(from left) Lim, Angela and Hijjas inspect one of the rooms
GEORGE TOWN: World-renowned architect Hijjas Kasturi has embarked on a RM20 million boutique hotel project to revive 15 shoplots within the George Town heritage enclave and turn them into 50 five-star hotel rooms.
The 15 shoplots located along Clarke Road, Hutton Lane and Transfer Road which will be operational by Christmas were bought via a bank tender.
Speaking during a visit by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Hijjas said with more than 40 years experience, the project of refurbishment of the heritage buildings, which had been decadent for years was a first for him involving reviving heritage buildings and also running a hotel at the same time.
Hijjas was also looking at buying three more shoplots in the vicinity to serve as staff quarters and also to serve as additional facilities for the hotel.
"This project is a personal challenge and a learning curve as I wanted to do something for Penang especially in terms of heritage conservation and this project is also a tangible long term investment, which is a good investment for the future," Hijjas said.
The Tanjung Penanga Boutique hotel would include five family villas in one of the lots, eight suites and 32 rooms.
There will also be a garden in the back alley which Hijjas is seeking approval from the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) to turn into a green lung area within the city.
Hijjas said the hotel also would comply with the green building index which would result in an additional 40% increase in expenditure with solar panels being used for LED lights, rain water harvesting and other recycled materials being used in the construction and also furnishing of the hotel.
"We have shopped all over the world for the materials to retain the identity of the buildings with tiles being sought from Vietnam and Indonesia, old recycled furniture from China, brass switches from Australia, among others.
The hotel also will feature a lap pool, shops, beauty salon, spa, dining facilities and also provide accommodation for pets, besides being children friendly with a lift for one of the lots which will be four storeys high.
Hijjas said the hotel will target mostly foreign tourists from Hong Kong, Thailand, UK, Australia, Singapore and other countries.
Also present at the press conference was Hijjas' wife, Angela, and son, Suyani.
"We hope to bring back life to this side of George Town and we have spared no expense to ensure that this project will meet high standards as a five-star facility."
The hotel will also feature work of local artists including sculptures and drawings throughout the hotel and its outlets.
Room rates would start from RM350 to RM800 for the villas.
Meanwhile, Lim said the project would add value to Penang's heritage and called on other architects to emulate Hijjas by putting passion and money for such projects.
"This hotel is for the discerning guests who wished for a unique experience in George Town," he added.
Hijjas: This project will set a paradigm and standards in reviving
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