The gunmen, clad in army fatigues, opened fire on marine police officers guarding the resort. Corporal Abdul Rajah Jamuan, 32, was killed and Constable Zakiah Aliep, 26, was abducted by the assailants, who fled by boat.
Malaysian police spokesperson Asmawati Ahmad said that the police suspect the gunmen avoided detection by pre-positioning their escape boat at the resort before storming the rear of the complex.
An investigation is underway and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak assured the family of the abducted policeman that authorities would do their best "to look for and rescue" the constable.
Eastern Sabah Security Command director Abdul Rashid Harun noted that the attackers steered their get-away boat in the direction of the southern Philippines, home to Filipino separatists.
In the past year, there has been a rash of kidnappings in Sabah, a popular tourist destination, and elsewhere on the island.
Filipino gunmen abducted three people from the island in April and May and released them after negotiations with Malaysian and Filipino security forces. Two others abducted by Filipino gunmen in June have not yet been released.