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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Carcosa Sri Negara to be upgraded

The government has called for bids to upgrade Carcosa Seri Negara, a 97-year old boutique, city hotel and heritage building that was once home to Frank Swettenham, the highest ranked British representative to the Malay States.

It will be closed for renovation from January 1 2010. However, the property would will keep its name. Bids must be in by October 29 this year.

"We are inviting fresh ideas (for the property)," Nurulhakeem Hasim, the principal assistant secretary from the Property and Land Management Division of the Prime Minister's Department said in a briefing on Thursday.

The Request For Proposal (RFP) document highlighted that the proposer must bear all upgrading costs and pay a monthly rental.
The developer/operator must also propose a profit sharing deal with the government.

The government wants bids from candidates with strong financial standing, wide experience and recognition in hotel and resort management and one with a chain of hotels/resorts in Malaysia and abroad.

The applicant should own a hotel brand and have a proven administrative and management track record.

Some 17 people attended the briefing, including representatives from Swiss Garden, Impiana Group, Johor Corp, Peremba, Landmarks Bhd and MITC Ancasa Hotel Melaka.

Those present told the Business Times that they were surprised that advertisements only appeared in the Malay dailies last week.

They also lamented on the short time frame to prepare the proposal. Moreover, no financial details were given as to the past performance nor rental for the lease.

According to Nurulhakeem, renovations will be done in two phases. The first phase involves upgrading and developing the existing product while the second phase will be managing and operating the hotel.

The hotel, work on it that started in 1904, was completed in 1912. It is essentially divided into two, the seven-suite Carcosa and the six-suite Seri Negara. The two blocks sit on a 1.62ha site near Taman Tasik Perdana.

The Carcosa was originally the private residence of Frank Swettenham, the highest ranked British representative to the Malay States, while the Seri Negara was for his guests.

This designated heritage site is owned by the Government and was taken on a 20-year lease by Landmarks Bhd in 1989. This lease ends on December 31, 2009.

Landmarks operated the premises until five years ago, when General Hotel Management Group was brought in, in 2004, as a guardian for the heritage site.

Meanwhile, the period for which the hotel will be closed, will depend on the extent of work that was proposed.

The developer must propose the duration of the lease based on the return on investment anticipated after the upgrade.

An interested party said that since all the investment will come from the private sector, unlike previously when the government paid for all the renovation and refurbishment, the investment amount has to be practical.

Nurulhakeem indicated that certain terms on government's usage of the facility may be incorporated. It is however unclear, if the some 365 years of free nights available to the government will continue under the new contract.

By Business Times (by Vasantha Ganesan)

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