Sutera Harbour Resort Hotel

, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
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Sutera Harbour Resort Hotel

, Kota Kinabalu
5 star

Rooms: 500

1 Sutera Harbour Boulevard Sutera Harbour - Kota Kinabalu - 88100 - Malaysia Hotel Website | | 6088318888
611 Traveller

Reviews - Sutera Harbour Resort Hotel

Historical Traveller Reviews of Sutera Harbour Resort Hotel

great hotel with gd services

from satoyuriko
Stayed at Pacific Sutera for 4 nights as a business trip. Was told by the locals that this is the 'highest class hotel'. Check-in was a little chaotic as there were 30 of us in the group. Room was spacious like other 5-star hotels. It's a pity that the shower room was a little cramped and the water from the shower head was spraying on the glass door instead of me. Bathtub's ok but it's a pity that water was not hot enough. Toiletries provided were good (emery board, lotion, shampoo, shower gel etc). Bed was comfy. More choices of TV channels (HBO, TVBS etc) than other Malaysia's 5-star hotels. Kept my passport and flight ticket in the safe and was 'safe'. Buffet breakfast's gd but it's the same varieties every day and I got sick of it. Food provided at the 2-day conference that I'm attending was ok. Technical support at conference was ok. Dinner provided (for our gala nite) at Sutera Harbour was great! I'm especially impressed with the services provided by the staff. They were polite and pro-active. Also impressed with their ability to speak fluent English. Some staff at other 5-star hotels in Malaysia might not be able to speak proper English. Enjoyed the seaview and the sea sports.

Some info from my trip on Hotel and KK

from Willo1966
We have been tradional "Bali" visitors in the past and were not quite sure what to expect in KK. We chose the Sutera Resort due to its location and apparent luxury, although I was concerned at some of the negative reviews I had read on this and other sites.

We found the hotel great. The Sutera people are always friendly and helpful, and it seems that once you have been there a few days they seem to remember you as if you had been there for ever. The concierge people are expecially good. The entrance to the Magellan wing is very much Balinese. The only thing that disappointed was the lack of a welcome drink when waiting at check in. (maybe I spent too much time in Bali!!)

The rooms are good - although the complex is large and they are fairly spread out. Room size is ample, but the standard rooms can really only fit the king bed (or 2 singles) and maybe a cot. Bathroom is fairly big, with big bath and shower (only problem with the extra large shower is the water tends to leak out of the door onto the bathroom floor). Toilet could do with its own door - but it wasn't a major problem.

Breakfast was included and is a must. Not the best spread in the world, but definately sufficent and excellent variety. Would suggest you get this included daily in your package - it negates the need for lunch most days, (costs around 50 ringgit if you buy it there so generally package deal is best). Restaurant food thoughout the complex is in line with prices in most Asian countries.

The hotel provides a bus into town each hour. It's a big tour bus and picks up at the Pacific (Hotel Style) wing first, so you need to book in advance. The 10am bus is always booked out!! We preferred to catch a taxi into town - 10 ringgit (about $4AUD) and a lot less hassle. The taxi's don't use meters in town, but we only ever paid more than 10 Ringgitt when going further out (eg to the Tanjung Aru). After midnight they might try for 15, but you generally agree before you get in if not being picked up from the hotel. We also hired a taxi for the day for 250 ringgit to take 4 of us to the mountains and hotsprings - a much cheaper way to get around that tours. Make sure you source your taxi before you book it - most are protons which are small - and some have bad suspension We waited until we found a good size taxi (a toyota Crown) and a guy that spoke sufficient English, before negotiating a price.

A few other points to note;

If going via Kuching note the airport is very new (in Feb 2006) and not finished. There is NOTHING to do there and it is not organised. From Perth there is a 3 hour stopover - you might want to consider getting a taxi and going into town if you have this stopover.

Beer prices vary dramatically. They cost around 14 ringitt in the supermarket, but you can often pick up a bottle of beer in the pubs for 10 ringgit during happy hours. Cheapest we found was 2 bottles of Tiger for 18 ringitt at Upperstar - next to the Hyatt. (The Hyatt has a great cake shop in the foyer area - worth a visit - go in to the foyer and head to the far side of the hotel and it is on the left). Tiger beer was not my preferred choice though - Heinekin was only 22 ringgit for 2 bottles at Upperstar during Happy Hour - I think until around 10pm.

Aeysha Cafe at the waterfront is great food and cheap - although you have to get your alcohol delivered in from next door (no great hassles). Order some kebabs while you wait from the stall outside the restaurant for 60sen each !! They have chicken, beef, lamb and "gut" - I didn't bother trying the last one!! Indian Restaurant ws also good but a bit more pricey (although still cheap by Australian Standards - around A$20 each including a couple of drinks.)

They have a number of shopping centres. Centrepoint is the flashest, but Wisma Merdeka was probably the best. The money changers in Merdeka had the best rates by far for Australian Dollars - we were getting 2.76 (Feb 2006), whilst other centres (not all have changers) were only 2.62, and the hotel around 2.60.

Go to the Islands by fast boat (I think Sea Quest) from the Sutera. It costs 35 ringitt plus about 10 to get on the island, but is well worth it.

The Hotel (and I think all of KK) use the UK type electrical plug - three rectangular pins in a triangular formation.

Had a great time, would go back, would stay at Magellan without question.

very disappointed

from A TripAdvisor Member
Only had four nights here split into two x two and it was really sufficient. Disappointing compared to the other two resorts we used. Although the rooms were nice enough with fairly good view from the balcony (depending on room number} absolutely hated the enormous reception area. It was like an airplane hanger and although open at both ends always seemed steamy and stuffy unless you sat at the lounge end where you were expected to buy a drink so seemed a bit pointless as relaxing area. The Five Sails restaurant where we had most of our meals was also freezing if seated inside and really steamy if sitting outside, difficult to make a choice. Whilst the food was good restaurant always seemed to be very busy. Unfortunely resort had no where really to walk except around the marina which only took a short time. Although plenty of swimming pools there was a limited area for sitting in so in fact we more or less chose to use our balcony for relaxation. definitely would not use this hotel again. When we left at the end of our first stay we left documents in the managers safe and had to wait approx 20 mins to regain them despite having a numbered ticket he had to go through everything in the safe. My other complaint is that having paid our bill by credit card they took a copy of said card against my better judgement, I would not have got my discount if I had complained but this should never be done by any premises.

Great Hotel - Pity about the area

from atomise
We stayed at the Magellan Sutera for 5 nights in February 2006. When we booked we decided to spend a little more and get a room in the Magellan Club (a hotel within the hotel). This had is's own separate check-in area and the staff we great. Breakfast was served in the club dining room. There were several extras available such as afternoon tea, evening drinks, free wi-fi.

The club rooms are above average and very nicely appointed. However it did not have a balcony and we considered this a must in a holiday hotel. None of the Club rooms have balconies.

We therefore decided to upgrade to a suite which gave us everything we needed. This had two bathrooms, two balconys, a dining room, lounge area and two tv's. The only negative thing I could say was that in our particular suite there was a connecting door to another room and this caused us difficulties at night. The neighbours were very noisy and even up until 1:00am they continued to shout and make noise and then they were up again each moring before 6:00am and continued the noise. Given the cost of staying in a suite one would expect that such connecting doors would be sound proofed - something the resort should be aware of.

The staff in the resort were great - very professional and very helpful. The resort itself is ideally situated and is only a few minutes from the town of Kota Kinabalu. The town itself is a disappointment and does not appear to cater for the tourist market at all.

Given the choice it is better to stay at the Magellan rather than the Pacific. The latter being a very business orientated establishment. There are plently of facilities in the resort and even though the beach is tiny it doesn't really matter - there is plenty of room around the various pools and the place never felt crowded.

One final thing - I was double charged on my credit card for the extras. It's been sorted by my credit card company so no harm done!

I would love to stay at the Magellan again. It was a very good experience and on balance I think it is probably the best of the resorts in the area.

Watch out for your deposit

from A TripAdvisor Member
We went to Magnellan Sutera for a Team activity, the whole package was paid by the Contractor inclusive of accommodation, food and conference room. During check in each of us was asked to provide the credit card for administration purpose.

During check out, the front desk girl took my room key and started also serving another customer. After noticed me standing there, she then told me that everything was cleared.

When my credit card statement arrived, Magellan Sutera has taken the deposit money. When called the Hotel up, they put me on hold for ages claiming has to trace for the record. Finally the account staff told me that they could not find the record and said he would call me back and they never call back!!

Mixed Bag at Sutra Magellan

from A TripAdvisor Member
We stayed at the Magellan Sutera in a deluxe Sea View for 12 nights in December 2005.

Sutera Magellan promotes itself as 5 star. The resort facilities (golf club, pools, water activities etc) are 5 star but the rooms and some other aspects definately are not.


1. The beds, bed linen and pillows.

The beds are hard as rocks. The sort of mattresses with hard wooden slatted bases are what associate with maximum security prisons ie, as a form of punishment, not rest or pleasure.

If you have any back problems, ankle, knee, leg, hip, shoulder or neck problems, are overweight or have problems sleeing - be warned - it is softer and more comfortable sleeping on the plastic pool deck chairs around the Marina Cafe Pool. In fact, come to think of it, that was where I caught up on sleep after a bad night on their hard little prison beds. One night I slept sitting up on a cane chair in the room that had fat cushions on it and it was more comfortable than the bed.

Be warned: beds in rooms are either kingsize or two singles. Do not expect a "Double room" to have two double beds in it.

If you are tall or wide (or both)the singles are highly unsatisfatory from a size perspective.

Do you associate 5 star with plush 100% cotton, high thread count bed linen and super soft and thirsty, fluffy (king size) LARGE towels? We do.

Be warned - the bed linen at Sutera Magellan is threadbare. So much so that one night when I turned over trying to get comfortable in my hard little prison cell single bed, there was a terrific "rrrip" and the bed sheet split a metre lengthwise. My travelling companion found a pulled thread on her small, thin and threadbare bath towel and pulled it straight to smooth it out. "Rrrip" as the thin towel split down the centre. They felt like one wash or one toe nail away from ripping apart.

Pillows also are as hard as rocks and in 2 types - thin and hard and thick and hard. 5 star resorts have pillow menus so you can choose your favourite pillow. If the Magellan Sutera is serious about attracting and keeping Australian, English, Candaian, European and American tourists, it either has to get honest about what aspects of their resort are 5 star (outdoor activities) and which are 2 star. The beds, pillows, bed linen and towels are 2 star or less. Without a doubt.

2. Housekeeping staff

While wait persons, reception and all other staff at Magellan Sutera could not do enough to assist and were constantly presenting guests with assessment cards to fill in assessing their performance, no one seems to be monitoring the housekeeping staff's performance or lack thereof.

Almost every day of our 12 day stay, housekeeping had to be chased to put something in our room they "forgot" eg., bottled water (2 days), bath mat(2 days), dry towels (1 day - they just hung up our wet, used one behind bathroom door), face washer (2 days)and at no stage did we ever get the Sutera thongs in our wardrobe that everyone else had in theirs. We filled in 2 laundry forms - they were never replaced by housekeeping so we had to chase after them for more blank laundry forms. Weekends it seemed to be worse then weekdays, although it was consistently never good.

We kept wondering - is there some secret activity we are supposed to be doing to ensure the housekeeping staff replace items in our room? Were we supposed to pay them to do this properly? If there was some trick to it, no one ever told us what it was.

One of us got our periods during our stay. This is not uncommon with women guests. Housekeeping staff did not replace one of two sanitary plastic bags on day 1 so by day 2, both were used up, so we had to chase after them and snagged 3 bags off their trolley, which were enough to see us through.

If maintenance staff wonder why the sanitation system is blocked or backing up {I heard one women complaining bitterly about a toilet with brown toilet water bubbling up out of the loo), I suggest you look to Housekeeing as the major culprit - women are asked not to flush sanitary items down the toilet but if no sanitary bags placed/replaced in your room by Housekeeping, guess what? They go down the loo.

We got tired of calling Housekeeping daily asking for missing items after the first week or so, so by our second week we got into the habit of dropping into the corridor when we knew they had done our room as chasing after them or their cart and taking whatever they had failed to replace.

Worst was toilet paper. On 2 nights we ran out completely around 2am and had to resort to tissue paper as housekeeping did not replaced the loo roll if paper left on either of 2 small rolls in your room. A third should be placed in the wardrobe as back up.

The 'open to the elements' corridors/hallways also needed a serious going over with a steam cleaner to remove built up grime. See below also for noise problem and housekeeping staff.

There are no "Please make up our room" signs which most hotel staff and management find a very effective way of managing staff time and resources. Housekeeping staff seemed to be on a fixed routine, as did other staff. For example it would rain all night but if it was the fixed routine day to had water the plants (that had been rained on all night) as bizarre as it sounds, the grounds staff, who did a good job, would be there watering. The Housekeeping staff seemed similarly fixed in a rigid schedule
that clearly had serious problems in it, given what was forgotten. Don't management give them a check list to tick off? Where are the little blue assessment cards on Housekeeping staff?


The noise levels in the rooms are totally unacceptable for a so called 5 star resort.

The major issue was door slamming. The noise reverberated through your room like a gun shot.

Picture this - laying on your bed, relaxing after a day in the sun and a drink, TV quietly on or lights off and you are trying to drift off to sleep in your [hard] single bed with [thin, worn] bedlinen over you, when suddenly, a noise like the report of a gun goes off a few feet from your head [which is laying on your thin hard or fat hard pillow]. You sit up in bed in total alertness, with every startle response activated, respiration up, pulse racing, eyes dilated and ready to deal with this threat. You then have 40 minutes or more of ... door slamming.

Major offendor is the housekeeping staff, who have doors lablled "Pantry" which have peculiarlocks on them that for some reason they need to bang hard 2-3 times to close. I stood and watched as a tiny housekeeping lady stood and banged and slammed it three times to get it to close, all the while the entire corridor and guest rooms being pounded by the noise.

Housekeeping staff also have all these trolleys that are made of metal that shake, rattle and roll around the concrete floored corridors, despite being on rubber wheels. The polished concrete corridors add extra echo to all of this.

The rooms have a heavy wooden door made extra heavy with air closure pressure and metal security locks, which also slam with great force if let go or closed forcefully.

The rooms also have wardrobes with spring locks on thin wooden doors. These locks are really strongly spring or magnet loaded, so in the last few inches, they pull strongly and get away from you if you are not focussed. They often slam and rattle shut with an almightly crash.

With rooms being made up for guests till very late some days, the staff's slamming, banging and crashing can go on for many hours, till quite late. The staff also appear to like to open and close doors by slamming their trolleys into them, so that adds to the overall hours of crashing and banging.

Serious attention needs to be given to these elements as the noise makes for a very unrelaxing time. It is not 5 star ambience with this noise level.

As for the guests, some parents with more than one room had a charming habit of laying the metal room locking device between the door and the metal door jam, so their room door remained open for their kids or friends to enter or exit at will. Groups especially kids would do this at high speed, hour in and hour out, with the metal on metal crashing of the door hardware as well as the slamming of the metal door.

One of the 12 nights, it was so bad after a couple of hours of door slamming, crashing and banging that I called Sutera Security. A room was being made up late at night by housekeeping and after about the 10th door bang, I went into the hall and confronted a young man trundling a bed on wheels into the room next door. He denied it was him crashing about in the room next door for the previous 30-40 minutes, although amazingly, after I told him to stop it, utter peace and quiet reigned for the next 30-40 minutes. Then my room doorbell rang. It was a hotel security man who claimed he had patrolled the hallway for the past 30 minutes, identified the noise culprits and spoke to them about keeping it down. He said this will great sincerity. The only problem was, there had not been a peep of noise from anyone in that vicinity in 30-40 minute period he claimed. Hmm. Methinks the hotel security are feeding me some creative (well rehearsed and polite)nonsense to make me think they have attended to the problem.

A few nights later when the guests in the next room returned at 2am, decided to slam their friends in and out of their door, slam and crash their wardrobe door repeatedly, turn their TV on full blast and yell at each other, I decided calling security was pointless. I had tried that once and it was worthless. So I got up and rang their doorbell myself. A woman (Korean?) poked her head around the door. I pointed to my watch saying 2am, held up 2 fingers to underscore my point about the time being 2am, put my fingers to my lips in the universally understood sign for "shh', made the universally accepted two hands folded against my ear for sleep,waved my finger at her and made the cut throat gesture everyone also understood. She got the message about the noise. Her eyes widened,she retreated to her room. I heard no peeps from her or her husband for the rest of their stay. Much more effective than calling hotel security.

Next noise problem was young yahoos in the pool playing vigorous match of water hand ball at 8am. 8 fit young men with deep, booming, resonate voices carrying on and one women with a high pitched screams. Their game went on from 8am-11.30am. They resumed in the afternoon. High pitched screams, interspersed with shouts, grunts and other sporting jock noises from these 9 individuals for 2.5 hours in the morning. Charming way to be woken when on holidays and after a night trying to sleep on your prison issue pallet.

The noise from the main hotel pool is a design problem exascerbated by behavioural problems. The rooms form a semi circle around this pool, so it acts like an echo chamber. No policing of noise in this by the pool staff or security.

Next noise problem is the location of our room and balcony directly above Little Magellan, the kids play centre and the kids wading pool. Screeches, high pitched screams, blood curdling shreiks etc from 8am till 8pm. If you decide to stay at Magellan Sutera, specify you want a room well away from Little Magellan and the kids wading pool as it is not a holiday in those environs, but a form of torture.

Interestingly I ran into one parent of two extremely screechy children who told me they park their kids in the wading pool and Little Magellan while they decamp to the Marina Cafe pool for peace and quiet and also asked for rooms well away from where they leave their kids as they might want to relax in their room during the day and if they are near the kids area, they can't relax. Pity about the rest of us.

Final issue under this heading is some disgusting, stomach churing behaviour we witnessed daily around the Marina Cafe lap pool. This pool has a filter system with white rubber coated slatted drains running all round the pool edge. Pool water that runs off goes in there and is recirculated through the filter. IT IS NOT A DRAIN! Male asian guests in that pool would regularly swim to that white slatted drain and loudly draw back the snot in their nose or the phlegm in the back of their throats and deposit it with lots of vigour into the water swirling through that section. Sometimes their deposits would be so lumpy that they would cup water in their hands to wash it through the slats or use their fingers to push through any bits that got stuck.

Of course, their snot and phlegm desposits would then get recirculated in the pool, along with germs they may carry that survive the treatment regime. It must be mild as the pools did not stink of chlorine.

I have swum in pools for nearly 50 years in many sitations and countries and have NEVER seen such foul, unhealthy and disgusting affront to public health. None of the culprits were ever asked not to do it by the staff.

For the sake of your health and well being - do not allow your or friends or family members heads to go under the pool water under any circumstances and do not enter the pool with any cuts, shaving nicks, pimples, mosquito bites or other potential germ routes into your body caused by skin breaks.

The Sutera sells locals people in Kotakinabalu entry to their resort facilities such as the golf club and lap pool, so there were often activities associated with that as well, such as learn to swim classes for kids or the layabout, unemployed off-spring of local wealthy business people. I know as I would go up to these groups and asked them what they did. Almost all were unemployed but with stylish haircuts and sharp label brand clothes. In the US I have hard them called "Country Club Brats".I noted that no matter how eggregious their behaviour eg. chain smoking and throwing butts around, diving into the pool directly past the "no diving" sign etc, nothing was said by the staff to get them to pull their head in.


There is a man with a round face whose bus driving was so bad I wondered if he actually held a valid licence to drive a bus, or if he had a mental or alcohol problem of some type. Unlike the other drivers he was scowly and bad tempered and was often running late - 25 minutes was the worst example on what was an hourly bus route.

He seemed particularly annoyed with drivers in small cars who parked in or near the bus zone. He would blast away on his horn trying to attract the attention of the security person who sat at the shopping complex entrance, fuming and carring on.

On this day we caught the bus and as he rounded the corner there was a small van parked at the beginning of the long bus stop and a small butter box of a car on the inside lane. Due to the buses size it needed to turn into the outside lane to get around the corner and then swing across the inside lane to get into the bus parking lane. The driver swung at a fats speed around the corner, tilting the passengers nearly out of our seats (no seat belts), swung wildly and severely into the inside lane - he was again blasting away his horn to attract security and had steam coming out of his ears. I saw the little car on the inside lane and the severe angle the bus driver was using my thought was "we will not get past the little car." If the driver was not so focussed on tearing around, blasting the horn etc we wouldmhave done what he is supposed to do which is look in his mirrors. Anyway, he was in a bad mood and didn't. I see the side of the bus I was sitting on about to hit the little car and the sickening sound of metal on metal. The driver pulls up where he is when passengers start yelling at him to stop. The bus nose is in the bus parking zone, and the rest of the bus protrudes into the first lane. The bus driver jumps out of the bus using the bus drivers door and leaving all the passengers locked in, starts remonstrating with the distressed owner of the little car. This includes arm waving and raised fists. Security or police come over. The road side debate continues.

I go down to the front of the bus to look for the passenger door release so we can get out. The correct button is not immediately obvious. I get one of the passengers to bang on the inside of the bus windows to get the drivers or securities attention so we can be let out. After 10 minutes the driver deigns to return to the bus to let us out. This guy is not only a rotten bus driver, he is dangerous on the road. Someone should check if his licence is indeed valid or how he got it, as he is a menace.

A few days later we were waiting for the shuttle bus and it was 25 minutes late. Same driver. Sutera Magellan passengers were waiting in our assigned position on another afternoon and he drove up, let passengers off and as others were about to get on, slammed the doors closed and took off at high speed. On a third occasion he was late and the Concierge told us the driver has a break down. As this guy drove the same bus those afternoons, I saw it aquire a numner of scrapes, became seriously flithy on the outside and messier inside.


Really bad. Don't even think about it.


This was hyped up on the PR material as being one of the top 5 restaurants in Malaysia If that is so, I am glad I missed the other 4!

By way of background, we love Asian food. There is a great Nyonya (Malay/Chinese) near where we live and we love that food. Sydney has a Malaysian restaurant called The Malaya which I have eaten at for 25 years. It has great Laksa, the best spring rolls, Nasi lemak, Nasi Goreng, Beef Rendang etc. We eat tandooris, curries rotis, naan bread etc so we are accustomed to a variety of Indian food. Our chef at home is Thai so we eat Asian food 4 times a week and have done so for years.

We were therefore really keen to have a top class Malaysian restaurant experience. Malay food in Malaysia. What could be better?

The restaurant itself is lovely to sit in and the staff are superb. It is the food that is bad. Not even so-so - it is bad.

The scallops were over cooked till they were leathery and the onions in that dish almost raw (and I like raw onions!). The sampling of Malay vegetable dishes was not only tiny but the eggplant dish was uncooked -the eggplant was still raw and had been stuffed (by the tired looks of the baby corn and limp carrots) probably days ago. The prawns in the mild curry were fine but nothing to rave about - I could get the same for less cost at any corner, unpretentious Curry House in Australia.

What was dreadful was the Biryani Rice. The saffron used must have been poor quality as the rice was pale or dirty yellow, not that stunning yellow it should be. It looked more like dirty rice. Sprinkled lightly over the top were a few cashew nuts and some sultanas. Not through the dish mind you - sprinkled on top only. The waitress served my friend first - she cooks beautiful Biryani Rice by the way. So she got the first two top scoops which contained all the nuts, except one quarter of a cashew,which I got and all the sultanas except for 3 I got.

To make it even more excruciating for the waitress, as she spooned my dirty pale rice with its quarter of a cashew and 3 sultanas, 2 huge lumps of clotted rice glued together landed on my plate. She pressed and prodded them valiantly with her serving spoon until she was finally able to break them up using the sort of muscle you would need to crack a nut. THAT was how dry and hard those two lumps were. Set like cement.

The Biryani Rice was a disgrace - it was dry, lacking taste, lacking ingedients and had the texture of rice that had been cooked days before and left. It was tasted old, tasteless and hard.

The Malay Beef Rendang was good. It would have been excellent if decent quality beef had been used.

I realised after I had eaten some of this tasteless much allged to be Biryani Rice that I had tasted the same lacklustre rice technique recently. I had ordered room service. One of the items was a dessert with back rice. It was also dry, hard and tasteless. I rechecked the menu for Spice Island - sure enough, it was the source of that inedible (literally inedible - one mouthful and no more - I thre it out rather than eat it) dessert I had with room service in my first week at Magellan Sutera.

We had also ordered 2 naans - one garlic and one cashew nut. They were also awful. Like glue. They were so undercooked and the pastry used very poor. Again, our local cheap corner shop Indian Curry House produces better naan, as does our Thai chef.

Give this restaurant a miss.

Isn't it sad that a so called 5 star resort in Malaysia cannot offer 5 star quality Malay food.



The staff are great - except for housekeeping, which lets the crew down badly. 5 Sails breakfast, staff remember you and know what you want eg., tea, coffee, how it is done, where you like to sit etc. The welcoming staff at the entry/foyer area are great. Their costumes are fabulous. The traditional Malay live music and dancers add immeasureably to the experience of feeling you are somewhere different. Pool staff give great service also although see my notes about the spitting, phlegm and layabout kids of the local wealthy whose bad behaviour they clearly they don't take on as it would cost them their job.

The entertainers in Al Fresco, the three guys who play beautifully, make for a great night out. Lani and Terrence who perform in the Tariq's Lobby Bar are also very good because they are unthreatening, friendly and have excellent customer management skills.


The islands nearby, snokelling with the fish, fish feeding by hand off the wharf, golf etc, all great.

If you have active kids for example or you enjoy water based activities, there is lots to do.


Domenico who is the head chef is a food artist. He is from Sardinia. He has standards for his food and produce. It must be hell getting the correct tiny capers or the correct rissotto to North Borneo, but I know he must do this successfully because of how it tastes. Correct. Perfect.

I have eaten Vitello Tonato all over. Domenico's is the top 1 or 2. His Minestrone Soup with a dash of pesto is sublime. His Tiramisu is also top quality. His prawns are so perfectly cooked and arranged that I reminded myself NOT to eat them out of the order they were stacked on my plate. This is because the top one was perfectly cooked, not dry or overcooked, the second monster was partially undercooked, but in its shell continued to cook slightly while I ate the top one, so by the time I came to the second it was perfect. Monster prawn three on the bottom was half cooked when the plate was presented, but by the time I got to it, was perfect. I have never had anyone layer and cook seafood so intelligently to ensure perfection in each crustancean.

This guy is a genius with sorbet - his orange sorbet was like the essence of orange with the aroma of standing under a laden orange tree witht the fruit having been hit by the sun all day. 10 litres to bring home with me was what I wanted. If this guy went into business with this orange sorbet alone, he deserves to be an multi-millionaire on the one food item. The coffee tart that went with this orange ice orgasm was its equivalent. We had never tasted anything like it. The risotto with scallops and saffron was out of this world. The risotto was pefect - soft and creamy on the outside with the nutty bite on the inside. The scallops were juicy, lightly cooked and perfect.

These were meals where every mouthful was savoured.

We only discovered Fernandos late in our stay so we were only able to eat there twice. In the first week, we had been slightly put off by other guests complaining about the prices, as they considered it expensive.

We do not.

The dreadful meal at Spice Islands, was around 200 MR (around Aus$80 or Aus$40 per head) without alcohol. The sublime meals at Fernando's was about 180-210 MR (around Aus$70 or Aus$35 per head-Aus $82 - Aus $41 per head) without alcohol. I would have happily paid double that in Australia for food of Fernandos quality. In fact, I have paid that for Italian food not as good as Fernandos in Australia, although still very good quality.

We also ate at Al Fresco downstairs from Fernando's and the food there is more casual, cheaper but certainly had the true flavours, with the exception of the Goats Cheese, where we think a staff member ran out of the real stuff and put some cheddar on instead.

My only complaint about Fernandos - the same as the rest of the resort - the bloody relentless and anti-atmospheric Christmas jingles played ad nauseum. WE had thought in a predominately Muslim country we could escape the crass commercialism that passes as Christmas these days. No such luck. They played Christmas carols for 5 hours at breakfast, all the time in the Lobby and relentlessly at other venues where it was clearly inappropriate.


- breakfast at 5 Sails is one. Breakfast goes for about 5 hours, so caters to very early as well as late risers. Great omlettes cooked while you wait, eggs how you like them. Let downs are that they have scrambled eggs in the heat baths, so I ask the chefs to make me fresh ones which they do after minimal argument about the same thing being available in the heat baths. I tell them that is how scrambled eggs are served to prison inmates and in student dormitories! Ditto for the poached eggs when they are on. They must be made fresh. Breakfast staff are lovely. The fruit juices in the dispensers are commercial sugary nasties of the same type found all over Asia. In the second week 5 Sails must have responded to complaints about this as freshly squeezed local fruit juices with no added sugar were available in iced boxed decorated with fruit. They must have been worried about it being too popular as it was discreetly placed away from all other juices (in fact outside then others were all inside) and away from the glasses. Anyway, this appeared in week 2 and was very welcome.

- Porterage service very efficient - nothing goes astray.


The Madara Spa.

I had one of the most expensive options, which was a 2 person massage, foot scrub, steam bath and flower petal bath - with the waves pounding on the rocks outside and the sultry breeze wafting in. It was dreamy.

What chuffed me also was the thoughfulness of the staff - they gave you options for totally naked massage, or paper panties on. I opted for the paper panties. I found my correct size at every step on the way when I needed to change into next set. For someone of a generous frame, this was special thoughtfulness.

So good in fact that I signed up for a 3 hour mega package on my last night there as a parting holiday gift to myself.

For a reason that became clear later on, the therapist seemded ill at ease when I arrived. I did not know why but I am sure she well knew in advance what the problem was and was probably taking a 'head in the sand' approach hoping something would make it go away.

I had their lovely ginger tea and she then "told" me what I was having done, which was not what I had seen advertised as their Christmas Special + the Fancy Foot treatment and signed up for. I had to correct this. She "told" me I "would" have a corn scrub. I said no, the brochure I saw said I had a choice of scrubs and I selected the coconut scrub for reasons to do with my skin type. She "told" me I would have a Fancy Feet but made no mention of the Foot Silk Glove treatment, also included in my Christmas package. Renegotiating all this was irritating and took up 10 minutes but I go through it to ensure clarity. The therapist then retreated so I cold take off my clothes, put the paper panties on and start the 3 hours of treatments. I was really looking forward to this.

The first pair of paper panties I pulled on forcefully without thinking as the previous treatment they fitted perfectly. This pair were so tiny they shredded under the pressure about my mid calves. I opened the second packet, which I put on carefully, and which came to my knees and no further.

I wrapped the sarong around me and opened the sliding door. No one there. I called out and the therapist came back - relunctantly she did. I asked for the same size paper panties I had for my last treatment. She went away and came back many minutes later with a packet marked 1X. I retreated to try them on - they came mid thigh before shredding. They definately were not the ones I had previously.

I again wrapped the sarong around me and headed for the sliding door. No therapist. I called out again and she appeared. I explained the problem She said she would look for a 2X. She then went. She came back again minutes later and explained they had no 2x's so I thanked her, got dressed and came out.

A young male was at the counter by this time. It was 6.15pm and my 3 hour treatment was supposed to have started 15 minutes ago. They closed at 9pm so it needed to have commenced on time. The young man who would have been well briefed (no pun intended) on what had happened already asked me to come to the desk to tell him what was wrong. It was probaby the most humiliating moment - having to explain to a slim male my panty problems. I was hot with embrassment by now and just wanted to flee. He then asked me to wait in the foyer for awhile. When I asked "why" he said he would go upstairs to look for 2x paper panties. The therapist had already told me there were none and searched twice, which I told him and suggested this would be a waste of time, but nevertheless I sat down and waited while he went rummaging somewhere. Meanwhile the therapist stood silently near the counter while my conviction grew that this was not going to be a happy treatment if 2x's were suddenly found. We were both fuming.

At around 6.25pm the young man came back and admitted he has no 2x panties for clients. No 3x's, 4x's or 5x's either. I told him that they had them two days ago, I was by no means the largest westerner staying there, obviously if all the large ones were used up it was because of popular demand and that would suggest to me if they wanted the business, they keep a good stock of all sizes and not let them get below 50 of each at any time.

I notice the Madara Spa has a large notice asserting that anyone who cancels their appointments with less than 6 hours notice will be charged the full fee or significant part thereof. Where is the compensation for guests who get dumped by Madara Spa when their treatment is supposed to commence because the spa staff cannot provide the basic, essential equipment they need to do their job. I had given up a number of activities to spend my last evening at Madara Spa. No message offering me a fee facial or foot massge the day I left to make up for their slackness. Not even a bowl of fruit and a pot of ginger tea sent to my room to assauge feelings. A small gesture like this to show they understood they had wasted my time, humiliated me and mucked up my last night treat would have gone a long way.

My friend had planned to go to the Spa the next morning. Between us we had planned to spend over 1,000 MR on treatments in the 35 hours before we left. The paper panties probably cost 5 sen (cents) or less. I have a business partnership in Australia. If I ran my business by failing to spend a few cents on a customer who was spending thousands with me, I would be an idiot.


Do not got there if you have as a requirement for a 5 star resort a decent bed, non threadbare bed linen, pillows, towels, quietness and on the ball housekeeping staff.

Do not go there if you want pork, bacon and such as they are no where to be found in the resort. They have a thing called Beef Bacon which is nasty. It is odd as when we were driven up Mount Kinabalu and to Tenom, we saw local Malays barbequing wild boar (pig) at roadside open air cafes and there were lots of locals tucking in. I know Malaysia is predominately Muslim country, however the country and the resort sell alcohol (in fact, staff come around and encourage you to drink by offering to bring you beverages to pool side etc). Pork is freely available in other restaurants in Kota Kinabalu. This ban on pork at the Sutera is therefore weird in this context. No one could explain it to me except one person suggested the resort owners may be muslim and more strict about pork than alcohol or this concession was a by-product of getting their project approved without any hassle.

You also need to know the locals hate the Sutera company. They had waterfront homes on stilts over the water with easy access to cleansing tides, beautiful views of the sea and the islands until this company which I am told is Singapore based, reclaimed the land in front of the villagers, and built their resort on it. The resort creates a lot of lower paid service jobs for locals but this appears not to have eased the resentment. If you are sensitive to such issues, this is not the place for you. We only found out about this in our last week there.

If you like water sports and golf, are outdoorsy and are not put off by noise factor, poor bed, the politics or lack of bacon, it will be fine. Families with kids seemed to like it. If you want a more grown up place, the screeching children will put you off. Yu can check local, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, English school holidays and book in during term time. That is one means of reducing your exposure to other people's little darlings.

It is not however a 5 star resort. If that rating is genuine, it is for the outdoor activities, not the accommodation.

You will get a genuine 5 star resort experience for a lot less cost in Thailand. The Thai Baht is 30 for 1 Australian dollar. The Malaysian Ringgat is 2.82 for 1 Australian dollar. Your money goes a lot further in Thailand.

another great stay

from alybek
We have just returned from second stay in Kota Kinabalu, had another fantastic holiday, we stayed at the Magellon which is really lovely, great service meals & lot's of happy faces, for the shoppers out there, it took a couple of days to sort things out, a tip at the shopping cetres, start on the top floor & work your way down.Thought this may help a few of you out there Cheers Alybek

Magellan Sutera - Ocean view room

from berniebern
After a fairly long flight from Melbourne we arrived in Sabah at around 1pm and were promptly escorted to the Magellan Sutera, a journey no longer than 5 minutes from the airport. Check in was swift and friendly. We were allocated room 7346 which was within the Magellan wing on the far right side of the hotel complex. Despite being towards the end of one side of the hotel it would never take more than 3 minutes to walk to our room from the lobby but this of course was dependant on how well the lifts were working (sometimes the door never closed).

Walking into our room our first impressions were pleasant but upon further looks we noticed the carpet was moist (possibly just dry cleaned), the room was starting to show it's age with several chips on the woodwork and the fabric on one of the seats was quite stained. The king bed we asked for was actually 2 king single beds (not mattresses) put together and as a result there was a wooden panel right in the middle of the bed. This proved to be a problem, making it difficult to get close to my partner during the night. The shower also proved to be a bit of a hassle. Water would leak underneath the door and onto the floor so we usually found ourselves walking on a wet floor to get to the bath mat which we had to move so it would not get wet.

There were no in house movies but a variety of movie channels. If you are staying longer than a week though, beware. The movie channels rerun the same movies all day, everyday for a month.

2 bottles of water were in our bathroom and were provided free of charge however we were not sure if they would charge us for others. On the bar pricelist is said that 'mineral water' would be charged at 4rm. The only mineral water we could find in the fridge was the same bottles we were given free, marked as 'Magellan Sutera drinking water'. For the first couple of days we did not touch this water thinking we would be charged but towards the middle of the holiday we bit the bullet and just took them. When we checked out we were not charged for them.

With respect to the rest of the hotel there was a great pool with warm water that was not too chlorinated. The landscaping surrounding the pool was exceptional with little 'grottos'and a waterfall which provided some great photo opportunities. There is also a swim up bar with several seats built into the pool floor so you can sit in the water and have a drink or something to eat. My only gripe with the pool area was that there were more sun lounges than umbrellas and the staff only came around once with refreshment towels.

The other facilities provided were tennis courts, bike hire, a games rooms with arcade games and pool, squash courts and fitness centre. All of these were charged however tennis was free but only during the hottest part of the day (2pm-5pm). There were more facilities such as bowling and a movie theatre but we never used these. Next to the hotel was seaquest which provides a shuttle to and from the islands aswell as providing sea activities. Going to the islands is a must as we found there is only so much sunbaking you can do by a pool. The return boat fare is 25rm, snorkel hire is 10rm and so too is fin hire. Beach towels can be rented and are free. There is an entrance fee into the parkā€¦don't know what is was as my partner paid ;)

Food - not too bad. At breakfast there was the usual omelettes and fried eggs that were cooked in front of you and there were also baked beans, chicken sausages, 'beef' bacon (yuk), hash browns (on some days) and scrambled eggs which was very watery. The selection of fruit was great and very fresh. The juices were good but only when available. The jugs ran out too quickly!!

The restaurant prices were not expensive but on par with what you would be charged in your average restaurant back in Australia. Mains started at 28rm for traditional Malaysian meals such as a Penang Laksa or Mee Curry up to about 70rm for gourmet seafood dishes. The average dish was about 45rm. We found that restaurant prices in the city were far cheaper and when we had the opportunity we took the free shuttle bus into the city and ate there. Speaking of the shuttle it leaves every hour. The last bus leaves the city at about 9pm. I must recommend Ferdinands. To get in you will need long pants and shoes but once you are in the service is EXCEPTIONAL and the food divine (the Italian chef was Colonel Ghadafi's personal chef before coming to the Magellan). I was incredibly surprised with the prices as they were on par with the rest of the hotel. 2 entrees, 2 mains, 2 beers and two glasses of red cost 200rm and that was with a 20rm tip. I had to tip because the service (Arthur and Rodney in particular) gave us their upmost attention. Unbeknown to us they also noted it was our last night and we were given a free desert dish with 'Bonne Viaggio Ben and Annie' inscribed on the plate.

Drinks were VERY expensive. A can of beer smaller than a 375ml can of coke cost 14rm. KK's nightclub at the Pacific Sutera does have happy hour from 6pm - 10pm and on Tuesday's and Thursdays ladies are given free 'love bite' cocktails all night. A love bite is tequila mixed with orange juice. The other bars around the hotel also offer happy hour every night which makes up for the expensive drink prices.

Overall not a bad hotel. Apart from a few issues with the room we were quite happy with the level of service, friendliness, location and facilities. Considering the price we paid we were very happy with what we got. If staying in Sabah again we will stay at the Magellan.

Many Happy Hours in Sutera !

from ShareTravel
19th Oct 2005 , I'm just back from KK,Sabah. This is my 2nd time there. Previously, I stayed at Rasa Ria which is a bit far from the KK downtown area. This trip , I chose Sutera Magellan so as to enjoy the 5-star services of the hotel as well as the cheap and delicious food varieities of KK city centre.

On the part of the environment of Sutera Magellan: GOOD
It is extremely spacious in a 3-dimensional way together with a simple interior design, highlighted by the South-Asia Resort feel. Walking towards the far end of the lobby, you can overlook the sea, that is already the Sea Park area where you can find Palaus Manukan, Mautik, Sulug, Sapi and Gaya so near to the hotel waterfront. Circling the hotel waterfront is a promenade where you should walk along during the sunset , the rosy sky embellished with purple-edged clouds above an endless blue sea, the sound of the sea waves and the breeze of the wind which definitely makes you exhale a deep breath for your life... very romantic !

If you stay at Sutera Pacific (adjacent to Magellan), you will find it is comparatively less spacious and is in a standard layout of a city hotel. However, it has the same good view as that of the Magellan.

As for the facilities provided by Sutera : Sufficient and GOOD
POOL - There are 1 big lagoon POOL in Magellan, one 50-metre 8-lane pool and fun pool at Club area (just around 2 minutes from Magellan), and 1 lagoon pool in Pacific Wing . They are not congested and you can try all of them free no matter you stay at Magellan or Pacific.
GYM - They also have a good GYM which will be a bit crowded starting from afternoon around 5:00pm.
BOWLING - The BOWLING is a fun area for a family too. If your child are too small to swing the heavy ball, they will give you a sliding block where you can place the heavy ball on the top of the block for your kids and let them push the ball down to the bowling lane and hit the pins. The kids can enjoy same fun with their parents. Try this if you want to experience something special with your small kids.
BADMINTON - indoor games , seems a very hot spots for travellers, sometimes fully booked.
TENNIS - the 2 tennis courts in Magellan is obsolete and seems to become a place for storage or anyway , it is desserted. I went to the Club area and played tennis at the canopy-tennis courts. They have sufficient lighting during the night time as well. The most enjoyble moment was that I could play tennis during the thunderstorm -- very exciting! But the tennis ground seems to be a synthetic material which reduces the bouncing and the speed of the ball a bit. For open hard court, you can try the one next to the canopy-court or go to Pacific Wing.
GOLF - green big place but I don't play golf - no comment.
TABLE TENNIS - no air ventilation and is at the basement area, I play table tennis but not in the hotel this time. You can try to experience yourself.

Then, the Dining areas : With a variety of choice
I tried Bolem cAFE in Pacific for dinner buffet - Rm$48 +15%tax , very good taste, lots of choices, cheerful and friendly staff . They also offered high tea at RM$38 +15% at different varieties of food on Sat. (I am not sure if they offer this at regular basis.)
Also, I tried the Marina club buffet - RM$48+15% , good quality with barbecue food roasted for you too.
In the morning, I ate at Five Sails , quality is average. 2 things which I am not pleased with this restaurant . Firstly, the small fruit juice tanks cannot fit for quantity of hotel guests. When I told the staff the tanks ran out of juices, they seemed very uneasy. After 10 minutes, I went back to the juice area, the guests are still playing with the taps of the juice tanks but no juices refilled yet. Disappointing ! Also , one of the Malay waitress seems very rude. She led us to a table at the entrance, but we found a table next to it has a better view and we ask if we could sit there. She seemed disturbed and rejected us ! We ignored her and sit there ourselves! Other waiters and waitress serves us well. I don't know why she had such an bad attitude. Apart from us, I found some other guests got similar experiences if they were led by her. She looked like our mothers!

For lunch and leisure , we went to KK city centre to search for different types of cuisines. If you want to try Italian food, you could go to the Little Italy restuarant (Good, cheap comparative to hotel , clean). You want to try the famous Chinese Hanai Chicken rice , go to Chinese named restuarant pronunced as "Wei Ya" ( Local type restaurant , RM$5 per plate). You want to try Vietnamese cuisine, you can try a Vietnam tea house, Chinese pronunication as " Jin Bu Huan " at the ground floor open space food court of Api Api Centre ( Local type, good for vietnam beef noodles - RM$4-5 per bowl). If you want to try famous Malaysia Herb soup with pork , mushroom and beancurb which is pronounced as "Bah Gu Teh", you can go to a local stall opposite to Jesselton Hotel with Chinese name pronounced as '' Yau Ji " (Local type, just around RM$5-10 depends on your choices). Of course, there are also Indian and Malaysian tea house , local type everywhere, but at or around Api Api centre, you can find many choices . But please remember , don't just walk around the outskirt of the Api Api centre, try walk thru the stalls/car park there and you will find the open space market and food court inside. If you want to eat fruit, just walk along the seaside and you can buy cheap and various fruit in the big local market - Central Market , like mango, apples, banana, melon, pears, and some local specialities as well.
I took the free shuttle of the hotel to KK city centre. Remember to take the time shedule so that you can take the free shuttle back to the hotel.
If you take taxi from hotel or back to hotel , pay RM$10 single trip, fixed this price with taxi driver before you get into the taxi.

Little Italy restuarant , Wei Ya , Api Api centre, Jin Bu Wan, Yau Ji , Central Market , etc , they are all within walking distance inside KK city centre.

Lastly, for massage, hair-cut in the hotel : OK, Hair-cut cheap .
You can try mandara spa or if you want other choice outside hotel, you can try Ka Andaman massage house, they will drive a sedan to pick you up , you need to pay RM$10 per person for it when you settle the massage bill.(the Rm$10 is a round trip fare : from and back to hotel, or you can ask they to drop you at KK city centre any place after the massage and not go back to the hotel). The KA Andaman is about 10 min drive from the hotel.
We tried the male massageurs , they are good but limited in supply. Only around 3 to 4 . Most of the massageurs are female. Their prices is around half of the Mandara spa.
If you want to have a hair cut , you can try the one in the hotel. My friend tried once and said it is ery nice, the boss or stylist Kevin is graduated from Britain. The price is fair, hair cut is around RM$100 and hair wash is around RM$50 . Since we get complimentary ticket from the hotel, the hair wash is free of charge and we get 20% discount on hair cut as well. Hence, only RM$80 , my friend got a new clean look at a 5-star hotel !

OK , that's all . Hope you can have a good experience as we do. For the prices and places mentioned above, they are just a reference and you should double check it yourselves. I shall not be responsible for any change or differences on them and you should try or enjoy it at your own risk.

Have a nice trip !

Best Hotel in the World

from JudiNorthYorkshire
I spent my 50th birthday at this hotel and we went back for our Silver Wedding.
The place is fantastic, the staff and the management wonderful.
The food is superb and facilities you have to pay for such as golf are extremely cheap and first class.
We will be going back for our 6th visit shortly
This is 5 star at 3 star prices unforgettable, unbeatable

Top Local Tips for Kota Kinabalu

Getting around If you are in a group of 4 and you are tall, be prepared to squeeze into a small Proton cab! Taxis are cheap, RM10 from Majellan to KK.

Take care with your valuables Overall law and order is good but beware of pilfering, especially in the hotel room.

Nightlife Must head down to "Cocoon". It's a cool little bar/nightclub near the north end of the boardwalk.


Other names for Sutera Harbour Resort Hotel

  • sutera harbour kota kinabalu
  • sutera harbour hotel
  • magellan sutera
  • Address: 1 Sutera Harbour Boulevard Sutera Harbour - Kota Kinabalu - 88100 - Malaysia
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