Beyond providing a good night’s sleep, this award-winning hotel is also keeping guests connected to the country’s wide array of attractions and rich cultural heritage.
It has only been a short four years since InterContinental Kuala Lumpur first opened its doors, yet it has already chalked up an impressive list of awards and industry recognition.
Aside from being blessed with a strategic location at the heart of the city with the iconic Petronas Twin Towers as its backdrop and several of the finest dining outlets in town, what makes the hotel truly stands out is their effort to keep their hotel guests “in the know”.
Having accumulated my fair share of hotel accommodation over the years, I have always been infuriated by hoteliers who do not possess sufficient awareness of their own hotel facilities and services, let alone show any interest for tourism-related information and knowledge of the hotel’s surrounding areas.
But that’s clearly not the case with the InterContinental Kuala Lumpur team during my recent weekend stay there. Be it the steward at the concierge desk of the lobby, the manager at the Japanese restaurant or the supervisor at the spa, the staff are evidently well-informed of not just their own hotel operations, but also amply knowledgeable of their work and the respective industry’s development.
“While we believe that high quality, understated service and outstanding facilities are important, what makes us different is the genuine interest we show in our guests,” says InterContinental Kuala Lumpur general manager Hafidh Al-Busaidy.
He adds: “Every day, we connect them to the things that make their destination special, sharing our local knowledge with them and helping them enjoy the authentic experiences that enrich their life and broaden their outlook.”
Al-Busaidy’s team label this as the “In the Know” programme. Associated with its brand positioning, they believed that theirs is the only hotel brand that goes out of its way to share its knowledge with guests.
At the front of this is a professional concierge team where the well-trained personnel share their knowledge to give guests the insider’s view of the place they wish to visit and the latest updates on local attractions and information, particularly around the capital city.
The programme also focuses on adding value to those who uses the hotel’s meeting and banquet facilities by providing support such as venue options for coffee breaks, outdoor meeting locations and speakers recommendations. The hotel has a pillarless grand ballroom that can accommodate 1,300 guests and a junior ballroom catering up to 230 guests, in addition to eight smaller function rooms accommodating 30 to 70 people.
Getting more personal space
Not one to rest on their laurels, the hotel recently spent US$2 mil (RM7.4 mil) to upgrade its Club InterContinental facility, which now features a new mezzanine level to accommodate additional private boardroom, a discreet library corner and a bathroom with separate shower facilities for departure guests. Having expanded from 50 persons to 100 persons, the premier club lounge is available exclusively for guests staying in the club rooms and suites.
“Starting from the arrival, the dramatic and bejewelled design is seen reflected throughout the myriad of spaces, bestowing a feeling of understated and refined luxury. Club InterContinental and the rooms are made with the contemporary and comfortable concept in mind,” explains Al-Busaidy, who has been with the InterContinental Hotels Group for more than 28 years.
Another significant investment totalling RM3 mil was capitalised at the hotel’s event space where the two ballrooms and eight meeting rooms were fitted with upgraded audio-visual amenities, new high-resolution LCD projectors, HDMI cables, Wi-Fi connectivity, increased motorised screens and programmable LED lightings to create ambiance to suit every function requirement. Three new coffee break stations were also added to the enhancement offering locally inspired coffee breaks.
The hotel has 473 spacious, stylishly designed Deluxe, Premier, Grand Premier Rooms, Club Intercontinental and suites, including 110 newly refurbished Grand Premier Rooms designed to cater to sophisticated business and leisure travellers.
Specially designed to enhance spaciousness and to provide the ultimate deluxe experience through simple yet elegant design, the 42 sq metre room is equipped with multi-device high-speed wireless and wired Internet access, digital audio hub and new plush bedding up to super-king sized beds.
Amid the occasional visible remnants from its predecessor, the earthy coloured refurbished room exhibits warm and relaxing tones highlighted by plush fabrics and convenient furnishings. The well-lit accommodation feature an iPod docking station, a modern glass work desk and ergonomic chair with desk-level multi-media hub that include a DVD player and an adjustable 40 inch flat screen LED TV, along with international sockets and wireless high-speed broadband Internet access.
“The refurbishment demonstrates the owner’s and InterContinental Kuala Lumpur’s commitment to continuously deliver outstanding facilities in line with the latest trends and innovations that position us competitively with other hotels,” says the United Kingdom-born hotelier.
On the technology front, the hotel’s latest adoptions include electronic folios for registration, and billing transactions, as well as the industry leading IHG application available on Apple and Android devices for guests to book and manage their stays in any IHG hotel brands.
“This latest technology trend is also in line with our group-wide sustainability programme initiative, IHG Green Engage. We have also engaged a new partner to help us increase our internet bandwidth, all guest are entitled up to 3MB of complimentary internet bandwidth,” Al-Busaidy points out.
Cooking up a reputation
It is not just the new facilities that are raking up the credit points for the hotel; its culinary team is also cooking up a storm amongst food connoisseurs. It recently launched the InterContinental Kuala Lumpur World Celebrity Chef Series 2015 where celebrity guest chefs are invited to share their gourmet skills. The first session featured South Korean celebrity chef Edward Kwon.
In addition, the hotel’s own award-winning chefs appear at the Master Chef’s Table and Cooking Class Series 2015, showcasing a different chef every month with recipes from Malay, Chinese, Japanese and Western cuisine.
Each night over at Serena Brasserie, guests are treated to a sumptuous buffet spread of Malaysian food delight – World of Curries on Monday, Hawker’s Delights on Tuesday, Lok Lok Fare on Wednesdays, Meat Lovers on Thursday, and Seafood Galore on Fridays and Saturdays. Brunch with seafood and BBQ are served on Sundays.
With a panoramic view of the lobby’s waterfall and lush garden landscape beyond its floor-to-ceiling glass windows, this all-day dining outlet It offers a totally relaxing and spacious dining ambience to enjoy a leisurely breakfast, lunch and dinner featuring a lavish buffet spread of international choices, Japanese specialties and all-time local favourites.
Its award-winning Tatsu Japanese Cuisine restaurant displays a contemporary and simplistic design across the main dining area, along with teppanyaki corner, sushi bar, lounge, semi-private dining and private dining rooms. With a seating capacity of 147 seats, the upscale Japanese restaurant brings a sophisticated twist to the traditional dining experience as it combines a subtle blend of Japanese aesthetics with contemporary yet minimalist design.
Even though I am not the biggest admirer of Japanese food around, I did however find myself rather taken in by some of the dishes, particularly the chef’s speciality of special crab Maki with almond sauce. Presented in a sushi roll encompassing eel, avocado and deep fried sushi shell crab, it was really crispy with the almond sauce helping to cloak the raw taste.
Along with the freshly served Namban pickled Atlantic salmon, another must try is the Tatsu volcanic stone grilled wagyu beef served with Tatsu spicy dip as meat lovers will enjoy the tender and juicy meat perfectly blended with the dip.
To complete the dining experience, I would strongly recommend the raspberry chocolate mousse mingled with almond Dacquiose, Rhubard apricot compote and topped off with rose scented brulee ice-cream. Simple in presentation, yet it is the minimally sufficient dash of sweetness and soft New Zealand ice-cream that truly melts your heart.
For sake and wine connoisseurs, the restaurant features a private sake bar surrounded by floor- to-ceiling glass windows that offers a breathtaking view of the beautifully landscaped garden and cascading waterfall. The bar serves more than 20 types of sake, shochu and wines whilst Tatsu’s Sushi Bar displays an abundance of the freshest seafood flown in twice a week from Japan.
Another of its award-winning restaurant, the Tao Chinese Cuisine showcases a menu, which epitomises executive chef Wong Lian You’s style that creatively blends traditional items with a modern presentation. With more than 15 years of culinary experience under his belt, the award-winning chef constantly reinvents and creates new dishes; preferring vivid seasonal flavours and ingredients that are rich in colour and aroma set to impress discerning taste buds.
It would be a grave sin if you dine in this place without starting off with its invigorating Tao black tea, which is created from its own signature blend infused with essential rose oils for a refreshing. My personal favourite dishes here include the fried Canadian oysters served with mango salsa dressing, and baked cod fillet accompanied by pomelo spicy plum sauce.
For a refreshing respite to the day’s activities, drop by OneSixFive Lounge and Bar, fringed by a tropical garden and a cascading waterfall. The lounge offers a wide variety of handcrafted cocktails, iced teas, tapas style snacks, afternoon tea with 20 varieties of teas and an extensive range of cigars. There is also Bentley’s Pub, a traditional English-style watering hole that offers a variety of beers on tap, wine by the glass and cocktails to unwind for the day.
In a club of its own
Designed by P49 Deesign, Thailand’s prominent interior design company, Club InterContinental was fashioned to reflect the needs of today’s executive traveller where functionality and style merges into a contemporary aesthetic. Placed on the 26th floor of the hotel, the lounge radiates elegance, thanks to the 17.8 ft floor-to-ceiling glass windows, gradient of neutral and timeless colour palette and prominent white marble throughout the space.
Marrying the traditional elements of its local destination and chic modernity, the club interior features a treasure trove of ‘In the Know’ gems for guests to get connected and discover Malaysia’s cultural heritage. Brought to life by Florence Lambert Lee, director of GadisManis Malaysia, guests will be inspired by oversized “Terima Kasih” hand painted portraits of three ladies representing the different races in Malaysia, “Pua Kumbu” original piece dyed woven from Sarawak, “Wayang Kulit” wall etching a Malaysian tale through the traditional art and other complementary pieces in the lounge.
Revealed behind the reception counter overlooking a glowing multi-coloured jellyfish aquarium, Club InterContinental experiences include benefits such as gastronomic indulgence of international and Malaysian delicacies at the daily buffet breakfast, afternoon tea and cocktail hour, complimentary high speed Internet, local calls, daily laundry or pressing, usage of boardroom, and late check-out.