THE Kingwood Group has undergone tremendous growth in the last 20 years.
From the humble beginning of owning and running small family-style hotels in Miri, the group will soon become Sarawak’s largest privately-owned and managed hotel chain.
In the late 1980s, Datuk Hii Yu Peng and his son King Chiong decided to diversify into the tourism industry from their core timber and construction business.
The decision led to the establishment of Rinwood Inn in Miri. The 49-room hotel has since changed its name to Kingwood Inn in line with the group’s brand.
After that, the father-and-son team has never looked back.
They have successfully expanded their hotel chain to Sibu, Kuching and Mukah. And each time, they built bigger hotels with better and more comfortable facilities for their guests.
“With the completion of the extension to Kingwood Hotel in Sibu in 15 months, our chain will have more than 700 rooms, making us the largest locally-owned and managed hotel chain in Sarawak,” Kingwood Group chief executive officer King Chiong told StarMetro in Sibu recently.
From Miri, the group set up its flagship hotel – the 168-room Kingwood Hotel in Sibu – which commenced business in 1993.
Located on the bank of the Rajang River adjacent to the Rajang Esplanade, the hotel is now undergoing a major extension which will see an additional 250 rooms when it is completed in June 2011.
Work on the RM140mil extension is on schedule and more than 50% completed. The six-storey podium of the 18-storey new extension will be completed before October to cater for international conferences, accommodating more than 2,000 people.
Apart from being the largest hotel in Sarawak with 418 rooms, it will have the columnless Kingwood Ballroom which will seat 2,500 people and be the largest ballroom in the state.
Other new and outstanding features of the hotel are a multi-purpose hall that can accommodate 1,500 people, a four-storey car park with about 300 parking bays, a 929sqm supermarket on the ground floor and an esplanade fronting the hotel complex.
Twelve escalators and two lifts will be installed to serve guests and customers from the ground floor to the 5th floor of the podium. The new and old wings will be connected by sky bridges on the 7th and 9th floors while on the ground floor the two wings will be connected by a spacious common lobby.
King Chiong said the decision made 25 years ago to venture into the hospitality industry was the right move as the industry was growing at an encouraging pace in the state.
Sarawak, he added, was endowed with many natural tourism products and was also culturally rich.
“The trend in the last two decades have been on eco and cultural tourism and Sarawak is lucky that it has both products and the state is fully backing the development of tourism along these lines,” King Chiong noted.
In line with the state’s aggressive move into the tourism industry, the Kingwood Group spearheads its own expansion in the hospitality industry.
Its other hotel properties are in Kuching and Mukah.
In Kuching, Kingwood Inn at Jalan Padungan has 90 rooms. It was opened for business in May, 1991.
With the elevation of Mukah as a division in 2002, the Kingwood Group pioneered the development of two international-class hotels in Mukah.
One is the 99-room Kingwood Resort and the other is the 200-room Kingwood Hotel.
The Kingwood Resort, located on a beach fronting the South China Sea 12km from Mukah Town, was opened in December 2005 while the 3-star Kingwood Hotel located in the town centre opened its doors for business in July 2008. It mainly serves business and corporate clients.
King Chiong said that Kingwood Resort had won a national and two international awards. It won the Malaysian Tourism Award for Excellence in Hotel Services in the 4-star category in 2006.
The international awards won were the Global Quality Management-New Millennium Award accorded by Trade Leader’s Club in Madrid, Spain, on January 28 last year and the Golden Award for Quality and Business Prestige given by Otherways Management and Consulting Association in Berlin, Germany, on March 30 last year. Since 1983, only eight resorts or hotels in Malaysia have won this award.
“These awards came as a surprise but they really help boost the image of our group and our resort in particular,” King Chiong said.
With the Sarawak Corridor Of Renewable Energy regional headquarters being located in Mukah, Kingwood Resort and Hotel in Mukah will certainly stand to benefit from the large influx of businessmen and professionals in the next decade.
Plans are on the drawing board to build more facilities at Kingwood Resort. These include several chalets, a spa and an international-class 18-hole golf course
On manpower, King Chiong said that most of the employees were locals with more than 70% of them bumiputra.
He said it was the group’s policy to give employment priority to the local people regardless of race and religion.
The five hotels under the group employ 315 personnel.
The Kingwood Group also runs a travel agency in Kuching and Sibu where it provides services such as airline ticketing and hotel accommodation for in-bound and out-bound tours.
Source : STAR
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