The Gayana Eco Resort maintains green practices without compromising on guest comfort. Sushma Veera finds out how
AS the boat approached Malohom Bay, I strain my eyes to get a good view of what is waiting ahead. Rows of thatched roof chalets, crimson sky, white sandy beaches and crystal blue water — it feels like I am entering a new world — a timeless, blissful tropical wonderland.
Gayana Eco Resort is in a serene environment, caressed by fresh cool breezes. Nestled on the edge of Gaya Island, a lush coral reef island off the coast of Borneo, this eco-friendly resort offers a blend of mystical Mother Nature and luxurious civilisation. Merely 15 minutes from bustling Kota Kinabalu, the island is the largest of five located within the Tunku Abdul Rahman National Park.
Like the resort villas, the reception counter is also built above water. We are served a cold tropical juice while we wait for our rooms to be ready, which doesn’t take too long.
There are 52 Water Villas perched above azure waters of a rare coral reef. The open decks mean you can listen to the sound of the waves lapping below.
With the sparkling waters of the South China Sea below you and the tropical jungle behind you, you’ll enjoy your stay at the villas, which are fully equipped with modern conveniences, including air conditioning, WiFi access and bathroom amenities.
In the mornings, wake up to the sound of waves and enjoy breakfast delivered to your villa by boat. In the evenings, be mesmerised by the stunning tropical sunset from the privacy of your own terrace.
With the full amenities in the water villas, you may be wondering what actually makes the Gayana Eco Resort & Spa green? According to its general manager Tomas Andersen, the resort practices green efforts in its daily management.
“Being a green resort does not mean compromising on guest satisfaction or its products and services. Besides efforts to return the giant clam back to the sea and reviving coral reefs, the resort also helps protect and conserve the surrounding environment. These include, but are not limited to, the preservation of the existing forest structure, treatment of discharged water and energy conservation,” he says.
He explains that these are also practised at its sister resort, Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa.
Grey water, which is water discharged after washing and showers, are treated by the anaerobic process with microbes before it is recycled for watering plants and toilet flushing. Meanwhile, black water (waste water from toilet flushing), is treated anaerobically before being released into the ground through seepage.
Kitchen waste, especially fruit peels, are gathered and used for multiple purposes. After being put through a food processor, it is left as compost and used as plant fertiliser. Fruit peels are also used to feed earthworms which create worm casts, a good source of nutrients for plants. Fruit peels are also used to produce garbage enzyme through fermentation with sugars to be used as organic pesticide against garden pests. Plastic bottles are sent to a local recycling plant.
The resort uses energy-saving light bulbs and is exploring the use of solar power for garden lighting. Gayana’s prime accommodation, the Palm Villas, uses solar-powered water heaters. A skeletal staff is retained on the island while the rest commute from the mainland so as to reduce energy and water usage as well as waste production on the island.
Boats are used for the transfer of guests, employees and cargo between Kota Kinabalu and the resort. The four-stroke outboard boat engines used comply with the Euro2 emission standard measured by its standardised release of exhaust gases.
FARMED ORGANIC FISH
In general, the fish population around the world is declining due to overfishing. In response to this, the resort rears its own fish at an organic fish farm certified by the local Fisheries Department as having “Good Aquaculture Practices”.
The farm also supplies fish to other hotels and restaurants in the city.
The Biorock patented technology uses a small amount of electrical current that charges a metal structure. Coral fragments that have been stabilised at the Marine Ecology Research Centre are attached to it. The electrical structure assists the coral to grow at a faster rate than normal to rebuild the coral colony vital for a large population of marine life.
At the design stage of its sister resort — Bunga Raya Island Resort & Spa — existing trees and boulders were considered. Villas and facilities were built amongst these as opposed to removing the trees for a desired layout. This way, the villas are tucked into a forest environment as well as scattered around the resort grounds. Certain villas have trees growing through them. Pockets of mangroves are left untouched to preserve the natural flora and fauna of the island.
GENERATOR SOUND MASKING
The generator of Bunga Raya Island Raya Island & Spa and Gayana are contained in purpose-built and certified sound-proof buildings to reduce sound pollution and maintain the tranquil environment of the resorts.