SELANGOR’S royal town is set to have a new landmark by the end of next year, with a long-awaited five-star hotel opening its doors in Bandar Baru Klang.
Work on the RM350 million Acmar Hotel and Residence — being built and to be run by Klang-based property developer Acmar International Group — has resumed after a 17-year hiatus, when the project ground to a halt during the Asian financial crisis in 1997.
Group managing director Datuk Steven Tee tells The Edge that work restarted in September and the building structure is now about 98% complete.
“What’s left is the finishing and interior works and we are working towards opening our doors in November next year.”
Tee says the hotel is owned by Dwelling Makers Sdn Bhd, a 100% subsidiary of Acmar.
The hotel will have 23 floors divided into two wings, with the top floor being the sky lounge.
There will be a total of 488 rooms, suites and serviced residences. These include 256 superior rooms of 35 sq m each, 19 junior suites (47 sq m), 20 executive suites (72 sq m), four superior suites (98 sq m) and one presidential suite (222 sq m).
There will also be 188 serviced residences, which will be divided into 127 studios, and 42 one-bedroom and 19 two-bedroom residences.
Covering 2.79 acres, the hotel will have a built-up area of almost 850,000 sq ft, with two levels of basement car park with 469 bays.
Tee says the hotel will boast one of the biggest pillarless ballrooms in the Klang Valley, which will be able to accommodate 1,600 people and can be divided into three separate rooms.
There will be four restaurants — an all-day multi-cultural dining restaurant, a Chinese restaurant specialising in Yunan cuisine, a Japanese restaurant and the sky lounge, which will offer a panoramic view of Klang.
The sky lounge is being built on a new floor that is being added to the current structure.
With 12 meeting rooms and a plan to incorporate the adjacent Acmar-owned Klang Executive Club, which has two ballrooms and four meetings rooms, in the development, Tee hopes to turn the hotel into a venue for conferences, weddings and meetings. The Klang Executive Club will be linked to the hotel via a sky bridge.
“It will be marketed as a MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) venue and also a place for the Klang community to hold events such as weddings. There are no nearby five-star hotels here and our studies show that there is a big demand for it,” Tee points out.
He says the hotel is a long overdue dream for Acmar and it is a relief that the project is back on track.
“We had to shelve it due to the economic crisis then and were unable to restart it due to the financial institutions’ reluctance to give us credit facilities. But MBSB (Malaysia Building Society Bhd) has now agreed to finance the hotel and we are thankful to them for their confidence in us. We are also thankful to the Klang Municipal Council for its help in fast-tracking the approvals process and getting the construction works moving.”
Acmar and MBSB are expected to sign an agreement on the credit facility early next year.
Tee hopes the five-star hotel will help Klang get the coveted city status soon. He says the Sultan of Selangor has also expressed hope that the hotel will open soon.
“Everyone kept saying the abandoned building was an eyesore and I really felt bad about that. With the completion of the hotel, I hope Acmar will be seen as contributing to the elevation of the status of Klang and providing Klang folk with a place to be proud of, where they can wine and dine their friends,” says Tee.
According to him, many developers had asked Acmar to sell them the building. He is glad Acmar decided to keep it instead of taking the easy way out by disposing of it.
“This will be one of our crown jewels.”
Tee says next year is expected to be a busy one for Acmar as it has several other projects in the Klang Valley that are expected to get off the ground. “We see 2015 as a turnaround year for us and we will be making some announcements in the near future.”
Acmar has hired German national Uwe Lohage as its hospitality division general manager. Lohage is overseeing the pre-opening works and will also be running the hotel, says Tee.
He adds that the hotel is expected to see a return on its investment in about 12 years. Acmar hopes to achieve 70% occupancy within the first two years of operation.
Lohage is confident of meeting the occupancy target as Acmar plans to attract Asean and other international guests. “We only expect local demand to be 30% while the rest will be international,” he says.
Lohage plans to keep the operating cost low by employing mostly locals and by attracting Malaysians currently working abroad. He says the hotel is also trying to incorporate green technology wherever possible to set itself apart from the competition.
“This is the biggest project I am undertaking and I am determined to make it a reality,” says the German, who has more than 32 years of experience in the hospitality industry.
This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on December 15 - 21, 2014.