What new initiatives is the Majestic Hotel currently involved in?
MONG: We are quite new. We are about 15 months old, so we are coming out with new technical and image advertisements. Being a corporate hotel, we do a lot of radio ads as well covering meeting rooms and restaurant promotions. Those are some of the initiatives we are doing in trying to penetrate the market as much as possible.
What makes the Majestic Hotel unique?
MONG: What’s unique to me about the Majestic Hotel is that it comes with a lot of history. YTL Hotels and our team were given a task that we were very proud of; to restore this grand building that was originally opened in 1932. When given that task, we were truly honored because every emerging city like Kuala Lumpur needs to have a grand hotel like the Peninsula in Hong Kong, the Dorchester in London, or the Raffles in Singapore. So we are truly honored for that and we feel that we have an edge because we have something that no one else can have, which is the history and the magnificent historic moments and stories that come with this history.
One of the unique aspects of the hotel is our signature vintage cocktail. It’s called a “Code 55 and 2 Bulat” and it is a very light refreshing drink. It has a story that comes from this hotel from a very long time ago from one of the bar tenders. From that story, we made it into a drink and now it is a very popular drink that is being sold in the Smoke House.
Another unique aspect about this hotel is that we have 2 wings. The Majestic Wing consists of 50 rooms and that is the old wing that was built in 1932. Because Kuala Lumpur is a city of 7m people, naturally, 50 rooms was too small, so we built another tower wing that has another 250 rooms and a grand ballroom that seats 1,200.
What is your guest breakdown today?
MONG: We have a good mix. We have an average of 70% corporate travelers and during the weekend we get an influx of leisure travelers from all over, from Indonesia, the northern part of Malaysia, and of course from Singapore. So maybe a 70/30 mix overall.
How would you describe the level of competition among hotels in Kuala Lumpur?
MONG: Kuala Lumpur is a city that is growing rapidly. Our second international airport just opened. Business travelers have been growing by a compound annual growth of 30% each year, and now with a new airport, new runways, new facilities, the government is doing a great job to bring in more people. So a lot of 5-star hotels will definitely be opening. There are some in the city center and there are definitely some outside of the city center. So competition will be key. What we think is important is to keep our customers and to keep our corporate clients. We have partnered with Leading Hotels of the World and they have very high standards that we follow. Being a member of the Leading Hotels of the World is something we can leverage on. To us, hospitality is not just an industry, but a passion, it is our way of life, and I think that will make the difference.
Are we in a situation of supply demand equilibrium for hotel rooms in Kuala Lumpur?
MONG: Kuala Lumpur is a city of huge conventions. From what I have seen over the past years, when there is a huge convention, demand outweighs supply. Throughout the year however, if you look at the year to date average, we definitely have enough rooms for everyone.
Every emerging city like Kuala Lumpur needs to have a grand hotel like the Peninsula in Hong Kong, the Dorchester in London, or the Raffles in Singapore.
How do you see MICE and leisure travel impacting 5-Star hotels?
MONG: We have a lot of great 5-star business hotels in Kuala Lumpur and what is important to a lot of business travelers these days, a lot of times they come for pre- and post-holidays and there are a lot of great 5-star hotels on our East coast and our West coast. So I think we have a good mix and a good combination. Business travelers can come here and at the same time enjoy all the great 5-star hotels with all the great beaches and lovely food that we can offer.
What trends are you seeing in room rates in Kuala Lumpur?
MONG: Room rates are definitely on an uphill trend. We study trends quite a bit. For the last 5 years, rates have been growing between 8% and 20%, but that is because the country is growing and the city is growing and the demand is growing. So all of the other 5-star hotels used to do $300 to $400 and now they are doing $400 to $500 to $600 dollars. So it is definitely on an uphill trend.
How is The Majestic Hotel positioning itself?
MONG: We are trying to brand ourselves towards a grand colonial hotel. We do a lot of things that are typically done in a lot of English hotels, so that is why we have an English afternoon tea that is very popular. It is served everyday from 3pm to 6pm and we serve it everyday in the Colonial Café and also in the Orchid Conservatory. Our Orchid Conservatory has over 1000 orchid plants and it is probably the largest Orchid Conservatory in the lowland of Malaysia.
How does the private sector and public sector work together to ensure the successful growth and development of Malaysia’s tourism sector?
MONG: We work fairly close with the government sector, especially because we are a new hotel. We have a lot of statutory requirements to adhere to, but there are several hospitality associations that we get involved with, Malaysia Association of Hotel Owners (MAHO) is one. So we invite representatives from Tourism Malaysia and we sit down every quarter to look at various initiatives where we can move towards improving hospitality.