By Gerardine Donough-Tan

Two new hotels have opened in the north and south of Peninsular Malaysia, the first properties under their brands in Malaysia. Courtyard by Marriott Penang, on Jalan Macalister in George Town, has 199 rooms and suites, with all the features and facilities of a contemporary business hotel, from F&B to eight meeting rooms and pillarless ballroom.

One&Only Desaru Coast in southeast Johor has 42 junior suites, two grand suites and a four-bedroom villa; three restaurants, a bar and beach club; varied leisure activities and customised programs for small corporate groups and top-end incentives.

Both hotels may only accept domestic business currently while Malaysia’s borders remain closed. But they are honing their skills in the interim.

Courtyard by Marriott Penang

The divisible ballroom’s normal capacity of 150 people seated theatre-style and 120 for banquets is down to 72 for dining events and 90 at cocktails. All eight meeting rooms have natural day light and seat seven persons each, against the usual 12 for breakout sessions and small meetings. In good times, the pool terrace would hold 80 guests at a cocktail reception, but the current maximum is 60.

Cleanliness protocols are in place, in keeping with standard operating procedures (SOPs) set by the government. In addition, Marriott’s “Commitment to Clean” standards apply. The new protocols and elevated practices thus ensure high standards of cleanliness with a continued passion for service.

Meeting planners should note that physical distancing SOPs apply to all event set-ups, including coffee/tea breaks, meals and meeting sessions. This means no buffet spread; meals are pre-packed in individual portions. Packages may be customised to suit prevailing conditions.

“It’s great to have a new meetings and events product in Penang. Taking into consideration Marriott’s new norm on physical distancing measures, the event spaces can still host meetings and social events. Let us know your request, and we will try our best to accommodate,” said Subash Basrur, General Manager of Courtyard by Marriott Penang.

One&Only Desaru Coast

At the other end of the peninsula – and scale – One&Only sets its resort as “a private tropical sanctuary that offers beautiful venues and varied activities”. Private events are tailored according to the client’s need; optimum group size and program will be recommended upon understanding the nature and requirements of the event.

Best suited for management retreats, team-building and luxury incentives, the resort maximises its assets: from ballroom and three meeting rooms to signature restaurants, and outdoors – courtyard, lush lawn and pristine beach, with adjacent rainforest.

Under normal conditions, capacities range from five people upwards in boardroom seating to 20 and 110 theatre-style in the meeting rooms and ballroom, respectively. For cocktail receptions, group sizes are 100 guests at the courtyard and 160 on the lawn.

Activities available include tennis, beach yoga, tree climbing, nature walks, watersports, silat (Malay martial art) and cooking classes, and pampering treatments at the first Chenot Spa in Asia. Beyond the resort, golf enthusiasts may try out Els Club’s Ocean and Valley Courses. Although the resort’s team usually designs and manages customised “experiences” for corporate groups, clients may also engage their own events partner.

During the imminent monsoon season, the resort’s “wet-weather back-up plan” will utilise its meetings rooms and F&B outlets.