"Let's go to the waterslides," screamed Emmie as soon as we arrived at Kota Kinabalu's Shangri-La Tanjung Aru. This waterfront resort was our last stop on our Borneo adventure and after steamy jungles, running down mountains in torrential storms, adventuring through rivers and spotting incredible wildlife we were ready for some rest and relaxation.
Well I was anyway...there is no rest when you've been promising your five year old waterslides for weeks. As soon as we checked in, off we went to find the fun.
We didn't have to go far, a short walk from our room across the waterfront and there we were - a child's water paradise, right next to the beach. Featuring three water slides all leading to a central area with a big tipping bucket, a small baby pool and an awesome water bomb game where you catapult balloons at your opponent (and the plastic from the balloons is collected and binned - big, big ticks for this), this water park was pumping with parents and children going down the slides, getting saturated by the buckets and having lots of laughs together. Perfect!
Add oversized chess, an ice-cream stand, a fresh coconut trolley that wheels around the swimming pools and random characters to entertain the kids - think Nemo and Captain Hook - and you're almost there...but wait there's more.
The main swimming pool is huge, starting with a large shallow swimming area with an island of frangipanis, and a bridge to swim under as you enter the deeper water. More frangipani islands and an unobstructed view across the waterline to the South China Sea. Did someone say heaven? Oh yes that was me. And if you're not quite up to swimming confidently on your own, there are lots of lifejackets for kids and adults. No shame here, there were lots of orange vests bobbing around the pools all day.
Kids Club - if you can get your children to leave the water park and give it a go - is a huge double room with many indoor and outdoor activities and excursions to the waterfront and marina. Emmie was thrilled to find Winx Club printables and spent a little time colouring, but it's hard to stay at the Club when there is so much for kids to enjoy on the resort grounds. The Kids Club is very secure with parents having to buzz in the single locked door, a welcome desk and strict registration and sign/out protocols.
You'll be happy for all the water sliding cause that means you'll be hungry quicker and there is so much deliciousness to choose from on-property. The resort boasts in-house restaurants from Italian to Chinese, a contemporary bar and grill on the waterfront and the most amazing Sunset Bar, perched on an island overlooking the sea with live jazz, great snacks and cold beers and drinks.
The buffet breakfast is incredible with western, Asian and European dishes - think yum-cha, soups, omelettes, curried chicken, pastries, sausages, eggs, waffles, fruit and smoothies (and that's about 10 percent of it) and with the most amazing attention to detail - I immediately spied the vegemite on the counter with the condiments! Add an extra star. This was a happy moment.
Our room was perfect. A super comfy king bed, large bathroom with separate bath and shower, and huge balcony overlooking the ocean and palm trees. Palm trees! Room service was efficient and delicious, and there were enough kid's channels on the TV to satisfy an over-tired five year old late at night. Complimentary water was replenished daily and beds made with military precision.
Oh and the sunsets...at late afternoon guests start gathering as the day grows older, waiting for the colours to burst across the sky, pinks and golds and reds and orange...some of the best we've seen. And everyone is so happy, posing for pics, loving the beauty, chatting to each other. Lovely stuff.
Five days and nights here was absolute bliss. We were lazy. We ate, swam, slid, slept...I had beers...we went into the Sunday markets, parasailed, ate ice cream, spent an afternoon watching a jazz band at the Sunset Bar...we didn't even make it over to any of the beautiful islands for snorkelling. They're just a stone's throw away and accessed by boat from the resort's STAR Marina. It is literally that easy to spend every day at the resort - happy, full, relaxed, playing and laughing. If you're looking for a family resort in Kota Kinabalu this is it.
It was that good we're going back in March - and Emmie cant wait. Neither can I!