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Friday, August 26, 2011

Amanresorts awaiting govt approval for Penang Hill project

GEORGE TOWN: World-class hotelier Amanresorts International Pte Ltd's plans to manage and market a proposed resort on Penang Hill are still on track and awaiting government approval.

The company told Business Times yesterday that despite news reports that the luxury Aman Resorts chain may be sold, plans or operations of its resorts are not affected.

"Essentially, the Aman project, which is still to be named, is going ahead pending government approval.

"There is an Aman resort proposal to be submitted on September 5 this year to the (Penang) Chief Minister Incorporated for final approval," Amanresorts Press Office media communications manager Anjali Nihalchand said in an email.

In May, the Penang government had announced that Amanresorts will refurnish the famous Crag Hotel on Penang Hill, which was one of the earliest hilltop homes and later turned into a hotel in 1929. The hotel has been in a neglected and direlect state since 1977 when the International school of Penang (better known as Uplands School) vacated the premises and moved to George Town.

The project was reported to have been awarded in April to Sri Nisuh Sdn Bhd and the company was said to be investing US$12 million (RM35.76 million) to finance the project which was to be completed within 30 to 36 months.

The Sunday Times in London, which did not mention a source for its story, had reported that the luxury Aman Resorts chain may be sold for more than US$400 million (RM1.19 billion).

The report stated that the current owner, Indian property company DLF Ltd, has reportedly been seeking a buyer for Aman and the newspaper reported that it may have asked Goldman Sachs Group and Citigroup to find a strategic partner.

When asked to comment on whether this piece of news would affect Aman's plan for the Penang Hill resort, Anjali said: "No, the shareholding of the parent company of Amanresorts does not affect the plans or operations of the resorts."

In 2007, Khazanah Nasional Bhd announced that it had entered into a heads of agreement with Kota Selat Tebrau Sdn Bhd, Symphony International Holdings Limited and Aman Resorts Limited to develop an Aman Resort in the Iskandar Development Region in Johor.

The proposed resort was to have been the first Aman Resorts property in Malaysia to be built, designed and operated and the hotel was slated for completion in 2009. However, the project did not materialise.

By Business Times

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