Friday, May 05, 2006

Accor Group entering Sabah hotel and hospitality industry with 700 rooms

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah's tourism industry received a shot in the arm Wednesday when one of the world's largest hotel companies, the Accor Group, formalised its entry into the hotel and hospitality sector by signing agreements to operate, not one but two hotels here.

Accor would be operating the Novotel at 1 Borneo along Jalan Sulaman and the Mercure at the soon-to-be-completed Warisan Square right in the heart of the city.

Both four-star rated hotels would add more than 700 rooms to the State, which is in need of another 3,000 rooms to cater to the increasing tourist arrivals.

The Novotel is Accor's renowned business class hotel, which represents value and consistency aimed at the corporate, conference, incentive and leisure market, while the Mercure is part of Accor's range of city hotels, apartment hotels and resorts.

The 15-storey hotel in 1 Borneo would comprise some 500 rooms and would be called Novotel 1 Borneo, incorporating many of the latest Novotel design features, including the innovative BIZ Executive Floor and BIZ Lounge concepts.

It would also feature a coffeehouse and one speciality restaurant, lobby lounge and bar, a 1,300 seating capacity ballroom, four adjacent meeting rooms, rooftop infinity pool, fitness centre and spa as well as a kids club.

Accor signed the agreement to operate Novotel 1 Borneo with the hypermall developer, Sagajuta (Sabah) Sdn Bhd.

The Mercure hotel in Warisan Square (located just behind Centre Point) would be known as the Mercure Waterfront and is expected to open in December.

It would have 212 spacious guest rooms and fitted with the most modern trappings and amenities, including two meeting rooms, a trendy international restaurant, a rooftop cafe and bar, a coffeehouse, a lobby lounge and bar, a rooftop infinity pool with swim-up bar, fitness centre and state-of-the-art spa and a business centre.

Accor signed the agreement for the Mercure Waterfront with Merjuta Sdn Bhd. Witnessing the signing ceremony at the BED in the Waterfront here Wednesday, Deputy Chief Minister cum Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat described the event as "very exciting".

"They have made the right partnership. This is what I am excited about. Today the top (hotel) group in Europe together with friends who I know can make things happen in Sabah," he said.

Chong said the new hotels augured well with the development of the tourism industry in the State. With the completion of the RM1 billion expansion and upgrading project of the Kota Kinabalu International Airport he believed "the sky is the limit" as far as tourism is concerned. "This is something that we are raring to go," he said, adding that he told both Sagajuta and Merjuta to make it happen fast "because I need it tomorrow".

He said the State needs all types of hotels from the five-star facility right down to the bed and breakfast lodges as well as boutique hotels (between 20 and 30 rooms) not only in the city but also outside.

On the issue of condominiums being turned into service apartments, Chong said it would not be a problem if done properly and professionally.

Signing both the agreements for Accor were its Vice President, Operations, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and Philippines, Patrick Basset and Vice President, Development Asia, Victor Pang.

Representing Sagajuta were Managing Director/Executive Chairman, Raymond Chan and Director, Tan Tiang Lai, while in the second ceremony for the Mercure Waterfront, Merjuta Sdn Bhd was represented by Director, Francis Wong and Raymond Chan who is also a Director.

Witnessing the signing between Sagajuta and Accor was Warisan Harta Sabah Sdn Bhd, Chief Executive Officer, Rahman Ghani, while N.K Foo was the witness at the signing between Merjuta and Accor.

Warisan Harta is the co-developer for 1 Borneo and the developer of Warisan Square.

Meanwhile, Basset said it was not coincidence that Accor decided to venture here as studies conducted in the past two years by them showed the city is among the rapid growing tourism markets in the region.

Accor operates 269 hotels in the Asia Pacific comprising nearly 50,000 rooms and it is the largest in the Asia Pacific region.

He said Accor was also happy with the comfort and hospitality of the locals here that he said can be tapped by them in ensuring the hotels success.

The Novotel 1 Borneo and Mercure Waterfront would be Accor's fourth and fifth hotels in Malaysia with the others being in Johor Bahru, Kuala Lumpur and Kuching.

According to him, Accor Group would not be investing anything in the ventures and would only act as the operator responsible for defining the products, sales and marketing, especially on the international end, which is their forte and also staff training.

Basset concurred with Chong that the demand for hotels here would be strong as more regional airlines are launching their services into Sabah.

For Chan, the ceremony was significant as "it symbolises the beginning of yet another milestone in the development of 1 Borneo".

Merjuta Director, Francis Wong said the Warisan Square project had won the hearts of many investors and buyers.

"As part of our commitment to bring in international players into the scene, we are pleased and honoured to be in partnership with Accor to establish Mercure Waterfront, Kota Kinabalu, a brand that has the largest hotel marketing network in the world," he said.

"We are confident that they will have a positive impact on the hotel and the tourism industry in Sabah," he said.

Some 500 players from the travel industry attended the ceremony that was emceed by Mahadzir Lokman.

Source: Daily Express

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