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Friday, November 2, 2012

Khazanah’s RM5bil project set to transform Desaru

Big plan: (from right) Themed Attractions and Resorts managing director and CEO Tunku Datuk Ahmad Burhanuddin, Firdaus and Nadziruddin explaining the Desaru Coast project to media representatives

KUALA LUMPUR: Destination Resorts and Hotels (DRH), an entity set up by Khazanah Nasional Bhd, got the cogwheels churning to change the face of Desaru, starting with its Desaru Coast Phase 1 carrying a gross development value of RM5bil.

DRH managing director Nadziruddin Basri said the first phase, covering 1,800 acres, was targeted to be completed in 2015 but its various components would be opened as and when they were ready.

“It is important to have Phase 1 come together at the same time. The idea is to stagger the project launches but have all ready in 2015.

“As for Phase 2 and 3 which are north and south of Phase 1, we have not done the details but the projects within them will be high-end tourism-focused,” he said at a briefing. “We want to raise the tourism industry in Malaysia by a few notches.”

DRH's operational vehicle Desaru Development Holdings One Sdn Bhd (DDH1) chief executive Firdaus Azharuddin said Phase 2 and 3 had not been finalised because tourism planning was not easy as consumer trends changed quickly.

“For us to tell you what we plan to build and when to complete exactly, we would be lying to ourselves. We have the land bank and we've put in key attractions in Phase 1 that we think will bring in the tourists.”

He said the remaining phases would be developed based on market demand.

Firdaus said DRH had the capability to expand outside the boundaries of Phase 1 and the infrastructure would also be ready for Phase 2 and 3 when the time came.

Phase 1 is 80% greenfield, with 15% pockets of land left for future development.

For this 15%, Firdaus said DDH1 was opening it up to other developers but whatever they brought into the area must add value to the luxury travel theme.

“We are also looking for private companies to come in and take equity ownerships in the resorts or projects we have under Phase 1 (after they are developed),” he said.

To date, there are four premium resorts featured in Phase 1 including Aman Country Club and Aman Villas, Datai Desaru under the Datai Langkawi brand, Sheraton Resort and Plantation Hotel.

Plantation Hotel will be linked to Themed Attractions and Resorts Sdn Bhd's two immersive water parks, Ocean Quest and Ocean Splash. The hotel will feature rooms and a dining area connected to the aquarium, giving an underwater atmosphere.

DRH will partner Themed Attractions and Resorts, another wholly-owned unit of Khazanah, to package services to tourists.

Other facilities available are a convention centre, golf courses, a man-made salt water river and a culinary and hospitality school.

Desaru Coast Phase 1 will also include residential development under a joint venture with UEM Land Bhd. DRH targets to have 3,000 to 4,000 mixed residential units.

Nadziruddin added that hotels and operators in Phase 1 were expected to break even two or three years after they begun operations.

The whole Desaru Coast development, stretching 17km over 3,900 acres, is estimated to take 15 to 20 years to be completed.

By The Star

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