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Glamping on a rooftop in Kuala Lumpur city

Camping out is nothing new, among trees and waterfall that is. But right smack among and above lofty masonry in a crowded city? Yes, there is such a thing, thanks to Castra by Colony.

Offering a majestic view of the Kuala Lumpur city centre, on the Level 6 rooftop terrace of the Star Boulevard building on Jalan Yap Kwan Seng, the 4,000 sq ft camping, or rather glamping site, forms part of the 31,000 sq ft Colony @ Star Boulevard co-working space which opened in August last year.

Speaking to EdgeProp.my, Colony co-working space founder and executive director Timothy Tiah shares that initially, the proposal was to set up a rooftop bar on the site, but Tiah doubted that would work as he did not have any experience in managing and operating one.

“The KLCC area is already well served when it comes to bars, so it is highly competitive and I couldn’t figure out a differentiating factor if I were to open one. More importantly, I wanted to come back to our goal at Colony co-work spaces, which is to introduce a first-class experience in our space and to change the experience of work.

“Work doesn’t necessarily need to happen in the office or with meetings. Work can take the form of team bonding and team building. That got me thinking as to the kind of experience we could produce when it comes to that. 

“So, we came up with the idea of an outdoor space where companies can do team bonding and then chill after that. It was then we came up with this idea of glamping, which is a growing trend among travellers.

“When we ‘googled’ glam-ping in Malaysia, most of these places were out of town in areas such as Janda Baik. We thought, why not we do something similar without having to go too far? Like you can still glamp but be five minutes away from a pharmacy, nice restaurants and others spots in the city,” Tiah shares. 

Glamping marries the glamour in camping, where one is able to enjoy sleeping under the stars, with all the comforts of a hotel room.

In two months of planning, a cost of RM220,000 and the merging of creative minds between interior-designer Jason Chen of Jarsche Design Studio, event planning and styling company Soirée Lab and Colony’s executive director Audrey Ooi, Castra was born.

“We did not want it to follow the exact theme as the co-working space downstairs [Colony @ Star Boulevard] but wanted it to complement each other. The design is a mix of Moroccan and Mediterranean with mainly earthy hues such as yellow and brown. You get this feeling like you are in a desert camp when you first step in,” says Ooi. 

Ooi explains the main aim is to create a place where the feeling of formality often present in work spaces, such as the office, meeting room and boardrooms, is stripped off. 

“After the serious meetings and discussions take place, Castra offers the space and environment for teams to take a break and chill,” she adds.

As this is an outdoor space, a lot of factors have to be taken into consideration including the weather and lighting.

“We had to build a bathroom from scratch and we also had to make sure the tents are waterproof. We had to make sure our parasol could withstand the strong wind, so we needed to have weights placed on them. We were initially concerned with the lighting being not bright enough during the night but thankfully, the fairy lights turned out rather bright while exuding a festive vibe,” Ooi elaborates.

Castra has gotten favourable response from a number of corporate bodies as well as individuals keen to book the space for events and parties. One of its upcoming bookings is for a wedding after-party.

The space comes with a price tag from RM2,500 per night which includes two luxe tents, an outdoor patio seating and garden lounge, barbecue deck with complimentary use of grilling utensils, air-conditioning (yes, in the tent itself when the Malaysian weather gets too hot), high-definition television with screen mirroring capacity, Bose outdoor speakers, on-site shower with hot water, a fully-stocked minibar, en-suite power sockets, unlimited high-speed WiFi, premium beds and linens for up to 10 guests and premium amenities and organic toiletries.

“From RM2,500 a night, you can stay in a luxury hotel in the city centre but we built this not with the intention to compete with hotels. It is meant to be a different experience rather than just solely as an accommodation. You get an entire space at Castra for the price and an unusual experience,” Tiah sums up.

This story first appeared in the EdgeProp.my pullout on Feb 14, 2020. You can access back issues here.

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