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Conference Venue and Accommodations

The main conference from 25 - 28 June 2024 will be hosted at the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC), a world class conference venue that has hosted presidents, kings, captains of industry, and countless international conferences of high stature. It is located by the sea overlooking a magnificent bay with “one of the best sunsets on the planet”  and contains one grand ballroom and 8 conference breakout rooms. 



SICC is a five-minute drive or 15-minute walk (1.2 km) from the nearest four to five-star international hotel chains in the city centre. Additionally, there is a 30-story serviced apartment called Jesselton Quay that contains a high number of AirBNB accommodation, that is 8-minute walk (800m) from the SICC. The SICC is not more than 15 minute drive from any major international hotel in Kota Kinabalu downtown and is easily accessible by local rideshare platforms. Estimated prices to get to SICC from downtown hotels would be between RM 10 - RM 20 (Eur 2.50 - 5) depending on peak hours. 

The pre-conference workshops on 24 June 2024 will be hosted in Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), where the local organizing committee are from. UMS is 20 minutes drive from downtown Kota Kinabalu and sits at the top end of the magnificent bay that is anchored on the other end by SICC. It would cost around RM 20 - 30 (Eur 5 - 7.50) by rideshare platforms to get to UMS for the pre-conference workshops. Getting around UMS itself is exhaustive as it measures 6.9 km from one end to the other - on the bright side, it is one of the few universities in the world that has its own beach!


Getting Around: 

There is unfortunately no regular public transport in Sabah other than an irregular bus network, but ride share platforms do not cost more than RM 40 (10 euros) from the city to the university area. Most rides within city limits would fall within the RM 10-20 (2.5-5 euro) range outside of the height of peak hours.

Flight Connections:

For a small city Kota Kinabalu is blessed with a wealth of flight connections. Apart from 15 times daily flight connections to the national capital Kuala Lumpur on 4 different airlines and multiple domestic destinations, there are international flights from Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, China (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Beijing, Xian and Shanghai), Hong Kong, Taiwan (Taipei), South Korea (Incheon and Busan), Philippines (Manila), Japan (Tokyo), and Thailand (Bangkok). 

Image: Live flight board at KK International Airport




WHERE IS THE MAIN CONFERENCE?

The main conference from 25 - 28 June 2024 will be hosted at the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC), a world class conference venue that has hosted presidents, kings, captains of industry, and countless international conferences of high stature. It is located by the sea overlooking a magnificent bay with “one of the best sunsets on the planet” (​https://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news/162408/kk-s-beautiful-sunsets-grab-attention-again/) and contains one grand ballroom and 8 conference breakout rooms. 


SICC is a five minute drive or 15 minute walk (1.2 km) from the nearest four to five star international hotel chains in the city centre. Additionally there is a 30 storey serviced apartment called Jesselton Quay that contains a high number of AirBNB accommodation, that is 8 minutes walk (800m) from the SICC. (PS - I walked it myself today - so this is ground tested!) The SICC is not more than 15 minutes drive from any major international hotel in Kota Kinabalu downtown, and is easily accessible by local rideshare platforms. Estimated prices to get to SICC from downtown hotels would be between RM 10 - RM 20 (Eur 2.50 - 5) depending on peak hours. 




HOTEL INFORMATION: 


SECTION 1: HOTELS WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE TO SICC

As you can see there is no dearth of hotels in Kota Kinabalu - but some are nearer than others


Jesselton Quay

This is a 33 storey tall building about 500 metres from SICC, with 324 units which are largely available on AirBNB, booking.com, and Agoda. There are four storeys of shops on the lower floors, with cuisines ranging from Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Western, and an Indian Muslim shop. If you are coming with family or would prefer a studio apartment with self-catering facilities, and do not require the mod cons of a hotel, this may be a suitable option, and is certainly the nearest to SICC. 

To book a unit here, type in “Jesselton Quay” into your preferred booking website and a lot of properties will emerge - many of which are run by hotelling standards.


MERCURE HOTEL 

Mercure Kota Kinabalu City Centre

20 mins walk

Price range USD 60-70

Direct reservation link: click here


Four star hotel, international chain, with reasonable room quality and decent breakfasts. Be warned that there is insufficient parking in this hotel if you are intending to rent your own car.


HYATT CENTRIC HOTEL 

20 minutes walk

Price range USD 100-120 

Direct Booking link: click here


One of Kota Kinabalu’s newest and snazziest hotels, this 5 star hotel faces the sea so half the rooms should have sunset views. Facilities are top notch and food is excellent, and it is directly opposite a major shopping mall with an international grade supermarket and extensive dining options 



HOTEL GRANDIS KOTA KINABALU

20 minutes walk

Price range USD 70-80

Direct reservation link: click here


This hotel is inside Suria Sabah shopping mall, one of Kota Kinabalu’s most complete mall with an international grade supermarket and extensive dining options. The hotel per se is not as luxurious as Hyatt Centric but definitely is suitable for business needs.


HOTEL 7 SURIA

20 minutes walk

Price range USD 30-40

Direct reservation link: click here


This hotel is a budget version of Grandis, inside Suria Sabah shopping mall, one of Kota Kinabalu’s most complete mall with an international grade supermarket and extensive dining options. The hotel per se provides basic amenities and is essentially a place to rest your head.


HOTEL EDEN 54

20 minutes walk

Price range USD 30-40

Direct reservation link: click here (Note: this link will bring you to the hotel’s main website, however upon clicking on “reservation”, you will be directed to their Agoda page)

This is a budget hotel within a group of colonial era shophouses facing the hills, and is directly next to the main expatriate supermarket. Facilities are reasonable for the price but do not expect anything other than a place to stay.








SECTION 2: OTHER RECOMMENDED STAYS DOWNTOWN AREA

(All 10-15 minutes by car or a somewhat long walk)


4-5 star hotels

HYATT REGENCY HOTEL (USD 80-100)

Direct reservation link: click here


Very nice classic hotel from the 1980s, recently refurbished and given a new lease of life. Half the rooms face the sea with wall to wall glass windows providing a cinematic view of the waterfront. Food is superlative; the buffets and the gelato place in the basement are especially iconic.


JESSELTON HOTEL (USD 40-50)

Direct reservation link: click here

The first hotel to be built in Kota Kinabalu in the 1950s and in a colonial style, with rooms still looking out of the period era. Furnishings can be dated and the rooms are not modern like the other hotels on this list, but for anyone intending to experience a piece of Borneo history, this is the place to be. It is also on the main tourist street (Gaya Street) so accessibility to food and drink is very good.


LE MERIDIEN KOTA KINABALU (USD 90-110)

Direct reservation link: click here

A favourite of business travellers, it is located very centrally right next to the famous Filipino market which opens till midnight and also a stone’s throw from the Waterfront, Kota Kinabalu’s main watering hole. Facilities are relatively modern and there are always taxis plying their trade nearby if it is hard to get a Grab.


HILTON HOTEL/HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS (USD 80-100)

Also: CITITEL EXPRESS (USD 40-50)

Direct reservation link: click here for Hilton Hotel / Holiday Inn Express / Cititel Express

Both hotels are opposite each other, along a main throughfare into the city. They are somewhat slightly off the main strip compared to the other two hotels in this list but compensate by being somewhat quieter. Both are situated a minute’s walk from the largest seafood restaurant in Kota Kinabalu spanning 8 shoplots, but are slightly far from the waterfront if having immediate sea access is a priority. Cititel is right behind both of them and is a decent mid-range option. 


THE SHORE AIRBNB (USD 40-50)


Newly opened in late 2023,  there are roughly 160 units here, and our experience is that many of them are well appointed and are good value for money for self-catering travellers. It is in the geographic middle of town next to the central market and the Filipino market, and is within 10 minutes walk from most attractions. The actual neighbourhood surrounding it is a set of shophouses that can be a little rough on the outside but if you stick to the waterfront markets it should be reasonably safe.


PROMENADE HOTEL (USD 50-60)/MARRIOT HOTEL (USD 90-100)

Direct reservation link: click here for Promenade Hotel / Marriot Hotel

Again opposite each other, on the far end of the city (by the sea) as you walk down the interminable waterfront. Promenade is an old but gold kind of place that has aged reasonably well - rooms may be slightly dated compared to the international chains but it has a fantastic halal dim sum restaurant within its premises. Marriott adjoins a shopping mall that does not appear to have any tenants, but gives the standard Marriott experience, and is directly on the seafront so the famous “best sunset in the world” is immediately accessible upon exiting the lobby.


SECTION 2: FURTHER AFIELD BUT STILL IN KOTA KINABALU PROPER

(All 15-20 minutes by car, unlikely to be walkable to SICC)


IMAGO LOFTS (USD 40-50)


This is a building with serviced apartments inside the largest shopping mall in Kota Kinabalu, Imago Shopping Centre. It is around 10 minutes walk from the CBD and to the city centre waterfront proper. It is right next to all measure of food, drinking places, and standard international retail outlets and a cinema. If self catering is not an issue this provides quite a wide range of standard accommodation with the luxury of private rooms within an apartment unit.


PALACE HOTEL (USD 40-50)

Direct reservation link: click here

Situated on a hill right outside the town centre, it is a little isolated but is still really only 10 minutes walk to the Central Business District. It is literally in a palace-shaped building, and has fairly well maintained rooms. The food in the hotel itself is of good quality and service is impeccable.


SUTERA HARBOUR RESORT, PAN PACIFIC AND MAGELLAN HOTEL (USD 90-150)

Direct reservation link: Sutera Harbour Resort / The Pacific Sutera Hotel / The Magellan Sutera Hotel

This hotel is situated on a separate reclaimed peninsula and is self-contained as a hotel venue. This is a true resort hotel (Pan Pacific is slightly more business oriented and Magellan is slightly more resort oriented but they do share common facilities in the marina club) and you can play golf at a 27-hole course, go on boat rides to the nearby islands, participate in watersports, and in general your family can have a roaring time in the self-contained resort campus. The only caveat is that the city or any shops are a very short 5 minute drive or Grab ride away.


LUMA HOTEL (USD 60-80)

Direct reservation link: click here

This is a beautifully appointed boutique hotel in a small commercial development called Sutera Avenue. There are many shops on the ground floor covering the gamut from Korean, Northern Chinese, a trattoria, and even a steakhouse; and the hotel itself is a work of art. It is 10 minutes walk across an overhead bridge to Imago Shopping Centre, the largest in Kota Kinabalu.


SHANGRI LA TANJUNG ARU HOTEL (USD 100-150)

Direct reservation link: click here

This is a favourite wedding venue and has a renowned Sunset Bar and very good kids’ facilities. It is situated at Tanjung Aru, the main tourist beach of town, and is a standalone resort hotel with all inclusive facilities. The only caveat is that any shops are a very short 5 minute drive or Grab ride away, whereas the city centre is between 10-15 minutes ride away depending on rush hour traffic as there are 5 schools before the hotel.


Note: We have not included any hotels that are in suburban regions of Kota Kinabalu as we are not able to provide correct transport information for these hotels eg school traffic jams, rush hour queues leading in and out of residential areas. These hotels listed are all still considered within city limits proper and hence travel times can be predicted.


There are also a whole host of small boutique hotels around Kota Kinabalu that we are not able to exhaustively list in this guide, as we have not been to all of them and hence it would be unfair for us to vouch for them. Places that we have listed here are places we have visited personally and have first hand experience of, but that does not mean that there aren’t better places out there to enjoy!





PUBLIC TRANSPORT IN SABAH


There is unfortunately no regular public transport in Sabah other than an irregular bus network, but ride share platforms do not cost more than RM 40 (10 euros) from the city to the university area. Most rides within city limits would fall within the RM 10-20 (2.5-5 euro) range outside of the height of peak hours.



Contacts:

If you have any questions regarding abstract submission, program, and travels to Malaysia please contact: isqols2024@ums.edu.my

If you have any questions regarding your registration, please contact: office@isqols.org



The International Society for
Quality-of-Life Studies
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