time?
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management Response
15 May 2014
Thanks for your kind review - I'm very glad you had such an enjoyable time and look forward to welcoming you again in the near future. Thanks, James
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hayley160...
Melbourne, Australia
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Beautiful”
Reviewed December 3, 2013 for a stay in November 2013

After making it to the summit of Mt Kinabalu we rewarded ourselves with a six night stay at Hibiscus Villa and it was definitely worth it!

James (owner/ uk expat living the dream) greeted us upon arrival with his smiling staff, refresher towels and drinks and made us feel at home immediately.

Our pre order shopping delivered by James (would recommend pre order or shop yourself in Kota Kinabalu - about a 4 hour drive and would need refrigeration) was waiting and cold drinks were in the fridge!

The villa is located a short drive from the tip of Borneo (and tip top cafe which we loved! Right on the beach, cold beer, great people, good food and good price! )

The villa is secluded, private, spacious...perfect for relaxing, a dip in the pool to cool down, eating, drinking, snoozing. Breakfast was prepared by Nowling and Rusi ( the villa only employs local people and they are always smiling! )

Chef Jai's food especially his BBQ was fantastic and his tapioca desert was amazing! We cooked for ourselves a few nights and the kitchen is fully equipped to do so if you like cooking up a storm.

The gardens are well kept and from the garden gazebo we saw macaques , flying lizards, squirrels, fireflies, bats, giant earthworms, frogs.

A secluded beach is within short strolling distance, with warm water temperatures and snorkeling a short swim behind the rocks and breakers.

On our last day we took Joel's mangrove tour, a local starting out his business - he has a deep passion for the mangroves, environment and his home. Definitely a highlight - visiting the nearby village and motoring out from a stunning bay into the estuary. Joel apologized for his English (I assured him his English was better than my Malaysian!)

Other tips :
- visit the orangu tans at shangri la rasa ria (about a 3 hour drive one way from the villa - would recommend booking to visit either on your way there or back to Kota Kinabalu)
- visit the rungus long house nearby
- kudat - we visited the town and fish market could have missed this (perhaps we are not really city people)
- Howard - was fantastic and can organise anything for you to do activities wise (and a great guy!) unfortunately we didn't get a chance to do his jungle trek but look forward to doing this next time! Howard is working with the local community to build a cultural museum and runs the local backpackers www.tampatdoaman.com

This part of Borneo is a hidden gem,
Unspoiled by too many tourists. We only encountered helpful, genuine people who welcomed us warmly to this part of Sabah.

A truly beautiful part of the planet and highly recommended.

Value Rooms
Location Cleanliness
Service
Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?   Yes.
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ChasL02
London, United Kingdom
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“The Perefct holiday in Paradise”
Reviewed April 28, 2013 for a stay in April 2013

Wow...really this villa is unbelievable.

It looks incredible from the brochure/website, but despite this our expectations were far exceeded. The fact that the location is so remote adds to the dream-like quality of the place. Surrounded by coconut trees and with the beautiful beach a short walk away, and with literally barely any other people around it is truly unique. When we thought couldn't get any better we went for a snorkel just to the right hand side of the closet beach, and there was a coral reef. The water was crystal clear and we saw all sorts of marine life. You would expect to have to go to a tiny coral reef island to find snorkeling of this standard.

The villa itself is luxury personified. 3 comfortable en-suite rooms, with the one on the top floor having decking with sun-beads looking out to sea. The owners have been very clever in leaving one side of the villa up-stairs as a communal area because other-wise with another bedroom (more people) could get over-crowded. The villa is extremely spacious though. The pool rocks! it is sort of T-shaped and comes into the hall of the main house, which is shallow and ideal for toddlers to mess around in. The part outside is perfect for anyone wanting do lengths and it is all an ideal temperature.

James, the owner, leads as an outstanding example of impeccable service. Any problems and he is just a phone call away in KK, and Joe, a local who speaks decent English is available 24hrs Mon-Sat to help out with any issues. The maids probably won't win any awards, but they are on-hand to wash up after all meals/prepare breakfasts/make up the beds everyday/ and keep the floors dry as it is likely all guests will constantly being going in and out the pool.

Hibiscus villa offer to buy groceries before your stay which was a real help (check out the list - its exhaustive). We found the best value option for supper to get a take-away from the tip-top cafe, (owned by a top guy call Howard from Stratford upon Avon, UK), a 5 minute drive away. The food was delicious. Chef J maybe worth a go for a bbq, his food is good but much more expensive (and our bbq was cold).

I really struggle to believe there are many places in such stunning, tropical surroundings, that meet this top-end luxury level. It is also a real secret as I'm not sure ex-pats in Malaysia/Singapore have quite cottoned on yet that it exists.

Just some tips: the best way to the beach is the track just off the road rather than going through the garden, and hiring a car is a must. There is a gorgeous beach, a short drive away, 3 beaches away on the left as you look out to sea. Also we spent a few nights at the Shangri-La Rasa Ria afterwards as a compression chamber before getting back to real life (no-where near as good as Hibisucus!).

If you are considering Hibiscus Villa, I would really recommend booking, and I am certain you will have an incredible holiday.

How easy was it to book the property? How helpful were the directions to the property?
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Bedding & mattresses Kitchen & utensils
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Liked best: Swimming pool/surroundings/villa
Travelling group: Large Group
Would you recommend this hotel to a friend?   Yes.
Recommended for:
Friends getaway Families with young children
  • Was the property as advertised?
  • Would you recommend the location of this property?
  • Was it a good value for the price paid?
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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