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Penang gets a new 5-star property in a colonial building

The Rice Miller Hotel, due to open in 2013, will be Penang latest deluxe hotel, located in one of Georgetown’s most elegant structures along Weld Quay, the city’s historical waterfront.

PENANG- Weld Quay is all about the history of Georgetown, the capital city of Penang Island in Malaysia: the quay dominated by the clock tower of the current Customs house (formerly the headquarters of the FMS Railways) was the heart of Penang’s prosperity during its time as a Free Port under British administration. Over the years, the area became however less attractive -especially in the years after the independence- as Penang lost its privileges. Today, a few buildings are only used to host administration services while the area remains ghostly most of the day.

But Weld Quay will soon be back to its former glory as a residential and hotel project is taking place: the Rice Miller city residence and hotel is a redevelopment along an entire block led by real estate company Asian Global Business. It consists of four adjoining parcels on a 3-acre site by old Penang harbour including 99 units of private residences while the Rice Miller Hotel will offer 48 deluxe rooms.

The project would in the long term also include a private club, gym, spa, event centre, health clinic, restaurants and cafés, an urban grocer and deli, boutique retail and eventually a theatre. The development has been watched out by UNESCO as the future development is located in the heart of the historical heritage area. Weld Quay preserves architectural evidence of the commercial and social evolution of the city and is in a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but many buildings stand badly dilapidated today.

In another development, CItitel will build two more properties in Penang, the four-star St Giles and a Cititel Express unit. To be built at Gat Lebuh Noordin area by early 2014, the St Giles Hotel will offer 500 rooms and the Cititel Express will provide an additional 275 rooms. The 33-storey St Giles will have a unique facility of a helicopter pad on its rooftop.

They are currently 115 hotels in Penang offering 13,102 rooms. Occupancy rate reached 63.5% in 2011 with the total of hotel guests reaching again over six million –including 3.1 million of foreign guests

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Luc Citrinot a French national is a freelance journalist and consultant in tourism and air transport with over 20 years experience. Based in Paris and Bangkok, he works for various travel and air transport trade publications in Europe and Asia.