Wednesday, September 24, 2008

G Tower Hotel, Offices & Club Opening 2009

When completed early next year, GTower will be Malaysia’s first Grade A++ building due to its world-class eco-friendly design, as well as its power-efficient networking setup and state-of-the-art security systems.

Constructed by Goldis Bhd, the RM470mil building has been designed to be energy and water efficient, and will be the first “carbon positive” structure in the country.

Its systems will cut carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere by at least 60%, said Colin Ng, head of corporate investment at Goldis.

GTower was awarded the Green Mark Gold (provisional) award by The Building and Construction Authority of Singapore last March in recognition of its “green initiative” efforts.

The building will house offices, a hotel and club. It will comprise 120,000sq ft of office space, a 180-room five-star boutique hotel, 112 CEO duplex office suites ranging in size from 2,500sq ft to 7,200sq ft, stylish club facilities, as well as food and beverage, and recreational facilities.

Its intelligent-building infrastructure also includes fully redundant fiber-optic and Cat 6 cables for connectivity, Internet Protocol-based intelligent applications, a dedicated datacentre, secure wireless connections, and 24/7 on-site technical support.

According to Ng, the building will also have the latest smartcard and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technologies, as well as true multimedia convergence for IPTV (Internet Protocol TV), video on demand, data services, IP telephony and other IP-based applications.

“It will be a building ahead of its time and on par with the best in the world,” he said. “GTower offers a more holistic and better working environment for businesses.”

3Com Corp’s Intelligent Building Solutions (3CiBS) form the backbone and platform for these IP-based applications.

Once the construction is completed, GTower is expected to receive Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) status for compliant building and connectivity specifications.

Source : STAR
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Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside Hotel to open in 2009

The Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside Hotel is part of the Accor Group and is located 20 minutes from the city centre, KL International Airport and Sepang F1 International Circuit.

The hotel boasts 283 rooms, suites and apartments and the hotel is separated into four wings with Malay, Chinese, Indian and Borneo influenced decor.

The rooms furnished with the executive traveller in mind and is equipped with LCD TVs, interactive TV entertainment system, high speed Internet access and 24 hour in-room dining.

The Pullman also features five F&B outlet within the hotel which includes a lakeside restaurant.

The hotel also has 21 fully equipped meeting and board rooms that can hold up to 1,000 guests and an lakefront open air amphitheatre that can accommodate 250 guests.

The Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside Hotel is expected to open in November 2008 and is expected to be fully operational in early 2009

Source : STAR
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Major Renovation for Shangri-La's Golden Sands, Penang

The 390-room resort will invest RM38mil in the exercise

Golden Sands Resort is investing about RM38mil to renovate its 390-room hotel in Batu Ferringhi.

The exercise would involve re-doing all the rooms, expanding the coffeehouse, establishing an Italian restaurant and restoring the public spaces.

General manager Andrew Whitaker told StarBiz that the hotel would start renovating its rooms in February next year.

“Some 14 of the 390 rooms would be converted into suites for families. The other rooms would be given a face-lift to reflect the unique and popular interior decoration themes used in Malaysia,’’ he said.

“For example, dark wood carvings and colourful fabric would be used to give the rooms the outlook of a contemporary Malaysian home.’’

Whitaker said the hotel would not be closed during the renovation period. “We are targeting for the renovation of the rooms to be completed by February 2010,” he said.

He said the famous Peppino restaurant would be closed next year and would be replaced with a new RM4.2mil two-storey Italian restaurant by the beach.

The present Sigi’s by the Sea restaurant would be removed to make way for the new Italian restaurant, which has yet to be named.

“Sigi’s by the Sea will be closed in October 2008, so that construction work can start on the new Italian restaurant, which is scheduled to start operation next May,” he said.

Whitaker said the new coffeehouse, currently undergoing renovation, would be reopened soon.

“It has been expanded and will feature open cooking areas,” he added.

The last time Golden Sands Resort underwent a major renovation was in 1992.

Source : STAR
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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Additional 5,600 Hotel Rooms with 4 and 5-star rating in Kuala Lumpur

THE Klang Valley hospitality market can look forward to exciting times ahead with more new hotel developments and the entrance of more prestigious hotel players.

Over the next three years, Klang Valley will see an addition of close to 5,600 hotel rooms with four and five-star rating.

Eric Ooi

Those that will be completed this year include Hotel Grand Mercure Putrajaya Lakeside owned by the French-based Accor Group, Maytower Hotel Service Apartments owned by Mayland Group, Royal Chulan Tower Hotel & Residence owned by Boustead Group and Gardens Hotel and Residences owned by IGB Group.

Among the world-renowned brands that will make their debut are the 240-room Four Seasons Hotel in the KLCC vicinity that is scheduled for completion in 2013, while the St Regis Hotel in KL Sentral, with a minimum of 200 hotel rooms, is scheduled to open for business in 2014.

According to Zerin Properties chief executive officer Previndran Singhe, the entrance of more prestigious hotel players in the local market would act as a magnet to attract other international brands such as InterContinental, Sofitel and The Raffles to Malaysia’s shores.

“There is still good growth opportunities in the local hospitality market, especially for niche players such as luxury heritage hotels in Kuala Lumpur,” Previn told StarBiz.

Knight Frank Ooi and Zaharin Sdn Bhd managing director Eric Ooi said the announcement of the luxury brand, St Regis, had enhanced Malaysia’s regional standing in the five-star hotel category.

“Several five-star hotel players made some exciting announcements in the first half of this year.

“They include the approval for the 450-room Grand Hyatt Hotel at Jalan Pinang, Kuala Lumpur, and the entry of the prestigious St Regis Hotel,” Ooi said.

Renaissance Kuala Lumpur is being refurbished at a cost of RM153mil.

The 40-storey Grand Hyatt Hotel, to be developed by the Brunei Investment Agency, will house 450 rooms and estimated to cost RM360mil.

Another proposed project is the redevelopment of Bangunan MAS by Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB).

PNB acquired Bangunan MAS from Malaysia Airlines Bhd for RM130mil two years ago and intends to redevelop the 35-storey building into a hotel and apartments.

Knight Frank Research, in its latest Real Estate Highlights, said with rising operational cost and tougher economic environment, the local hotel industry was expected to undergo challenging market conditions in the second half of this year.

It noted that the current supply of five-star and five-star hotel rooms in Kuala Lumpur stood at 6,760 and 9,120 respectively, with the bulk of the supply located within the tourist belts in the city such as Jalan Sultan Ismail, Jalan Ampang, Jalan Bukit Bintang and the KLCC locality.

The five-star 438-room One World Hotel in Bandar Utama made its debut in January.

The average occupancy rate for both four-star and five-star hotels in the city during the first six months of this year was 70%, which was 2% higher compared with the same corresponding period in 2007.

Several hotels, including the Impiana KLCC, Berjaya Times Square Hotel and Renaissance Kuala Lumpur, are embarking on refurbishment works.

Impiana KLCC will be adding another 180 rooms to its current 335 rooms while Berjaya Times Square Hotel & Convention Centre’s three-phase refurbishment and redevelopment exercise costing RM20mil is expected to be completed in September.

The Renaissance Kuala Lumpur’s RM53mil facelift will be completed next year.

The report said the average room rate (ARR) for five-star hotels during the January to June period was RM370, higher than RM320 recorded for the corresponding period in 2007.

The hotels which recorded ARR above RM300 in the first half of 2008 include Hilton Kuala Lumpur (RM460), JW Marriott (RM390), Mandarin Oriental (RM650) and The Westin (RM450).

The ARR for five-star hotels during the same period was RM200, 10% higher than RM180 recorded last year.

Several hotels that achieved ARR of more than RM200 during the first half of 2008 were Hotel Maya (RM320), Traders Hotel (RM320), Concorde Hotel (RM250) and Boulevard Hotel at Mid Valley (RM220).

Higher tourist arrivals and receipts in the first six months of 2008 have contributed to the strong performance by the hotels.

The full year tourist arrivals for 2008 is expected to reach 22.5 million against 21 million in 2007, while tourist receipts will increase to RM50bil this year from RM45.7bil in 2007.

Meanwhile, the setting up of Pemudah, a special taskforce to reduce red tape in the application of licenses and permits for the setting up of new hotels, in February is expected to give a boost to the local hotel market’s competitiveness in the region.

Source : STAR
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Three armed men rob traders at Penang International Airport

A gold supplier from Dubai and a local goldsmith were robbed of 5.9kg of gold bars worth US$240,000 (RM840,000) by three armed robbers at the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas here.

State CID chief Senior Asst Comm (II) Wan Abdullah Tuanku Said said the goldsmith was escorting his supplier, who had just arrived from Dubai, to his car when two gunmen suddenly ran towards them at 10.30am yesterday.

“At the car park, the men forced the victims to squat and lower their heads.

“A third person appeared and grabbed the two bags containing the gold bars, which had been placed on the back seat.

“The robbery was over within minutes. The robbers, in their early 30s, spoke to each other in a foreign language, which according to the victims, sounded like Vietnamese,” he said when met at the scene.

How it happened: The goldsmith (right) relaying the incident to SAC Wan Abdullah. He and the gold supplier (left) were held up by the robbers at the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas Monday.

SAC Wan Abdullah said police believe the robbers fled in a car, which was parked outside the car park, adding that the victims’ vehicle was parked about 40m from the departure hall’s entrance.

“The victims did not see the escape vehicle as they were too shocked to react.

There were many vehicles at the car park but there were no witnesses as no one was there to pick up their cars at that time.

“The victims later sought help from the airport police before lodging a report at the Bayan Lepas police station,” he said, adding that police have set up roadblocks to try to nab the robbers.

Police are now trying to determine how the robbers had information on the gold supplier’s arrival which was only known to very few people. This is the second such incident at the airport in the past month.

On Aug 27, two men armed with automatic pistols shot a moneychanger before grabbing two bags on an airport trolley.

However, they missed RM1.9mil kept in another suitcase.

Source : STAR
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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bombing Is Marriott's Biggest Loss In 81 Years

As a symbol of Western capitalism around the world, Marriott International's hotels have been hit by terrorists before.

A bomber killed more than a dozen people in 2003 at the firm's JW Marriott in Jakarta. A hotel was destroyed in the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, leaving two employees dead. And in January, a suicide bomber detonated a device outside the Marriott in Islamabad, Pakistan, killing a security guard who thwarted his entry to the hotel.

But when terrorists returned yesterday to the Marriott in Islamabad, setting off a truck bomb that killed at least 60 people, they dealt the Bethesda, Md., firm its worst loss of life and property in its 81-year history. Employees and guests drenched in blood streamed into city streets. The building's simple red Marriott logo was shown going up in flames on cable television. Chief executive Bill Marriott said in a blog post yesterday evening that many of those killed were employees.

Marriott was alerted to the explosion within minutes by Kathleen Matthews, the company's executive vice president for global communications. On his blog, he said: "This senseless tragedy and the profound loss of life has left me greatly saddened. My heart goes out to those who've been injured and the families of the victims."

The attack, which destroyed the 290-room hotel, was a nightmare come true for the 76-year-old chief executive, who developed the company into one of the world's largest hotel chains. Marriott's son John, a former executive at the company, was once asked what kept his father up at night. He quickly answered, "Terrorism."

Company executives were making plans yesterday to quickly get to Pakistan. A team of senior executives, led by Ed Fuller, the president of international lodging, convened at headquarters and electronically from0 around the world to assess information from the scene and begin offering assistance to victims. A telephone hotline was activated so that victims' families could seek information. Marriott said on his blog that employees who were not seriously injured "are doing whatever they can to assist with rescue and recovery efforts."

The hotel, which opened in 1992 and is known for its tight security, has a fortified gate where vehicles are inspected and metal detectors at the entrance.

The attack comes at a tense time for the company, which like other hotel chains is struggling in the economic slowdown. Marriott's business has dropped off considerably, and an investment in the company made a year ago would be worth 36 percent less today. Marriott recently reduced weekend room rates by 20 percent.

Marriott executives have also been considering whether to open a hotel in Baghdad at the request of U.S. and Iraqi government officials hoping to revive Iraq with foreign investment and economic activity. Bill Marriott has not spoken publicly about the idea, but people close to him have said he is concerned about safety issues.

Source : Washington Post

Bill Marriot's Blog

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Islamabad Marriott Hotel Bomb Attack with at least 43 killed

A suicide truck bomber attacked the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Saturday, killing at least 43 people, wounding nearly 250 and starting a fire that swept through the building in the Pakistani capital.

Internal security in nuclear-armed Pakistan, a country vital to the war against al Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups, has deteriorated at an alarming rate over the past two years.

The bombing bore the signs of an attack by al Qaeda or an affiliate, a U.S. intelligence official said.

It came hours after new President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, made his first address to parliament a few hundred meters away, calling for terrorism to be rooted out.

The tightly guarded hotel, part of a U.S.-based chain and popular with foreigners, diplomats and rich Pakistanis, was engulfed in flames for hours after the blast.

Zardari made a televised address to the nation on Sunday and said the bombing was cowardly.

"This is an epidemic, a cancer in Pakistan which we will root out," he said. "We will not be afraid of these cowards."

Pakistan's army is in the midst of a major offensive against al Qaeda and Taliban fighters in the Bajaur region on the Afghan border, while the U.S. military has intensified attacks on militants on the Pakistani side of the border, infuriating many Pakistanis.

Militants have launched bomb attacks, most on security forces in the northwest, in retaliation for the strikes on them.

"They're giving a very clear, unambiguous message that if the government pursues these policies, this is what (they) will do in response," Talat Masood, a retired general and defense analyst, said of the attack.

"They are saying 'we can strike anywhere, at any time regardless of how good you think your security is'," he said.

An al Qaeda video, released to mark the seventh anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, included a call for militants in Pakistan to step up their fight.

"You must stand with your Mujahideen brothers in Afghanistan and ... strike the interests of Crusader (Western) allies in Pakistan," Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, an al Qaeda commander in Afghanistan, said on the tape.


Saturday's attack was the worst yet in the capital. It came six months after a civilian government took power and a month after it forced former army chief and firm U.S. ally Pervez Musharraf to step down as president.

A crater up to 20 feet deep was in the road in front of the gates of the hotel, which had been bombed twice before. The Interior Ministry said the bomb probably contained more than 500 kg (1,100 lb) of explosives.

Hospitals reported 43 dead and the Interior Ministry said 236 people were wounded. One foreigner was killed, an American, and 13 foreigners were wounded, police and hospital officials said.

The Danish Foreign Ministry said a Danish diplomat was missing and one was wounded. Up to six Saudi Arabians were missing, the Saudi ambassador said.

Flames and smoke poured out of the 290-room, city centre hotel. Dozens of cars were destroyed and windows shattered hundreds of meters (yards) away.

Soldiers cordoned off the area. The fire was put out after six hours and investigators and rescuers were going through the ruins.

A wounded hotel security official said a truck had been stopped at the hotel's security barrier and two small explosions had gone off minutes before the main blast.

The owner of the Marriott, one of two five-star hotels in the capital, said guards at the security gate had exchanged fire with the attacker before he set off the explosives.

Clemens Steinkanp, a German who was slightly wounded, said hotel security men had warned guests to move to the back of the building shortly before the bomb went off.

"Nothing happened for five minutes ... but then there was a huge blast," he said.


Zardari is close to the United States and has vowed to maintain Pakistan's commitment to the U.S.-led campaign against violent militants, even though it is deeply unpopular.

The United States, Britain and the U.N. secretary general condemned the bombing.

"This attack is a reminder of the ongoing threat faced by Pakistan, the United States, and all those who stand against violent extremism," U.S. President George W. Bush said.

In his address to parliament, Zardari said Pakistan must stop militants from using its territory for attacks on other countries. He also said Pakistan would not tolerate infringement of its territory in the name of the fight against militancy.

Zardari, who won a presidential election this month, is due to leave for the United States on Sunday, and is scheduled to meet Bush in New York on Tuesday before the U.N. General Assembly.

More Pictures, Click HERE

Saturday, September 20, 2008

AirAsia to head for Japan next year

Visiting AirAsia chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes said on Thursday that the Kuala Lumpur-based discount airline intends to launch flight services to Japan next year, Jiji Press reported.

Fernandes told a press conference here that the Japanese market had enormous potential, adding that AirAsia hoped to help increase the number of Malaysian tourists to Japan.

The firm appears to be planning to set airfares for its Japan-bound flights at half the price of those offered by major airlines.

To celebrate the launch of Japan flights, AirAsia plans to offer US$25 (RM87.50) one-way tickets for flights between Japan and Malaysia.

AirAsia is considering launching flights to the Tokyo International Airport at Haneda and an airport now under construction in the Ibaraki prefecture, north-east of Tokyo.

The company also hoped to start services to major Japanese cities such as Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka and Fukuoka later.

Source : STAR
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Patrick Sibourg, GM of Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside Hotel

Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside Hotel’s Patrick Sibourg began his career in the hotel industry at the age of 22 as a general manager. He tells us about his meteoric rise to the top.

AS we sat down in the mock room in the Borneo wing for the partly finished Pullman Putrajaya Lakeside Hotel for the interview, Patrick Sibourg the hotel general manager, looked warm in his jacket. But when asked if he was used to the heat of Malaysia (he has only been here in Malaysia for the past nine months) he grins and nods.

“I’ve worked in Indonesia for 13 years,” says the French hotelier whose wife is an Indonesian citizen. When he had to make a decision to move either to China or Malaysia, it was easier for his wife to be in Malaysia.

Not that he minded making the move to Malaysia. With the almost similar lifestyle and culture, Malaysia wasn’t that big a change for him.

Getting Lucky

Sibourg got his lucky break right from the start.

He studied in a famous hotel management school in Switzerland and after he graduated in 1979 he started looking for a job in a hotel in France.

And when Sibourg landed an interview with a hotel owner, he was given the job which he immediately said yes to.

“I signed the contract with the owner and went to the hotel. The general manager was shocked to see me as he wasn’t informed that I was joining the hotel,” Sibourg laughs and added that the manager had to give him a room anyway.

“Two days later, the owner of the hotel gave me a call and asked if I had a pen and some paper and he needed me to write a letter. Wait, this gets better! He wanted me to write a letter of dismissal to the general manager. There was nothing much that I can do but to hand the general manager the letter the next morning. I can imagine that he wasn’t too happy about it,” says Sibourg before bursting into laughter.

Two days later, the guy left and Sibourg became general manager of the hotel at the age of 22.

“So when people ask me if it was hard for me to work through the ranks to reach my current position or what sort of background I was from, I have to honestly tell them that it wasn’t too hard at all. I was general manager from the time I started working in a hotel!” he says.

Once in a hotel kitchen where he worked for a few months, the chef who had been giving Sibourg a tough time asked him what he wanted to do in life.

“I told him I wanted to be GM and he asked me when, to which I answered ‘As soon as possible’. Six months from then I hired the same person as my executive chef,” he says while adding that the chef was so happy for him.

Sibourg also admitted that he was grateful for the people working around him as they had given him lots of invaluable advice as he hasn’t got much experience when he first started working. Sibourg stayed on in the hotel for another six years and went on to work for another nine years in France before he moved to Asia in 1994.

He also did a short stint in Cuba before coming back to Asia again.

Asian Connection

Sibourg loves Kuala Lumpur because it’s a cross between Jakarta and Singapore. It’s a balance, he says, that combines the freedom of Indonesia and the cleanliness of Singapore.

When asked if he prefers Malaysia (compared to Indonesia), he jokingly says, ‘I’ll never say that because my wife is Indonesian. If I do, there will be war at home tonight!”

It took Sibourg a lot of time before he got used to his new lifestyle in Asia.

I love Kuala Lumpur says Sibourg at the balcony of the Borneo block

“When I first arrived in Surabaya, Indonesia, from France there was someone who was supposed to pick me up from the airport. Turns out that they forgot about me.

“I was stuck in the airport for three hours while I waited my pick up. Throughout that time, all I thought of was if I should take the next flight back because I really wasn’t used to the environment,” he says.

Now Sibourg calls Indonesia home and he even owns a house in Bali.

“I love the peaceful environment and I consider Bali as my second hometown, it’s my favourite holiday destination. But now with the Malaysia My Second Home program, I am considering getting a place here as well. A friend of mine has been telling me all sorts of nice things about Penang,” he smiles.

Sibourg’s 22 year old daughter is doing her training in Jakarta. He also has two young girls, age 7 and 5.

When asked if his eldest daughter aspired to follow Sibourg’s footstep, he says that she wanted to do ‘something like what daddy is doing’.

His daughter has now finished her studies and is looking forward to a job in either Malaysia, Singapore or Indonesia. Sibourg also thinks it’s easier for a French national to get a job in Southeast Asia.

Tree for a child

When asked about the challenges he face while at work, Sibourg says while he face many challenges at work there is nothing harder than having to get through two divorces.

“It’s a tough decision and the two times I got the divorce, I ask myself what can I do with my life? It’s always a question of what to do, where to go and with whom?” he says while adding that he is now happily married for the third time.

He also spoke passionately about A Tree For A Child, a programme supported by Accor Group that is developed specifically in protecting children in need.

“This program allows us to help the orphans and at the moment, we are taking care of 17 children from Kompleks Kebajikan Rukaiyah Amal in Bangi that we hope to eventually employ to work in the hotel,” says Sibourg.

Instead of giving them a sum of money, Sibourg explained that they want to create job opportunities for them and when this program takes off, all hotels in Kuala Lumpur will also be able to participate in this program.

The hotel is also in the midst of developing more environmental friendly measures to ensure that they do their part. Apart from a few electricity saving features in the room, Sibourg also plans to use rainwater collected from the roof of the hotel to water its lush gardens.

Sibourg is getting used to the local food and he found his favourite in Nasi Padang. He has also recently discovered mamak food. When asked if he would rather go back and work in Europe, Sibourg says, “I don’t think so!”

Source : STAR
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Friday, September 19, 2008

AirAsia takes delivery of 50th A320 aircraft

AirAsia has received its 50th A320 aircraft from Airbus and it will be operated out of Jakarta by AirAsia Indonesia as part of the growing route network.

In a statement, Airbus said the A320s were steadily replacing AirAsia’s Boeing 737 fleet across its network, currently covering Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

It said for AirAsia’s Indonesian operation, the aircraft would initially be operated on the Jakarta to Batam, Padang, Balikpapan and Denpasar routes.

Altogether, AirAsia has placed orders for 175 aircraft for use by airlines within the group, making it one of the largest customers in the world for Airbus’ best-selling single-aisle product line.

“We are also delighted to see this partnership between our two companies expand with the addition of a new A320 base in Jakarta,” said Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy.

Source : STAR
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Malaysia, Singapore tie up to bring in Middle East travellers

Malaysia and Singapore have teamed up with Singapore Airlines to offer an exclusive travel deal for Middle East visitors.

The travel package is seen to increase tourist arrival from the Middle East by 28 percent or from close to 400,000 visitors in 2007 to over half a million this year.

Visitors from the UAE are invited to avail of the five-day, night twin city package that covers airfare and hotel accommodations in both Singapore and Malaysia until November.

Tourism officials said Middle East tourists have shown growing interest in the two South-East Asian countries owing to its family-friendly environment and strong cultural links.

Source : TravelWeekly
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

It's now the Malaysia Savers Sale

The popular year-end sale will now be known as the Malaysia Savers Sale as part of a rebranding exercise.

“We want people to know they are saving money when they buy during the sale period, whether it is a big discount or even a 1% or 2% discount,” Tourism Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said told reporters after giving an update on the Malaysia Mega Sales Carnival (MMSC) which ended on Sept 1.

Azalina said a special secratariat would be set up to handle the year-end sale.

Saving in Malaysia: Azalina shaking hands with Mastercard Vice President Yau Su Peng at her ministry. Also present are SOGO chief Operating Officer Eddy S.K. Chan (second left) and Matta President Ngiam Foon.

“From my discussions with various parties, a lot of issues came up regarding the sale,” she added.

Among them were for better coordination between the Government and the private sector, a wholesome national and international approach to the sale and strategies for targeted products.

“We have several advantages, but our neighbouring countries are targeting the same group of consumers. There is a need for various strategies,” she said, adding that one of them was Tourism Malaysia working together with Star Hill on its “Journey Through Time” exhibition for watches.

“This is one of the targeted strategies for a targeted product,” she said.

Azalina said the new name would be good for the domestic market although emphasis should also be given on the international market.

“There must be focus on the tourists when they come to Malaysia as that is behind the whole purpose of shopping.”

Azalina urged Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia to play a role in promoting the year-end sale.

“Airports should also have branding strategies to remind people and tourists of the sale when they come to Malaysia,” she said.

“I am sure the response will be better during the year-end sale, especially since there is also an increase in sales activities during the MMSC,” she sai d.

Initial reports from MasterCard showed a 24% increase in sales in the first week of MMSC compared to last year. Spending for the first weekend of the sale was US$55.4mil compared to US$44.6mil last year with transactions rising 5% from 780,911 to 819,440.

“Malaysians remained the highest spenders overall, recording a spending volume totaling US$50.3mil reflecting 785,670 transactions,” Azalina said.

Tourists spent US$5.1mil over 33,770 transactions.

“This shows a strong domestic market, which is very good as we are trying to promote local products, she said.

The Malaysia Savers Sale will be held from Nov 29 to Jan 4, 2009.

Source : STAR
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MATTA fair turns out good Thailand sales

TWENTY-TWO Thai sellers who attended the three-day Malaysian Association of Tour And Travel Agents (MATTA) consumer fair from September 5 to 7 in Kuala Lumpur were generally surprised the demand for Thailand was still strong among Malaysians.

Hatyai Good Morning Tour managing director, Mr Jason Teoh, said: "We were initially hesitant about attending the show as we were not confident there would be a demand. But the good sales surprised us, although demand is a little softer than last year."

The Royal Paradise Hotel sales manager, Ms Wantana Chaimanee, said: "We received many FIT bookings for the first week of October, as well as during the Malaysian school holidays in November and December. "

The hotel is running on full capacity for the first week of October, which coincides with the Muslim religious festival of Hari Raya Aidil Fitri.

Twin Lotus Hotel manager, Mr Buntoon Pimton, was pleased that he could sell 30 room nights on the opening day of the fair, which fell on a working day. Hence, it was less crowded than on the second and final day.

Kuala Lumpur-based Summit Holidays COO, Mr Teow Beng Hong, said purchase of packages for departures in September was generally slow, but beyond that, demand for Thailand was good.

Source : TTG
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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Thousands throng Matta Fair

Thousands of people attracted by bargain deals and great holiday offers thronged Matta Fair 2008 which opened at Putra World Trade Centre yesterday.

The organisers expect some 70,000 people to attend the fair which has over 200 exhibitors occupying 880 booths.

Organising committee chairman Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun said visitors have a chance to win the grand prize of two Round the World tickets by participating in the Buyers Contest.

Traditional dance performances from different countries such as Taiwan, Australia and Indonesia were featured yesterday.

Special appearances by Batman, Tweety Bird and Bugs Bunny characters were jointly organised by AirAsia, Tourism Queensland, Gold Coast Tourism and Western Australia Tourism.

Firefly Sdn Bhd managing director Eddy Leong said response from the public at this year’s fair was “80% higher than last year” with a very high percentage of sales for Langkawi and Koh Samui flights.

“It is only the first day and Firefly flights at RM5 to Langkawi is almost taken up whereas it is almost impossible to get seats for the holiday packages that come with zero fares,” he said.

As for Koh Samui, Leong said that it was more popular among couples and foreigners.

Firefly’s promotional fares for flights exclusively at Matta are RM5 for all destinations and RM0 with Firefly Holiday packages.

Source : STAR
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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Tourism Malaysia adds Pangkor Island to agenda

TOURISM Malaysia will be promoting Pangkor Island, Perak, next year, along with other new destinations including Desaru in Johor and Cameron Highlands in Pahang.

Inaccessibility is one of the key factors that has kept Pangkor Island in the shadows of other more well-known island resort destinations in West Malaysia, such as Langkawi Geopark and Penang.

Air accessibility to Pangkor is currently limited to Berjaya Air, which operates return flights five times weekly to Pangkor from its hub at Subang Airport. Its 48-seater, Dash 7 aircraft, with its short landing and short take-off, is suitable for the 879m runway at Pangkor Airport.

Already, Berjaya Air has teamed up with Pangkor Island Beach Resort for a joint promotional package called Fly and Stay Free, valid during this low season until December 19.

The package includes a return flight from Subang to Pangkor Island with Berjaya Air, accommodation in Ocean Wing (twin-sharing room), daily buffet breakfast and free non-motorised land and sea sports activities. There are several categories of prices, depending on room type. Travel agents receive a 10 per cent commission on packages sold.

Berjaya Air business development senior manager, Ms Yvonne Lim, said, the tie-up was a chance to create more awareness for the destination and for the airline which started flying to Pangkor since 1998, adding the average load factor to the island was 60 per cent.

Source : TTG
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Eco-tourism projects fall flat

Certain areas of completed eco-tourism projects cannot be fully utilised as equipment and facilities were either not adequately prepared or non-existent, according to the Auditor-General’s Report.

“For example, the RM190,000 Taman Alam Research Centre in Kuala Selangor is now being used as a multi-purpose hall as the equipment needed for it to function as a research centre was not obtained,” the report said.

The report also said 45 of the 60 eco-tourism areas approved under the Eighth and Ninth Malaysia Plans, were not “‘potential areas” as identified under the National Eco-Tourism Plan.

The Plan, formulated at the end of 1996 by the Tourism Ministry with the World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia, aimed to promote nature-based tourism while preserving the environment and ensuring sustainable development.

The report said implementation of eco-tourism projects under the Eighth Malaysia Plan was “less than satisfactory” with only half of the 20 projects completed.

Among the problems were appointing project consultants, contractors who lacked experience, delays in preparing project briefs and identifying appropriate land.

In a statement yesterday, the Tourism Ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Dr Ong Hong Peng said they abided by the report but felt the National Eco-Tourism Plan needed to be re-evaluated as it was drawn up in 1996

Source : STAR
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Analysts turn cautious on AirAsia

AIRASIA Bhd’s weak financial performance for the six months ended June raised few eyebrows.

Most analysts were not surprised. While some are now in the midst of revising their estimates downwards, some are still optimistic of the budget carrier’s long-term prospects.

AirAsia saw its net profit for the second quarter ended June 30 plunge 95% to RM9.42mil from RM185mil a year ago after accounting for deferred taxation, mainly due to a RM77mil translation loss resulting from the weakened ringgit.

Despite its weaker results, most analysts have not removed the stock from their radar, with some even making a “buy” call with a target price of RM1.30.

However, there is no lack of sceptics when it comes to AirAsia. UBS AG, which has downgraded the budget carrier to “sell” from “neutral”, predicted two years of losses and advised investors to sell the stock.

In the first quarter, AirAsia fended off dire profit warnings when more than six airlines, mainly low-cost carriers, ceased operations after being hit by soaring oil prices and intense competition.

However, passenger numbers for AirAsia during its second quarter climbed 20% year-over-year to 2.8 million and average fare rose 16%.

Instead, it was a 65% jump in fuel costs and a RM77mil charge related to the ringgit’s decline that caused turbulence to AirAsia’s figures.

For the three months ended June 30, AirAsia’s revenue soared 41% to RM608.4mil and core operating profit lifted 2% to RM30mil from RM29.4mil in the previous corresponding period.

Its ancillary revenue jumped 60% to RM50.3mil during the period under review.

AirAsia also introduced a checked-bag fee to partially offset the higher fuel prices without undermining passenger demand.

Chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes was quoted as saying a downturn would ultimately reward AirAsia with “untold fortunes”.

“We continue to grow when others recoil, we enhance our service quality when others are scaling back, introduce new routes when others are cancelling destinations and continue to offer low fares when others are raising them.

“As the turbulent industry unfolds, AirAsia will emerge as the market leader.”

When AirAsia first took flight in 2001, critics said it would not survive two months, but AirAsia has vindicated itself and delivered.

Many believe that the weaker financial performance is just a temporary setback for the carrier.

AirAsia has encountered and overcome many adversities, including high fuel prices, in the early stages of its operation.

Many analysts believe new routes and fleet expansion would continue to underpin AirAsia’s growth, moving forward.

Source : STAR
[tags : ]

Tourists unaffected by emergency in Bangkok

Some tour agents in Penang are cautious about travelling to Thailand while others say the country’s tourism industry is unaffected by the state of emergency in Bangkok.

Golden First Travel & Tours (Butterworth) Sdn Bhd tour manager Desmond Ang said many of his customers still wanted to travel to Thailand despite the unstable political situation.

“Many of them are used to Thailand’s uncertain political climate, especially in the last two years. So, we are continuing with the tours there,” he said yesterday

He said the company had scheduled tour packages to Bangkok for today and on Saturday, adding that it conducted about five trips there every month.

Jetspeed Travel Sdn Bhd advised customers to travel when the political situation there improved.

“We expect business to be affected by the unrest in Thailand,” said its sales personnel who wished to be known only as Phang. The company usually took about 200 tourists to Bangkok in a week.

KTMB Butterworth station master Shuadi Abdul Ghani said the daily international express train from Bangkok to Butterworth had been suspended since Friday.

Also suspended is the bimonthly Eastern and Orient Express (E&O) train that runs from Singapore-Kuala Lumpur-Butterworth-Bangkok and vice-versa.

Shuadi said the daily Express Senandung Langkawi between Kuala Lumpur and Haadyai would only go up to Padang Besar for the time being.

He said full refunds were being made to those who had bought tickets to board the particular trains since Friday.

Shuadi however, said, he was in contact with his counterparts in Haadyai and would advise passengers when the services resumed.

For details call KTMB at 03-22671200 or 04-3237962.

Source : STAR
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AirAsia to offer exclusive deals at Mattta Fair

AirAsia is offering fares to local and overseas destinations from as low as RM10 as well as holiday packages from RM156 as part of its largest-ever participation at this year’s Matta Fair.

Its regional head of commercial Kathleen Tan said that while the airfares were available online from its website, the Go Holiday packages, which include flight and accommodation, would only be on offer at the fair.

Matta Fair will be held at the Putra World Trade Centre from Friday to Sunday.

Tan said the Go Holiday packages for three-day, two-night trips were priced from RM156 to domestic destinations and from RM165 to international destinations.

“We are aware that the crowd that goes to this fair is different from those who book our tickets and packages online. This is why we have made these offers only available at the fair site only,” she said.

Tan added that the airline was also working closely with travel agents at the fair to enable them to come up with special tour packages.

“AirAsia is also working closely with Tourism Queensland, Gold Coast Tourism and Western Australia Tourism for the fair to promote AirAsia X’s destinations in Australia.

“Especially flown in from Queensland will be Warner Movie World’s Batman, Tweety and Bugs Bunny. The cartoon characters will add to the show’s atmosphere with four daily performances,” Tan said.

Those buying a flight or accommodation from the low-cost carrier will be eligible to enter a “Spin the Wheel” competition and stand a chance to win a variety of prizes. They include return air tickets to one of AirAsia’s destinations, free passes to tourist attractions, hotel accommodation, gift vouchers and MP3 players.

Source : Star
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Eye on Malaysia to be relocated to Malacca

IF YOU visit Taman Tasik Titiwangsa in Kuala Lumpur at night from now on, you will be sure to feel a sense of emptiness. Why?

New base: The Eye on Malaysia will be relocated to Malacca soon.

There is a vacuum there now that the lights of the iconic Eye on Malaysia at the lake garden are switched off following the final day of its operation there on Merdeka Day.

The 60m-high Ferris wheel had been operating at the Taman Titiwangsa since January last year, but it will be dismantled and relocated to Malacca this week.

According to Widyanty Yusope, the executive director of MST AD Suria Sdn Bhd, the operator of the Eye on Malaysia, the structure was originally put up in conjunction of the Visit Malaysia Year 2007 (VMY’07), but its operation was extended to Aug 31 this year, following popular demand.

“With the conclusion of the VMY’07, our contract has also come to an end,” Widyanty said.

Starting on Thursday: Cross explaining the dismantling process of the Ferris wheel.

“We are sad to leave Lake Titiwangsa,” MST AD Suria events marketing executive Rahyu Waris said..

Throughout the 20 months at Lake Titiwangsa, the Ferris wheel with 42 gondolas had attracted nearly 1.8 million visitors.

The once quiet Taman Titiwangsa was bustling with activities following the setting up of the tourist attraction, which took visitors up in the air to view the breathtaking Kuala Lumpur skyline during the 12-minute ride.

Widyanty: The Eye on Malaysia will be opened to public in October in Malacca.

Next to the wheel, there was an Eye Cafe for visitors to enjoy a cuppa beside the scenic lake.

The dismantling work will start on Thursday, led by four engineers from the German-Swiss manufacturer and assisted by 16 local workers.

“Only the manufacturer’s engineers and technicians know how to dismantle each part of the giant wheel and how to specially load the parts into the containers,” operations manager Graeme Cross said.

The first few steps of the dismantling process involve clearing up the walkway where visitors queued up to get on to the Ferris wheel, and taking down the fencing and entrance roof.

“After clearing the loading base, the gondolas will be taken off, followed by the storm bars, rim beams, spokes, globes and finally the axle,” Cross said.

“Given the optimum conditions, including fair weather, the work will be completed within six days. All the parts will be transported to Malacca, while the steel pins currently holding the parts together will be replaced with new ones,” he said.

In the historical city, the structure will be permanently installed at Kota Laksamana at the Malacca River mouth, close to the Straits of Malacca.

“It will be a 1.6ha leisure park equipped with a water screen, two restaurants and a space exhibition. We will develop it in three phases,” Widyanty said.

The structures at the park, according to her, will be a combination of modern and traditional buildings.

“It will be opened to the public in October and we target to have 700,000 visitors for the first year there,” Widyanty said.

Source : STAR
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Ireka to build Hotel & Convention Centre in Sandakan

Ireka Corp Bhd unit Ireka Engineering & Construction Sdn Bhd has secured a contract worth RM195mil from ICSD Ventures Sdn Bhd.

The contract is for the proposed construction of a 26-storey commercial building, including five-storey shopping complex, four-storey convention centre and 12-storey hotel in Sandakan, Sabah, on a design-and-build basis, the company said in a statement.

Works are expected to be completed on Nov 30, 2010

Source : STAR
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"Eye on Malaysia" series next year

The Discovery Channel will premiere a series comprising five half-hour documentaries on the Malaysian culture and way of life by local film-makers, next year, said Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

Dubbed “Eye on Malaysia”, he said the programme, a smart partnership between the ministry and National Film Development Corporation and Discovery Networks Asia Pacific, was aimed at harnessing the talent of local film-makers.

Interested applicants are invited to submit an original story outline or treatment for a 30-minute documentary.

They have until Oct 13 to submit their story outline or treatment and proposed production budget for the documentary which explores issues or events relating to the theme.

Further details on the “Eye on Malaysia” can be obtained at

Source : STAR
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Tune Hotels at RM2

2 to 7 September 2008

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Extended Booking Period

Stay Period 10 Sep 2008 - 30 Apr 2009

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Kota Kinabalu - RM2 / night

Kuala Lumpur - RM15 / night

Visit to book

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Source : shoppingNsales
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