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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Shining Bright - How fancy can hotels go? St Regis arrives in KL

Ko and Chua indicating the location of St Regis hotel on a scaled model of KL Sentral.

Hotels to some might seem like just like a place to spend the night in. To others, it’s an experience. And then there is St Regis hotels. This legendary hotel is said to house some of the finest politicians, CEOs and even royalty.

“You can expect bespoke service in St Regis,” says Miguel Ko, president of Starwood Hotel and Resorts, Asia-Pacific, which owns St Regis.

Bespoke means tailor-made, customised to their guests needs.

“The St Regis experience is something that our guests keep coming back for. Our butler service is impeccable and they are attentive. If you’ve stayed in any St Regis hotel around the world, you can expect your favourite chocolates in your room that’s been turned down just the way you like it. We have a system that ensures our guest’s needs are all recorded down so you don’t need to say it twice. Our butlers have also been trained to take note of guests preferences. That is luxury,” says Ko.

St Regis is the latest luxury hotel that will make its presence felt in Kuala Lumpur. The hotel will occupy the property owned by ONE IFC Sdn Bhd and this newly constructed property will include 200 guest rooms and 200 whole-ownership St Regis branded residences. It is slated to open its doors in 2014. This 6-star hotel is situated in the prestigious central hub of KL Sentral.

“This affirms Kuala Lumpur’s and Malaysia’s sustained growth and potential, and is further proof that KL is ready to welcome a brand whose reputation for luxury is incomparable,” says Carmen Chua, CEO of ONE IFC during the signing ceremony with Starwood.

Starwood is the world’s leading hotel group with almost 900 properties in 100 countries. Also in Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ extensive list of hotels is The Le Meridien, Westin and The Sheraton, just to name a few.

Unmistakable Quality

“The St Regis Kuala Lumpur will have only 200 guest rooms and it’s exclusive and quiet. Guests can slip in and out, you have complete privacy,” says Ko. That’s the reason why St Regis in other countries boasts a guest list of important people like prime ministers, CEOs, politicians and the list goes on. “Our butlers are discreet and you wouldn’t even know they’re there,” explains Ko.

“It doesn’t matter what these people are here for. Whether it’s for leisure or government mission, it’s not important WHY they’re here, but rather for WHAT they are,” says Ko. “Guests will come back for the comfort and privacy. It’s not like when you walk into the lobby and everyone knows you’re here,” adds Carmen.

“We pride ourselves in being a 6-star hotel. Six-star meaning that we are an ultra luxury brand. Five-star hotels are everywhere, but being a 6-star hotel means that you have to outdo the rest.” he says. “St Regis is all about understated elegance and the attention to detail of our service is something to experience to understand.”

“St Regis is also in Singapore and Beijing, and in some countries they are still under construction. Once St Regis Kuala Lumpur opens in five years time, guest will be able to get the St Regis experience in nearly every country in South East Asia.” says Ko. “The rooms will be bigger than the usual 5-star hotels and the restaurants within the hotel will be discreet and secluded. We want our guests to enjoy their stay to the fullest.”

“As for the residency, it is targeted at the high-end condo dwellers who want the comforts of home but the facilities of a hotel. These properties have the St Regis brand, which is internationally recognised. This attracts foreign buyers who have the confidence in the St Regis brand. This is definitely a smart investment,” he says. The whole ownership units are sold as strata title land and comes unfurnished. “We have showrooms to give our potential clients an idea of how the unit will look like and they can advice their own interior designer,” Ko adds.

“The rooms in St Regis Beijing have been fully booked for the Olympics since 2006. The guest list in the hotel is impressive as St Regis Beijing is without a doubt the most famous hotel in town. You can ask anyone and they will know where the St Regis is. It is the choice hotel for any visiting CEOs, politicians and even prime ministers or presidents,” says Ko.

Location Selection

“We were pleasantly surprised when we found out that the Le Meridien (also owned by Starwood and located at KL Sentral) outperformed most hotels in KL city central. I guess once you think about the 45 minute jams getting out of the city, you’ll reconsider staying elsewhere,” says Ko.

“We believe that KL Sentral will be the future hub for business travellers. We foresee 200 million visitors coming by KL Sentral and that’s just amazing,” Carmen says. “Roads and infrastructure will also be upgraded around the area to ease the traffic coming in from Jalan Travers.”

“To us, location has always been an important point. When we received reports about Le Meridien’s uptrend, we knew we have the place for our high end hotel,” says Ko.

The KL Sentral transit hub features an integrated network of six railway that connects north to south (from Thailand to Singapore) – the KLIA Express Rail Link, the LRT, the KLIA Transit, KTM Intercity, KTM Komuter, Rapid KL and KL Monorail services. KL Sentral is also Malaysia’s only centrally located Multimedia Super Corridor cybercentre. Benefits include tax advantages, having an independent broadband gateway as well as an independent power supply.

“With world famous New York-based Skidmore, Owings and Merrill architecture firm (who designed the Freedom Tower in New York and Burj Dubai in UAE) designing the building, we are assured that their expertise will match our shared vision of building a state-of-the-art tower in creating a new icon to complement the Petronas Twin Towers,” says Carmen. “SOM is one of the top three architectural firms in the world,” she adds.

How it all started

“Carmen and I were introduced by a mutual friend and business partner and we discovered we both share the same ideals,” says Ko, when asked about how the project started. “And when we decided to work together in bringing St Regis to Malaysia, we spent a year getting to know each other,” he adds.

ONE IFC is 60% owned by CMY Capital Sdn Bhd, 30% by Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd and 10% by Jitra Perkasa Sdn Bhd. “ONE IFC’s commitment to the project also represents its confidence in Malaysia’s economy despite the current climate of uncertainty, inflation and rising costs,” says Carmen. The construction of the hotel, residences and office tower development is expected to start in 2010.

World famous hotel brand

The St Regis hotel has always been the choice for the discerning guests. From their resorts in exotic locations like the Bora Bora Resort or the Monarch Beach Resort to ski resorts in Aspen, you can expect nothing but the best.

St Regis is founded by John Jacob Astor with the landmark St Regis Hotel in New York over a century ago. Since then it was known for its unrivalled dimension of luxury, bespoke service and refined elegance at the best addresses in the world.

With new properties coming up in Atlanta- Buckhead, Baha Mar, The Bahamas, Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico, Bal Harbour and Deer Crest in North America; Buenos Aires, Costa Rica, Mexico City and Punta Mita in Latin America and plans to open properties in Bali, Bangkok, Jakarta, Lhasa, Macau, Osaka and Tianjin. St Regis will also make its presence felt in Cairo, Doha and Bahrain.

By The Star (by Lum Yi Hwa)

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