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#JOM! STAY: Club Med Cherating reopens for guests soon - July 06, 2020

Good news for holidaymakers in Malaysia, Club Med's first resort in Asia located in Cherating, Pahang will resume operations on July 28 with the launch of its Safe Together program. Developed by Ecolab, a global leader in water, hygiene and infection prevention solutions and services, the guest assurance program will reassure guests of the clean and safe environments allowing them to visit with confidence. Under the Safe Together program, a series of heightened safety and hygiene protocols aligned with guidelines from global and local health authorities will be implemented at all resorts. The Safe Together program's enhanced hygiene measures will be communicated throughout the resort - from arrival and reception, public areas and rooms, dining and resort activities, to kids facilities, entertainment, and staff operations. Resort guests can enjoy their holiday with ease as all activities and facilities have been adapted to suit the current climate while still adhering to safety standards such as frequent sanitisation using Ecolab's disinfecting agents and procedures, social distancing and precautionary practices including filling up of health declaration forms and temperature checks. Guests will still be able to experience Club Med's convivial all-inclusive offerings and 'MustTry' experiences from tailored services to the little touches that make Club Med simply unique.

Holiday-goers looking for adventurous fun under the sun will be thrilled as a range of in-resort activities like outdoor yoga, watersports, nature walk, rock climbing, archery, and its signature Kids' Club, as well as other outdoor activities are made available at Club Med Cherating. Furthermore, resort employees, also known as Gentil Organisers (G.Os) and Gentil Employees (G.Es), will be wearing masks throughout their shifts for an added level of protection. Closely following WHO guidelines and under the guidance of Ecolab, all resort staff are also thoroughly trained on precautionary and cleaning measures. Hand sanitizers will be made available throughout the resort and specially designed Club Med protective masks along with N95 masks are available for the guests to purchase at the boutique. Club Med SEA general manager, Vijay Sharma said that the partnership with Ecolab will equip all resorts to put in place a series of enhanced initiatives that will set the gold-standard for resort cleanliness.

"With this partnership, we hope to fortify an enhanced measure of hygiene processes to bring about a peace of mind for our guests returning to Club Med," he said. In addition to Club Med Cherating, the protocols under the Safe Together program will be implemented across all Club Med resorts in Asia as well while its resorts in China, after undergoing professional food safety, water checks and public hygiene audits are also certified by the China Certification and Inspection (CCIC). With 70 years of hospitality experience, Club Med is not only adapting to the new normal with agility and enhanced measures but has also honed their expertise in operating low-density resorts suited for safe distancing with self-sufficient resort facilities that allow guests to stay within the 'Club Med Cocoon', a safe haven for families looking to jump back to happiness. Surrounded by 85 hectares of lush tropical rainforest, and with the resort's built-up surface covering less than 10 per cent of the total site, Club Med's guests will be able to immerse themselves in endless possibilities and experiences while remaining safe whether they are adventuring into the wild, relaxing on secluded beaches, or even learning a new skill at sea, as there is plenty of spacious outdoor areas and activities to indulge in. In addition, restricted access to the public allows guests and staff to remain traceable and contactable should the need arise.

Cameron Highlands 'heats up' - June 29, 2020

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: After almost three months of quiet, this highland tourist destination is "heating up" again with the arrival of people in droves, after domestic travel receives green light to resume in the current recovery phase of the Movement Control Order or RMCO. The cooler temperature here, sometimes as low as 14 degrees Celcius, is one of the attractions, especially for people who have never travelled overseas to colder countries. At the same time, there are many must-see places here including the Kea Farm market, the tea plantations and flower farms.

According to director of the Pahang Tourism Ministry, Arts and Culture Ministry Office, Datuk Idros Yahya, the number of tourists here increased after interstate travel was allowed, with most focusing on ecotourism and food centres. "Most people like to visit countries with cooler weather such as New Zealand, China, Korea and Japan, so when they were not allowed to travel overseas, they sought out hilly areas like Cameron Highlands," he told Bernama recently. Hours after Prime Minister announced on June 7 that interstate travel was allowed, 109 hotels in Cameron Highlands were inundated with calls for rooms. Idros also urged entrepreneurs here to be creative in coming up with tourism products to attract more tourists who will stay longer at lodgings here.

Meanwhile, general manager of Cameron Highlands Copthorne Hotel, Patrick Tee, said closing the hotel during the MCO gave it the chance to improve its business module and marketing strategy. He said besides general maintenance of the 107-room hotel which had been operating since 1996, new programmes were drawn up, including the "7 Wonders Copthorne Hotel" which introduced seven interesting must-see locations in the vicinity, including the Kea Farm market. "The standard operating procedure (SOP) is being observed, including screening everyone's body temperature, while visitors can register through the Sanarp application without having to go through the front desk," he said. A check at the Kea Farm market found visitors being required to write their names and telephone numbers in registration books, wear masks and have their body temperatures taken before they are allowed to enter the area where fresh vegetables and fruits are sold. Vegetable and fruits seller Chong Siew Yoong, 50, said when the MCO was imposed, it was the first time in her 20 years of doing business that she saw the market closed. She said the increased number of tourists here, especially during the weekends, has spurred the traders and farm operators to provide better services and more products. -- BERNAMA

Taman Negara hotelier sets up FB page featuring local 'new norm' travel deals - June 13, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: The travel industry has been severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and compared to other industries, it might take longer to recover. This was the view shared by many operators in the industry, including Mutiara Taman Negara Kuala Tahan Pahang director of sales and marketing, Kingston Khoo. "As a hotelier and former travel agent, it was heartbreaking to see many of my industry friends being hit hard by the economic effects of Covid-19. But other than offering words of encouragement, there was nothing much else I could do as I was financially impacted myself." But Khoo did one simple act. He created 'Movement Control Order (MCO) Travel Deals', a Facebook page for travel deals in Malaysia to help fellow industry players to reach out to potential customers faster and in a more targeted manner. The page has over 130 industry players offering attractions and hotels or travel companies that are ready to welcome visitors with the strict new norms in health and safety procedures.

"Malaysians looking for local getaways could find what they want in a quicker, cheaper, and safer way. We ensure that we feature only reputed operators that are committed to the 'new normal' in standard operating procedures (SOPs)," he said, adding responses on the page have been very positive with the reopening of domestic travel under the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO). He said Malaysians are already looking forward to a short break to recharge and relax. "There has been keen interest especially for beach and nature destinations," said Khoo, adding there are many inquiries on good value staycation hotels in major cities like Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru and Penang. Another heartwarming trend is special promotions for front liners in appreciation of their efforts and contributions, as they are the ones who deserve a break.

To date, the MCO Travel Deals Facebook page features 136 deals with almost 1,300 followers in just a few weeks after the page was created on May 20. Among the best promotions on the page are Vouk Hotel Penang, which offers an RM88 per room per night deal. Another highlight is The Danna Langkawi which is going for RM488 per room per night under its Merchant Room deal, which is inclusive of breakfast for two persons (with a complimentary upgrade to the next category subject to availability, as well as other benefits) for stay validity till Aug 31. The Upper View Regalia Hotel KL is also offering its Executive Skyline Room for just RM220 per room per night.

In fact, Mutiara Taman Negara is also offering a stay for just RM230 per room per night (inclusive of breakfast for two persons and an RM30 F&B voucher) for stay validity till June 30 next year, which is normally sold around RM520. Mutiara Taman Negara is set to reopen on June 26 to ensure that they are fully ready for the 'new norm'. "By being a resort that is spread out over a very large area of more than 15 acres (6.07ha) and by being the only resort within the national park boundary, we are very fortunate that social distancing comes 'naturally' for our guests but despite that, we are strictly adhering to the health and safety SOPs set by the relevant ministries under the RMCO," said Khoo. On top of these measures, he added, the resort has SOPs put in place to ensure the safety of guests which include guests' requirements to fill up a short questionnaire prior to arriving, temperature checks and basic screening at the entrance to Taman Negara and resort facilities.

It would also maintain adequate social distancing at all restaurants and public spaces, while jungle activities will be carried out in smaller groups (maximum of 10 persons to a group). All of the activities and attractions will be available except for night jungle tours as they foresee that it would be difficult to ensure social distancing in the dark.

According to him, these promotions might help to get things rolling in the recovery of the travel industry. He added that the Mutiara's Crazy Offer which offers a Buy-Now-Stay-Later deal has been extremely well received with more than 500 bookings in just a few days after its launch. "Based on inquiries we have been receiving, many prefer destinations that are accessible by car and would like to avoid airplanes, trains or ferries. "Fortunately, we fit these criteria as it only takes four and a half hours to drive to Kuala Tahan from Kuala Lumpur where you would just need to cross the Tembeling River (a two- minute boat ride) to get to Taman Negara," he said.

Taman Negara has been known as a must-visit for tourists from all around the world for a couple of decades now. This has prompted many locals to also want to visit this gem in their own backyard. It is one of the oldest rainforests in the world, which is estimated to be 130 million years old, and the largest national park in Asia at 4,343 sq km.

Caption: Mutiara Taman Negara Kuala Tahan Pahang director of sales and marketing, Kingston Khoo.

Tasik Chini set for major rehabilitation work - 24 Jun 2020

PEKAN: Bringing mining activities to a halt, implementing extensive rehabilitation programs, and building eco-friendly concept chalets are among the initiatives to help restore Tasik Chini to its heydays.

State Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin said the Pahang government is in the midst of studying measures to introduce a comprehensive plan to revive the country's second-largest freshwater lake which has been experiencing a major drop-in visitors.

"It is high time to look at this from a bigger perspective and layout fresh plans to give the historical lake a new start. Long-term plans include bringing an end to the mining activities and plant trees at areas previously affected by mining.

"The priority has to be maintaining ecotourism by building more eco-friendly chalets near the lake and introducing water activities apart from the usual boat rides and fishing. We must scrutinize all the options and identify the best approach for the lake area," he said when contacted.

Sharkar said he will engage PLANMalaysia (formerly known as the Town and Country Planning Department) to come up with a master plan to revive Tasik Chini and its vicinity.

He said researchers from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) will also be roped in to provide their views as they have been involved in efforts to restore water in the lake to its previous pristine condition.

"Since UKM has set up the Tasik Chini Research Centre nearby, we will brainstorm and work together to find a long-term solution. It is good that we have a university collaborating with the state government.

"We need to look at the bigger picture and make long term plans for the next 10 to 20 years," he said.

Sharkar said last week, he accompanied Energy and Natural Resources Minister Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah to attend a briefing with UKM at Tasik Chini.

"The minister was given updates on the lake area, UKM spoke about their research efforts while the Peninsular Malaysia Forestry Department director-general also shared his input.

"The priority now is to maintain the biosphere reserve status accorded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) in 1996... there are criteria that have to be met and we will work to ensure the lake will not be at risk of losing it," he said.

The lake resort which was opened in 1985 had been closed since November last year and a former boatman Amran Yahya hoped that the soon to be elected Chini assemblyman will focus on reopening the resort.

Meanwhile, a former Lake Chini resort staff, who declined to be named, said the entire resort and lake area requires a major facelift including the roads to the resort which are now overgrown with grass and left unattended.

"If the state government is serious about promoting the lake, a budget should be allocated and approved for the upgrading works. It has to be now or never... a new manager must be appointed to take charge of the resort to ensure the place is not left abandoned for too long.

"Several years ago, UKM revealed that the eco-system of Tasik Chini was in a critical and dying situation. Since then numerous efforts were taken to improve the lake area but little attention was given to the surrounding areas... unregulated mining and logging activities are destroying the environment," he said.

The three-cornered Chini by-election on July 4 will see Barisan Nasional's Mohd Sharim Md Zain going against two independent candidates: Tengku Datuk Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin and Mohd Syukri Mohd Ramli. Source - NST

Berjaya Tioman Resort to close - June 12, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Berjaya Tioman Resort at Pulau Tioman in Pahang is due to close on June 15. The resort on its Facebook page said its operations are ceasing due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has adversely impacted the tourism industry. "Throughout this closure, the management will embark on a much-needed major redevelopment to revitalize the resort which is more than 50 years old," it said. "Our hearts go out to those who are affected by this closure," said the notice.

"It is with deep regret that retrenchment will be carried out and all affected employees will be fairly compensated in accordance with the Collective Agreement and the Employment Act, amounting to compensation of more than RM8 million." The notice further stated that upon completion of the redevelopment exercise, the management would consider offering new employment opportunities to all its affected employees. "Thank you for your dedication and for staying with the resort through thick and thin," it added. The four-star resort, which comprises 268 rooms and suites, is managed by Berjaya Hotels and Resorts, which is a division of Berjaya Land Berhad.

Berjaya Land is a subsidiary of Berjaya Corporation Berhad. In Malaysia, the company owns hotels and resorts in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru, Penang, Langkawi, Pulau Redang, and Bukit Tinggi. Its website also lists hotels and resorts it owns in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

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