STORY BY TAN HEE HUI 

Get clued-in on the Malaysian capital city’s constantly changing landscapes and new highlights.

Malaysia is anything but an elusive MICE destination for numerous visitors from around the world. The Southeast Asia nation has overcome the global economic downturn and H1N1 flu outbreak, among other concerns, with much aplomb. In 2009, Malaysia received 23.6 million foreign tourists, an increase of around seven per cent over the previous year; and its tourism industry is set to expand rapidly in the future.

Action for transformation

In fact, the Malaysian government aims to transform Kuala Lumpur as one the world’s top 20 most liveable cities, and achieve a top 20 economic growth rate by 2020. To do so, the country is expected to secure tangible benefits for the MICE sector as well as implement the Greater Kuala Lumpur Plan – one of the 12 national key economic areas under the government’s 2010 economic transformation programme to establish Malaysia into a high-income economy by 2020.
KL’s rapid changes include the introduction of many new foreign hotel and retail brand names, such as the Grand Hyatt situated next to the prolific KL Convention Centre (KLCC). Offering 370 rooms and 42 suites ranging from 47 to 340 square metres, Grand Hyatt KL’s guestrooms are touted as being the largest in KL. Better still, all of the rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows, offering panoramic views of the city centre, including the iconic Petronas Twin Towers (which were once the tallest edifices in
the world).
Across the road, the Impiana KLCC Hotel has added 180 rooms to the current 322 units; and at a different part of the city, the Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur – a heritage-themed boarding which is part of the prestigious Leading Hotels of the World’s luxury hotel collection – offers more than 300 deluxe rooms and suites as well as 16 meeting rooms and a ballroom that can accommodate 1200 people.
Established in 1932, the Majestic Hotel KL – located across the road from the old KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu)
Railway Station – hosted many of KL’s glamorous events back in the halcyon days. Even renowned author Graham Greene and actor David Niven, who’s featured in the film Paper Tiger shot in Malaysia in the 1970s, had stayed at the hotel, resplendent in a neo-classical architectural style.
For some retail therapy, the Suria KLCC, one of Malaysia’s premier shopping centres, attracts large crowds on a daily basis. Just in the past year, many international and upscale fashion and beauty as well as lifestyle brands have made their Malaysian debut here. Situated at the foot of the Petronas Twin Towers and with 1.78 million square foot floor space and 384 outlets, the mall has recently been expanded to include an additional 140,000 square foot floor space and 37 speciality stores.
Across the road, the Avenue K Mall – after failing to attract a high footfall in the past, despite being strategically located above the ‘KLCC’ LRT station – is now undergoing a renovation. Although it’s not confirmed, the renovated mall may probably feature notable UK-based designer brands which are currently not available locally, such as Amanda Wakeley, Aspinal of London, Duchamp London, Gerard Darel, Jaeger, Kurt Geiger, Nicole Farhi, Pal Zileri and Theo Fennel Jewellery.
Elsewhere, the Pavilion KL Mall – located a short walking distance from KLCC – attracts numerous locals and tourists alike, and where established international brands such as Sacoor Brothers, Hackett London, Denim and Supply, Ralph Lauren and Jo Malone have recently introduced their debut stores locally, undoubtedly burning a large hole in many consumers’ pockets.

Infrastructure modernisation

Other aspects of KL which have not been spared in terms of modernisation include the upgrading of its infrastructure and public transportation. Take the recently opened elevated and fully-covered 142 metre walkways (with air-conditioning), connecting several parts of the city centre such as the KLCC, the nearby Impiana KLCC Hotel and Pavilion KL Mall, whilst allowing pedestrians to enjoy a comfortable stroll along the way. A newly integrated mass rapid transit system will also be introduced and the current light rapid transit routes will be extended to several more parts of KL, all for your convenience.
In the next few years, more globally renowned hospitality names such as W, The Banyan Tree, Four Seasons Place, Regent Hotel and St Regis will open their doors to guests in KL. Mind you, this is just the tip of the iceberg of the major changes involved in Malaysia’s aim to achieve greater things in future.