These full and frank independent reviews are from travellers who have booked directly through Responsible Travel. They are not edited by us or any of the companies we work with. Find the real story, from real travellers below.
Domenico Ferro review 20 Oct 2006
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
Bako national park amazing, Kinabatangan river; definitely Borneo is worth a visit for its natural resources.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Visit parks and nature places you will be impressed; if you go to Sabah scuba diving is a must, there is plenty of island (Sepidan etc). Do not waste time on Iban tribes; as you wil see people dressed in Western short and t shirt, tv hifi; gas cooking and fridges not even hidden properly; moreover since you go in the long house everyone especially mothers with child beg you to buy things - if this is not hard sell picture and whatever stated by in agent brochure false; I found the day a waste of time. Be aware scuba diving is not available at Rasa Ria resort off Kota Kinabalu.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?
Honestly I cannot see how (the benefit for local people was extremely minimal) a dinner costs at Shangri la Rasa Ria 105 Ringitt = 22.72 Euro the equivalent of a dinner in Italy; where an employee costs to the company 2000 Euro gross to the company a month basic salary in Malaysia an employee is paid 400 Ringitt a month = 86.58 Euro do not get a heat attack where all the money goes?? Probably in the pocket of a few multinationals if you see the places I have been.
Read the operator's response here:
The vast majority of Iban families have a strong desire to remain in their traditional, longhouse homes (with some modern additions including electricity which we acknowledge). In the past the authorities have tried to move tribal groups into conventional towns against their wishes to make provision of education and medical facilities easier. However, tourism has contributed to saving the tribal groups from this as a mutually beneficial relationship has developed between the Iban (and other tribes), tourists and the local authorities. The income from tourism encourages government to provide for the Iban in their natural homes and guests to the houses of the Iban experience a unique culture and history.
The Rasa Ria provides a staff remuneration package that is similar or better than most of its competitors in Sabah and has one of the lowest rates of staff turnover. The package includes meals, medical assistance, retirement benefit, insurance coverage, a personnel development programme, employee discounts and accommodation for out-of-town employees. The Shangri-La group issues anonymous questionnaires for employees that are independently assessed to constructively utilise employee feedback and the Rasa Ria feedback rates amongst the highest in the company.
In addition to this the hotel works with Sabah's Human Resource Development Department and trains youngsters without work experience to develop a career in the hotel industry.
On a community level, each week different schools are invited for an educational trip to the nature reserve to understand the importance of conservation of the flora and fauna, most especially the Orangutans. The hotel works closely with Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre in Sandakan, one of the world's leading Orangutan research and conservation organisations.