Impiana Hotel Ipoh launched a Thai Food extravaganza recently. Running for two weeks from October 5 till 19, it features food prepared by Chef Adisak from Impiana Resort Chaweng Noi in Ko Samui, Thailand.
The buffet spread features Thai favourites such as Tom Yam Goong the famous hot and sour soup with prawns, beef in massaman curry, and a whole host other Thai delicacies. Catch Chef Adisak who is also master carver in action as he carves fruits and vegetables with intricate finesse.
Cutting the ribbon to launch the extravaganza was Puan Norshamshida Bt Abdul Rahman, State Director of Tourism Malaysia Perak, together with Impiana GM, Mark Rummery.
Impiana Hotel, Ipoh is geared to usher in the month of Ramadan by offering a mouth-watering buka puasa buffet for its guests – Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Its extensive spread of authentic Malay cuisine, prepared by Chef Azman, who has 12 years of cooking experience behind him, will provide the perfect mood for the breaking of fast when the big day arrives.
The sumptuous spread will include the ubiquitous ulam such as petai, kacang botol and kacang panjang complemented by sambal belacan, cincaluk, budu and tempoyak. Appetisers include acar buah, jelatah, keropok and jeruk (pickles).
If you are into grills, head for the garden terrace where chicken, fish and sausages are up for grabs. Roasted lamb is available at the carving station. Stalls serving food such as mee kari, mee bandung, asam laksa and koey teow goreng. Take your pick.
Kawah-style food, prepared the way Azman knows best, is also available. The fares include bubur lambuk, sup gear box, rendang tok, gulai tempoyak and asam pedas ikan pari and more.
Desserts are aplenty – cendol, pengat pisang, bubur kacang merah, bubur gandum, French pastries, kuih Melayu, to name a few. Ice cream is on the menu too.
Priced at RM53 nett (adult) and RM35 nett (children) on the 1st Floor and RM63 nett and RM40 nett at the coffee house and poolside, available from July 21 to August 18 between 7 pm to 10.30 pm daily.
For reservations, call 05-255 5555 Ext 8009/8024. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was a very special night for The Impiana Hotel Ipoh as they launched their Christmas Celebrations as well as kick-starting the “From the Heart” – Christmas Charity Drive. Invited for this auspicious evening were corporate guests of the Hotel, who have championed and supported them throughout the year.
The Christmas Celebrations – themed White Christmas – was initiated with the light up of the grandest of Christmas trees sitting 20 feet above the lobby area. The St Michael’s Youth Group Choir and Santa got everyone in the mood as they sang in a sing along of popular Christmas Carols in the Hotel Lobby.
This year The Impiana Ipoh is donating proceeds from the sale of their very own “Impiana Teddy Bears” to the Yayasan Orang Asli in Perak. These 15-inch cuddly little bears will be on display at the Donation booth at the Deli area for the duration of Christmas and New Year. In addition to these cute bears, they have tied up with a professional photographer who is an Orang Asli himself. “We are promoting amazing photographs of the Orang Asli Community here in Ipoh, Perak and these will be on display in the Coffee House. These photographs are on sale and all proceeds will go to the said charity,” commented Mr Mark Rummery (pic), General Manager of Impiana Hotel Ipoh.
Every outlet in the hotel is having Christmas and New Year promotions! Call the Festive Desk in The Deli or call the Hotel at 05-2555555 ext 8010 for bookings.
By SeeFoon Chan-Koppen
He is fun, he is affable and Carl Isaac is all set to once and for all get Ipohites to recognise the Impiana name. “People I meet in Ipoh still ask me where the Impiana Hotel is! Then when I explain, they’ll burst out with ‘Oh you mean the Casuarina?’”.
Since the hotel was acquired slightly more than a year ago by the Impiana Group which has hotels in Malaysia (KL, Ipoh and Cherating) and in Thailand (Phuket and Koh Samui), it has been a daunting task for the management to educate the Ipoh public on the name change.
When a name has been so embedded into the collective Ipoh psyche, it looks like a Herculean task ahead for Carl but this does not faze this seasoned hotelier who has had other equally challenging tasks in his previous assignments which has taken him to many S.E. Asian countries.
Carl holds a Bachelor of Business from Curtin University in Western Australia and it was during his university years that his interest in the hospitality industry developed. Working his way through, first as bartender and subsequently in restaurant management, he worked for the Sofitel group after graduation, first in Australia, followed by Vietnam and Thailand.
A hankering to return to his home and family in Malaysia saw him arrive during a downturn in the economy and he found himself ‘playing mah-jong for 3 months’ with no prospect of a job. Through sheer persistence and constant hounding of the HR manager, he landed the job of Wedding Co-ordinator at the then newly-opened Palace of Golden Horses in Sungai Besi. He was responsible for setting up the Wedding Co-ordination department while learning the ropes which soon saw him land himself the position of Sales Manager at Cyberview Lodge. He has since moved up the corporate ladder and became General Manager seven years ago, the first time at the Sedona Menado in Indonesia.
“It feels good to be back in Malaysia and work here. It’s a great opportunity to be able to work, live and enjoy the community and the quality of life that Ipoh offers. Now, my aim is to maintain Impiana Hotel Ipoh’s pride as the most efficient, effective and favourable for our clients. I will also uphold and upgrade our service commitments to provide the best possible customer support service in Ipoh,” says Carl when asked about his vision and goal for Impiana Hotel Ipoh.
And he hasn’t been cooling his heels either. Already in the three months since his arrival, he has renovated 97 rooms and turned 66 rooms into Club rooms on two designated floors. He has the distinction of being the first GM to open a Club Lounge both for the Impiana Group as well as for Ipoh. The Royal Suite has been upgraded as has the Kinta function room. A small fitness room has been put in, and all in all the Impiana is moving towards becoming a 5-Star hotel charging 4-Star rates to cater to the rate conscious market that exists in Ipoh.
Welcome to Ipoh Carl!
The Ipoh Draft Structure Plan, launched at the Impiana Hotel, is on display at the lobby of Ipoh City Council and on the 3rd Floor Lobby of Bangunan Seri Perak on week days between 9am to 4pm till August 22.
Members of the public are invited to view the plan and share their proposals and suggestions via suggestion forms available at the respective locations.
State Local Government chairman, Dato’ Dr. Mah Hang Soo, today launched the Draft Structure Plan-2020 on July 23. The structure plan covers an area of 64,257 hectares and includes the divisions of Ulu Kinta, Sungai Raia and Sungai Terap which are further segregated into eight development blocks or corridors.
As of 2007 the population of the city stood at 621,000 and is forecast to grow to 800,300 by the year 2020 making it the locale where 29% of the population of Perak would reside.
Over the last two years, about half a dozen budget hotels or those below four-star rating have emerged in various parts of the city.Their investors are seizing the opportunity during this time of economic slowdown to take business from prime hotel brands as businesses both large and small seek to scale down their hotel expenses. Being a city that is no longer as vibrant as when tin mining in the Kinta Valley was at its peak, Ipoh no longer attracts tourists or executives of big corporations with money to spend. And so over the past years, budget hotels have seen a boom as casual domestic visitors and business travellers to the city downgrade
to cheaper hotel accommodation.
These budget hotels are offering a comprehensive range of accommodation facilities to travellers at affordable prices. And since these hotels are mostly located near the heart of the city and close to popular eateries and entertainment establishments, travellers prefer to stay there for obvious reasons.
It may come as a surprise to know that Ipoh has a total of 66 licensed Hotels or Rumah Tumpangan (Boarding Houses) as they are officially described? They are in two categories, the Star (5 categories) and Orchid (3 categories). Of the 66 hotels located in the city, 25% are in the star category while the remainder are budget hotels under the orchid category.
In case our readers are asking themselves “Where are they?” and rattle off the star-rated hotels like Impiana, Syuen, Excelsior and Regency Tower, totally not remembering that the Fairmont, Eastern and that ‘Grand Old Lady’ – the Station Hotel, are still around.
Generally all that any guest expects from a hotel is a pleasant, clean and secure accommodation and hopefully at affordable rates.
That is what most of the new budget hotels located at shop lots are offering, thus providing a competitive service package to guests visiting the city.
According to Jimmy Yeo, the Chairman of Malaysia Association of Hoteliers (MAH), the budget hotels typically consist of 20 rooms and above, and provide the basic amenities for guests.
Budget Hotels in Sub-Centres
Over the last two years several budget hotels have opened up at sub-centres around Ipoh. Ipoh City Council defines sub-centres as being immediately outside the main city centre and has classified the areas of Medan Ipoh, Meru Raya, Simpang Pulai and Pengkalan Station 18 as sub-centres, allowing budget hotels to be located at converted shop lots.
The first of the new budget hotels, the Ipoh Times Inn Hotel opened for business in 2007. Located on busy Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah (Jalan Tasek), it is the first hotel you see when you exit from the North-South Expressway in the city.
According to its General Manager, Mr Kumar Thas, the Times Inn Hotel is part of a chain of budget hotels next to highway interchanges, explaining that the reason for selecting such locations was for easy accessibility for their customers. Additionally the location must have a variety of food outlets and some entertainment nearby.
At the Ipoh outlet all its rooms have attached bathrooms, television, air conditioning and Wi-Fi. All the corridors in the hotel are fitted with CCTV cameras. Each room rents for between RM60-90 per night with the highest rate for a family room.
The Times Inn Hotel does indeed follow closely its location specifications. Just down the road from the hotel is a 24-hour food outlet and about a kilometre behind is the sprawling Medan Ipoh food, entertainment and shopping outlets.
All hotels have their regular corporate customers. For Times Inn their customers regularly have dealings with the nearby shopping malls, hospitals and factories whose visitors commonly stay for several days.
Popular with families
Another common group of its customers are the Malay, Chinese and Punjabi families that come home during the long weekends, weddings and school holidays. During the major holidays like Chinese New Year and Hari Raya the hotel is full for 2-3 days.
These families usually stay at the hotel to freshen up and rest for the night. Incidentally Times Inn has several rooms on the ground floor to cater for senior citizens.
When Times Inn first opened its doors at the end of 2007 its occupancy rate was averaging 90%. Since then another two budget hotels have opened within a 3km radius and currently the occupancy rate is averaging 70%. However, that didn’t discourage Kumar from opening his second outlet immediately at the back of the current one in February this year.
Close-by is the Highway Hotel. Its Manager, Mr Patrick Hoo, explained that it was originally called the Highway Café. After his diners frequently asked him to recommend a nice hotel to stay, he decided to convert his premises to a hotel and named it the Highway Hotel.
Maintaining a similar modus operandi Hoo, also claims an occupancy rate of over 70%. His customer base too was similar. I enquired from a customer who was checking out, on his opinion of the hotel, and he replied it was “clean, had Wi-Fi, was close to the highway and had a nice price.”
Across town in Falim is another budget hotel, the Fresh Hotel which opened about two years ago. Its location at Taman Mas Falim lies in the centre of another sprawling suburb stretching from Menglembu to First Garden with Buntong in between. Hence it is not surprising that it too has a healthy occupancy rate with a similar customer base.
Other converted shop lot budget hotels can be found along Kuala Kangsar Road and at Pengkalan Station 18.
Approval of New Licences on Hold
After approving licences for several budget hotels on the outskirts of the city, a city council’s spokesman revealed that the Council is currently reviewing the licences due to certain “social issues”.
All of these budget hotels rent their rooms out on a “day use” basis meaning customers pay a low rate charge averaging RM30 for 2-3 hrs use only. Sensing this long term potential ‘social’ issue, the City Council is currently ‘drafting a policy’ to control it. Until the policy is completed all future approvals for budget hotels are on hold.
However future application for hotels located at “free standing” locations, (meaning a hotel located at a block by itself and not located in a converted shop lot), will be allowed.
But what of the other budget hotels that have been around for a long time. I had been asked not to name them but a reason why these older budget hotels are not well patronized is because the management has not upgraded the hotels.
The rooms may be generally clean and spacious but guests prefer a room with that refreshing feel. This is another factor why the newer budget hotels are popular.
One point noted by most of the interviewees was their guests were mainly families and corporate customers, rarely tourists. If there are tourists they would be transit tourists staying just one night.
Perhaps when we attract tourists to spend two nights or more per stay it would provide a reason for the older budget hotels and other hotels in general to upgrade their premises and bring vibrancy back to the city centre.