Thursday, March 29, 2007

3-Star Hotel Run by a University (Universiti Teknologi Mara)

The hotel run by Universiti Teknologi Mara has its own unique challenges and advantages.

IT’S neatly nestled at the foot of the hill that accommodates UTM’s main campus. With the travellers palms gracing its facade it, basically a wooden structure, this three-star hotel looks inviting. The hotel which was set up in 1992 housing 36 standard rooms, four suites and a banquet hall, and offering hotel foods at “unbeatable prices”, is little known outside Shah Alam.

“That’s because the hotel, being part of a training institution, cannot advertise,” explained Azlan Supardi, the hotel’s general manager. In other words, the hotel serves as a training centre for third-year students from the university’s Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management. They do their three-month practical training under the supervision of the Human Resources Co-ordinator.

“Whilst the management is qualified staff, including eight chefs, the housekeeping duties and the cuisine are basically handled by the students of the Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management”, elaborates Azlan.

At any one time, the hotel, which now boasts of an additional meeting rooms and a business centre, takes in about 40 trainees who spend between three and five months learning the business. The hotel has also opened its doors to trainees from other colleges such as Community College, the Johore Baru Polytechnics and the Pahang Iktisas Institute.

What is more amazing is that so far the hotel has accommodated five deaf students from the Pasir Gudang, Special Polytechnics. They mainly handled housekeeping duties.

Earlier two such students from the polytechnics were stationed to do kitchen duties. Azlan said that “they had to learn sign language to communicate. Otherwise communication was through writing.”

Azlan sees the experience as a win-win situation. Those students gained knowledge and insight about the industry, and the others learnt sign language.

“We’re not here to compete with the commercial hotel,” says Azlan.

Being a training centre does have its advantages as it allows the hotel to experiment, for instance, with a variety of working concepts to ensure that students get great exposure and experience before they go into the working market.

The students also get good training opportunity when they have to serve the royalty during the university’s convocations.

The hotel can afford to have about six kitchens: the pastry, cold, butchery, coffeehouse, cafeteria, main, and chancellory kitchens.

“For a three-star hotel, having six kitchens could have killed off any commercial hotel this size,” chuckles Azlan. As a training centre we have this luxury. The hotel also cooks for the cafetaria (which is only open after 6pm and located in front of the hotel), and the Chancellory.

This is why the kitchen equipment eats into big a chunk of the RM500,000 annual grant given by the UiTM Board. The grant is also used to upgrade room concepts and finishings every five years while the menu is revised every six months.

In line with the latest development, the kitchen now practices an open concept where customers can actually view the chefs at work. Anggerik coffeehouse, which can accommodate 70 people, has also been extended onto the balcony which overlooks a main road, although it is separated by a an elaborate wooden wall from the main cafe.

“Customers enjoy the open concept as they like the view outdoors,” says Azlan who believes that the upgrading exercises have helped the hotel “break even”.

The hotel does not only boast peaceful surroundings but the gastronomic delights are all nett-priced and therefore reasonable.

“They’re certainly not hotel prices,” quips Azlan. The most popular dish at the coffeehouse, which is open from 7am to 11pm, is the Trio bbq lamb chop. It costs RM19.90, and the Char Koay Teow Pulau Mutiara’ costs RM7.90.

The irresistible ABC topped with ice-cream costs RM4.90. The most expensive dish is probably the sizzling dazzling beef steak which costs RM$22.90.

Although the hotel cannot advertise its services, it does carry out marketing exercises through the issuance of promotion pamphlets as part of its marketing programme for students.

“Students have seen the difference in the public response through the right marketing strategy,” adds Azlan, saying that a lot of the hotel promotions were done on a trial and error basis. Prior to the promotions, he says that their coffeehouse was only raking in RM500 per day, but after the exercise it was drawing in RM1,000 per shift.

“We get feedback from our customers through the evaluation forms distributed,” quips the general manager. The hotel staff are taken to various hotels and restaurants every three months.

The hotel has a 90 per cent occupancy rate during the university’s convocation period. The hotel is also keen on expanding its banquet room which can only accommodate 200 people. But such a constraint is not an obstacle for holding a wedding reception for 400 guests.

“We opened up the Melati Grill to host the bride’s family,” Azlan said.

His biggest challenge, says Azlan, is to balance the hotel’s role as a training centre with making it competitive enough so that the students will gain the “real hotel” experience.

The only thing you won’t find in this hotel is a bar, live bands or a discotheque. But that’s understandable isn’t it. There are only four hotels in the world which are run by universities. The others are in Austria, Switzerland and the United States. UiTM Hotel was awarded the Golden Five Continents Award for Quality and Excellence from Paris and the Golden Award for Tourist Hotel and Catering Industry, both in 2005.

What it offers

Room Rates

- Standard Rooms – RM100

- Suites: Cempaka Teratai and Cempaka Kenanga – RM145; Anggerik Teratai – RM210

Check out time is between noon and 1 pm.

If guests check out six hours later (8pm) they will have to pay an additional charge of RM60.

Guests checking out later than 8pm will have to pay an additional RM100.

- Anggerik Coffeehouse Buffet Breakfast (7am-10.30am) – RM9.50

- Buffet Lunch – RM20 per head

- Buffet High Tea (Saturdays only) – RM20 per head

- A la carte dinner begins at RM7.90

- Steamboat dinner (Friday till Sunday) – RM15

Source : NST
[tags : ]

No comments:




Related Posts with Thumbnails