Sunday, March 23, 2008

YTL Opens Majestic Hotel in Malacca

YTL Hotels opens its first classic hotel in historic Malacca.

YTL Hotels has done it again. The group has now set its sights on transforming old buildings into fashionable boutique hotels, and their first such establishment, the Majestic Malacca, is already up and running.

The Majestic stands out in the historical city of Malacca but it is low-key enough that not many realise that the building is actually a hotel.

Luxurious furnishings: Oriental screens, lamp shades and printed curtains enhance the hotel’s posh dining area.

“I’d like the hotel to be the hot spot for corporate retreats, as well as for those in search of a memorable weekend experience. We aim to offer a higher class of luxury to travellers visiting Malacca,” says hotel manager Robert Hunter.

The history of the hotel is interesting.

It was initially home to a prominent businessman from China, who had the mansion built in 1929, then sold it to a friend in 1953.

This friend saw the commercial potential of the building and converted it into a lodging, the Hotel Majestic.

The hotel catered to budget travellers and travelling salespeople for a few decades, before it ran into financial difficulties and closed down. YTL bought the building and began restoration works together with Marble Valley Sdn Bhd in 2006. And now, what was formerly a humble hotel has been transformed into a chic and classy, 54-room boutique hotel.

“We tried to retain as much of the old building as much as possible and not tamper too much unless it couldn’t be salvaged.

“For example, the flooring has been retained but polished, and some of the missing flowered tiles have been replaced. The front desk is also original, and we redid the ceilings to re-duct the air-conditioners,” says Hunter.

The window shutters have also been retained, with only a new coat of paint to spruce them up. The one major change is the addition of an eight-storey new wing, which is where the rooms are located.

But gone are the days of simple bamboo furniture, and in their place are teak wood fittings and leather furniture.

Hunter says the hotel draws influences from the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Peranakan cultures so that its architectural style mirrors Malacca’s multi-faceted colonial past.

As you walk into the airy lobby, you’ll see old-fashioned little jars in the style of the old provision shops, filled with biscuits, wafers, peanuts and tidbits, which guests are welcome to raid whenever they feel like it. Immediately, one feels as if one has been transported back to grandpa’s house sometime in the 1970s.

Grand transformation: The Majestic Hotel before its facelift to its current chic and regal set-up (below).

Staff are friendly, constantly smiling. Small wonder then that YTL Hotels are always winning some international award or other.

The rooms exude an aura of romance, with a four-poster bed taking pride of place, decorated in a mixture of rich silks and cool cotton. And then there is the vintage four-legged pedestal bathtub and a huge showerhead in the bath.

As far as environment-friendly measures go, Hunter admits the hotel has not got many policies in place, as “it is difficult”.

“It’s our first classic hotel, and it’s not easy. For example, we have fans and air-conditioning in our rooms, and if the guests want to turn both on, we can’t do anything about it,” he shrugs.

The room doors also do not work on a key card system but uses the old-fashioned, slot-the-key-in-and-turn system. This means guests can choose to leave the air-conditioning on, open the windows and go off for the day.

Oh, well.

No visit to YTL’s hotel is complete without a spa treatment, since that is their signature award-winning feature, and so to the spa I go.

I must confess the experience is one of the best among YTL’s hotels. Not only is the therapist excellent, the entire Nyonya-Baba ambience also makes one feel at home.

The rich culture is reflected in the intricate traditional woodcarving and finely detailed porcelain wall tiles. Before you enter your treatment room, you are made to lie on a Chinese day bed and soak in the sunlight with a cup of Chinese tea.

I started off having the hair ritual.

Flat-screen TV monitors fitted to the ceiling allow you to watch black-and-white P. Ramlee movies as you recline on the chair. This is quite an innovation, although some guests prefer to just close their eyes and indulge in the hair wash rather than watch Saloma run around in her dark glasses.

Spa treatments are moulded according to the person’s energy, whether “cool” or “warm”, so you’d have to first take a short questionnaire.

If you’re a “cool energy” person, the therapists will recommend that you “balance” yourself with a Malacca palm sugar and honey scrub, hot nutmeg and rice-rolling body massage, as well as a bird’s nest and tapioca facial therapy.

A “warm energy” person, on the other hand, would be recom- mended a yoghurt and guava leaf scrub, egg-rolling massage, and a bird’s nest and star fruit facial therapy.

The three-hour treatment will leave you invigorated and longing for more. At the end of the session, the therapist sprinkles water on your face and rings little bells to wake you up. What a delight.

Nestled between the spa village and the glass-enclosed gymnasium is the all-blue swimming pool. There are also four meeting rooms equipped with wireless broadband and natural lighting via large windows.

Since the hotel’s location is just a stone’s throw away from famous Jonker Street, guests can indulge in the nightlife in the surrounding areas. Across the hotel is Villa Sentosa, the only Malay village in the heart of the city, and next to it is a hospital.

Dining is a lovely affair at the hotel’s restaurant, but for a wider selection of local specialities, you can always walk to the city centre and explore the many eateries there.

Small, comfortable, and ready to make its mark as a classy boutique hotel – that, in a nutshell, is The Majestic Malacca.

The Majestic Malacca
188 Jalan Bunga Raya
Malacca
Tel: (06) 289 8000

mmh@ytlhotels.com.my
www.majesticmalacca.com


Source : STAR
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