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Monday, April 14, 2008

JCorp wants three more hotels

JOHOR Corp (JCorp) plans to add at least another three hotels in Johor within the next five years, to ease the current shortage in the state as well as to promote Persada Johor International Convention Centre.

It plans to add one luxury-class hotel and two three-star category hotels to its existing stable of five hotels, four of which are in Johor and it has signed-up to manage one other hotel in Saudi Arabia.

Shafiqul Hafiz, deputy chairman of Puteri Hotels Sdn Bhd (a subsidiary of JCorp), said that JCorp will open a luxury hotel near Persada Johor that will be ready within the next two to three years time. The hotel will be managed by the group's hotel management arm, Puteri Hotels.

"The hotel, which is still in the planning stages, will be located next to Persada and will have between 300 and 350 rooms," Shafiqul told Business Times.

"We are targeting to position it as a luxury-class hotel due to the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) market using Persada," he said.

He expects to see a spillover from Singapore, given the high average room rates and the proposed opening of the two casinos in the island state.

"If plans for the Iskandar Malaysia development take off as planned, we expect to see a change in (guest) profile in Johor Baru," Shafiqul said, adding that a bigger expatriate crowd can be expected in the state.

"Our chairman Tan Sri Muhammad Ali Hashim has a vision to transform the hospitality environment in Johor. He was the one responsible in bringing the first international standard Persada Johor Convention Centre into Johor," he said.

It is learnt that a good luxury hotel in Johor city can cost about RM1 million per room including interior design. This means that this hotel could cost between RM300 million and RM350 million to be built.

Meanwhile, the second hotel will likely be located in the Bandar Dato Onn project, about 10 km from Johor Baru, with the third in a yet-to-be-decided location in Johor Baru city.

Bandar Dato Onn is a township developed by Johor Land Bhd, which is majority owned by JCorp.

"The hotel in Bandar Dato Onn will have about 150-rooms, while the one in town will have about 300 rooms," Shafiqul said.

JCorp and its subsidiaries own or operate the Persada Johor, The Puteri Pacific Johor Baru, Sibu Island Resort, Hotel Selesa Pasir Gudang, Hotel Selesa Johor Baru and Selesa Beach Resort Port Dickson.

The hotel management deal in Saudi Arabia is with Arab Resorts Areas Co (Arac). It is wholly-owned by one of the largest conglomerate from the Middle East - the Taiba Investment and Real Estate Development Corp.

By New Straits Times (by Vasantha Ganesan)

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