Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Saujana Hotel Kuala Lumpur Launches Its Five New Promo Packages for 2010

The Saujana Hotel Kuala Lumpur is inviting its guests to avail of discounts, freebies, and other perks with its five latest promo packages for the year.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – The Saujana Hotel Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia is currently offering five new promo packages that grant special treats and privileges to guests during their stay. All are valid for overnight stays for up to two persons and can be availed all throughout the year.

The Retail Therapy & City Discovery Package is ideal for shopping enthusiasts who will book an overnight stay for two at the hotel's Superior Room Single or Superior Room Double. Guests will get a half-day city tour and complimentary buffet breakfast for two at Suria Cafe, in-room broadband Internet, and scheduled one-way shuttle service to nearby shopping malls when they avail of this offer. Package rate is MYR 473.00 and is valid until 31 December 2010.

The Pamper and Rejuvenate Package is applicable to overnight stays for two at the hotel's Deluxe Room Single or Deluxe Room Double. Guests who avail of this package will be entitled to breakfast for two served in their room, two 60-minute Ancient Balinese Massage sessions at The Spa & Med Beauty, complimentary in-room broadband Internet, and complimentary scheduled one-way shuttle service to nearby shopping malls. Package rate is MYR 586.00 and is valid until 31 December 2010.

The Celebration Package targets couples looking to celebrate special occasions in private. It can be availed when booking an overnight stay for two at the hotel's Executive Suite Single or Executive Suite Double. Guests will receive a welcome cake and bouquet of roses, breakfast for two served in their room, a four-course set dinner for two at Senja Restaurant, complimentary in-room broadband Internet and scheduled one-way shuttle service to nearby shopping malls, and a return airport transfer to KL International Airport. Package rate is MYR 1,361.00 and is valid until 31 December 2010.

The Play Around Lifestyle Package caters especially to golfers who will make overnight bookings for two at either the hotel's Superior Room Single, Superior Room Double, Deluxe Room Single, or Deluxe Room Double accommodations. The promo entitles guests to one round of 18-hole golf at Saujana Golf and Country Club, buddy and caddy fees for two golfers, complimentary buffet breakfast for two at Suria Cafe, in-room broadband Internet, and scheduled one-way shuttle service to nearby malls. Promo rates start at MYR 646.00, valid until 31 December 2010.

The Weekend Package is for guests planning a quick weekend getaway. Applicable to an overnight stay for two at any of the hotel's available rooms, guests who will avail of this offer will be treated to complimentary buffet breakfast for two at Suria Cafe, in-room broadband Internet, and scheduled one-way shuttle service to nearby shopping malls. Promo rates start at MYR 200.00 and can be availed from 25 April to 31 December 2010.

All packages are rates are subject to 10% service charge and 5% government tax, and may be changed without prior notice. The packages are also not valid for groups and cannot be used in conjunction with other promos.

The Saujana Hotel Kuala Lumpur provides 210 elegant, well-appointed accommodations in the bustling Malaysian city. With sprawling acres of gardens surrounding the property, it is ideal for guests looking for a relaxing and private place to spend a quick getaway within Kuala Lumpur.

For more about The Saujana Hotel Kuala Lumpur and its five new promo packages, visit www.shr.my/the-saujana. Book online using its direct reservation system and get instant confirmation.

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Marina Bay Sands Opens Today at Sentosa

The Marina Bay Sands Opens at 3.18pm Today at Sentosa, Singapore

Equipped with Casino, Hotel, Meeting & Exhibition Facilities, Restaurants & Shops

Contact : Tel: 65 6688 8868

Fifth Jazz Fest Eyes RM10 Million In Tourism Revenue

The Fifth Miri International Jazz Festival (MIJF), which will be held here on May 14 and 15, is expected to generate RM10 million in tourism revenue, said Sarawak Tourism and Heritage Minister, Tan Sri Dr George Chan.

He said that since Sarawak Tourism Board (STB), the MIJF organiser, had set a higher target of 10,000 crowd turnout, it would likely generate greater income.

"Last year the festival managed to reap in about RM6 million in revenue.

"The tourists will definitely stay for two to three days, at least.

"They will be spending their money in the hotels, the food outlets and others who provide services for tourists," he said at a press conference organised by STB here on Saturday.

Dr Chan, who is also the Deputy Chief Minister, said he was confident STB would achieve the target despite the current sales of tickets of just above 2,000.

Eight international bands will be featured in this year's festival, comprising James Cotton Blues Band from US, Amina Figarova Sextet (Holland), Ricardo Herz (Brazil), Mellow Motif (Thailand), Michael Shrieve's Spellbinder (US), SimakDialog (Indonesia), Norbert Susemihl's New Orleans All Stars (Denmark/Germany/US) and Jeremy Tordjman (Switzerland).

Meanwhile, STB chief executive officer, Datuk Rashid Khan, said they had been conducting aggressive sales of tickets for the past few months particularly among the expatriates in the state, Brunei and Sabah.

He said these expatriates were among the majority who had been enquiring about the jazz festival and their numbers were significant.

Source : Bernama

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Ministry to work closely with Pata in boosting tourism

THE Tourism Ministry will intensify collaboration with the Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata) to strengthen and diversify its global network.

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit said that Pata chapters served as a valuable platform in boosting tourism as the association had a strong reputation.

“We look forward to collaborating with Pata in promoting sustainability in the Sarawak tourism industry. Malaysia has a lot to offer, and by networking with Pata, we can achieve this,” he said when officiating at the Pata Foundation Charity Gala Dinner at Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) near Kuching on Sunday.

Selamat datang: Sarawak Cultural Village maidens giving a warm welcome to delegates at the meeting on Sunday.

Dawos said the state’s races and ethnic groups living in harmony in a pristine landscape would certainly be a dream attraction for many.

Over 100 Pata delegates were given a glimpse of this through performances and fun activities by SCV’s “warriors and maidens”.

The delegates also tasted local dishes and sweet delicacies.

Pata corporate communications director Dale Lawrence said the association raised US$100,000 (RM320,000) for the foundation in the first half of this year and US$25,000 (RM80,000) through auctions.

The night featured a silent auction following the Pata awards presentation in which the Life Membership Award went to Pata board member Gloria Henderson. Another board member Luzi Matzig won the Chairman’s Award.

The Merit Award went to John King, also a board member, while Taylors University and College programme director Tony K. Thomas clinched the Face of the Future Award.

As for awards for chapters, Micronesia Chapter received the Excellent Chapter Award while the Indian Chapter received the Spirit Chapter Award.

Source : STAR

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The View in Penang’s Hotel Equatorial is spectacular, both for food and the vista

A SIGHT to behold and flavours to savour — Hotel Equatorial Penang’s The View restaurant is where breathtakingly majestic scenery and delightfully exquisite cuisine come together in beguiling splendour.

Perched 150m above sea level, the French fine dining establishment’s elegant interior frames an expanse of floor to ceiling glass windows that afford panoramic views of the island’s south-eastern regions and coastline beyond.

The undulating fairways, punctuated by dense treetops of an adjacent international golf course is laid out below, the iconic Penang Bridge looms in the distance and pure white clouds drift by against bluish skies, seemingly within reach.

Come sunset, the majestic piece of scenic art is transformed into an enthralling play of glittering lights that brighten up the night sky, the ideal backdrop for a romantic evening.

The cuisine is no less spectacular, with an appealing symphony of Provencal and Mediterranean flavours that have earned it a place in the prestigious Miele Guide for Asia’s finest restaurants in its 2009/2010 issue.

Only 400 restaurants in Asia have been listed in the current edition, all having undergone rounds of meticulous judging and also taking into account opinion from the public and respected critics.

With an emphasis on the freshest and most seasonal products available, the restaurant has carved a reputation over the last two decades for its premium standards and food quality, playing host to the most discerning connoisseurs as well as dignitaries.

Current highlights include the daily Executive Express Lunch and Semi-Buffet Dinners.

For the dinner, just pick your main course from the extensive menu selection, and help yourself to appetisers, soups and desserts from a buffet line at no extra charge.

The same applies for lunch when there are reservations for 10 or more – otherwise the appetisers, soups and desserts are served individually.

Amongst the starters you get to enjoy include Fresh Oyster in Mignote Sauce, Pan Seared Tuna with Mango and Lime Salsa, Roma Cherry Tomato with Stuffed Eggplant Caviar, and Grilled Zucchini with Boursin Cheese and Basil Tomato Salsa.

Each of executive chef Junious Dickerson’s creations explode with flavour the moment you sink your teeth into it.

The Lobster Bisque, served with goat cheese and garlic cracker, is one of the restaurant’s most popular soups. Rich, luxurious and packed with shellfish flavour, it’s little wonder why.

If you’re in the mood for something light for main course, then go for the Filet de Morue (Canadian cod with risotto, red wine reduction and parmesan disc). Otherwise, the Carre d Agneau (crusted New Zealand lamb chops with ratatouille and homemade pesto) is a savoury alternative.

The Cote de Veau, a milk-fed Dutch veal chop with Yorkshire pudding and chanterelle mushrooms, is The View’s latest signature item. Juicy and melts in your mouth, the newest addition is bound to gain a huge following.

Desserts spring up a selection of homemade pastries, cheesecake, creme caramel, tarts and heavenly tiramisu, beautifully ornamented with chocolate shavings, fruits and even gold leaf.

There’s also an extensive selection of the finest vintages to complement your meal. If you’re undecided, just get some recommendations from the experienced sommelier.

The restaurant seats up to 93 persons and also has glass-panelled private dining rooms for those seeking a little more seclusion.

The View is open on weekdays for lunch (12pm to 2.30pm) and dinner (6.30pm to 10pm), and only for dinners on Saturday. It is closed on Sundays and public holidays. For reservations, call 04-6438111.

Source : STAR
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Friday, April 09, 2010

Raffles Hotel Sold to Qatari Diar for $275m

The historic Raffles Hotel in Singapore, famed for its colonial grandeur and the Singapore Sling cocktail, is to change hands in a deal worth $275 million (£180 million).

The luxury 103-room hotel, a favourite watering hole of literary figures including Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling, looks set to be acquired from Fairmont Raffles Hotels International by Qatari Diar, part of the state-controlled sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.

Talks over a deal come a year after The Times reported that Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the Saudi billionaire who controls Fairmont Raffles, had secretly put the 123-year-old hotel up for sale with an asking price of more than $350 million - a story that was later denied by the Prince's Kingdom Holding Company.

News of a possible sale of Raffles comes hot on the heels of the purchase this week by Qatari Diar of a 40 per cent stake in Fairmont Raffles itself, a deal that reduces Kingdom's stake from 58 per cent to 35 per cent. Colony Capital, the American property and private equity investor, is cutting its holding to 22 per cent.

The $847 million headline price comprises $467 million for a 40 per cent stake, another $105 million in the form of hotel management contracts that Qatari Diar will award to Fairmont Raffles on a number of other hotels it owns, plus $275 million for an unnamed hotel property.

Source : eHotelier
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Bangkok hotel, property and MICE sectors badly hit

Hotels in Bangkok, though not yet put out of business, have seen their occupancy rates crash to 2040 per cent due to the sprawling redshirt protest, which has also parched business for serviced apartments, condominium projects and meetings and exhibitions.

"Hotels cannot stop operating, but they decided to close some [food and beverage] outlets," Prakit Chinamourphong, president of the Thai Hotels Association, said yesterday.

Average occupancy at most hotels located near the Rajprasong intersection plummeted from 6570 per cent to 20 per cent as guests fled and no new ones came to fill up the vacancies. With so few customers, the hotels had to shutter some of their food and beverage outlets temporarily.

In other areas of the capital hotel occupancy plunged from more than 60 per cent to 3040 per cent as the red shirts fanned out through the city. Hotels have also been hit by a drought in advance bookings from overseas.

The hotel industry has been losing more than Bt300 million per day, he added.

Sisdivachr Cheewarattanapron, honorary president of the ThaiChinese Tourism Promotion Association, said Thailand had already forfeited Bt100 million from China.

He said 80 of the 100 flights chartered by China for Songkran had been cancelled. Outbound tourists in China are estimated at 40 million this year.

Domestic politics is driving away tourists from the country, which also promotes domestic destinations to attract international tourists. Tour operators overseas are promoting other countries such as Japan and Taiwan instead of Thailand.

"The political unrest has brought hopelessness to the tourism industry. We are calling on everyone to end the problem, so we can reclaim tourists," he said.

Quality Houses is suffering at least a 10percentagepoint drop in occupancy for the Songkran festival at its Centre Point serviced apartment, which is now 70 per cent full.

Suwanna Buddhaprasart, senior executive vice president, said prolonged protests would only worsen the situation and both sides should renew negotiations.

The inconvenience that results, which also chills demand for city condos, will not benefit the protesters, she said.

Aliwassa Pathnadabutr, managing director of CB Richard Ellis (Thailand), said some clients whose condo projects are located along the Skytrain routes had halted marketing activities for the time being. They should resume after midMay.

Foreigners looking to invest in downtown property have also adopted a waitandsee attitude until the dust settles.

Capital inflow has been stagnant since 2009, she said.

Akapol Sorasuchart, president of the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau, said four of the events it had supported to be hosted in Thailand were cancelled, while nine events were postponed due to the political chaos.

The country is expected to kiss goodbye to Bt450 millionBt500 million due to the cancellations and rescheduling involving 6,234 delegates, he said.

The cancellations were for the Apollo Tyres India meeting, the World GM meeting of the Millennium Hilton Hotel, Dupont Indonesia's sales meeting and a Dell India conference.

Most cancellations were in the meeting and incentive category. Those activities were transferred to Hong Kong, Dubai and Malaysia.

The postponed events include the Agel World Tour with 4,000 guests.

The total damage to the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (MICE) business could rise to Bt800 million, said Akapol.

The TCEB has been communicating with representatives overseas about the problem to keep Thailand on the radar screen as a MICE city.

TCEB may need to review its MICE targets - 780,000 MICE visitors and Bt56 billion revenue - he added.

Kongkrit Hiranyakit, chairman of the Tourism Council of Thailand, said the political turmoil would sap tourist confidence over the next few months.

Arrivals at Suvarnabhumi Airport are already off by 15 per cent every day for damage of Bt140 millionBt150 million per day. The figure is expected to increase if the situation is not eased.

The council said the country had already missed out on business opportunities worth Bt50 billion in 2008 and Bt100 billion in 2009 due to the political strife. The shortfall will continue if the political problems keep up.

The country's image and tourist confidence have also taken a big blow as a consequence, it said.

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Travel advisory for Malaysians planning Bangkok trip

Malaysians living in Bangkok and those planning to go there have been advised to take necessary precautions, following the state of emergency imposed by the Thai Government.

Malaysian ambassador to Thailand Datuk Husni Zai Yaacob said a curfew between midnight and 6am Thursday has been imposed.

"At the moment, the situation is calm. The military is trying to persuade the protestors to leave the business district area," Husni said when contacted Wednesday night.

The redshirt protests have been going on for the last three weeks and turned for the worse yesterday when protesters stormed parliament building, forcing Cabinet members to flee.

Husni said the embassy was monitoring the situation and has not received any distress calls from any Malaysians.

"However, I advice Malaysians to avoid areas where the protests are taking place and monitor the situation through any available channel," he added.

Malaysians who have any queries can contact the embassy at 66-2-629 6800.

Source : STAR
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Tourist Destinations Should Retain Uniqueness

Tourist destinations should retain their uniqueness to attract foreign tourists to the country, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen said.

She said this was apart from efforts to attract tourists by organising world class activities and programmes and tourism promotions.

"Travel agency STA Travel UK named Malaysia the cheapest of eight holiday destinations worldwide while Lonely Planet put Malaysia among the ten best countries to visit," she said at the ministry's excellent service award 2009 and Innovation Day 2010 here on Thursday.

Ng's text of speech was delivered by Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit.

She urged ministry staff to attract more tourists to visit the country and to upgrade knowledge and skills.

"We have to cooperate to meet the 20 million tourist arrivals targeted. It will be great if we can exceed the target," she added.

Source : bernama
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French Tourist Loses Cash, Documents In Snatch Theft in Kota Baharu

A French tourist, who is on a mission to travel around the world, lost RM1,000 in cash and other belongings, including personal document, in a snatch theft here hours after arriving from Thailand on Tuesday night.

Barte Salome, 24, said she was walking with a friend at Jalan Pintu Pong here at 10pm when a man on a motorcycle snatched her hand bag.

Speaking to Bernama here, Salome, said apart from cash, she also lost a camera, passport, credit card as well as the key to a hotel in Thailand.

"I came here on the way to Pulau Perhentian in Terengganu," said Salome, who was still traumatised by the incident.

She reported the matter to the Kota Baharu police who brought her to the Tourism Malaysia office here where she was given a bus ticket to go to Kuala Lumpur to have her document processed at the French Embassy.

Tourism Malaysia Kelantan director Muhammad Zaki Talib said the office also provided her with some cash.

"I would like to thank Tourism Malaysia for its kindness," she said.

Muhammad Zaki said Tourism Malaysia sympathised with her predicament, saying he also felt embarrassed by the incident.

Salome said she hoped that the French Embassy would help her return to France.

Source : Bernama
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Shoe Festival Collects RM5 Million In Sales, Attracts 45,000 Visitors

The three-day International Shoe Festival held here recently was a great success, collecting RM5 million in sales and drawing over 45,000 visitors.

"The success of the first Malaysia International Shoe Festival has given us much inspiration for next year's festival which will showcase even more of Malaysia's popular and upcoming shoe brands," Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen told a news conference at her office, here, Thursday.

She said buyers at the festival were not only from Malaysia but also from Indonesia, China, the Middle East, India, South Africa, Singapore, France, Iran, Australia and Korea.

"With the success and commitment towards this event, we believe our vision to position Malaysia as the 'Shoe Capital of the East' and the 'Sole of the Equator' will be achieved.

"The ministry is committed to promoting Malaysia's footwear industry as a new niche to the lifestyle tourism market and we hope to see more participation from local shoe designers and manufacturers next year."

Dr Ng said the success of the festival could be attributed to the depth and authenticity of popular local shoe brands showcased and the luxury couture collection of internationally-acclaimed shoe designer Datuk Jimmy Choo as well.

She said the amazing reception to this festival marked another milestone in Malaysian tourism's Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions (MICE) market and shoe manufacturing history.

The festival featured 86 exhibition booths by manufacturers of footwear and component accessories and other supporting industries. It was officiated by Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, wife of the prime minister.

Source : Bernama
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Pulau Redang aims to lure the rich with room rates no less than RM1,600

Pulau Redang — rated as one of the world’s most beautiful islands — is set to be turned into a getaway exclusively for the rich and famous.

Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said said the state government would no longer approve the construction of chalet-type accommodation on the renowned island, which is much visited by the diving community.

“Only hotels rated five-star and above will be allowed to be built,” he said when met after the state assembly sitting here yesterday.

In future, only wealthy individuals would be able to afford holidays in Pulau Redang as hotel rooms will cost no less than US$500 (RM1,599) a night, Ahmad said.

He that said with the decision to turn the island into a high-end holiday destination, current chalets catering for backpackers would have to upgrade and raise their rates.

Asked if the move would draw criticism from non-governmental organisations, Ahmad said it was the only way to save the surrounding rich marine life and prevent environmental destruction due to pollution and indiscriminate littering.

“Some of the budget accommodation places on the island have no proper sewage system and waste is directed to the sea, and this destroys the corals,” he said.

Apart from that, Pulau Redang is a jewel for Terengganu and the 10th most beautiful island in the world, Ahmad said.

“Efforts must be made to save the island from deteriorating environmentally. Those on budget excursions can visit other islands like Pulau Kapas and Pulau Perhentian that are equally charming.”

Pulau Redang, a popular holiday destination for locals as well as foreigners, attracts about 100,000 visitors annually including many who flock there to visit the marine park.

Terengganu Tourist Association deputy president Alex Lee lauded the move, saying that it was time for Malaysia to create its own niche market.

“Redang has only one five-star hotel and others are mostly budget accomodations,” he said.

He believed the move by Ahmad was initiated out of concern for the environment as damage to the corals had been extensive.

The owner of an eight-room hotel in Redang, however, was worried that his livelihood would be affected if Pulau Redang became an exclusive holiday destination.

He said the move would affect many holidaymakers, both local and foreign, who would not be able to afford to stay in Pulau Redang if the state government went ahead with the niche market proposal.

“I hope the state government will meet budget hotel and chalet operators in Redang to get our views and include us in the planning,” said the man, who wanted to be known only as Dina,

He also said the state government should ensure there was proper drainage and sewage on the island for better waste disposal.

Another chalet operator, Nik Kamal Nik Husin, 43, said the move would only burden the villagers on the island as many were renting out rooms to budget travellers.

He also said only a handful of irresponsible chalet operators were directing the waste into the sea.

The state government, he said, should build a centralised sewage treatment to deal with the waste disposal problem.

Source : STAR
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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Etihad Holidays offers new deals to Malaysia

Etihad Holidays, a division of Etihad Airways, has announced a new cooperative agreement with Tourism Malaysia to promote holiday packages to Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Langkawi and Kota Kinabalu.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said that as part of a special promotion running throughout April and May 2010, Etihad Airways would offer travellers a range of value-for-money holiday packages to popular destinations in Malaysia.

Mr Baumgartner said: “Malaysia is one of our key holiday destinations, offering travellers a rich culture and history from a mosaic of ethnicities. The special promotion offers a wide range of packages to popular beach front destinations, as well as city breaks in vibrant Kuala Lumpur.”

Etihad Holidays guests are being offered a range of bonus privileges, including: free flights for children; free accommodation for children in selected hotels; additional complimentary nights; free room upgrades; breakfast; airport transfers; and attractive discounts on a wide selection of services.

The sale period for the special offers runs from April 1 to May 31. The travel period for the offers is from April 1 to June 30 and the ‘kids fly free’ promotion is valid until June 10.

Etihad Holidays commenced its first partnership with Tourism Malaysia in 2007 and in 2009, Etihad Holidays received an award for ‘Best Foreign Tour Operator - West Asia’ by the Malaysian Ministry of Tourism.

Mr Baumgartner said: “We are committed to forging strong partnerships with tourism bodies in all of our destinations, offering our customers access to the best range of holiday packages under our Etihad Holidays World Deals. Today, we are pleased to announce our new agreement with Tourism Malaysia.”

Etihad Holidays also offers its World Deals program to destinations across the globe including Europe, US, Africa, Middle East and Asia, as well as Etihad’s newest destinations in Japan and Sri Lanka.

Source : Travel Daily News
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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Baggage Handling: MAS Fares Better Than Industry Benchmark

Reacting positively to customer complaints and continuously seeking ways to enhance processes, has helped Malaysia Airlines improve its baggage handling and missing incidents substantially over the years. According to data available, MAS' incident per 1,000-passenger/missing baggages, was brought down to 3.3 percent in 2009 when it carried 12.473 million passengers compared to 4.7 percent in 2006 (16.44 million).

"This is fairly better than the industry benchmark of 3.4 per cent and the important thing is, we are reducing it," MAS Airport Operation's Senior General Manager, Yusop Jaridi told Bernama in a recent interview. He also said the incident per 1,000 passenger/ mishandled baggages was significantly low at 2.4 per cent, compared with 10.8 per cent of the Association of European Airlines (AEA).

He added that MAS was able to solve 96.3 per cent of the incidents that happened last year. "Only a fraction of bags went completely missing," Yusop explained, while highlighting that baggage handling, is part of the airlines' corporate key performance index.

Such improvements, he said, was only possible due to constant communication not only within the company but also ground handlers such as Malaysia Airports Bhd, other airport authorities as well as customers. "Constant communication and improvement is the only way to address such issues, as the airline alone cannot solve the problem, in not being the sole contributing factor," he noted.

Yusop said according to SITA, the world's leading specialist in air transport communications and information technology (IT) solutions, 52 percent of baggage mishandling happened during aircraft transfers. The statistics showed that failure to load was at 16 per cent, ticketing error / bag switch / security / others at 13 per cent, Airport / customs / weather / space-weight restriction was at six per cent, loading / offloading error at seven per cent with arrival station mishandling and tagging error being at three per cent each.

The bigger contributing factor is also airport structure and the methods by which bags are transited, especially at complicated airports. "At the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, the bags travel almost 32 kilometers before they reach the aircraft and vice versa," MAS' Head Customer Relations, S. Pushpalata disclosed.

However, she said that as far customers are concerned, if they are checking in with MAS, it is the responsibility of the airline though this is not the case. "It is actually a shared responsibility of the airline, ground handlers as well as the customers among others in properly packing their items, not over stuffing and tagging their bags," said Yusop.

Going forward, in 2010, MAS has redesigned the baggage tag to reduce cases of bags being tagless, "although it is a minimum contributing factor".

"It can be the most sensitive issue though, as people mistakenly take someone elses bag and travel to another destination," he stated. "We have also sped up investigations into tagless bags, provided incentives for bag handlers, reminded passenger to reclaim the right bags and in 2007, introduced the computerised reconciliation departure system.

"The system automatically counts the number of pieces of luggage loaded on to the aircraft and compares this against what was checked-in, before departure. This has helped improve the whole process," Yusop said.

He also said to enhance the overall security of baggage handling at the KLIA, more close circuit television (CCTV) cameras would be fixed.

On subsequent delivery of missing bags that had been found, especially within Malaysia, MAS will deliver it to the homes of customers regardless of the distance and at no cost to them. However, in some countries, such a system is not allowed, and passengers have to come to the airport to collect their bag or bags.

Baggage not received by customers within 24 hours is compensated according to the different categories. For first class, the compensation is US$110, while for business and economy class, it is US$90 and US$60, respectively. "Payment is made at the airport and if claims exceed the above, it is forwarded to customer relations to review and process," said Puspalatha. She also said that damaged baggage had its own claims structure.

Pushpalata said annualy, MAS received about 14,000 feedbacks, including enquiries, suggestions, compliments and complaints.

Source : Bernama
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2009 Tourist Arrivals Up 7.2 Per Cent

Malaysia's tourist arrivals in 2009 rose 7.2 percent to 23.65 million compared to 22 million in 2008, Dewan Rakyat was told Tuesday.

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Dr James Dawos Mamit said most of the tourists were from Singapore, China, India and Middle East countries.

He said Singapore provided most with 12.73mil (11mil in 2008), up 15.7 percent, China (including Hong Kong and Macau ) contributed 1.01mil (949,864), up 7.4 percent.

"Tourists from India rose to 589,838 from 550,738, up 7.1 percent while Middle East countries gave 284,890 tourists, up 7.8 percent," he said when replying to a question by John Fernandez (DAP-Seremban).

To a supplementary question by Fernandez, Dawos said Tourism Malaysia had opened 42 offices worldwide to promote the country to foreign tourists.

He told Datuk Ismail Kasim (BN-Arau) that radio talk shows, seminars and advertising programmes were held to promote Malaysia.

They include two seminars in Johannesburg and Cape Town held during his visit to South Africa in February.

Source : Bernama
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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The New Romantic Ballroom at Swiss Garden KL

Couples planning to wed soon can check out the new romantic ballroom at Swiss-Garden Hotel Kuala Lumpur, replete with state-of-the-art audio visual facilities that promise to make your wedding memorable.

The Grand Hibiscus Ballroom is the latest addition to the hotel facilities, with 540sq metres of function space that can comfortably seat 400 people banquet style (40 tables) or 600 participants theatre-style, and can even be split up into two smaller rooms.

According to hotel corporate marketing communications manager Linda Evelyn Wong, the ballroom was opened last December and has since hosted several weddings.

But more than just weddings, the grand ballroom is also perfect for events and meetings with personalised services from the hotel’s banquet concierge.

The Grand Hibiscus Ballroom has a garden-inspired theme that is accentuated by vibrant hues, sienna fabric panelling with complementary creative LED lights.

Guests with smaller meetings or functions have the option of the Grand Lotus Room that comprises three meeting rooms with a total capacity of 200 guests theatre-style or 180 guests banquet-style.

This room is done in tan and olive fabric palette with contemporary ambience to suit the modern needs of meetings.

A media preview of the ballrooms ended with a sumptuous eight-course dinner featuring selected dishes from different set menus of the various floral-inspired wedding packages.

The Grand Hibiscus Ballroom is located on the third floor while the Grand Lotus Room is on the second floor.

Source : Star
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Starwood to bring W Hotel, Aloft Hotel to Malaysia

STARWOOD Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, which owns and operates hotels under nine brands, including Sheraton, Westin and Le Meridien, is in talks to bring two more hotel brands into Malaysia, namely W and aloft.

"We are in two pretty advanced (stage of) discussions in Kuala Lumpur. We are looking at (introducing) a W and an aloft brand," its senior vice-president acquisition and development for Asia Pacific, Matthew Fry, told Business Times in a recent interview in Singapore.

He said one negotiation was for a W hotel and residences that will be built from scratch, and may be ready in four years should the deal be sealed.

"The Kuala Lumpur City Centre and the Bukit Bintang areas are the focus for our W brand," he added.

On its aloft brand, Fry said that there could be one in Malaysia within the next 18 months. The location could be in Kuala Lumpur, Johor or Sabah.

"aloft, basically, has the DNA of, and is the spin-off of W. The hotel measures about 28 sq m compared with a W hotel, which is about 42 sq m to 48 sq m or bigger," he said. "aloft does not have as much public space, and the food and beverage offerings are not as elaborate."

W is described as one which provides the "wow" factor and a holistic lifestyle experience integrated into the brand's sensibility through contemporary restaurant concepts, glamorous nightlife experience and signature spas.

Meanwhile, Fry said that Starwood sees a lot of activities around Johor, especially in the east coast of the state, and would consider this area to have Starwood's representation.

Currently, Starwood operates five hotel brands in Malaysia and has confirmed a sixth - The St Regis.

The hotels operating in Malaysia include Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu, Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur, The Westin Kuala Lumpur and The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa.

In December 2009, it took over the management of The Andaman in Langkawi from General Hotel Management, and is now operating the property as a Luxury Collection.

The Starwood group also operates the Four Points by Sheraton Kuching and is scheduled to open the Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan in March 2011.

It has also confirmed the opening of The St Regis Hotels and Residences Kuala Lumpur in 2014.

Yet another brand which it operates in Malaysia is the Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort. It also part owns and manages the Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur.

On plans to divest its stake in Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, Fry said: "Our long-term strategy is to divest real estate holdings. At one point Starwood owned 190 hotels and we are now down to about high-50s.

"The long-term strategy is to divest our hotel ownership and become more of a management/franchise fee-based business. At one point 80 per cent of our income was from our own hotels and 20 per cent from fees. Our goal is to switch that.

"We are not actively looking (to sell). This particular estate (Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur) has not been discussed," he said.

The hotel is jointly owned by Indonesia's Rajawali group and Starwood.

Source : HotelsMag
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Holiday Villa Alor Star enjoys improving business

HOLIDAY Villa Hotel & Suites Alor Star said its corporate business is improving as it has more European guests working for large companies there staying for a longer time.

General manager Azhar Mohammad said the business has been improving since 2008 despite the global economy downturn.

"We have guests who have been staying with us since 2008. Some companies are expanding so there will be more jobs. We expect our revenue and hotel occupancy to grow by 15 per cent this year," he said in an interview with Business Times in Alor Star.

The companies include MMC-Gamuda JV, the main contractor for the RM12.5 billion Ipoh-Padang Besar electrified double tracking project (EDTP), and Asian Composites Manufacturing, an alliance between Sime Darby Bhd, Naluri Bhd and Boeing and Hexcel Corp, which supplies parts for Boeing.

Last year, the 4-star 156-room hotel closed at an average of 55 per cent occupancy. Azhar declined to reveal the hotel's revenue.

Azhar said the biggest contributor going forward will be the double tracks, which will have high-speed trains cutting travel time by almost half from Ipoh in Perak to Padang Besar, near the Thailand border.

"Once the tracks are completed, we will have more business and leisure guests from Singapore, Thailand and the Klang Valley. We are raising room rates accordingly," he said.

The hotel's average room rate is RM170 a night and walk-in guests pay RM250.

"The public can't wait for the high-speed trains to run as it will reduce traffic and accidents on the highways. People who avoided travel to Kedah by car previously, now have a choice," Azhar said.

Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) vice chairman (Kedah) for outbound and ticketing Dzaher Ahmad said the local tourism sector is set to boom thanks to the EDTP.

Dzaher said he expects more 3 and 4-star hotels to open in Kedah by 2013.

"With the high-speed trains running, we expect more tourists to come to Kedah. We have interesting places such as Bujang Valley, a sprawling historical complex, and Gunung Jerai, a massive limestone outcrop that rises 1200m above sea level.

"The world's longest canopy walk is located in Sg Sedim in Kulim and the biggest mangrove in Merbok," he said.

The EDTP involves the building of 329km of new electrified double tracks, replacing the existing single track. As at February 2010, the project is 38 per cent completed.

Source : BTimes
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AirAsia X to expand flights

Long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X will focus on growing flight frequencies to existing destinations in India, Melbourne and Perth this year.

"It has been challenging, (trying to get) new routes, so we are adding even more flights to destinations such as Melbourne and Perth," AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman-Rani said.

AirAsia X has been lobbying for the Sydney and Seoul routes for more than a year now.

According to a news report, the low-cost carrier (LCC)'s plan to fly to both capitals by June this year were dashed when it did not get a formal word on the issue from the government.

"We have asked for the rights to fly to Jeddah too, due to demands by our customers, but that has also been held back," Azran said.

AirAsia X, which will accept delivery of three more A330s this year, will deploy them to the two Australian cities, with the absence of the new routes.

One of the airline's top priorities this year will be to get more rights to fly into Mumbai.

"In order for it to make economic sense, we need at least daily flights to Mumbai. We will wait for the next bilateral meeting to bring the matter up with the Indian government," Azran said.

AirAsia X will start flying to Mumbai in May, and is allowed to fly four times a week.

Azran was speaking after launching AirAsia X's new seat configuration for its aircraft, which involves the introduction of flatbed premium seats, which is said to be a first for a low-cost carrier.

AirAsia X will spend RM10 million for the refurbishment of each plane. The refurbishment will allow the airline's A330 to have a seat configuration of 12 flatbed premium and 365 economy seats.

The new configurations for the airline's A340 is 18 flatbed seats and 309 economy seats. The airline currently owns eight Airbus aircraft.

In conjunction with the launch, AirAsia X is offering a "Premium Seat Promotion" to all Citibank credit card holders in Malaysia.

On offer are flights from Kuala Lumpur to Perth, from RM999 one way, and Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne from RM1,499 one way.

The offer is available exclusively online for booking from April 6 to April 8 2010, for the travel period between April 12 2010 and February 13 2011.

Source : Bernama
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Monday, April 05, 2010

Everyone wants to be a Hotel GM

Playdom’s Social City continues to make real progress, having quickly established itself as one of Facebook’s most played games, while Zoo Paradise by CrowdStar and Hotel City by Playfish both show promising growth.

Hotel City’s acolytes increased at an astonishing rate, with 800,000 wannabe hotel bosses flocking through its doors in the past week.

The game is fresh out from Playfish, now the Facebook arm of video game giant Electronic Arts, and is a new twist on the business management genre made popular by Restaurant City and Zoo World.

Players construct and decorate hotels, choosing to offer either larger, more luxurious, and expensive rooms or smaller, cheaper rooms that can lead to a higher number of guests.

There are also other types of social function rooms available in order to increase guests’ satisfaction levels and pander to their whims.

Facebook friends can be summoned to help clean up and maintain each player’s property, but if volunteer help isn’t available then workers have to be hired, representing a drain on the hotel’s resources.

One is almost tempted to see Hotel City as a thinly-veiled metaphor for a Facebook game developer’s business plan.

When players are able to generate big buck income from advertising hoardings and vending machines in and around the hotel project, we’ll know that FacebookTycoon isn’t too far away.

Top ten fastest growing Facebook games, Friday, April 2

1. Social City (10,905,836 = +1,842,269 / +20.3 per cent)

2. Zoo Paradise (2,275,240 = +1,273,705 / +127.2 per cent)

3. Bubble Island (4,397,582 = +927,725 / +26.7 per cent)

4. Hotel City (935,242 = +812,641 / +662.8 per cent)

5. FarmVille (82,847,179 = +689,247 / +0.8 per cent)

6. Tiki Resort (4,134,716 = +641,776 / +18.4 per cent)

7. PetVille (20,855,791 = +618,829 / +3.1 per cent)

8. Texas HoldEm Poker (29,170,503 = +568,488 / +2.0 per cent)

9. Ameba Pico (901,147 = +404,046 / +81.3 per cent)

10. Pet Society (19,619,697 = +320,841 / +1.7 per cent)

Numbers in brackets relate to total monthly users, the increase in monthly users, and the weekly percentage growth.

HOTEL CITY : http://www.facebook.com/hotelcity

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Big Hike In Hotel Room Rates In Hulu Selangor

Two weeks before nomination day for the Hulu Selangor by-election, the rates of highly-sought hotel rooms, shop lots and empty houses have shot up by several times, with some reaching RM20,000 a month.

This small sleepy town, more affectionately known as KKB by locals, has very few hotels and rest house, and the rooms available are less than 50.

"All 21 rooms at Seri Melati were taken up, a day after the member of parliament died. The 12 rooms at the Government Rest House were booked by the Selangor Government while Seri Teratai Melati Guest House only has six rooms," said a hotel operator here.

According to him, the Kem Bina Semangat in Ampang Pecah near here and Kalumpang Resort and Training Centre, were also booked as political parties, security forces, government agencies and the media scrambled to get rooms for their members and staff.

Empty shoplots and houses were fast taken up, with prices ranging from RM3,000 to RM20,000, including those without basic facilities. They are normally priced at between RM500 and RM2,000.

"The owners wants cash on confirmation. The demand is so great as the stakes are high...we are having headache to get rooms for our colleagues from other states," said a government agency official.

He said some political parties had gone as far as Genting Highlands, Rawang, Fraser Hill and Tanjong Malim to get rooms for their operatives.

Meanwhile, a number of banners have been put up at several locations here and Batang Kali, promoting former Selangor menteri besar Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib as a possible candidate for Barisan Nasional, and Datuk Zaid Ibrahim for Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

The seat fell vacant, following the death of incumbent MP Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad of PKR due to brain cancer on March 25. Nomination day is on April 17 and polling on April 25.

Hulu Selangor, measuring 174,047 hectares, is as big as Melaka and has over 64,000 voters. It starts from Hulu Bernam, which borders Tanjung Malim in Perak and stretches to Serendah. Also in the constituency are Kuala Kubu Bahru, Ulu Yam, Batang Kali, Kalumpang, Bukit Beruntung and Bukit Sentosa.

Source : Bernama
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