Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (SSL) website revisited

After they upgraded their office here in Kota Kinabalu, I noticed that they have also redesigned their website. Apparently, they scrapped their SSL office header logo to make way to Sutera Harbour Resort. If you go to Wisma Sabah nowadays, you will not find Sutera Sanctuary Lodges anymore.

They centralized their operating office under Sutera Harbour Resort, which is one of the main player in Sabah’s tourism industry. I am not going to blog about their “new” office, as I have never been there myself. But I used to walked pass by their office, almost everyday on the way to my office. I really hope that their services improves in accordance to their upgrading process.

Back to their website issue. The question that I asked myself before I write this:

  • Is their website new design and set up more user friendly compared to the previous one?
  • Have they change to the better?

Website redesign issue
From the first glance, they still stuck with web1.0. A static website. As more and more website visitors comes to see the emerging of web2.0 (more interactive websites), SSL still left way behind. I am not surprised with that development, however, as it is known that big companies like SSL do not bother to use the power of internet to expand their business.

By the look of the pages, most probably SSL paid some novice webmaster to create a 15-pages website which they think is enough to get the message out to the netizen that they are running an accommodation booking website. But they did not able to specifically state that they provides packages for Mt. Kinabalu climbing.

I just feel that having a static website for SSL is inappropriate, as most of the website visitors nowadays are clever. They need updated information, news, up to date stories, feedback and interaction between them and the site that they are dealing with. They should have created a more interactive platform, like blogs or news feed on the home page, to inform their visitors of what happened in real time. For example, the news about the offices upgrade and renovation was only seen in local newspaper. It should also be announce in the website.

For SSL, don’t just cut cost by having one-off payment to your webmaster. Get a good webmaster who could regularly update the site with more updated information. Create a blog. Create a forum. Get your clients to easily contact you, and be more transparent with the information that you have. It will boost your credibility among netizens.

First time visitor experiences
Most of the netizens who arrived on SSL website will surely be lost. And the worst part, almost all the traffic to the website were directed from here (sorry friends… I don’t have much choice).

As most of us know, a big numbers of netizen who came here have only one thing in their mind: to climb Mount Kinabalu. But their intention met a stumbling block when they arrived on SSL website. They did not see any “Mt. Kinabalu Climbing Package Booking” anywhere. They just do not know which button to click to get their intentions going. They will also be confused on where will they be staying if they decided to go.

If they have enough information from my website and blog that they will be staying in Laban Rata on their way up to the peak, it will be easy for them. Just by clicking “Laban Rata”, much of the problems are resolved, but they will then faces new challenges:

Choosing the accommodation for the climb
Arriving on “Laban Rata” page, you will then be showed 3 options for the accommodations:

  • Laban Rata Room 1, which sleeps 2 – a high class accommodation
  • Laban Rata Room 2, which also sleeps 2, same as Laban Rata Room 1
  • Laban Rata Room 3, which is a dormitory, sleeps 6

For those who never been up there, the information above may or may not confuses you. According to the numbers above, do you notice that the total number of beds at Laban Rata is only 10? The truth is, at any one time, a total number of 140 climbers will be able to get their beds with SSL, plus another 30 beds that is run by Mountaintorq. Did they mention it anywhere on their website?

SSL did not declare that they actually have different kind of accommodations with different numbers of climbers per room. For old timers like me, seeing the accommodations page without Gunting Lagadan Hut, Waras Hut and Panar Laban Hut really disappoints me. Why did SSL hide the information?

Yes, the other huts that I mentioned are not heated and not the same “standard” as Laban Rata Resthouse (I suppose where the Rooms they mentioned are situated). But who cares? Some of the climbers did not even care about comfort and convenience, as long as they are able to climb. And most of them are actually ready to camp at Laban Rata if they are allowed by Sabah Parks. Why not just tell the truth about the accommodations and let climbers decide?

The climbing package

Yes, the prices has gone up 3-4 folds. I used to climb Kinabalu with less than RM250 – complete with transportation from Kota Kinabalu to Kinabalu Park HQ. I just need to fork out my own money to buy foods up there, but most of my foods were self-prepared. It was a couple of years ago.

Now, the price that are stated on their website are RM546 (Room 1 & 2) and RM1688 (Room 3). Bare in mind that the price does not includes your transportation, your park fee, mountain guides and certificate. Care to calculate how much it will cost you yourself by following the rate in their “Climbing Mt Kinabalu” page?

Okay… Okay… I complained too much. But I think it is for the company’s good image. I have nothing to loose here, my friend. I am hoping that SSL can improve their services up to our client’s expectation.

Oh, should I go to their customer relation issues?

In conclusion, I think:

  1. SSL still sucks big time on explaining how to go about (the straightforward way) on booking the Mt. Kinabalu climbing package, despite the new website redesign.
  2. They failed to inform us the whole truth about the accommodations at Laban Rata – Gunting Lagadan, Waras and Panar Laban.
  3. They failed to tell us that at any one time, SSL could accommodate up to 140 climbers at Laban Rata area.
  4. They still left behind with static web1.0 on their website. SSL, you may need to fire your webmaster and get a new one with web2.0 or even web3.0 oriented.

Good Luck.

I am not for hire as a webmaster – unless I am paid RM500k (hint) per year… HAHAHAHA…. (with evil laugh!)

11 thoughts on “Sutera Sanctuary Lodges (SSL) website revisited

  1. Mount Kinabalu is abusing by SuteraSanctuary Lodges…..

    Sutera Sanctuary is a blood Sucker!!!

    1. Before 2008… the Accommodation price only
    RM3/person… then increased to RM12/Person… RM18/person… RM30/person….

    2. Start on the 18th Jan 2008, SUTERA SANCTUARY started selling new package.. Forcing climbers to buy the new package… included the meals…
    the price increase more than 6times…. from RM30/person to RM188/person….

    3. Now, they start selling at RM290/person for Gunting Langadan/non-heater room…. and RM350/person for Laban Rata… for the year of 2009….

    but,

    i am wonders…
    1. How can the Ministry Of Tourism approved this new rate?
    2. Ministry dont know? Not care about the locals? Not care about the Climbers? Not care about Tour Company?
    3. Ministry involve in C……..N???
    PLS TAKE SOME ACTION ON IT??? BN ALREADY LOSE CONFIDENT IN PENINSULAR!!!!! U want SABAH to be the next?

    by the way!!!
    1. Sabah Parks is doing good work to limit the climbing permit, 146/day!
    2. Because they really doing conservation work in The World Heritage- Kinabalu Park…
    3. According to the experts… the carrying capacity of the mount kinabalu only allow 146climbers/day!!!
    GOOD JOB SABAH PARKS!!!

    And,
    1. A lot of tour and travels company cant survive with this new rate!
    2. How can a tour company requet from the guest after confirmed booking or fully paid the tour package fee???
    Eg”Sorry boss, Sutera Sanctuary increase from RM30-188… so our company need to increase another RM160/person in ur package…. i am very sorry for the inconvinient…”
    3. The locals have no more chance to climb MOunt kinabalu- The first World Heritage in Malaysia!!! because of the BURDEN accommodation package!!!
    MOST OF THE NEW ESTABLISH COMPANY WILL FACE BANKRUPCY!!!

    How can a company profit but burden all the Travel Companies?
    1. SSL bring more rubbish into the park than the improvement in facilities… because selling new package with Pack lunch which is included… plastic, Tapperware, aluminium foil, plactic water Bottle with the Sutera Sanctuary Brand, 100plus tin……
    2. All the travels companies going to bankrupt because of the Selfish SuteraSanctuary!!!
    PLS TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THAT MOUNT KINABALU IS NOT BELONGS TO SUTERA SANCTUARY OR SUTERA HABOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    IT IS BELONGS TO ALL MALAYSIAN…. AND ALSO ALL MANKIND!!!

    STGA(Sabah Tourist Guide Association):
    1. What is ur comment?
    2. No action taken?
    3. How can the Tourist Guide survive?
    WHAT FOR FORMING UP A ASSOCIATION AND NO ACTION TAKEN???

    u are welcome to Email me if got any comment… thanks!
    SuteraSanctuaryIsABloodSucker@yahoo.com!

    Or log on to:
    http://mount-kinabalu-borneo.com/blog/mount-kinabalu-climbing-package-booking-for-2008-is-now-open.html

    Chong

  2. I am trying to book for a trip in April 2009 and I am really really confused now and feeling very frustrated… not to mention, clueless! The room rate at Laban Rata is ridiculously expensive!! 🙁

  3. Yes i am also like Michelle ,…frustrated !!! The SSL website does not allow for bookings beyong 2008 !!! Looks like they are gearing to increase their charges -as it is – already so exorbitant for malaysians( & foreigners too ) .
    Can anyone help – maybe should go elsewhere since travel within msia is becoming ridiculous …

  4. I am also trying to book for a trip in july 2009. It is now about RM400 per pax for a heated dorm room in Laban Rata. It is all very confusing because they do not make things clear for us when they reply me. And I can never get them on the phone. I now regret buying the air ticket to sabah. I am now contemplating to scrap the climb off my itinerary as I feel like I am being ripped off just to get a taste and be nearer to nature.

  5. sulkingling, maybe you can try with Borneo Native HOmestay, go search their website. One of their staffs replied me after I secured a booking with a private agent. So I didn’t book through them. N i don’t want to recommend my agent cos it’s a private one and I am not sure how trustable he is until the day I go for my trip………

  6. Mountain Trails Tours & Travel also having selling the mountain…if you need booking of climbing mountain please contact at 088-240663..for coco…this company is still having on sabah…

  7. On one side, limiting the number of climbers in MK, or the numbers of divers in Sipadan for example, under the banner of “conservation” and on the other side, marketing those places as “wonders”, it allows some people to make a lot of money…. It’s better to have few people who are happy to pay the high price and be “amazed by the wonder”, than a lot of people who pay cheaper and might even comment about the amount of jungle that is disappearing everyday, the loss of habitat for wild life and local people …

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