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Reviewed 16 April 2018

This place is great. Friendly, approachable and ever smiling crew. Accommodation maybe not be your 5 Star resort however it is sufficient for a fussy person like myself. Clean, hot water shower, air-condition, fresh water for coffee making, rinse one's face. Buffet meals - breakfast, lunch and dinner are part of the package. However, there is also a bar by the beach that serves some simple western meals not available in the main dining hall. Most part of the day, one will be out of their rooms either diving or snorkeling organised by the resort's friendly and very responsible Dive Masters and boatmen. Borneo Divers' Dive Masters' are very knowledgeable.

This trip, I had witnessed a HK guest/diver who had an ankle injury, taken to one of Sempoerna's 24 hour clinic for a consultation, There were staff accompanying her all the way and back. Helpful front desk crew are always willing to assist with your onward journey whenever possible. Once a urgent return journey to catch a flight the next morning (personal experience) and a guest who needed assistant for his onward journey to visit the Kinabatangan River.

It 's great to be back staying at this resort.

  • Stayed: April 2018, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
1  Thank Connietlc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BorneoDivers, Public Relations Manager at Borneo Divers Mabul Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 19 April 2018

Dear Connietlc,

Thank you so much for coming back to Borneo Divers Mabul Resort!
We truly appreciate your time to review us and given excellent 5 Stars rating.

It was pleased to read your constructive feedbacks and for sure we will deliver all the important notes to the relevant departments for future improvements. As guest safety is our main concern, we will ensure that our guest are well taken care of during the time of stay with us.

Once again, we look forward to welcome you again with much better improvement!

Warm Regards,

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 April 2018

Another resort which has all the potential to be great but just makes no effort, has a poor management team and as a result leaves left me feeling pretty indifferent about the whole thing.

The resort is run from Semporna with no senior members of staff, if you want anything over and above that which you are given on arrival expect to get greeted with a "Computer says no" response.

The overall condition of the report is OK, it was once really nice however they haven't maintained it very well, toilets in the communal areas are awful.

Rooms are very comfortable, Shower room is dated but is functional and does the job.

Food was ok, Same food served every day more or less with slight variation but we didn't go hungry (providing you got to the buffet first), dont arrive late or you will be left with the parts of the chicken no one wants to eat.

The diving itself was great and Sipidan was excellent, Be sure to ask for a 5:30am departure on your Sipidan day to get the first dive done before the crowds. If you do want a second day at Sipidan don't even bother asking at the front desk as they have no idea how the permits are distributed and merely only copy the list from head office on to the board. Email head office on the day you book and make it clear you want the extra day and keep reminding them is your best bet.

The in house Video service was excellent, We paid to have him with us for Sipidian and couldn't be happy with the edit of the dives that we received

We had a great time but only because of the diving, if you didn't have to stay here to Dive Sipidan you wouldn't visit and if your a non diver i don't know what you would do here!

Room Tip: Get a room far away from the Generators or bring earplugs
  • Stayed: May 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
2  Thank kieron f
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BorneoDivers, Guest Relations Manager at Borneo Divers Mabul Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 19 April 2018

Dear kieron f,

Thank you for taking the time to address your service experience comments to us.
Your feedback is extremely important to us as it enables us to continuously improve our short comings.
We would like to sincerely apologies for not meeting your expectation on this occasion and I wanted to assure you that your comments has been taken note accordingly. On the other hand, we appreciate your compliments for our room and are glad that you had a great time diving.

Henceforth, we hope we are able to welcome you and your loved ones again, with a much improved experience.

Warm regards

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 March 2018 via mobile

In 10 years of diving and 20+ years of travel, I’ve never visited a place where the staff are so consistently despondent and disinterested. It’s easy to see why. The huge sums of money being raked in from guests are not being reinvested in the business, or being used to improve the living standards for local staff. Only the wealthy resort owner is benefiting from this setup. I imagine he lives far away.

Diving:
(+)
They take 14 people to Sipadan every day, without fail.
Ask to leave at 05:30 and you’ll be the first ones on Barracuda Point.
Dive straight from the jetty on a great house reef.
You will see a lot of Green and Hawksbill turtles! They’re pretty much guaranteed on every dive, I lost count. It’s heartening to see the local conservation work is paying off.
There are actually lobsters on Lobster Wall! Surprising, when you see so many fishermen offering them for sale in front of the jetty.

(-)
You get a box to pack your kit into. They then empty everyone’s boxes onto the floor in the boat and tell you to find all your kit, sometimes in the dark - do that to your rental kit, but not to mine please!
If you rent, expect the shop kit to be knackered. The rented wetsuits all stank of pee. That’s the same wherever you go.
No spare kit on boats - twice I was on boats that turned back because people didn’t have all their rental kit, or it was broken.
Tank valves are generally in bad condition, many with disintegrating o-rings, and loads of hissing and free-flows.
Some tank valves are leaking where they seal to the tank. I’d question when these tanks where last pressure tested. If one of them goes off, it won’t just end your dive!
Around 1 in 4 tanks were under-filled, and with only 2 spares on each boat, I along with many others had to start a dive on 150 bar.
No weather or tide information available. This would’ve been especially useful when diving the local reefs, as the currents changed.
No information on what dive sites each group would visit. When asked, the answer would be “somewhere over there” (points to sea).
The diving staff interact with guests as little as they can. Briefings are, well, brief - “Jump in, keep the the left/right, max dive time 45 mins. You may see a turtle.”
The guides were relaxed in the water, not too much tapping or flapping - although the 45 min dive time is strictly enforced, even if you still have half a tank left.
On land, their answers to your questions are curt, and they will walk off.
Nitrox is $10 USD per tank, and they moan when you ask for it. Despite flagging my requirements, I regularly had to dive on air tanks.
There’s a lot of reef damage wherever the resorts are. Mabul and Kapalai have been over-developed on the shoreline, and the reefs below have suffered badly. There’s also a lot of trash in the sea around Mabul/Kapalai. On one dive, I swam past at least 20 plastic bags.

I was surprised by the number of novice divers here. I, perhaps stupidly, expected most divers to be more experienced. I routinely saw OW divers at 20-25m, rapid ascents, and stops being missed. Put 10 of them on a small boat, and you have a calamity on every dive.

Overall, the operation didn’t feel that safe, and with the inexperienced divers on most boats, I’d be surprised if they haven’t had a few accidents. There was very little information shared to make things run smoother - particularly about pre- and post-dive procedures, like Nitrox prep. You were just meant to know, or better, just be happy with whatever you’re given, like the OW divers are.

Sipadan itself is in good condition, and the steps the authorities took to protect it appear to be showing results.

Room:

(+)
Comfortable beds
Effective A/C
(Very) hot shower
In-room safe and hairdryer, plus shaver socket

(-)
Between the loud diesel generator noise and the wobbling ceiling fan, it was far from a peaceful night’s sleep.
The generator made the headboard vibrate.
Towels were only changed after we requested on day 3.
The locals are still burning rubbish nearby, creating smoke.

Food:

(+)
There was inclusive food offered 3 times a day.
Tea, coffee, toast and biscuits offered right on the jetty, meaning you can refuel between dives without needing to dry off.
4 water bottles issued on arrival, that you can refill from dispensers around the resort.

(-)
Same food every day. Very limited choice.
Quality of food on the buffet is mediocre - it’s warm, but not hot (under 50c). Choose wisely, or suffer the stomach-cramping consequences. The egg station for breakfast is your best bet.
The best way to describe the scene at dinner is a feeding frenzy. Human gannets flying in from all angles to fill their plates with as much food as possible. You snooze, you loose. Not something I’ve seen on a liveaboard before, let alone at a hotel. Why do they do this? Because nobody discourages them, and because the buffet isn’t replenished. Arrive 30 mins into service and you get very little.
The feral cats that roam across the restaurant can be seen jumping on tables to steal food, and even drag dead animals in from outside.
It’s no wonder people got ill.
The bar service was non-existent. You always had to find someone to get you a beer out of the padlocked fridge. When you did, they sometimes didn’t have any! The “beach bar” was an absolute joke: sold out of most beers, kitchen never serving food, and home to the worst toilet in Malaysia!

In a nutshell, everyone is just hanging around eating repetitive meals, getting ill, and waiting for their turn to dive Sipadan island. Few guests stay longer than the obligatory 4 nights. The vibe in the resort is pretty somber, and most guests are wondering whether the 4 nights are worth it for the 4 dives. Given the high churn, the resort operates as though it doesn’t expect (or want) repeat visits.

Would I dive Sipadan again? Possibly, but not from Mabul. The island is being operated as a racket where the 120 daily permits are being used as leverage over tourists, forcing them to pay high prices and to stay longer, in sub-standard facilities, and assisted by underpaid, disgruntled staff. Other resorts might be more expensive, although also appear to be plagued by the same issues.

Stayed: March 2018, travelled with friends
5  Thank JSEBO00
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BorneoDivers, Public Relations Manager at Borneo Divers Mabul Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 19 April 2018

Dear JSEBO00,

Thank you for taking the time to share with us your feedback from your recent stay with us.
We are very pleased that you took the time to share your feedback as this provides us an opportunity to review our services and facilities in the hotel to ensure we are meeting the needs and expectations of our guests during their stay.

We would like to sincerely apologies for not meeting your expectation on this occasion and we wanted to assure you that your comments has been taken note accordingly by each of our department heads on the compliments and also shortcoming for improvement.

Moving forward, we hope we are able to welcome you again, with a much improved experience in the near future.

Warm regards

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 December 2017

We went on a 6D/5N package and didn't want to leave! We were lucky to be allowed a 2nd day diving at Sipidan and both were memorable days including wall dives, reefs and even a cave. There were sea turtles everywhere you looked at times, white tipped sharks, black tipped sharks, large and hilarious looking parrotfish and storms of swirling silvery jackfish plus small colourful fish and some pretty coral. The divemaster and boatmen were extremely hard working and accommodated the needs of those on the boat as well as they could. There were times that the divemaster was stretched thin between taking care of the individual's diverse needs in the group - but he always did his best to keep everyone happy. We had a lovely bungalow facing the beach which was clean and comfortable but the bathroom was shabby and old. The air conditioning came in handy! We enjoyed the meals which were aimed to please Western and Chinese palates. On Christmas Day the staff threw a party after dinner which was enjoyed by the resort staff and guests alike. We really appreciated that.

Room Tip: ask for a room away from the noisy generator
  • Stayed: December 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Rhonda N Vern M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 November 2017 via mobile

Excellent for diving.
For non divers there is really nothing. There are two villages in the island. This resort is just aside of the one village.
Accomodation is moderate but clean and safe warm water and air conditionig. Food is included and is good.
During our stay there was lot of people from china and korea. All divers do not seem to care about rules to save the underwater world. Dive masters try their best but can not see everything.
I was also surprised how much there is trash in the sea. It is a bit funny that amount of divers to sipadan has limited to 120 but all trash and plastic can be thrown to sea.
Our return journey was not succesfull. Transportatitons to airport is included to the price. We needed to take taxi to Tawau on our own expense as the Borneo diver was late. Taxi we paid was marked with Borneo Divers stickers. This was a bit nasty surprice to the end of the nice visit.

Stayed: November 2017, travelled as a couple
Thank Sirpa O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
BorneoDivers, Public Relations Manager at Borneo Divers Mabul Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 16 November 2017

Dear Sirpa O,

Thank you very much for you feedback. We hope that you have enjoyed your time at Mabul Island. The resorts around Mabul Island is trying our best to keep the ocean clean, we do hope to do more. Transfers are included and is being offered to you, however delays due to weather, change of flight schedule of other guest with similar land transfer is out of our control. We truly apologies for inconvenience caused. Sticker on the taxi is a advertising tool and is being placed in many vehicle and offices. With those said, we hope to be able to welcome you to Borneo Divers Mabul Resort again in the future.

Kind Regards,
Borneo Divers Team

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