Mount Kinabalu, at 13,455 feet above sea level, is the world's twentieth highest mountain. Its peak often pokes its head above the clouds whilst its lower parts are shrouded with mist from the surrounding rain forest, which, in turn, rise and mingle into spectacular cloud formations. Sited in Sabah, Borneo, it draws both novice and experienced rock climbers from many countries, challenging them to tackle its formidable faces and traverses.
This author was much too old to join those eager to try, those folk who awoke at three a.m., donned their gear and in the tropical temperature, began their quest to reach the summit (where numbing cold awaits) and return to base before what was left of the day's light turned itself off. My tour of Sabah was to be much less strenuous. I wanted to witness and savor some of the other tourist attractions that the country could offer, just wishing to holiday under the tropical sun and recharge my batteries.
Arriving after dark and facing a thirty kilometer road transfer north to the hotel, the Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort, I did a fast check-in, took a long shower and flopped into bed. It wasn't until the following morning that I took time to inspect my room and its facilities. Having spent many thousands of nights in hotels across the globe, I have to confess that this was the best I'd ever come across. The room itself was large (as was the bed). Double sliding doors led to its balcony. Not the usual type with a small table, a couple of hard-backed chairs and not enough room to swing the proverbial cat, but one sporting a huge (6ft x 5ft) glazed bathtub, an even bigger lounger bed complete with scatter cushions, a table, a pair of rattan easy chairs, electrically operated privacy screens and an overhead fan that actually did what its designer had wanted it to. Sunset views were spectacular indeed.
What came as a real surprise was when one of the front office staff introduced me to the room's facilities. She asked, “Please select a preference from the Pillow and the Perfume Menus and I will instruct the housekeeper accordingly.” This was a new one on me. I admit now, to having asked her to explain. “Yes, sir,” she replied, “you have a choice of bed pillows...full feather down, Dunlopillo or memory foam and whatever kind of aromatic smell you would prefer in your room overnight.” I opted for the feather down and a room permeation of jasmine. Brilliant!
As to the hotel's dining options, I was even more impressed. Housed in separate buildings and sited in various areas of the grounds, each catered for guest's preferences—Malay specialties, Japanese Sushi, Western à la carte, Indian, Italian, Chinese, American and any combination requested. I never heard a single complaint about food quality or presentation.