March sunshine in Malaysia – Review of Shangri-La Tanjung Aru, Kota Kinabalu

Overlooking the South China Sea, Sabah’s capital Kota Kinabalu is a popular destination for young families.  With its sandy beaches, coral reefs, lush jungle and even a mountain to climb (Mount Kinabalu), Jan to March is the best time to visit.

I still haven’t been (grrrr) even though it is less than 3 hours flying time from Hong Kong.  Kota Kinabalu is also the source of much hotel debate, Tanjung Aru vs. Rasa Ria (both under Shangri La).  Here is Kazumi’s review of the Tanjung Aru.

Who:  Kazumi & her husband and son (6 years old)
When:  25-30 March 2013 (perfect weather although we burnt ourselves, use sun block!)
Where: Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort – Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.  The property had been recommended through a number of friends.

Hotel/Flight Booking
Booked hotel through their website and flights through Dragonair

How was flight?
Flight with Dragonair was ok but I would rather fly with Cathay if they had direct flights!

Airport Transfers
The hotel is only a 10 minute drive from the airport.  We had bought the BonusChoice offer, which entitles you to a few extra benefits e.g. late checkout and internet access.  We had one way airport transfer as part of BonusChoice (although this hotel is so close to airport it’s not really necessary to book a car and therefore use BonusChoice for something else)

The Room
We booked an Executive Seaview Suite Room in the Kinabalu Wing.  However, it was the smallest suite room we have ever stayed in, the sitting room was a bit dark.  Some people also complained the Kinabalu Wing is far from the restaurants/pools but we didn’t mind this part.

Tanjung Aru Executive Seaview Suite

For Kids
My son got a little goodie bag when we checked in that contained a little colouring book, colouring pencils and a Milo drink

Kids Club
This was great.  They have a fun itinerary for children.  They also had a pyjama party on Friday night from 6-10pm which we had to pay for but the rest of the programmes were all free of charge.  They also have a security lock.

Water slide - Tanjung Aru Water Fun - Tanjung Aru

My son really enjoyed the water slides and giant water bucket.  They have quite a lot of life jackets that anyone can use.

The beach at the hotel was small but the water was clean.  We didn’t swim in the ocean as we are pool people!

The buffet breakfast was pretty good.  Lunch at the main restaurant was all buffet and it took 1 hour to prepare from the a la carte menu (they simply wanted us to have the buffet lunch – under 6 eat free).  We had lunch at the beach side cafe/bar twice but the service was extremely slow and most of the salad menu items were ‘not available’ both times.

We chartered a boat twice but it got cancelled due to a potential thunder storm although it burned out to be a beautiful evening both times!

Beach Sunset - Tanjung Aru

We had a half day trip to a Zoo with a guide/van/lunch which was not cheap at all.  You wouldn’t be missing out if you didn’t go…

There are no shops/food court outside of the hotel like the Shangri La Golden Sand in Penang.  The staff said the food court was a 10 minute walk but it was actually more like 30 minutes with a child so we dined at the hotel.  As we had booked a Suite room, we had access to the club lounge so we had snacks there in the evening for our dinner.  You can go into the town by taxi (15 min approx. HKD $100 one way) but there’s not much to see / do.

We spent 6 days in Tanjung Aru, which was probably too long.  I recommend staying 3-4 days.


For more on hotel’s in Kota Kinabalu, check out the review of the Magellan Sutera



1 comment

  1. Kazumi

    Thanks, Nocola 😀 Suite-rooms in Tanjung Wing are a lot bigger (according to their website) and closer to all activities and breakfast restaurant. but Kinabalu Wing is not that far and probably much quieter than Tanjung Wing being away from swimming pool. For those families with young children may find it easier to stay in Tanjung Wing.

Leave comment