I have never been to Sandakan and when an opportunity was presented to me recently to visit this town at the north-eastern tip of Sabah, of course I jumped at it. What more when it’s a chance to visit some of Sandakan’s famous sites, try its popular food and culinary delights but most of all, a chance to check out the Four Points by Sheraton, the only international hotel brand in the city.
The skyline of Sandakan’s Central Business District is never the same again since the opening of this latest 300-room stylish hotel by the waterfront.
Arriving early in Sandakan, the morning drive to town took less than 30 minutes. As our van meandered through the narrow streets in the city, I watched with fascination the unfolding street life: shopfronts crowded with colorful wares, people busy shopping or merely browsing through the alleys and more.
We passed by the Sandakan Central Market (more about this in a separate post), then the van took a turn at a tiny roundabout and before we knew it, we were driving up to the main entrance of Four Points by Sheraton.
Going past the sliding glass doors at the main entrance, we took the escalators up to the next level where we had our welcome drinks while chilling on colorful chairs at the Lobby Lounge.
A traditional welcome for us!
We simply loved the cute Welcome Drinks in these bottles
Rooms at the Four Points by Sheraton are stylishly fitted out. The understated soft finishings in my corner unit of the Deluxe Sea-facing room are simple, unencumbered and definitely comfortable. I love the Four Points by Sheraton Four Comfort Bed – the plush mattress, soft yet-firm down pillows, cosy duvet and crisp 250-thread-count sheets were heaven-sent! I had some really great sleeps on this divine bed during my stay.
A very inviting bed!
Apples, oranges or salaks?
The bathroom, while not very spacious, was functional and adequate. I’m not one who likes to lie and luxuriate in a bath tub (I think that’s such a complete waste of water and time) so the glass-encased shower with the wall-attached soap and shampoo dispensers work just fine with me.
The view, in the morning
A gathering storm, in the distance
Twinkling lights as the sun sets
I absolutely love the gorgeous views from my room as there was not one, but two sets of floor-to-ceiling windows in my room, being a corner unit. The views of Sandakan town and the sea, as seen from my windows, change quite dramatically throughout the day, depending on the weather conditions.
Four Points by Sheraton is the only hotel in the city to offer The Presidential suite – a well-appointed one-bedroom unit featuring a lounge area, dining area, separate kitchenette and study.
Hotel guests also get to enjoy a fully-equipped gym and outdoor pool on the 13th Floor with gorgeous views of the bustling harbor and city.
The Eatery is impressive with its vibrant funky colours and chic contemporary casual ambience. Diners will zoom in to the tables placed by the glass walls simply because “dining with a view” is the way to go here. The blue sparkling waters of the azure Sulu Sea, as seen from the windows, is mesmerizing and that’s certainly something you don’t mind gazing at, over and over again, while waiting for food to be served. The Eatery is the hotel’s signature all-day dining, serving a wide array of local and international dishes from breakfast to dinner.
Don’t you just adore those trendy modern hanging lights?
Dining with a splendid View
I had lunch there where Chef Colin Ong and his team served up a delightful local meal with nuances of authentic traditional flavors.
Fresh Seaweed Salad
The appetizers, named “Treasures of Land Below the Wind” comprised Hinava (a raw fish salad, something like ceviche), fresh Seaweed Salad using sea birds’ nest and Kerabu Mangga (Sandakan mango salad). The use of fresh local ingredients was repeated in the Wild Cucumber Soup with Shredded Chicken. More local components were used in the Mains: Steamed Fillet of Snapper with Turmeric and Young Mango served with Wok-fried Sabah Vegetables and Local Mountain Wild Rice. The flavours were strong and appetizing because everything was so fresh.
Steamed Fillet of Snapper with Turmeric and Young Mango served with Wok-fried Sabah Vegetables and Local Mountain Wild Rice
Dessert was called “Sweet Sumandak” – a trio of Pais Pisang, Pais Jagung and Penjaram – all deliciously local and unique!
I was told The Eatery’s freshly baked pizzas are legendary and they serve some very mean pastas too.
We had a chance to unwind at The Best Brew located adjacent to the Lobby Lounge. They serve Carlsberg and Hoegaarden from the tap here – perfect place to chill on these while being entertained by a live band. Indulge on bar snacks, play a round of pool and there’s even a Cigar Room there … what’s not to be happy about eh? Happy Hours are from 5pm to 7pm and there’s a Buy 1 Free 1 deal during this time. Special meal arrangments can be made on request – while we were there, we had a small BBQ party. Meats can be grilled on-the-spot at the terrace outside, so we had piping hot chicken thighs and satay just off the grill!
For some casual dining, Wrapped, a deli-style café with lounge seating and al fresco in the outdoor courtyard by Harbour Square is ideal. Sumptuous sandwiches, cakes and other snacks are available – enjoy them with some premium Bristot 1919 coffee, aromatic Gryphon tea or some sinfully rich smooth milkshakes.
We had a lot of fun making Kueh Ketayap at the hotel and my group – The Terrible 3, emerged as champs in the challenge! You can see how proud we were. My partners-in-crime were Alice Yong and Angeline Ong… prizes given out by Elsie Boon (Director of Business Development)
Four Points by Sheraton
Sandakan Harbour Square