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Monday, June 8, 2009

Pavilion Group plans to expand to other places

The Pavilion Group is considering opportunities to replicate its success with the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur in other parts of the country and overseas.

Although the current soft market conditions may not make its expansion plans viable, owner Tan Sri Zainol Mahmood said the company was not ruling out having Pavilion developments elsewhere in the future.

“Having created a successful retail-focused integrated development model, we can confidently move into other new markets if the opportunity arises,” Zainol told StarBiz.

Pavilion KL is a privatised project by KL City Hall under its urban redevelopment programme to inject more life and wholesome activities into the city.

Developed by Kuala Lumpur Pavilion Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Urusharta Cemerlang Sdn Bhd, the four-part development is located on 12.6 acres at the intersection of Jalan Bukit Bintang and Jalan Raja Chulan.

It comprises the seven-storey Pavilion KL shopping centre, two luxury residential towers above the retail podium, a 19-storey corporate office block, and a proposed boutique hotel.

On the development concept, Zainol said the aim was to optimise on the project’s location on the last piece of prime real estate in the Bukit Bintang commercial district by adding more value to the project.

The project is located on the former Bukit Bintang Girls’ School premises. The school has since moved to Cheras.

“Pavilion KL has established itself as an iconic landmark and lifestyle destination for inner city living and shopping. It has certainly lived up to its status as the defining authority in city living, fashion, dining, and urban leisure,” adds Zainol, who is Urusharta Cemerlang chairman.

In its first year since opening for business in October 2007, the shopping centre recorded an estimated retail sales of RM1.56bil. With an average customer traffic of 83,000 a day, the shopping centre has to-date registered 48 million visitors.

With 1.37 million sq ft of net lettable space and 460 shops, Pavilion KL shopping centre was completed in September 2007. It is 100% tenanted and offers a mix of fashion, dining and urban leisure catering to the mid to upper-market segments.

Launched in 2004, the two blocks of Pavilion Residences were purchased by Kuwait Finance House at RM750 per sq ft.

Zainol said demand for high-end residences in the Golden Triangle was still good as more people were embracing inner city living.

The 19-storey office tower has also been completed and handed over to its owner, the KL City Hall.

Coming up next will be a six-star boutique hotel, Raffles Kuala Lumpur, targeted for opening in 2011. To be built at a cost of RM300mil, the hotel will offer between 180 and 200 suites.

On his market outlook, Zainol says: “Pavilion KL has established itself as an anchor of the community through its ‘totality approach’ to create a pedestrian-friendly shopping centre that in turn will transform KL into a ‘walk-able city’.

“We are happy with how the project has turned out and is upbeat of its potential.”

He added that plans were afoot to host more national and international events and promote Bukit Bintang as a must-see destination for tourists and locals.

By The Star (by Angie Ng)

Gurney Plaza plans budget hotel near shopping mall

GURNEY Plaza Sdn Bhd, via subsidiary G Hotel Sdn Bhd, is planning its second hotel on Penang island.

The company, which owns the five-star G-Hotel fronting Penang's famous esplanade, Gurney Drive, is looking to build a budget-cum-boutique hotel near its existing property.

The proposed 204-room hotel will be sited on a 0.4ha plot and the company is budgeting between RM70 million and RM80 million for the project, Gurney Plaza Sdn Bhd director Phuah Choon Meng said.

"We are awaiting approval from the local authorities," he told Business Times in Penang.
Phuah said the proposed hotel is set to be completed by 2010. Its developers are aiming at the rise in visitors to Penang island, since George Town made it to Unesco's World Heritage List.

"This proposed hotel project will be good for the Penang since we will be able to generate new jobs and more business for contractors and suppliers," he said.

Phuah said the proposed hotel will front Jalan Kelawai in Pulau Tikus and is within walking distance to the Gurney Plaza shopping mall and Gurney Park Condominiums.

"We are hoping to offer an unusual lobby and decor for the new hotel," he added, "along the lines of G-Hotel."

G-Hotel was last year recognised by the International Real Estate Federation (Fiabci) the best 2008 Hotel Development category at the Malaysia Property Award.

Last week, it emerged first runner-up in the hotel category of the Fiabci Prix d'Excellence Awards 2009 international property awards.

By Business Times (by Marina Emmanuel)

SP Setia, DutaLand, Sime Darby up in early trade

KUALA LUMPUR: SP Setia Bhd, DutaLand Bhd and Sime Darby Bhd share prices rose in early trade today. The three companies had been in the limelight since late last week after the first two inked agreements with China-based parties while Sime Darby was reported to have been offered a multi-billion dollar project in China.

SP Setia had entered into a co-operation agreement with Hangzhou Ju Shen Construction Engineering Ltd to set up a JV to carry out a mixed property development in the province of Zhejiang, China.

At 10.55am, SP Setia was up 4 sen to RM4.22 with 71,200 shares done.

The co-operation agreement marks the company's first foray into China, and its third venture overseas after Vietnam where it is developing Eco-Lakes at MyPhuoc Industrial, 42km north of Ho Chi Minh City and EcoXanh at Saigon Hi-Tech Park in District 9 of Ho Chi Minh City.

Meanwhile, DutaLand Bhd rose 10 sen to 72.5 sen with 20.3 million shares traded at 10.55am.

DutaLand inked an MoU with China-Boda Group to jointly develop two pieces of land in Hebei province, China and in Iskandar Regional Development Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Sime Darby added 15 sen to RM7.10 with 1.38 million shares done.

Sime Darby Bhd has been offered a multi-billion dollar development project in the Weifang prefecture city in China. The project, covering almost 700 sq km, will be one of the biggest ventures ever undertaken by a foreign company in China.

By The EDGE Malaysia (by Surin Murugiah)

SP Setia, DutaLand hit 52-week high

KUALA LUMPUR: Setia Bhd and DutaLand Bhd, which inked separate deals with China-based parties last week, rose to their 52-week high respectively today.

SP Setia rose to a high of RM4.24 before easing to RM41.8 as at 3.25pm, while DutaLand jumped to 77 sen before easing to 74 sen. DutaLand was among the most actively traded stocks with 32.9 million shares done.

SP Setia had entered into a co-operation agreement with Hangzhou Ju Shen Construction Engineering Ltd to set up a JV to carry out a mixed property development in the province of Zhejiang, China.

The co-operation agreement marks the company's first foray into China, and its third venture overseas after Vietnam where it is developing Eco-Lakes at MyPhuoc Industrial, 42km north of Ho Chi Minh City and EcoXanh at Saigon Hi-Tech Park in District 9 of Ho Chi Minh City.

DutaLand inked an MoU with China-Boda Group to jointly develop two pieces of land in Hebei province, China and in Iskandar Regional Development in Malaysia.

By The EDGE Malaysia (by Surin Murugiah)

Royale Chulan on track to hit occupancy target

The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur is on track to achieve 60 per cent occupancy at an average room rate of RM350 a night by December 2009.

The five-star property is expecting double-digit revenue growth or more than RM10 million in sales, general manager Leo Kuscher told Business Times in Kuala Lumpur recently.

The Royale Chulan, wholly-owned by the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT), was built for over RM200 million in two years.

Located on Jalan Conlay, it features a 300-room hotel with nine food outlets, 15 meeting rooms and a 1,000 capacity ballroom and 102 serviced apartments.
Kuscher said he is anticipating to recover the investments in five years depending on market conditions.

Since its soft opening in April, it has achieved 30 per cent occupancy.

Kuscher said he is targeting 45 per cent occupancy by end July.

"We have forward bookings for international conferences in July. According to our plan, we are already doing what we want to achieve. We are expecting a certain percentage of business from rival hotels riding on our legacy," Kuscher said.

The Royale Chulan is expecting 60 per cent of its income from the local market and 40 per cent from the Middle East, Europe and Asia Pacific.

The property will focus on three segments - corporate, leisure, and meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition.

Kuscher said it will spend 5 per cent of its revenue on marketing and promotions to be visible globally.

He is aiming to turn The Royale Chulan into a "must visit attraction" and an icon in Kuala Lumpur.

The property has elements of Malaysia's unique architecture with Terengganu influences.

Handcrafted wooden design elements are discretely located throughout the hotel. Carved wooden features were incorporated to enable circulation of the air and to keep the interiors of buildings cool. These carved pieces of timber also enable filtered light into the buildings. A dominant feature of the property is its glassed-in courtyard conservatory.

"There are challenges to run the hotel and serviced apartments in this slow economy. But a challenge is always nice especially when you are working for an excellent hotel. We have to market it to the world and sell it accordingly," Kuscher said.

The Royale Chulan, which will employ 450 people by December, is operated by Boustead Hotels & Resorts Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Boustead Holdings Bhd, which is majority owned by LTAT.

Boustead Hotels and Resorts has a collection of four-star properties such as The Royale Bintang Kuala Lumpur, The Royale Bintang The Curve, The Royale Bintang Resort and Spa Seremban, The Royale Bintang Penang (opening this year) and The Royale Bintang Surian The Curve (opening in 2010).

By Business Times (by Sharen Kaur)

Royale Chulan -- 5-star experience at half the normal rates

The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur may be the most expensive hotel in the Klang Valley but it is offering services and facilities of superior quality in tandem with its five-star rating.

Its rooms are priced at RM700 a night and the Royale suite at RM9,000.

As the hotel opened only in April, it is offering introductory rates now, which halve the price of the rooms.

For the serviced apartments, a studio unit is being offered at RM8,000 while a two-bedroom apartment is going for RM9,000.
The apartments are luxuriously furnished with sizable living and dining rooms and a well-equipped kitchen.

"We will launch a royalty programme next month to drive sales at The Royale Chulan. The royalty programme will give people a return on their investment. At times like this, people are looking for the best deal and we want to give them that," its general manager Leo Kuscher said.

Kuscher said he has no qualms running the hotel and serviced apartments although the world is in a depressed mood.

He believes there will be growth which will be accelerated by good service command and attitude from its staff and having facilities at par with international standards.

"If you want to be successful in today's business, you must offer excellent services. You must have passion which should be infectious to show that you are really dedicated and are totally immersed in every single detail of the property," Kuscher said.

The Austrian-born has been in the hospitality industry for 40 years and has gained a reputation for branding hotels and turning them around.

An example is The Royal Adelphi Seremban in Negri Sembilan, which he rebranded into a Royale Bintang property within three months.

When he was the general manager at The Andaman Langkawi, he repositioned the four-star property into a five-star super deluxe hotel and into one of Asia's best resorts through continuous service improvements.

Kuscher first came to Malaysia in 1984 where he served as the executive assistant manager of Holiday Inn Kuching in Sarawak.

He joined The Prince Hotel (now known as Melia Hotel) in 1986 as general manager and left for Hong Kong in 1988 to join The Regal Meridien Hotel in Kowloon as its resident manager.

He then moved to the Philippines and transformed Manila Hilton into Manila Pavilion, Manila's largest casino hotel, in 1989.

Kuscher returned to Malaysia in 1990 and joined The Crown Princess Kuala Lumpur before moving on to become the operations director for Federal Hotels International.

Kuscher was running The Royale Bintang Kuala Lumpur in March 2006. He had pushed this four-star property to achieve 86 per cent occupancy and average room rates of RM169 for November 2007.

By Business Times