Breath of fresh air for Langkawi’s hotel sector
Laura Lee 
The four-star Camar Resort, owned by Langkasuri Sdn Bhd, will open on March 20

LANGKAWI, the jewel of Kedah, is experiencing another transformation of sorts with more hotels, resorts and homestays slated to open in the 104-island archipelago in the coming months.

Cenang Resort Sdn Bhd’s Wanda Realm Resort Langkawi is among some of the new brands marking their presence in Langkawi. The resort will be the first Wanda Realm premium brand overseas for Wanda Hotels and Resorts Co Ltd of China.

Existing independent accommodation provider like Panji Panji at Pantai Cenang will be completing its two new villas by end-February to complement its existing chalets.

Its property manager Azmil Mustafa says the villas will have a bigger living area and balcony.

The RM60 mil, four-star Camar Resort, owned by Langkasuri Sdn Bhd, will be opening on March 20.

Ally is not perturbed by the emerging competition in Langkawi

Ally Bhoonee, founder and executive director of World Avenues Travel & Tours Sdn Bhd, says the new property will be targeting tourists from Europe, India, China and the Middle East.

“We are looking at an average room rate of RM450 and 70% occupancy during its first year of operations,” he says.

Ally, whose company will manage the new resort, is not perturbed by the emerging competition as Langkawi is well-known for its natural beauty and duty-free status.

He believes the presence of new international hotel brands on the island such as The Ritz-Carlton and St Regis have enhanced Langkawi’s popularity as an island resort since there are now more hotel choices in the market.

“There is enough market share for our hotel category. We are not going for volume as we have only 90 rooms,” he adds.

Also opening in March will be phase one of Dash Resort Langkawi at Jalan Teluk Baru. Managed by Ri-Yaz Hotels & Resorts, 81 out of its eventual 108 Dash Studios and Dash Deluxe rooms will be opened. The remaining 27 units, including a two-bedroom villa, and its meeting facilities will be opened by April.


Islands for development

Also slated for development are two small and currently uninhabited islands – Pulau Intan Besar and Pulau Tepor.

The Langkawi Development Authority (Lada) has called for two requests for proposal (RFP) for eco-resort developments on the islands.

Pulau Intan Besar, measuring 22.6ha, and Pulau Tepor with 35.2ha, are leasehold Malay reserve land.

Lada says both islands have been identified for industrial and tourism developments and the closing date for the RFPs is Feb 18.

Located off Pantai Tengah, Pulau Tepor has the advantage of a good stretch of beach facing Pulau Langkawi.

Datuk Rashidi Hasbullah, secretary-general of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, says Langkawi offers a good escapade for tourists from China because of its fresh air and natural environment.

Going with the theme “Stay with Nature”, Lada’s wholly-owned subsidiary Lada Eco-Tourism Sdn Bhd recently launched its Geo packages to promote its tourism and hospitality products.

They include its three properties – Geopark Inn in Kuah town, Geopark Hotel in Oriental Village and Gemalai Village at Laman Padi in Pantai Cenang.

Shuhainie says it has been challenging to improve the service standards among the local staff

Lada Eco-Tourism CEO Shuhainie Shamsudin, who came on board last July, tells FocusM that it has been challenging for her to improve the service standards among the local staff as well as rebrand and upgrade the various products and services.


Hotel repositioning

On Geopark Inn, Shuhainie says this strategically located two-star property serves as a transit point for those travelling to the nearby island of Koh Lipe in Thailand.

As for the 30-room Geopark Hotel, there are plans to refurbish and reposition it as a premium property, she says.

Shuhainie says the hotel’s location in Burau Bay makes it quite isolated from other parts of Langkawi.

With the tenants at Oriental Village, a themed lifestyle and shopping complex owned and managed by Lada Eco-Tourism, operating only until 7pm daily, it can be very quiet at night.

Tourist attractions such as the Langkawi SkyCab, SkyDome, SkyBridge and 3D Art Langkawi Museum housed here, also stop operating by that time.

As one travel agent who handles the Indian market puts it: “The tourists in Langkawi do not complain too much about the lack of night life as they are mentally prepared for it. Nevertheless, these Indian travellers spend a lot of money when they are holidaying here.”

Langkawi’s appeal as an island paradise is very much tied up with tourism promotions and development activities by both the public and private sectors.

At the island’s already congested Pantai Cenang, developer Cenang Resort, a subsidiary of Tropicana Corp Bhd, will be coming up with one of the highest buildings on the island at its RM1.55 bil Tropicana Cenang project on 2.1ha fronting the Andaman Sea.

The other high-rise structure, Langkawi Tower, is being developed by PFCE Integrated Plant and Project Sdn Bhd in Kuah. The development was formerly known as Maha Tower.

More options for Tropicana Cenang development

Tropicana Corp Bhd has revised plans for its RM1.55 bil mixed development Tropicana Cenang to increase the number of serviced residences to 1,650 from 1,102 units.

Launched in August last year together with the opening of its sales gallery at Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, changes were made to the configuration of the layout designs, total number of serviced residences and completion dates.

An artist’s impression of Tropicana Cenang

Currently, the project’s sales and marketing agent Tropicana Marketing Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Tropicana Corp, is only pushing for the sales of phase one which comprises Tower A, from levels six to 23 and totalling 425 units.

About 45% of these units have been taken up, its sales personnel May Foo says.

The entire project features two 40-storey residential towers, a 26-storey hotel block with 350 rooms which will be managed by China’s Wanda Hotels and Resorts Co Ltd, and 16 commercial units.

With the revision, each tower will now house 825 units. And the completion of the entire project has been pushed back to 2023 from 2022.

Prior to the revision, the configurations are for two-, three- and four-bedroom units ranging in size from 771 to 1,294 sq ft. Now buyers are offered five, instead of three, options.

The new built-ups range from 380 to 484 sq ft for the studio units and 771, 986 and 1,307 sq ft for the two-, three- and four-bedroom units, respectively.

The selling prices are RM500,000 to around RM2 mil. The maintenance fee, which includes sinking fund, is 61 sen per sq ft.

The RM49 mil commercial component, comprising 16 units with built-ups of 479 to 1,453 sq ft, are also to be completed by 2023.

Thus far, the development’s buyers are a mix of locals and foreigners.

However, Azmil Rohimie Zakaria, CBRE WTW Alor Setar branch assistant manager, says it has not been easy selling to locals as the earlier design options for serviced residences which had larger built-ups, were tagged at more than RM1 mil.

This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 270.