Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa @ Kota Kinabalu

(Photos by @joehairie unless stated otherwise)

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“James Hilton describes Shangri-La as a mystical, harmonious valley, gently guided from a lamasery, enclosed in the western end of Kunlun Mountains. For us, the members, Shangri-La is a place full of tranquility, a place qualified enough to be called ‘Home’. We felt that at The Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa”

About Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa

Panoramic View from Room #9607

A gentle breeze caresses your face as you wake to the sound of waves lapping the beach. The balcony opens up to an inspiring vista of sparkling coral islands and swaying palm trees. This is the beginning of your vacation in our award-winning hotel in Kota Kinabalu. Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, bordered by crystal clear waters and lush vegetation Located just 10 minutes away from the city, Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, Kota Kinabalu, is a luxurious, tranquil retreat that provides the perfect setting for an amazing tropical getaway.

Sophistication surrounds you in a lavishly decorated suite inspired by Borneo’s rich cultural heritage. You wonder, “What to do in Kota Kinabalu?” Exciting adventures beckon as you set out to discover all Kota Kinabalu’s delights. Making your way to Kinabalu National Park, you are thrust into a jungle paradise of natural wonders, rugged landscapes and scenic beauty. From the Rafflesia, the largest flower in the world, to the famous orangutans in their natural habitat, breathtaking sights await you every step of the way.

Departing from STAR marina, the private jetty exclusively owned and operated by the resort, you head to the neighboring coral islands, which are part of Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park. The clear blue waters surrounding the islands offer an amazing snorkeling experience with tropical fish and coral. Here, you can get your heart pumping with adrenaline by participating in water sports on the South China Sea.  Back at the resort, you will find seven of the locals’ favourite Kota Kinabalu restaurants and bars. You look forward to a Sabah Golden Sunset Cocktail at Sunset Bar while soaking in the splendour of the famous Borneo sunset. Not long after, you wind down at Coco-Joe’s Bar & Grill.

While lounging in one of the beach side cabanas and enjoying the sound of overlapping waves on the shores of Sunset Beach, you tuck into a delectable seafood tower.  A pampering session at CHI, The Spa rounds off the day. Renowned as one of the most picturesque spas in Kota Kinabalu, CHI, The Spa offers treatments based on traditional Asian healing philosophies. You enjoy an enchanted and indulgent journey on the resort’s private spa island. During every experience here, you are surrounded by natural beauty. Your dream vacation begins at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, Kota Kinabalu.

TripAdvisor Listing


Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, Kota Kinabalu has been recognised as winner of the 2016 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for Hotels, ranking in the Top 1 per cent hotels in the world. The award is the highest honour given by TripAdvisor based on the reviews and opinions of the travel website. The hallmarks of Travellers’ Choice winners are remarkable service, quality and value.

For the 14th year, TripAdvisor has highlighted the world’s top properties based on the millions of reviews and opinions collected in a single year from travellers around the globe. Winners were identified in the categories of Top Hotels, Bargain, B&Bs and Inns, Luxury, Service and Small Hotels. (Source: Click HERE)

As at June 8, 2016, there are 3,217 reviews from the TripAdvisor Community. 1,491 Travelers rated their stay as an ‘excellent’ one while 690 Travelers rated their experience as ‘Very Good’. We rated our experience in TripAdvisor as Excellent. To read all the reviews for Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa, click HERE. 2 days/1 Night experience


Both of us are Golden Circle members. (To sign up as a member for this prestigious program, click HERE).  Golden Circle is a program which is created especially for Shangri-La’s most valued guests. Golden Circle is actually more than a frequent guest program. Guests will enjoy exclusive privileges and benefits across many different aspects of the hotel and resort offerings. The Golden Circle philosophy is simple: a continual improvement to create unforgettable experiences for their most valued guest.

Our main goal coming to this resort is to see for ourselves whether the philosophy works in the real world. Were the staffs at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa (STAR) able to honor the Golden Circle privileges for the two of us?  Was it a wise thing to ‘invest’ the precious points of ours at this resort? How was the room? These are some questions that we will be answering and hope it will help future visitors to decide whether to spend their precious time at this resort or simply head to another resort.


Panoramic view of Kinabalu Wing

The Catch

@joehairie and @curiostraveller

While being members for the Golden Circle program, we both are actually locals. We are Sabahan. To add to that interesting facts, we are bloggers as well and we write things about Food, Culture and Places in Sabah. Our main intention was to see if STAR actually honor local guests and able to deliver the “satisfaction factor” for the two of us. We travel around Sabah, looking for the best Hotels and Resorts. We want to know if STAR is worth to be mentioned in our blog. We recommend good brands, that we trust will be able to accommodate our followers/readers when they decide to come to Sabah. We are planning to recommend STAR and to do that we must stay for one night and so we did.

The Impromptu Booking

We were planning to check in on May 29, 2016. We planned that on May 28, 2016. Yes, we love planning last minute and see if at least someone from call centers/hotels/resorts is willing to go far to help us arranging things. Initially we tried to book a room through the Shangri-La’s website but to no avail (due to last minute booking, the website can’t accept our booking). So we called the Shangri-La’s call center. We told the operator regarding our intention and after some ‘magic touch’ by that polite, efficient and friendly operator, the confirmation finally sent to our email, all in less than 20 minutes!. Amazing!


The Check-In

Check-In counter at Tanjung Wing

We came at 12 PM on May 29. 2016 and it was a bit chaotic in the reception area. There were just too many people lining up for Check In (It’s peak season, no one fault). We took time lounging and when the lines were shorter, we started to line up.

Farah-Doing her best to check us in…

Farah was the officer who started the check in process for us. Since most rooms were not ready that time, she issued an invitation card to enable us to lounge and wait for our room. Farah told us to come back to the reception area by 2PM. We waited for about an hour at the STAR Lounge, lounging and had some good coffee. We were happy that the WIFI connection is always available at the STAR Lounge, way fast actually. Below are the images of the areas that we passed by while heading for the STAR Lounge.

In conjunction with Pesta Kaamatan 2016, STAR lined up some cultural shows
Tanjung Wing Lobby
Kinabalu Wing Lobby
STAR Lounge-comfortable place to lounge while waiting for the room
This is cool-they have PC’s with Internet and printer as well!

At 2 PM, We went to Tanjung Wing again to get the room card/key at the Check-In counter. We were acknowledged by Jayde Kudin or JK and she did her best to get us the room ready in record time. Initially we were given the Mountain View room (during reservation) but JK found us one good room (9607) that has the sea-view! Awesome! Thank you so much JK. Here is your photo (as an appreciation towards your effort).

Jayde Kudin (JK)-Service Manager (Front Office)

Room #9607-Bedroom/Seating Area

Panoramic view of Room #9607

Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa, Kota Kinabalu, comprises 492 luxurious rooms and suites in two wings – the Kinabalu Wing and the Tanjung Wing. All rooms are designed to provide contemporary luxury inspired by the colors and textures of traditional Borneo. Kinabalu Seaview rooms and suites offer memorable views of both the ocean and Mount Kinabalu, while rooms in the Tanjung Wing face the South China Sea. Our room is the Kinabalu Seaview #9607.


#9607 is furnished in light pastel colors (to which we like it so much). The twin bed were so comfy and we slept like a baby in the evening. We love the idea of giving guests ‘many’ extra pillows.


The seating area. @curiostraveller spent most of his time after dinner here, reading ‘Lost Horizon’ by James Hilton.


The mini bar.


We were extremely satisfied with the size of the working desk. At times we do need to some work with our note book. TV comes with the DVD player however we did not use it as we were busy reading or drafting reports. Maybe some other time!

The wardrobe which is quite spacious.

Room #9607-Bathroom


Bath Tub which is quite spacious!




Dressing and sink area.


We both have always love the Shangri-La’s toiletries.


The Shangri-La’s brand do look into the details and we love that!

Room #9607-Balcony


The room has its own balcony and have seating area where guests get to enjoy the scenery. We did ‘lounge’ here for quite some time, admiring the beauty of the sea and its surrounding.


This is the view on the right hand side, with magnificent view of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park/Islands.


To the left is overlooking the balcony of the Kinabalu Club  Lounge.


More stunning views from the balcony of our room.

Health Club

We managed to spent about an hour at the Health Club (in the gent’s section of course!) enjoying the Sauna and Steambath as well the ‘personal’ jacuzzi. Do note that before taking the photos, we ensured that not a soul was in there (except us). We do not want to make another guest feel uncomfortable.


The Showers, Steam and Sauna.


We both named this as ‘Personal Jacuzzi’.


Lockers and changing area.

STAR surroundings


Panoramic view Pool Area and Tanjung Wing


Kinabalu Wing


Close up of the Kinabalu Wing


Sunset View


The pool area.


Looks like a ‘Waterfall’. Love this so much!


More view of the pool area during sunset.


Coco-Joe’s Bar & Grill


The sandy beach area.


@joehairie promenading on the bridge over the swimming pool area.


“Ain’t you happy to found your own name @joehairie?”


Coconut and some Sabah traditional items on display


The view from our room during sunset hour


This is the hallway/the path that connects Kinabalu wing and Tanjung wing. Along the way, guests will be able to see some display of Traditional items (as shown in images below)


Kenyah wooden paddles.


A sword-shaped beater called ‘Bila‘ – an Iban weaving implement.


A magnificent Kenyalang carved by master Iban woodcarvers


@joehairie lounging at the Kinabalu Wing lobby before we went back to our room, definitely to sleep on that comfy bed!

Our thoughts

We were extremely satisfied with all things that we saw and experienced. There is no major flaw that we can actually describe here. The only thing that we don’t like was to have to walk all the way to Tanjung Wing for check-in. We parked our car near to the Kinabalu wing which means we need to get to Tanjung Wing for the check-in and then get back to Kinabalu Wing to lounge at the Star Lounge and then come back again to Tanjung Wing, to get the key card. Guess what? After that we need to get back to Kinabalu Wing again just to get to our room. A bit tiring process I must say. It will be best if they have another check-in counters at the Kinabalu wing. A minor critic though, the display of the traditional items on the wall in the hallway are mostly of Sarawak traditional items. Shouldn’t they put more Sabahan items there? Just our 2 cents. Everything else, perfect!.

Reality Check List

The Golden Circle philosophy is simple: a continual improvement to create unforgettable experiences for their most valued guest. Is this true? Answer: Yes, 100%.

Were the staffs at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa (STAR) able to honor the Golden Circle privileges for the two of us?  Answer: They acknowledged us from the very beginning.

Was it a wise thing to ‘invest’ the precious points of ours at this resort? Answer: Absolutely, Yes.

How was the room? Answer: Excellent-More than we both have expected.


We highly recommend this Resort to those planning to come to Kota Kinabalu.

Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa
Jalan Aru, Tanjung Aru
88100, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Telephone: +60 88 327 888
Fax: +60 88 327 878
Web: Click HERE
Facebook: Click HERE


“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty , charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open”-Jawaharlal Nehru

“Only the curious have, if they live, a tale worth telling at all”-Alistair Reid

“Conway felt an extraordinary sense of physical and mental settlement. It was perfectly true: he just rather liked being at Shangri-La. The team members ‘felt the excitement of being in a paradise, it’s true that we don’t want to leave this place”-@joehairie

‘As we both ‘trek’ through the merciless ‘airports’ around the world, we finally found a refuge in a paradise called The Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa. In one day, our lives changed forever soon as we saw this view from room #9607. We both love the view of the sea and the Islands nearby”-@curiostraveller.

“We have already commit our inner soul to the Shangri-La’s brand as we believe it has what it takes to be among the best hotel brand in the world”