The permutations are endless. To some, living life to the fullest could mean scouring the globe to witness some of the greatest wonders of the world. To others, it could mean embarking on an endless chase for more wealth and power. For the discerning golf vacationer, however, it is about accumulating as many unforgettable experiences as possibly can.
While that may mean chalking up a bucket list from
St. Andrews to Pebble Beach, a good trip does not always have to entail traversing halfway around the world. And so, while Scotland’s Kingdom of Fife and the Californian coast may beckon, teeing off at such gems as Karambunai, Sutera Harbour Golf Club and Dalit Bay Golf and Country Club can extort the same kind of excitable adjectives as well.
Best of all, the three do share a commonality. They are all sited in proximity to that vibrant Borneo Malaysian city of Kota Kinabalu, whose millions of years old natural rainforest landscape lends much of its organic glory to the experience. The city spans a sumptuous area of 351 km2, giving it ample space to house several golf courses, resorts, hotels, tourist attractions and more.
Over the past decade, the city has hosted several prestigious golf events, with the most recent being the Sabah Masters in January, further solidifying Kota Kinabalu’s status as a premium golfing destination. Singapore’s top golfer Mardan Mamat won the US$100,000 ASEAN PGA Tour event after prevailing over a field that contains Malaysian heroes such as Danny Chia, Arie Irawan and Ben Leong, with four strokes to spare.
That the event was held at Sutera Harbour Golf Club should come as no surprise as the resort combines the finest combination of location, facilities and excellent championship golf. Set on the beachfront with a magnificent view of the South China Sea, Sutera Harbour Resort makes a great escape from city life but never far from the bright lights. With a wide spectrum of water sports, recreational activities, spa treatments, and gastronomical exploits, there are plenty of ways to while the time away here.
Consisting of the Magellan Sutera Resort, Pacific Sutera Hotel, Sutera Habour Golf and Country Club, Sutera Harbour Marina and Country Club, all housed within the same named compound, Sutera Harbour Resort has altogether 16 dining outlets located within the resort, giving guests varied dining options.
Guests can enjoy an integrated resort experience, meaning anyone can easily access the facilities provided by the four denominations of Sutera Harbour Resort. They can enjoy and experience various activities such as sailing, golfing, swimming, and many others, thereby adding different colours to their experience in Sutera Harbour Resort.
Apart from a bevy of recreational options, Sutera Harbour Resort is also renowned for its five-star business class hotel and impeccable presentation for corporate events.
Held at Pacific Sutera Hotel’s multi-purpose and multi-sized meeting rooms, or even Magellan Sutera Resort’s overwhelming pillar-less grand ballroom, the Sutera conference planners and M.I.C.E (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, Exhibitions) staff are experienced and dedicated in creating an event for everyone to remember, especially against a backdrop so beautiful and countless of activities to refresh bodies, minds and spirits.
And since the Sutera Harbour Golf and Country Club is integrated into the resort, golf aficionados can easily access the golf course whenever they desire. The renowned golf course has won numerous accolades over the years, and has widely been considered the best golf resort in Malaysia. Within the clubhouse, there is a restaurant, sauna, proshop, several meeting rooms and locker rooms.
Designed by Graham Marsh, the 27-hole course is layered with Bermuda grass and divided into three 9s - the Lake Course, the Garden Course, and the Heritage Course. Each has its own distinct characteristics and presents differing landscapes, hazards, and difficulty levels for golfers to enjoy. You can choose to tee off from any of the three courses, or even opt for on-course or driving range lessons with British PGA professionals at the club’s Golf Academy Borneo setup.
Sutera Harbour also prides itself as the only golf club in East Malaysia that offers night golfing. Instead of the regular 18 holes, there are 20 well-lit holes – nine from the Lake Course, nine from the Garden Course, and the finishing two holes of the Heritage Course. Certainly an experience not to be missed!
For another golfing getaway that is somewhat different from the glamour of Sutera Harbour, whisk away to Nexus Resort and Spa for a quieter, more sublime stay. The resort is only 28km from the city, and is surrounded by 3,335 acres of lush greenery. Doubled with 6km of Karambunai beach’s white sands, the view and atmosphere in Nexus Resort and Spa is to die for. The management prides itself for having eight restaurant and bars scattered around the vicinity, providing guests a truly varied gastronomical experience. Because it is so close to nature and the watery divide, outdoor recreational as well as seaside activities are plentiful, which bodes well for the corporate or incentive traveller.
Feeding both body and souls are of prime importance here at Nexus Resort. Dining options abound with The Penyu offering all day dining and the main location for breakfasts and buffets, and for lovers for local Malaysian fare, The Kingfisher serves up scrumptious portions of Nasi Lemak and Roti Canai, as well as seafood buffets, all the while being serenaded by strolling musicians. The Chinese cuisine in Malaysia, and especially Sabah, where there is a large population, is particularly exquisite and Noble House aims to bring you the best of Szechuan and Cantonese cooking with its signature Dim Sum specialties especially delectable.
For those with a Mediterranean palate, Olives ranks as one of Malaysia’s finest fine dining establishments that combines the freshest of ingredients with superb wine selection in a distinctive white room and quiet, lounge music soothingly playing in the background. A beachside bar and grill, a pool bar, a nightclub with its own resident DJ and, for those with a sweet tooth, a patisserie complete the extensive offering.
There are eight meeting rooms in addition to the luxurious Buntunggan Grand Ballroom. Nexus’s meeting packages comes with function room rental, registration tables, refreshments, buffet meals, projection system, and just about anything necessary for a corporate Pow-wow. Their dedicated team of meetings experts will ensure that each and every detail of the itinerary will be fulfilled.
Back outdoors and across the fairways of Karambunai, one can find a luscious golf course with plenty of challenges. Water hazards inundate the sprawling layout with complex bunkering in between 130-million year old foliage that beckons every stray ball to join it in antiquity. With the South China Sea on one side and Mount Kinabalu in the distance, this Par 72, 6,220-metre tract is worth every minute spent on it. Ronald Fream, at his peak, also designed Sentosa Golf Club’s Serapong course, site of the previous European Tour’s Barclays Singapore Open and now hosts the LPGA’s HSBC Women’s Champions. Fream has brought his design principles, together with many nuances and subtleties to ensure that golfers playing at Karambunai walk into the first and away from the 18th with a smile of their faces.
And finally, for those with a penchant for international branded resorts, they don’t come any more premium than Shangri-La. Named after a heavenly nirvana that evokes an out-of-this world experience, Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria Resort about 45 minutes out of the city is also one of the group’s few 18-hole golfing projects. Voted as Malaysia’s best golf hotel, Shangri-La’s Rasa Ria is a must-visit for golf aficionados. Their Dalit Bay Golf and Country Club boasts a breathtaking landscape, offering golfers with an unrivalled playing experience.
Also flanking Mount Kinabalu in the background and the Mekabong and Tambalang rivers along its sides, the 18-hole championship golf course designed by Ted Parslow showcases the best of Sabah’s geographical beauty as it winds its way in and out of both rivers. Tricky hillside greens that break the opposite way, teeshots across water and an island green are just some of the interesting bits and pieces to be encountered along the way.
Apart from being a premier golfing destination, the Rasa Ria Resort’s Garden and Ocean wings combine to almost 500 rooms to host even the biggest of events and conferences. The resort comprises eight function rooms as well as a grand ballroom, all fully furnished with sophisticated audio and visual equipment, but like the other two, the draw is in the outdoors. Apart from golf, Rasa Ria Resort’s Pantai Beach is easily among the finest in Borneo.
Attendees can take part in all manner of beach activities, or take a more adventurous ride with an All-Terrain-Vehicle (ATV). The most interesting aspect of the resort however, is an Orang Utan rehabilitation centre just a few minutes walk away, housing some of the most adorable young primates who had been separated from their families via illegal hunting and logging practices. While there, spare thought for these chimps and donate generously. One may even adopt them and help them grow into full functioning adults.
There is a reason for meetings and conferences to be done in a relaxing atmosphere as it promotes a sense of calm, serenity and perhaps even camaraderie, which often leads to even better business decisions. Here in Kota Kinabalu, are some of the most welcoming spots one can ever find in a 130-million-year-old haven that is simply out of this world.
Currently ranked as one of the top hotels in Malaysia, Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu offers guests a multitude of specialised services to cater to their every need. Located in the central business district and providing first class business facilities, Le Meridien is without doubt, an excellent choice for the corporate traveller.
Levels two and three of the hotel have been dedicated for holding business activities, conferences and events. Whether it is a cocktail party or a private meeting, Le Meridien’s wide range of highly versatile rooms, including seven function rooms and a grand ballroom makes it pliable for any business needs from small, private seminars to larger conferences. For example, Le Meridien’s grand ballroom can be divided into three separate function rooms for multi-functional uses. Also, to complement any corporate event, Le Meridien provides a business centre on level three, fully furnished with state-of-the-art equipment.
With their Meeting Suites @6, Le Meridien also caters to those opting for a more luxurious experience. Adding a contemporary twist to the traditional corporate rooms, the new and innovative meeting suites on the sixth floor feature premium room standards and high-tech facilities for comfort and ease. Corporate guests in these suites will definitely feel comfortable and pampered. What’s more, guests of Meeting Suites @6 can enjoy a breathtaking view of the South China Sea’s majestic horizon across the bustling Kota Kinabalu cityscape, ensuring that deals are brokered in a serene and calming environment.
There are five room categories in this 306-room hotel, including 31 suites facing either the city or the sea, enough for a large company function. Guests with a penchant for spa treatments can also visit the award winning Solace Spa with it sown Anti-Oxidant Rejuvenation Centre to improve their immune system, lower cholesterol and relieve muscle aches and pains; Certainly an aspect to look forward to for city slickers constantly on the go.
Hyatt Regency Kinabalu
Another business hotel that combines luxurious trappings with state-of-the-art facilities, the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu was originally known as the Kinabalu International Hotel, until the Hyatt group took over. Recently it has undergone a massive refurbishments and facelifts so that all guest rooms now features soft textiles and calming, neutral colours to pamper guests with a comfortable touch.
Conveniently located just 15 minutes from Kota Kinabalu International Airport and close to tourist attractions such as the KK Waterfront esplanade, the jetty to the nearby islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, the local market and major shopping centres, this luxury hotel offers 288 guest rooms and suites with access to the Regency club lounge for even more privacy that business travellers appreciate. There are also three restaurants here with a newly renovated Tanjung Ria Kitchen with private dining rooms for business luncheons. Their halal certified kitchens presents the best of local and western cuisine in a contemporary setting and the open kitchens take centrestage as the chefs prepare all orders à la minute upon request.
Hyatt Regency Kinabalu’s Business Centre caters to travelling businessmen. They offer a full range of office equipment, and even a personal secretarial service. Also, there are many function rooms ready to be used. Hyatt Regency Kinabalu boasts of specialising in catering to all kinds of corporate events ranging from private meetings to large seminars, ensuring that each participant’s experience in the hotel will be unrivalled and truly one-of-a-kind.