Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Malay fare to tempt foreigners at Hotel Maya

MOST tourists enjoy the local fare when in Malaysia. To meet this demand, chef Hasbullah Sabani from Hotel Maya Kuala Lumpur has come up with a spread of Malay cuisine for its patrons.

Customers dining at the Maya Brasserie can enjoy a variety of Malay dishes from the buffet line or from the a la carte menu.

Wide range: Chef Hasbullah (right) and junior sous chef Zairul Effendi Mohd Nor showing off some of the spread at The Maya Brasserie buffet line.
“We should be proud of our local dishes and I want our foreign guests to enjoy them as well,” said Chef Hasbullah or Pak Lah as he is fondly known among the hotel's kitchen staff.

The promotion, which started on March 10, is only available for dinner.

One of the dishes offered is grilled red snapper with yellow acar for those who prefer a healthy meal.

Healthy: Kerabu, ulam and sambal are part of the buffet offerings.
“It is a combination of nyonya, Pahang and Perak recipe and there is no oil used in the dish. Yet it is full of flavour,” he said.

For the dish, grilled red snapper is added to the yellow acar.

The acar is prepared by boiling all the ingredients including the spices and vegetables like carrots and cucumber. He also adds jeruk kelubi to give the acar its sour and sweet taste, which also goes well with the grilled fish.

Another dish that is highly recommended by the chef is the pucuk keledek masak lemak udang.

“Not many people, including the locals have tasted the pucuk keledek (sweet potato shoots) but it is actually quite common in the kampung. It tastes a bit like kangkung.

“I have also included chunks of sweet potato together with the prawns for the masak lemak,” he said.

Rich fare: The Beryani Lamb Shank.
To suit the international tastebuds, the chef has toned down the spiciness of the masak lemak. However, those who prefer it to be spicy could request for it.

There is also Beryani Lamb Shank, which goes well with normal rice as well.

For the dish, the Johor-born chef uses quality lamb shank as it has less fat and is tender.

“We have to braise the meat for about an hour to make it juicy and tender. I use the traditional Beryani Johor recipe,'' he said.

There are also a variety of ulam, sambal and traditional Malay desserts at the buffet spread to choose from.

As an alternative, customers can also go for the international buffet line.

Located on the main entrance level, The Maya Brasserie can accommodate about 150 people.

  • The Maya Brasserie, Hotel Maya Kuala Lumpur, 138 Jalan Ampang, 50450 Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2711 8866 ext 258. Business Hours: 6.30pm - 10pm daily (dinner).

  • Source : Star
    [tags : ]

    Sunday, March 23, 2008

    YTL Opens Majestic Hotel in Malacca

    YTL Hotels opens its first classic hotel in historic Malacca.

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

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

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

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

    The history of the hotel is interesting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Oh, well.

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

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

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

    I started off having the hair ritual.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Wednesday, March 19, 2008

    A good start for Malaysia in 2008

    The year 2008 has begun on a positive note for Malaysia’s tourism industry. In January 2008 Malaysia received 1,780,134 tourists, an increase of 3.4% compared to the same period in the previous year.

    The top ten tourist generating markets for January 2008 were Singapore (861,015), Indonesia (179,848), Thailand (108,730), Brunei (77,548), China (73,233), Australia (38,868), India (38,394), Japan (34,246), United Kingdom (28,724) and South Korea (26,216).

    For the month of January 2008, double digit growth was recorded for tourist arrivals from Canada (44.9%), Cambodia (41.6%), the Netherlands (37.9%), New Zealand (30.0%), Australia (29.1%), Germany (26.5%), India (22.8%), France (19.3%), Indonesia (13.2%) and United Kingdom (11.0%).

    Source : TravelWeekly
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    Tuesday, March 18, 2008

    Miri to offer free tram service soon

    A “free tram service coupon system” will be implemented in hotels and motels in Miri for tourists and guests here to enjoy free public transportation services.

    Under the coupon system, to be introduced by the Sarawak Tourism Board (STB) in a joint-venture with hotels and motels here, guests with confirmed room bookings would be entitled to use the tram for free rides to tourists spots, shopping complexes and recreation parks and markets in the city.

    STB director for the northern region, Lee Kim Shin, said the service would be the first in the state.

    “STB is now trying to get all the hotels and motels in Miri to sign up with the board to implement the service as soon as possible.

    “The tram is ready for use,” he added.

    “The hotels will provide coupons to their guests to enable them to use the tram for free. It is a non-profit programme that STB is introducing as a way to promote Miri and make tourists feel at home,” he said here recently.

    Lee said STB estimated that RM150,000 was needed annually to run the free tram service.

    The costs of operating this service would be shouldered by the hotels, the STB and other tourism stakeholders in Miri.

    The STB has appointed public bus firm Miri Bus Transport Company to manage the tram service, he said, adding that he was confident the service would get good response from visitors and would help them to save money for other purposes such as for shopping and food.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Nine hurt in Hotel Site collapse in Sarawak

    Nine foreign workers were injured after part of the building structure of a multi-million ringgit international hotel-cum-shopping mall project at Jalan Bukit Mata here collapsed.

    The workers, one of whom suffered a broken arm, were thrown to the ground when the structure they were standing on gave way at 4pm on Saturday.

    Ambulances rushed the injured workers to the Sarawak General Hospital where most of them were given outpatient treatment for cuts and bruises on their bodies.

    Massive clean-up job: Workers clearing the debris after part of the building structure collapsed in Kuching on Sunday.

    An eyewitness said that the structure collapsed as the workers were pouring mixed concrete on part of the first floor of the building.

    The cause of the incident is being investigated.

    Some 25 workers, most of them foreigners and aged between 25 and 35, were working on the project when the incident occurred.

    Source : STAR
    [tags : ]

    Welcome to Hotel Microsoft

    Custom_dance_floor300_2 When I think Microsoft, I don't think sleek, sexy fun.

    A get-to-know-me party at the Hotel Sax Chicago last night tried to change my mind and the minds of hundreds of other guests at a swanky unveiling for the 9-month-old spot, the renovated former House of Blues Hotel.

    Hotel Sax sees itself as a playground for tech-savvy travelers, with Microsoft technology hardwired throughout the 16-story building in a pilot project for the software giant. But was it me, or did I miss something?

    The centerpiece is something called The Studio -- Experience by Microsoft. It's a small gathering space, an entertainment lounge for guests only that's decked out in contemporary splendor and tricked out with a couple of Xbox 360s, juiced-up HP laptops, Zune portable media players you can plug into and a "technology butler" who'll show you how to play "Guitar Hero III" or view videos on the Zune. I get the idea: Have fun with Microsoft. Live with Microsoft. Want Microsoft.

    Silhouetted_dancer_od0c112 But despite the party's dainty appetizers, the hotel's contemporary-without-being-austere decor and the silhouetted female dancers gyrating to throbbing music, I still couldn't connect "sleek, sexy fun" with the company whose big claim to fame is computer operating systems.

    Shaun Robins, a brand manager for Microsoft, acknowledges that I'm not the only one.

    As he and hotel marketing director Adam Kaplan led me on a tour of the Presidential Suite, past champagne-sipping partiers and guys standing on a sofa playing "Guitar Hero III," I asked Robins, "When people hear the words 'it's a Microsoft Hotel,' what do you want them to think?"

    After thinking a moment, he replied, "[I want them to think] 'I didn't know they did that!' I want them to be surprised."

    The two Presidential Suites have unobtrusive touch screens in the foyer, so you can dim the lights, change the temperature and cue up mood music throughout the suite. A remote by the bed lets you do all that while you're cozy under the covers. The remote and foyer touch panel need a bit of explaining before you know what controls what, but that's why Microsoft is in Hotel Sax -- to let people live with and get used to unfamiliar technology so that they'll want it in their homes.

    I asked the hotel's Kaplan, "So, by saying you're a Microsoft hotel, are you telling Apple lovers to stay away?"

    "I don't think so," he said with a smile. "Creative people love technology."

    But will they love Microsoft?

    Though Hotel Sax is home away from home for visiting rock bands, VIPs and CEOs, last night lacked the youthful energy that partiers at the city's two W Hotels regularly radiate. I plan to go back -- I'm sure I missed something -- and sample Hotel Sax in a less liquid environment. In fact, I'm now on a quest to find the coolest place to stay in Chicago, a place for tech fiends yet one that doesn't intimidate techphobes. Maybe the Hotel Sax is it? I'll let you know.

    Top 5 things NOT heard at Hotel Sax Chicago last night:

    (5) "Welcome to Hotel Microsoft. May I show you to your cubicle?"

    (4) "I just left Microsoft Office, now I'm checking into Microsoft Hotel!"

    (3) "When it's time to leave, you don't hail a taxi; you download a driver."

    (2) "You want a Blu-ray player sent to your room? Blu-ray? Never heard of it."

    (1) "Where are all the Macs??!!!"

    Source : Ehotelier
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    Monday, March 17, 2008

    Multimillion-ringgit Hotel/Shopping Centre structure collapses in Sarawak

    Nine foreign workers were injured after part of the building structure of a multimillion-ringgit international hotel-cum-shopping mall project at Jalan Bukit Mata here collapsed.

    The workers, one of whom sustained a broken arm, were thrown to the ground when the structure they were standing on gave way at 4pm on Saturday.

    Ambulances rushed the injured workers to the Sarawak General Hospital where most of them were given outpatient treatment for cuts and bruises on their bodies.

    An eye-witness said the structure collapsed as the workers were pouring mixed concrete on part of the first floor of the building.

    The cause of the incident is being investigated by the relevant authorities.

    Some 25 workers, most of them foreigners and aged between 25 and 35, were working on the project when the incident occurred.

    Source : STAR
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    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    F1 targets 50,000 Singaporeans

    The Sepang International Circuit (SIC) has set a target of not less than 50,000 foreign spectators from Singapore for the 2008 F1 race this month, its advertising and promotions manager Azlan Akil said here.

    “It is with this mission in mind that SIC decided to do promotions in Malacca and Johor Baru, to attract fans from Singapore,” he said.

    He said the Singapore market contributed not less than 20,000 spectators last year for the Malaysian GP.

    Speed fanatics: Spectators having a feel of the model F1 car on display at Mahkota Parade in Malacca.

    “We are confident it could further increase this year with the increased interest in F1 among racing fans in the island republic,” Azlan told reporters after a F1 promotion at Mahkota Parade here recently.

    Malacca and Johor Baru are popular spots for weekend retreats among Singaporeans.

    “There has always been a huge interest in F1 in Singapore and it is bigger with the staging of the first F1 race in Singapore,” he said.

    Azlan said there were more than 115,000 spectators at the F1 race last year and SIC had targeted a record attendance of 125,000 this year.

    Malaysia will host Round 2 of the 2008 Formula One World Championship from March 21 to 23. The new season opens in Melbourne, Australia, in the preceding weekend.

    Organised since 1999, the Formula One Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix is more than just a race for Malaysia as it has become an effective promotion of Malaysia in the international arena, especially as a tourist destination.

    He said the F1 event would not just be at the circuit and SIC would work closely with Tourism Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the Ministry of Federal Territory to turn Kuala Lumpur into a city of festivals.

    Azlan said, besides the F1 race, there would be the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, Formula BMW Asia, Speedcar Series and GP2 Asia.

    Source : STAR
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    Shocker for new CM at Penang Matta meeting

    New Chief Minister Lim Guang Eng had was taken aback to find out that mundane issues were discussed at high-level tourism meetings.

    Such meetings should be used as a platform to discuss policies and bigger matters that could take the tourism industry to greater heights, he said.

    "But instead, I was shocked listening to fundamental problems raised at the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) Penang Chapter meeting today (Wednesday).

    "If this is the situation, it reflects the seriousness of the problems in the tourism industry here," he said.

    Lim said this Wednesday after a 40min dialogue with Matta members at Cititel here.

    He said he was appalled that issues such as ticketing, congestion, cleanliness and lack of enforcement were still being discussed when such fundamental problems should have been resolved long ago.

    Lim said he did not have a magical formula to resolve the long-standing issues in the tourism sector.

    "But I will appoint an executive councillor in charge of tourism to liaise closely with the players in the industry to restore the shine of Penang," he said, acknowledging that some matters were under the purview of the federal government.

    Lim said he would also find out why Penang was left behind in tourism promotion initiatives.

    He also called on players in the tourism industry to send him a memorandum on ways to strengthen the tourism industry and restore the shine of the Pearl of the Orient.

    "Please don’t raise only questions; I appreciate suggestions," Lim said.

    Among the issues brought up during the meeting Wednesday were ticketing problems at Penang Hill, lack of security and parking space at the Penang jetty, lack of cleanliness, lack of enforcement and improperly-maintained colonial buildings.

    "I am surprised at the level of problems raised. If this is the extent of the problems in this sector, we have major problems to settle," Lim said.

    Source : STAR
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    Woman's body kept on ice for months in California hotel

    A woman whose corpse was found packed in dry ice in an upscale Southern California hotel room last week may have been dead for more than a year, authorities said on Tuesday, although it wasn't clear if she was the victim of a crime.

    The body of 33-year-old Monique Trepp was discovered wedged into a plastic storage container filled with dry ice when police conducted a drug raid on the Newport Beach hotel room registered to her boyfriend.

    Stephen David Royds, 46, was arrested for possession of cocaine for sale but has not been charged in Trepp's death, said prosecutors in Orange County, south of Los Angeles.

    "The body has been there for a long time. It appears months, we're not exactly sure. Possibly over a year," said District Attorney spokeswoman Susan Schroeder.

    "We're looking into the circumstances to see if it was a homicide or other causes," Schroeder said.

    Royds had been staying at the $160-a-night Fairmont hotel in the exclusive beach community for two years, according to media reports.

    Newport Beach police said Trepp's death did not appear to be a homicide and toxicology tests would determine the cause.

    Royds, a New Zealand native, told the Orange County Register only that "everything that happened was for religious reasons." Locals described Royds and Trepp as regulars at a restaurant across the street from the Fairmont but said Trepp hadn't been seen in almost a year, the newspaper reported..

    Royds told the restaurant's staff in April or May that Trepp had died and that he had held a memorial service for her, the Register reported.

    Source : STAR
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    Malacca Bayview 20th Birthday Bash

    Employees of Bayview Hotel Melaka let their hair down as they celebrated their 20th anniversary with a staff party here recently.

    Themed “Ladies in Black, Men in Red”, there were more ladies present, judging from the blacks dominating the reds.

    The night started with the inaugural Bayview Idol competition where five finalists from various departments gave an inspiring performance.

    Winning number: The staff of the maintenance department performing Back To School which won first prize.

    Natasha Ng of the sales and marketing department walked away with a trophy, holiday voucher and RM300 as the winner while the food and beverage department’s Mohd Firdaus Zainal and Afendi Nahrawi came in second and third respectively.

    General manager Tan Hui Teng, in his speech, urged the staff to improve their service and go the extra mile to assist guests.

    “The tourism industry is becoming very competitive and we have to do more to achieve the hotel’s mission of becoming a premier conference and business class hotel,” he said.

    He also presented long service awards to 27 employees while 39 others received perfect attendance awards.

    Jenny Tan of the Kitchen Department had the distinction of perfect attendance over 14 consecutive years.

    Tan and two others, Evonne Yap and Jenny Tan, who had been with the hotel for 20 years, received loyalty awards.

    Entertaining: Bayview Hotel Melaka’s kitchen staff performing a sketch.

    There was a surprise when three men carried in a big box for the general manager to open for his 57th birthday.

    A girl dressed in Bollywood attire popped out of the box and danced with Tan, to applause from the staff.

    After this, there were dangdut, bollywood and rolling 60’s dances, sketches which left everyone in stitches, and games and lucky draws.

    The maintenance department’s Back To School sketch won the first prize of RM300 followed by the Sales and Marketing Department’s Grease Lightning and Housekeeping Department’s traditional dance.

    Source : STAR
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    Source : shoppingNsales
    [tags : ]

    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    UDA seeking investment opportunities in IDR

    Tourism, hotels and transportation are among the sec-tors that UDA Holdings Bhd is eyeing for investment in the Iskandar De-velopment Region.

    Entrepreneurial and Cooperative Development Minister Datuk Mo-hamed Khaled Nordin said, being an agent under the ministry, UDA played an important role in ensuring job and business opportunities for bumiputras.

    “There are plenty of opportunities, as investments worth RM382bil are expected to pour in, generating 1.5 million job opportunities in the region by 2025,” he said, adding that the population in the region would have increased to three million then, from 1.4 million currently.

    Other sectors identified by the Government in the region were education, medicine and logistics, Mo-hamed Khaled told reporters after the handing-over of the RM700,000 Jubli Perak Hall to Yayasan Masjid Jamek Bandar Baru UDA here yesterday.

    He added that a double-storey shoplot worth RM450,000 was also given free. And, apart from that, two apartment units in the area worth RM98,000 each were sold by UDA to the mosque at a huge discount of RM40,000 each.

    UDA Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Jaafar Abu Hassan said the multi-purpose hall, which was built in 1999, complemented other infrastructure in the housing area.

    Source : STAR
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    Growth in Malacca tourism

    The tourism industry in Malacca holds huge potential and has generated employment opportunities, more income for businesses and helped improve the livelihood of locals.

    And why not, when more than six million people visited the historical state last year and spent RM3bil during their stays. With the present tagline in Malacca’s tourism campaign being “Visiting Historical Melaka Means Visiting Malaysia,” 6.8 million tourists are expected this year with the anticipation that they will spend RM3.4bil.

    Malacca is highly optimistic of the tourist numbers and extrapolations indicate the number will reach 8.2 million by 2010.

    Happiness: Visitors alighting from a boat after a tour on Sungai Melaka.

    Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam noted that, in ensuring the tourism sector progressed for the benefit of the state and its people, the state was in the midst of implementing several new high impact tourism projects.

    Among them is the development of Sungai Melaka at a cost of RM320mil as a new growth centre that will parallel San Antonio River in the United States for its beauty and cleanliness.

    Several value-added projects are to be established along the banks of Sungai Melaka, among others the Casa Del Rio Boutique Hotel worth RM85mil, a ferris wheel, Viking ship and trampoline bungy worth RM3.3mil, water wheel worth RM1.5mil, the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex valued at RM35mil and a marina worth RM25mil.

    The others are the Taming Sari revolving tower in Bandar Hilir worth RM24mil that will begin operations in March, the Planetarium and the Malacca International Bowling Centre each valued at RM20mil and Batik House valued at RM4mil, with all being set up at the Malacca International Trade Centre in Ayer Keroh.

    Pristine: Sungai Melaka, which was previously a filthy waterway, has been cleaned and beautified.

    The Malacca government through Tourism Malaysia, the Malacca State Tourism Action Committee and relevant agencies are always working out new ideas to turn Malacca into a compelling tourism centre in the region.

    Even now, Malacca is the choice for many national and international events. This helps establish the state in the tourism map.

    This year, several tourism itineraries have been lined up, including the Malacca Tourism Street Carnival at Hang Tuah Mall, Malacca International Regatta 2008, Sungai Melaka Fest, Malacca International Air Carnival and Malacca International Tourism Show.

    The others are Light Up Celebration, Raptor Watch, Drums of The Malay Archipelago, Malacca Historical City International Run, San Pedro Fest and Songket and Batik Festival.

    The state is giving emphasis to tourism events of international stature and is working to have the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) list Malacca as a world heritage site.

    With the recognition, Malacca will remain as a tourism destination of choice for local and foreign tourists.

    Toward this end, archaeological works on the Malacca Fort walls are being undertaken with an allocation of RM12.8mil from the Federal Government.

    Apart from historical themes, Malacca also offers contemporary attractions like recreation centres, Crocodile Park, Mini Malaysia and Asean Park, Butterfly Park, Malacca Peacock and Bird Park, and Malacca Zoo.

    There are more than 20 museums under the Malacca Museum Corporation and the private sector that have opened their doors to visitors from all over the world. Malacca is also a shopping heaven with many business outlets catering for the different tastes of the visitors.

    Accommodation is of no problem because there are 5,096 hotel rooms, resort hotel rooms (2,458), chalets (484) and homestay rooms (136). Thus Malacca’s tourism industry will continue to prosper, bringing greater prosperity to the state and its people.

    Source : STAR
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    Secretaries Week 2008 at Palace of the Golden Horses

    FOR this year's Secretaries Week 2008, Palace of The Golden Horses hotel will be collaborating for the second time with Maestro Talent Management to bring good entertainment for the much-deserving secretaries.

    Called 'Go Green with Mawi', the show features artiste Mawi backed by Akademi Fantasia 5 winner, Norsyarmilla Jirin or better known as Mila. The event will be hosted by popular comedian Dee with bhangra group Balle Balle scheduled for the opening act.

    One of the highlights: Mawi is set to charm the secretaries.

    The hotel's public relations manager Farah Halim said the event’s environmental friendly theme is in line with the hotel's mission to go green and protect the environment.

    They've also formed an association called Green@Palace.

    “The association runs campaigns focusing on nature and saving energy for the hotel. The Green@Palace club will be launched during the Secretaries Week dinner,” said Farah.

    Guests will be served a 4-course western set dinner prepared by the hotel's culinary team.

    Apart from the performances, there are magic shows and comedy skits slated for the night. There would also be a lucky draw offering three grand prizes. Audiences would stand the chance to win RM10, 000 worth of jewellery from Habib Jewels, and also vouchers and hampers from Jojobali Spa, Nestle and Palace Beach and Spa.

    The show to be held at the Royal Ballroom on April 4 will start at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced at RM500++, RM400++ and RM250++ per person. Early birds will enjoy a 10% discount for reservation made before March 20. For more information, call 03-8943 2333.

    Source : STAR
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    Monday, March 10, 2008

    Doorway to more arrivals in Asia with Low Cost Carriers

    LOW-COST carriers (LCCs) in the region are being sought after by the trade in secondary destinations in Indonesia to help boost tourism.

    In fact, some areas being served by full-service airlines are trying to seek out these airlines to increase tourism traffic. Bandung (West Java), for example, has enjoyed an influx of Malaysian travellers thanks to AirAsia’s twice-daily service from Kuala Lumpur. Ramza Travel and Tours Malaysia managing director, Ms Kay Azmin, said: “Bandung has become a must-visit destination for Malaysians and shopping is the number one attraction, followed by golfing.”

    Triways Travel Network, Malaysia managing director, Mr Mohd Akil Mohd Yusof, said: “AirAsia had threatened to pull out because it wanted to change the aircraft from a Boeing 737-300 to Airbus 320, but the airport could not accommodate the big aircraft. In fact it had even announced the date of its last flight. In the end, however, not only did it decide to continue flying daily services, but AirAsia doubled the frequency (since the last quarter of 2007), simply because of market forces.”

    Bandung-based Batik Holidays managing director, Mr Maktal, said: “The growth of the repeat travel market is huge. They know the destination well so not many need travel agents’ assistance. It may be bad news for us, but the truth is they are doing a great service to the destination. A Malaysian family can spend more than 10 million rupiah (US$1,099) on shopping alone.”

    Surabaya has also experienced the benefit of LCCs in developing the regional inbound market, with AirAsia and Valuair connecting the city with Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Aneka Kartika Tours and Travel, Surabaya product manager, Mr Adjie Wahjono, said: “We just had a request from a Singaporean agent to create packages that tie up with Valuair. The airline has approached agents to form a consortium and develop attractive packages to boost traffic to Surabaya. This is something we have not had for quite some time. The airlines, especially the LCCs, usually just sell tickets and some free-and-easy packages they create themselves.”

    Enthusiasm in Jogjakarta

    AirAsia’s four flights to Jogjakarta effective February 1 were received with enthusiasm by the Jogjakarta trade. The airline is using its 180-seat A320 on this route.

    Also entering the market at the same time was Malaysia Airlines (MAS) with three flights per week using a 128-seat B737-400. While not an LCC, MAS also offered attractive prices the trade approved of.

    Garuda Indonesia flew between Jogjakarta and Kuala Lumpur a couple of years ago, but could not sustain the service due to its pricing structure.

    Pacto ASEAN business manager, Mr Irwan Raman, said: “Before the entry of these direct flights, Jogjakarta was one of the top three destinations for Pacto’s ASEAN (Singapore and Malaysia) market. About 90 per cent of travellers arrived via Solo. I think there is good potential to develop the Malaysian market as Jogjakarta gets direct access from two airlines at the same time.”

    Pacto has come up with several packages including free and easy ones from US$51 and three-day/two-night packages from US$89.

    Looking at these developments, the trade in Lombok – a destination which has been suffering from a lack of seat capacity from overseas – expects an LCC to start flights from Malaysia.

    Sheraton Senggigi Resort general manager, Mr Masri, said: “We used to rely on the European market (which predominantly came via Bali). With the positive growth of arrivals in Bali recently, we expect our share also to increase. Unfortunately, the EU ban on Indonesian airlines has hampered this. Therefore, we are trying to diversify and get Asian markets (such as Singapore and Malaysia) to come. Recent fam trips and Lombok’s participation in the Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents fair showed the interest for Lombok was there, but seat capacity was the issue.”

    The only regional direct service to Lombok is from Singapore by SilkAir, three times a week.

    Travellers from Malaysia take Garuda to Jakarta and connect to Lombok, but the connection is not convenient.

    Merpati Nusantara Airlines has a Kuala Lumpur-Lombok service via Surabaya, but the airline’s interest seems to be in the labour market.

    A&T Holiday Lombok CEO, Mr Awan Aswinabawa, said: “Lombok packages from Malaysia can be 40 per cent to 50 per cent more expensive than Bali packages, largely because of the air fares. How can we, as a new and less-known destination than Bali, compete this way? The (most) suitable service to Lombok should be by an LCC, both in terms of pricing and aircraft size, which our airport can accommodate.”

    While the accessibility provided by the LCCs has brought about positive results in the destinations, the trade said a lasting success would require not only the effort of the airlines, but also from the stakeholders in the destination. Pacto’s Mr Raman said: “I know the airlines must have done their homework before they decided to fly, but seven flights (1,104 seats) to Jogjakarta a week needs everyone’s support to fill up.”

    Source : TTG
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    Friday, March 07, 2008

    Aqua-tourism plan for Johor Village

    The Johor government will make Kampung Parit Tiram near here a major oyster-producing centre for the region and turn the fishing village into a famous aqua-tourism spot.

    Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said the village, located along Sungai Muar and not far from the town, had been producing world-grade oysters for years and had great economic potential.

    Speaking to reporters, he said, besides oysters, the stretch of Sungai Muar from the village to the estuary was rich in semilang, siakap, barramundi and prawns.

    “We plan to build boardwalk from the village to the estuary at Tanjung Emas and turn the riverbank into an esplanade.

    First visit: Abdul Ghani (third from left), Bakri Umno division chairman Datuk Abdullah Ali (fourth from left) and Barisan candidate for the Bakri parliamenta ry seat, Tay Puay Chuan (fifth from left), being welcomed by a silat exponent in Kampung Parit Tiram on Tuesday.
    “A comprehensive study on oyster cultivation and the boardwalk will be done soon,” he said during a visit to the village on Wednesday.

    He said the village, one of the oldest in Bandar Maharani and opened before the town was founded in 1883, also had the potential to attract tourists.

    Earlier, village representative and retired army captain Jailani Laham said Abdul Ghani was the first Mentri Besar to visit the village, although it was one of the oldest in the town.

    He said the villagers had been supporting the Barisan Nasional Government and felt honoured by the visit.

    Source : STAR
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    Thursday, March 06, 2008

    Air Asia to fly to Jakarta from Penang

    Beginning March 30, Air Asia will start flying to Jakarta and Medan in Indonesia from Penang, its second and third international flights respectively from the island after Bangkok.

    Air Asia Group Chief Executive Officer Datuk Tony Fernandes announced the new routes today as well as the company’s intention to gain rights to fly from Penang to China, Singapore and India after Penang builds a low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT).

    “Penang has been on the tourist route-map for decades. And we are confident that the state tourism board would help us promote this route. We would be investing around RM250 million in the next two years,” Tony told a press conference at the Penang International Airport today.

    He also added that the airline company planned to make Penang its fourth and final hub within the country once it has a LCCT airport.

    Meanwhile, Air Asia Indonesian Marketing and Distribution Director Widijastoro Nugroho said Indonesians were very interested in medical tourism.
    Thus, it has become the intention of Air Asia to boost medical tourism by ensuring Indonesians visit Penang, he said.

    “We have done our calculations and by far, Penang has some of the best infrastructures and products for medical tourism within Southeast Asia. It has a great atmosphere, good medical facilities, great hotels and let’s not forget the superb food,” said Widijastoro.

    Penang state exco for Tourism, Development and Environment Teng Chang Yeow meanwhile said that the new routes and Air Asia’s plans for the near future would open a new chapter in Penang’s tourism.

    “Greater air accessibility makes travelling easy, cheap and convenient. The Penang Tourism Action Council fully supports Air Asia and we will help promote them. We have already approved the land for the LCCT but now it lies in the hands of the other government agencies such as the Transport Department,” said Teng.

    Source : NST
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    Monday, March 03, 2008

    Boosting domestic tourism

    Many Malaysians prefer to spend their holidays at local destinations.
    Local tourists made up over 60 per cent of hotel guests in 2006. It is believed that domestic holidays are more popular as they are cheaper than overseas travel.

    At the launch of the Cuti-Cuti Malaysia Fair (CCMF) 2008 last Friday, Tourism Malaysia Domestic Promotion Division director Datuk Idros Mohd said it was the CCMF's aim to encourage domestic tourism as a key sector.

    "There are a variety of tourism products which would meet every need of a domestic traveller," he said, adding that the CCMF was the first project planned by Tourism Malaysia this year.

    Idros said domestic travel enhances national integration and promotes a better understanding of the various customs and traditions.
    In his speech, he said local tourists accounted for 32 million hotel guests in 2006 as against 22 million foreign travellers in the same year.

    Up to the third quarter of last year, the number of hotel guests had risen to about 28 million, an increase of 34 per cent. Tourism Malaysia had set its sights on achieving 38 million local tourists this year.

    Idros was speaking to hoteliers, travel and tour operators, representatives of Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia, and tourists at the annual CCMF initiated nine years ago by Tourism Malaysia.

    A total of 80 hotel and tour operators had set up stalls at the Sunway Pyramid shopping centre to offer bargains during the three-day event which ended yesterday.

    Many fun-filled activities were held, such as traditional dances by cultural troupes from Kelantan and Terengganu and performances by local artistes like Amy Mastura and Ferhad.

    Source : NST
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