We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The Tripadvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.
Contact accommodation for availability.
There are similar hotels available.
View all
Urbanrhino
Perth, Australia

The worst resort with the worst manager

1.0 of 5 bubblesReviewed 12 Aug 2016
I booked this resort approximately 13 months in advance for a group of 23 of us. Initially things were looking good with a very communicative and informative booking agent. About 1 month before we travelled the booking agent changed to a lady based in Tawau and the communication went from excellent to appalling. I had to send previously required and sent information over and over again. I asked for some information in return on a couple of occasions. The agent took forever to reply and it was clear that she was struggling to deal with the English language. I had sent a deposit to secure the trip and agreed to pay the balance by credit card on arrival. It took weeks for the agent to sort out the balance amount with numerous errors in their accounting.

On arrival we had to walk across hard coral as the jetty had been damaged. They do not even have a jetty - the one they had been using belongs to the conservation group on the island.

There were problems every day with showers, lack of replenishment of necessities and dangerous electrical services. Several guests received electric shocks from their equipment. I am not unused to living in remote areas and putting up with most problems. I have worked in remote locations as a diving instructor throughout Africa and Asia. I have stayed at mid-range resorts in Borneo such as Borneo Divers and at Backpackers like Billabong Scuba and Uncle Changs without any issues or gripes. I understand that things will never be perfect in locations like Pom Pom. However, if the manager makes an effort to help you it can make all the difference. Sadly, the manager at this resort has no concept of customer service and is as approachable as a nest of vipers. The man did not even introduce himself to me as the group leader of 23 people which made up 90% occupancy of his resort, stunningly ignorant!

Before leaving Semporna I spoke to CBR's resort staff there who assured me they had stocked a variety of soft drinks and beer sufficient for our stay. By day 2 it was obvious that they had not. Rather than order more for us the manager just let the drinks run out. He showed no initiative to solve the issue at all. As it was we visited the resort next door who offered to sell us a limited amount of drinks. Why could he have not done this? Ali organised an acquaintance to sort us out with drinks which he did and saved the day. For his initiative and good customer service he was rewarded with a dressing down from the manager! The manager has his own separate fridge next to the guest's fridge. One of my guests asked for a diet coke and was told by the manager he could not have one as the diet drinks were his! Common courtesy would be to offer the guest the drink and ask him if he wanted him to order some more for his stay. Honestly the man was a completely ignorant buffoon. The totality of his proactive engagement with us was to leave his protected office to smoke a cigarette often next to our dining table whilst we were eating. He closed the fridges, padlocking them at about 9.30pm each night. Our night dives were scheduled for 8.30pm so, guests coming to the resort bar struggled for a drink. It was only after I managed to get a message to the resort director that the fridges stayed open longer. Again the manager showed no initiative. Why not get us to prepay for the drinks in one fridge and leave it open? The two junior members of staff tasked with serving drinks were completely disinterested. One of them constantly had his feet up on the bar listening to his ipod. Think of the character from Little Britain whose catchphrase is "computer says no" and you have hit the nail on the head.

The diving staff particularly Ali were absolutely top notch and we had great fun diving with them out on the boats. This helped to take our minds off how bad the resort was. However, the boats were also an issue and suffered from numerous breakdowns and took on water on our trips. As for the diving equipment every piece of hire equipment leaked, regulator mouthpieces were torn and we had one complete 1st stage failure at 15 metres. Clearly the lack of maintenance and safety considerations is not just confined to the resort. The diving itself was pretty good with a variety of macro life, heaps of turtles and clear visibility. Unfortunately, some of the nearer sites have suffered quite badly from dynamite fishing and we saw evidence of this on a few dives.

I cannot complain about the food it was varied, tasty and plentiful especially when you consider the remote location. We were told the wifi was not working. However, the manager had wifi and having spoken to other staff at the resort they confirmed this saying that the manager would not give out the wifi passwords to guests or even to other staff members.

I was unable to pay the balance because the Semporna office's credit card machine was off-line. It remained off-line for the whole of our stay. I was asked if I could pay in cash. As you can imagine it is the simplest task to arrange to take delivery of nearly $20,000 at short notice in Borneo! In the end they agreed to accept paypal which did not come without difficulties. I had a Malaysian sim card which I could just get a weak signal from if I walked into the water at the end of the resort. I had to make several payments over several days and even then they disputed paypal's agreed exchange rate and insisted on charging me nearly $1000 extra for fees which were never declared up front. With 14 minutes to go before our boat departed back to Semporna they finally agreed that I had settled the bill.

Throughout the trip I relayed to the booking agent that we were dissatisfied but to no avail. She dismissed my concerns as being down to a language barrier. This was absolute nonsense as we had a native Malaysian amongst our guests! The manager was extremely rude to her. When she asked to speak to him he bellowed back to her that he could not hear her and demanded that she walk to him if she wanted to tell him something. On the last day she tried to discuss the issues we had experienced. His response was to argue publicly with her and wave her away.

In summary this is a lovely picturesque island, the dive staff are brilliant, there is a complete lack of buy in to maintenance or the needs of the guests. The resort manager needs to be immediately replaced with someone up to the task as does their booking agent. When issues were raised everybody blamed each other. The booking agent in Tawau, the staff in Semporna and the resort staff need to share a collective responsibility for all that went wrong, that is how a team functions as a team rather than individuals operating in isolation.

I would recommend you steer away from this resort and spend a little extra to go to somewhere where you will enjoy your hard earned break.

These guys took a lot of money from me, provided all of my customers with an appalling level of service and this costs me as a business. Never again.
Date of stay: August 2016
Room Tip: Go somewhere else
Trip type: Travelled on business
1.0 of 5 bubblesValue
1.0 of 5 bubblesService
3.0 of 5 bubblesSleep Quality
Problem with this review?
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Nearby Hotels
Room V1
RM 1,000
Fully refundable
  • Hotels.com
  • Priceline
  • Booking.com
5.5 km from Celebes Beach Resort
Free Wifi
sipadan inn 3
RM 203
RM 190
Fully refundable
  • Priceline
  • Hotels.com
  • Booking.com
5.4 km from Celebes Beach Resort
RM 224
RM 198
  • Hotels.com
  • Booking.com
  • Algotels
5.5 km from Celebes Beach Resort
Free Wifi
Free parking
RM 438
RM 406
  • Hotels.com
  • Priceline
  • Expedia.com
    RM 406
16.5 km from Celebes Beach Resort
Restaurant
Get rewarded with One Key
  • Booking.com
  • Expedia.com
    RM 152
  • Priceline
5.5 km from Celebes Beach Resort
Free Wifi
Free parking
  • eDreams
  • Vio.com
5.5 km from Celebes Beach Resort
Free Wifi
Bar/Lounge
Go to your Happy Price
  • eDreams
  • ZenHotels.com
    RM 284
  • Agoda.com
5.9 km from Celebes Beach Resort
Free Wifi
Free parking
Go to your Happy Price
  • Hotels.com
  • ZenHotels.com
    RM 196
  • Booking.com
4.8 km from Celebes Beach Resort
Go to your Happy Price
  • Trip.com
  • ZenHotels.com
    RM 233
  • Agoda.com
5.6 km from Celebes Beach Resort
Beachfront
Restaurant
Earn Trip Coins after your stay
  • Agoda.com
  • Vio.com
24.6 km from Celebes Beach Resort
Restaurant
View more hotels in Semporna
Reviews (102)
Filter reviews
102 results
Traveller rating
47
31
7
6
11
Traveller type
Time of year
LanguageAll languages
More languages
Traveller rating
47
31
7
6
11
See what travellers are saying:
Selected filters
Filter
Updating list...
8 - 13 of 102 reviews
Reviewed 11 August 2016 via mobile

Experience based 4 days stay in August 2016. Couple of experienced Asia travelers, between 30 and 40 years old, normally lodging in guesthouse, familiar and fine with cheap and easy accommodations. Non divers, just snorkeling.

Pier: destroyed by the sea storm long time ago and never fixed. Dangerous to climb, not protected by handrails. Not recommended for kids.

Room: bed is ok, bathroom and furniture are old, dirty and rusty. They both smell bad. Mirror is dark and rusty. Water is warm all the time, but sometimes not available in the entire village, when available is always salty and sometimes brown.

Food: repetitive, based mainly on rice, served 3 times per day at buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Fruit is provided. Often fruit juices or coffee are not available. Water and tea bags are the only free drink available. Breakfast is Asian style (noodles, eggs, vegetables, ...), no milk or fruit jams or sweet pastries. Bread toaster available but randomly bread not present. Generally the food area is dirty and rusty.

Beach: the area immediately in front of the village is ok, the immediate surroundings, water and sand, are full of plastic rubbish, wooden stuff, car tires. Nobody seems interested in collect the trash and keep the swimming area clean.

Entertainment: not available

Staff: minority of them speaking English, dive/snorkeling staff kind and polite, ground staff often unwilling to serve. What is really missing is an overall management and coordination of the staff. The Chinese manager is walking around without any value added, unbelievably he smokes in the restaurant among guests during lunch and dinner time. Also other members of the staff smoking while serving customers.

Wifi: available but password is not given to the customers.

Conclusion: if interested in just eat, dive, sleep, then ok. If looking in a relaxing and mid luxury resort (as per pricing) then, not recommended.

Date of stay: August 2016
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
4  Thank ValerioG465
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 10 August 2016

I Usually refrain from Posting complete slam jobs however the week myself and my group of travelers had experienced I feel it is warranted,
while we were sent photos of a lovely resort with warning of speratic wifi we came accepting these facts,
the truth be told upon arrival we were told their pier has fallen down the day before in bad weather (ok this seems acceptable except when we inspected it later it appears to have been collapsed for quite some time, and the fact they actually don't even have a pier it belongs to the neighbouring properties leaving the entries and exits of the boats at low tide via water entry.)
The Showers were alt water based so you never could get really clean again this would be fine except the water pumps broke every day for 5 days, (able to have 2 showers in the entire time) Toilets couldnt flush without this water, your rooms are suplied with 4 bottles of drinking water a day... except they were only refreshed once, so you were forced into buying bottles from them if you wanted some fresh cold water. (there was a filtered water unit but when there is 23 of you there isnt much to go round)

Power shuts off 4 times a day and you must manually reset the air conditioner. (beware this power fluctuations can kill your electrical devices.)

when guests ran out of toilet paper and they requested more the manager would just tell them it would be put in tomorrow (14hours later)

our room was an unfinished room with mold on the wall, no door for the toilet, a ticking door on the shower and no tiles glued down all while missing all the edge tiles. made it quite noisy to walk on.

Ill move onto the stall, the best staff out there were the dive instructors Ali and Karl... bad news is thy are actually freelancers and aren't employed by the resort. Rose who worked at the resort was lovely and friendly even with her limited english, so I am sorry to rose for her having to be lumped in with this.

Wifi we were told on arrival that it was not operational but as the week went on we found out that it actually did work just the manager would not give out the password, (why would you lie to clients?) when complaints were brought forward to the manager and booking agent they blamed a language barrier as the main issue, however we had native speaking malay with our group who would be the central point of contact when we couldnt relay the issues effectively.

with 2nights to go the resort ran out of alcohol and told us it probably wont be refilled untill after we left, out malay speaker spoke directly with the manager then in native tounge about it and recieved a rude attitude telling her to come to him instead of politely coming over when she asked to speak to the manager.

onto the dangers of the resort:
in the time we were there my dive buddies swapped dive equipment 4 times for leaking hoses, mouth pieces and inflators, on girl had an entire first stage fail at 15m shutting off all her air, fortunately 90% of the divers on the trip had 50-1000 dives under their belt) but afterwards there was no checking of the gear or getting in to see how many of their its were broke (but from what I saw the answer is all of it)
People complained to the resort of getting electric shocks from the water in their taps and shower, as a result nothing was done about it and they would shower in other peoples rooms as a result (room 8 if you're wondering )
there is also bare wiring and a 3phase terminal near a clothes line at one of the back units that is just ripe for small children to go touch (note: YOU WILL DIE IF YOU TOUCH THEM)

Boats broke down,

Food was lovely but as the meals were set time there was a long space wherre there was no snacks other, than a small packet of tea biscuts, nothing available for purchase or to eat from 15:30(teatime) - 19:30 (dinner). Never enough food at tea time,

View was amazing, diving was great in the areas that haddn't been blown up by dynamite fishing.

in the end we had to source our own alcohol for the last night by private chartering their boat to bring the alcohol in. and the resort was just poorly run and organised with No communication to the guests.

If I am to return to Pom Pom I will be staying at the other resort or spending my time with T.R.A.C.C group rebuilding the reef. save your money and don't waste your time with this resort.

Room tip: stay at a different resort.
Date of stay: August 2016
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
3  Thank Shinigami268
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 10 August 2016

The diving was great although the dive boats need to be better maintained and made suitable for diving, did I mention the wharf collapsed the day before we got there... bare footed shore walking was a nightmare.

We arrived for lunch had a quick introduction to the key people and were promptly advise that they had wifi...but it was broken, a bit like everything else we were to find out. 23 scuba divers most of who enjoyed a cold beer at night, Oh wait lets put the warm beer at the front of the fridge and keep the cold beer cold.

It was OK for the manager…he had his own fridge and didn’t he get upset if you demanded what was available in his fridge but not available for the guest.

We complained about the water or lack there of every morning and by late afternoon we had water for a few more hours albeit salt water.

The tiles on my room floor were not sealed and made a noise every time you stood on one - try sneaking into a room with this...you even got an electric zap when you turned on the water occasionally - that kept us on our toes.

When the beer ran out with 2 days to go we were basically told that that was all they had, so we arranged for a delivery with one of the local dive guides who we found out later was abused by the manager for doing this...why the manager didn't arrange more beer no one will ever know - maybe it was a communications issue - so he claimed! Muppet! We had a native Malaysian in the group who you still ignored!

I don’t think the manager had any customer experience – well he may have had in China as he spoke only Chinese which certainly helped.

We were told that we could pay by credit card for anything we used or purchased however like the wifi – that was also broken so luckily most of us did bring some local currency to sort out our bills. Our tour leader was unable to pay for the trip but was another story I will leave for him….

I hate to say it but this could have been such a great trip had the resort manager bothered to assist or listen to the complaints we raised with the staff rather than spend all day in his office ignoring his guests.

My guess is that he could have had a great time if there were no guests to bother him.

I know 22 other people on this trip that all experienced the same issues and were not happy campers, and doubt very much that they will rate this place above terrible.

Thanks for the memories Celebes but I for one won’t be back.

Room tip: Room 7, tiles not cemented to the concrete - very noise at night
Date of stay: August 2016
  • Trip type: Travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Rooms
    • Service
5  Thank WADiverDave
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 7 August 2016 via mobile

Located in Pom Pom Island, a peaceful place, beautiful sea, variety of marine life, reef and corral, sea-stars, sea turtle.

The resort is a simple and casual guesthouse, basic facilities, but nice people. The resort provide a morning trip to different islands nearby for snorkelling or driving everyday which is fun.

The worst are having rubbish and plastic bottle all around the beach around the island, would all visitors and people there please protect the environment!

Date of stay: July 2016
Trip type: Travelled with family
1  Thank 183arthurk
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Reviewed 31 July 2016 via mobile

I stumbled upon this place after my initial plan to mabul/sipadan fell through and it was a pleasant surprise. The staff held my reservation without making a deposit. My emails were promptly answered prior to arrival. A driver came to pick me up from tawau airport and drove to semporna jetty. Payment is settled at their semporna office before you head to the boat.

This resort caters to mostly Chinese families and tourists. Food is almost all Chinese food. The staff speaks limited English. The dive master, who's also in charge of running the resort, greeted me upon arrival.

Room is clean and specious. There's power and hot water 24/7. Tap water is salty. The house wifi does not work. Get a celcom SIM card before arriving it will save your day (if you want to stay connected), it's the only mobile provider that works on this island.

Water is crystal clear but unfortunately lots of garbage (from semporna). Staff does clean up the beach but only to dump the stuff somewhere else on the beach, which is a shame for such beautiful island.

I felt very safe here. Malaysian army patrols the island at night and they are on every dive boat that goes out.

I had a fun time diving. Dive master was very nice and we would go over our sightings underwater at the end of day. Plenty of marine life to see with good visibility. (Thank you xiao-loong).

Date of stay: July 2016
Trip type: Travelled solo
1  Thank Nakedcrib
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
View more reviews