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Monday, March 3, 2008

Piccolo sets itself apart

An artist's impression of the Piccolo Hotel.

PICCOLO Group aims to make a difference in the hospitality sector with the scheduled opening of its maiden hotel, Piccolo Hotel, in Bintang Walk, in Kuala Lumpur, this month.

The 239-room boutique hotel, located between KL Plaza and Lot 10 in Jalan Bukit Bintang, is looking to offer a value destination for tourists and business travellers.

Director and chief operating officer Suzianna Wong-Svrcula said the hotel would leverage on its excellent location and unique ambience of a cosy and fun boutique hotel to become a favourite destination.

“There is much potential to be tapped in the hospitality business, and we are putting in all the finer details to make Piccolo Hotel a success. We will also look at expanding to other regional markets,” Wong told StarBiz.

Through its associate company Absolute Prestige Sdn Bhd, Piccolo is keen to build up a chain of boutique hotels in Malaysia and other emerging markets to take advantage of the robust growth in the regional tourism business.

With a “green concept” theme, Piccolo Hotel's contemporary design concept depicts the rich marine life and eco-system in Malaysia.

The hotel's reception, hallways and rooms are adorned with canvas prints of the abundant marine life and ecology that can be found in Malaysia’s diving havens.

The photos were taken by her husband and Piccolo director Dr Kurt Svrcula, who is an accomplished diver, underwater photographer and writer with a strong leaning towards environmental issues.

Among his books are Diving in Malaysia and Layang Layang - Diving Malaysia's Last Frontier.

He has a collection of more than 20,000 pictures from his many diving outings in East Malaysia, including in Layang Layang, Sipadan and Miri.

Suzianna said: “Despite the gruelling hours and hard work of working with the consultants, contractors and interior designers, we persevered in the past two years to ensure Piccolo Hotel starts on the right footing and meet our business objectives of being a well managed and designed boutique hotel.

“The aqua-inspired hotel is built out of passion, especially my husband's love of the underwater world.”

In 2001, Absolute Prestige paid RM45mil for a 60-year lease on the 13-storey Wisma Peladang building to turn it into a boutique hotel.

“We seized the opportunity to sign up the lease for the building as we believe in its strategic location in the heart of the city's tourism belt. Our project will be a fresh addition to this bubbly area,” she said.

To make the building intelligent, Kurt said the company had invested close to RM1mil to equip Piccolo Hotel with the latest multimedia technology and dedicated high-speed Internet access, Internet protocol (IP) telephone and television, and a 32ft flat panel LCD television in every room.

By the second year of its business, Suzianna said the hotel should be able to see a growth of 75% to 80% to record annual revenue of RM20mil. Room rates start at US$100 per night.

Meanwhile, Piccolo Galleria, a lifestyle activity centre with over 30,000 sq ft of rental space, occupies the ground, first and second floors of The Piccolo building.

It leases out the space for bar, restaurants, a spa and beauty centre. Its anchor tenant is Ristorante L’Opera, the House of Italian Dining managed by Piccolo Mondo Gastro Sdn Bhd.

Suzianna said Berjaya Land Bhd's (BLand) recent acquisition of a 51% stake in Absolute Prestige for RM15.3mil was a stamp of confidence in the hotel-cum-retail building project.

Wong will remain as the company's chief operating officer and head the hotel's management team.

BLand said the acquisition represented an opportunity for the company to add a city boutique hotel to its portfolio of 12 hotels and resorts around the world.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

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