The first indulgent digs on otherwise rustic Gaya Island, 15 minutes by speedboat from Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo, these 121 villas on Malohom Bay are arrayed down a forested hillside that looks across
The South China Sea to the Sabah mainland. Polished woods, enticing beds, and an earthy color palette typify the chicly done spaces, though this being Borneo, guests will also want to heed the call of the wild—a resident naturalist leads treks through the jungle to search for hornbills, macaques, and proboscis monkeys.
The diving and snorkeling are excellent as well. Back on land, you can unwind by a seaside pool or at the village-style spa, where a perfumer creates bespoke scents for each locally inspired treatment, such as indigenous rice scrubs and the age-old massages of Bajau sea gypsies. Days here finish under the sparkling night sky with freshly caught clams, prawns, and lobsters at the rooftop Fisherman’s Cove; for a splurge, book a private picnic aboard Lumba-Lumba, the resort’s 20-meter private yacht.
Malohom Bay; 60-3/2783-1000; gayaislandresort.com; doubles from US$331.
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