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#JOM! STAY: Perfect for the family - Februari 7, 2020

Swiss-Garden Beach Resort Kuantan has undergone a major upgrading to keep up with the times. Tasnim Lokman checks them out. MY 3-year old son does not want to leave the Young Citizens of the World Club. He starts his adventure with slides and follows up on that with restaurant play, where he cooks and cleans the dishes for me and his baby sister. He then moves on to play with Lego blocks with his father. It will be probably the hardest goodbye he has had to experience when leaving Swiss-Garden Beach Resort Kuantan the day after tomorrow. 

The club has won this mother’s heart with its beautiful and resourceful play center. The experience begins with an indoor playground, followed by tables and chairs for activities such as batik painting. Further, into the club, you will see a PlayStation area for the bigger kids and, in some cases, also their fathers. There’s a big play area completed in 2018. It has toys for everyone — blocks, kitchen, board games, guitars, and a rocking horse. There are a shooting range and a movie room with bean bags. The four-star resort made the right choice in prioritizing kids because happy children equal happy parents, which also means happy customers. It has direct access to the beach, providing an idyllic holiday destination for the family.

FAMILY ROOM

Located 15 minutes from Kuantan’s city center, the resort makes the perfect getaway for those looking for an affordable family retreat as it offers rates starting from RM250 per night for deluxe rooms. Its biggest option, a family executive suite, is what my family and I have the pleasure of staying in. All its 300 rooms have new beddings and lightings. You do not need to spend much to feel like you’re floating on air because even the cheapest room will make your stay worthy. The rooms are elegantly decorated in warm muted tones with neutral fittings, inspired by traditional elements. Its feature wall, television cabinet doors as well as the sofa set carry the anyaman (weaving) designs. The suite has two single beds and a queen-size bed in the master bedroom. As we have a 6-month old baby, a baby cot is placed in the room. Its spacious bathroom has a shower, Jacuzzi and double-sink vanities. The resort has added new tables, chairs and pool lounges that carry the traditional weaving pattern too. It’s a modern interpretation of the Malaysian lifestyle.

ABUNDANCE OF FOOD

Guests can start off their morning at The Garden Terrace Coffee House, which offers a good spread of live stations serving hot food. The continental breakfast includes great options for adults and kids as well as offering international guests a taste of local delights. The Blossom Chinese Restaurant, which serves halal Chinese food from Szechuan to Canton, is one of the most sought-after dim sum restaurants in Kuantan. Each dim sum is prepared meticulously and served hot. This is must-try even if you’re not a guest. Located near the lobby, Swiss-Deli is another spot for people to mingle over cakes, pastries and a cup of freshly- brewed coffee. The Pool Bar is for those who want to relax and enjoy the South China Sea breeze. However, nothing can beat the newly- renovated Malibu Pub. The upgrade cost up to RM1 million and is worth every sen. The contemporary interior and addition of a karaoke set are perfect for those who want to let their hair down. The pub, which opens from 5pm, serves grilled dishes and cocktails.

PERFECT FOR THE FAMILY

Previously promoted as family-friendly holiday destination, the resort stays true to its name by focusing on children’s facilities in its restoration. The resort launched a splash pool for kids with water features, water slides and a tipping bucket. Twisted roots fitted with water jets and mists shooting out in different patterns and directions get the children running around before heading for the water slides. A major plus is the fact that the floors have anti-slip tiles, making them safe for children and adult. Those who forget to bring swimming attire need not fret as the resort provides rental services not only for children’s swimwear but also burkinis. The resort also rents out giant floats. Those looking to relax can soak in the Jacuzzi. However, only 16-year olds and above can use it. There is a new recreational park equipped with activities for the family, including all-terrain vehicles for kids and adults, electric scooter, archery and water gel gun. The beach is clean and secluded, making you feel like you are on a private island.

FAST FACTS

SWISS-GARDEN BEACH RESORT KUANTAN

2656-2657, Mukim Sungai Karang Balok Beach 26100 Beserah Kuantan, Pahang.

TEL 09-548 8288

EMAIL This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

WEBSITEwww.swissgarden. com/beach-resort-kuantan

STAY Three hundred rooms ranging from executive deluxe to executive suites with prices starting from RM250. Every room has modern amenities, including LCD TV, WiFi and coffee- and tea-making facilities. The WiFi is fast too.

EAT Five outlets: Garden Terrace Coffee House, Blossom Chinese Restaurant, Swiss Deli, The Malibu and The Pool Bar.

DO Take your children to the Young Citizens of the World Club to play.

GO Head down to the beach or check out the nearby kampung or roadside stalls and restaurants.

HIGHS The location, which has direct access to the beach.

LOW Can get very busy over the weekend, and public holidays. Source- NST

Pahang to tap South American, Russian tourist market after drop in Chinese visitors : February 4, 2020

KUANTAN: In the wake of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, Tourism Pahang will shift its attention to South America and Russia to boost its tourism market this year. State Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsudin said following the outbreak, tourist arrivals from China to Pahang are expected to suffer a drop. “Pahang receives between 700,000 to one million tourists from China every year. The current outbreak could see lower tourist arrivals,” he said. However, he noted that this was nothing new, as they had also experienced such setbacks during the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2003, the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and the MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak in 2014. "Now, Tourism Pahang is looking to woo tourists from South America and Russia. Based on our observations, they are considered big-spenders as they prefer to participate in our tour packages and spend several days in Pahang.

“We hope to draw them to Pahang and not solely only rely on China tourists," he told a press conference at the Pahang Simply Awesome" short-video competition event here on Tuesday. Sharkar said he was told by travel and tour agents that some tourists have chosen to cancel their trips to the state. He expects things to recover within a month or two. "This is normal as there might be those who plan to travel to China and might now decide to come to Malaysia or Pahang for their holidays.We will have to think of an alternative and look into efforts on how we can attract people to come here," he said. On the short video competition, Sharkar said a total of RM100,000 in cash prizes are up for grabs for the top three winners when they submit their monthly entries between February and December this year.

"Malaysians are invited to participate and every month they are required to send their entries based on the given theme. The objective of the short video competition is to attract people to Pahang and also utilize social media to capture wonderful moments during the stay here," he said. He said every month, the top three winners will receive RM3,000, RM2,000 and RM1,000, respectively, while the winners between February and December will qualify for the grand prize, which offers RM30,000 cash.

Forms for the competition can be obtained from the Tourism Pahang webpage at www.pahangtourism.org.my/index.php/about-us/downloads. Source : NST

Ministry to keep close watch on influenza cases to ensure tourism is not affected - Januari 17, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry is keeping a close watch on Influenza A cases in the country as the spread of infectious diseases could negatively affect the tourism industry. Its deputy minister Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik said the ministry was working closely with the Immigration Department, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB), and the Health Ministry. “We are monitoring the number (of Influenza A cases) and (entry points) closely to prevent the Influenza A virus from spreading. “We don’t know if there is going to be any negative impact on the tourism flow as of yet, but we will continue to monitor the outbreak closely. “I will get a hold of our counterparts in the Immigration department and MAHB to see if there is any decline in tourist numbers,” he told reporters here today after launching the “VM2020 Happenings@KL Sentral”.

Bakhtiar, however, said Malaysia recorded growth in tourist arrivals based on the number of airlines’ forward bookings in November and December. “I’m not sure whether there will be any impact on the number of tourist arrivals in January. We will monitor closely.” More than 120 cases of Influenza A have been reported in Penang, Selangor, Pahang and Negri Sembilan since the start of 2020. On Dec 8, Malaysia saw its first polio case in nearly three decades. And in 2017, the Health Ministry disclosed there were some 25,000 tuberculosis cases with more than 1,900 deaths. It was reported that an outbreak at any place must be seen as a threat to all countries, especially those that serve as popular travel destinations. This is significant for Malaysia, especially with Visit Malaysia Year 2020. With the visa waiver for Indian and Chinese tourists, some 30 million visitors were expected here. Health authorities have taken measures to protect Malaysia against viruses coming from beyond its borders. Thermal scanners have been installed at international airports and other entry points to ensure visitors undergo health screening. Quarantine sites have also been identified. Besides that, some 99,470 additional influenza doses will be brought in this month to meet the sharp demand for the vaccine. Source- NST

Pahang's Mossy Forest is one of the world's most Instagram-able forests : January 21, 2020

Hike up to the highest elevations around Cameron Highlands and you will come across one of the most Instagram-able forests in the world. The Mossy Forest, close to the peak of Mount Brinchang in Pahang, has been named the most Instagram-worthy jungle in Malaysia. This is according to the latest report by Taxi2Airport, which tabulated the number of hashtags per forest. With 64,564 hashtags, Mossy Forest is ranked sixth on the list. The Black Forest (Germany), Amazon Rainforest (Brazil), Sherwood Forest (England), Arashiyama Bamboo Forest (Japan) and Daintree Forest (Australia) are on the top five spots, respectively. Located about 2,030m above sea level, Malaysia’s fabled Mossy Forest is believed to be around 200 million years old and is touted as one of the oldest forests in the country.

It is famed among local and international visitors alike for its exotic flora and the verdant ground covered with a mossy carpet. In a travel piece written last year, The Star reporter Intan Farhana Zainul likened the forest to the setting for the moors of Maleficent or Fangorn Forest of the Lord Of The Rings. “The forest is damp, gloomy and chilly. Walking through it, all kinds of feelings emerge, from appreciating its beautiful landscape to feeling spooked at times. “It is uncannily very quiet here, and when the wind blows, it feels as if someone is whispering behind the trees, ” she wrote.

However, Mossy Forest’s popularity is not without its downside. Overtourism and the surge of visitors who came to see the forest’s mythical-like sceneries have caused it to lose its natural beauty. In the past, environmental non-governmental organizations had reported that the forest continued to degrade as a result of tourists stepping on the moss there. Some tourists were also seen climbing the trees when they should have just stayed on the boardwalk. In 2015, Mossy Forest was closed for six months to allow the mosses to regrow and recover.

#JOM Stay: Chill time for city folk - January 10, 2020

Longing for some ‘wintery’ weather, Loong Wai Ting escapes to the new Swiss-Garden Hotel and Residences in Genting Highlands. IF you’re visiting Genting Highlands but want to stay away from all the action, the Swiss-Garden Hotel and Residences Genting Highlands make a great base. Located about 10 minutes away from the Genting Highlands Premium Outlets, you’ll avoid the usual holiday crowds while still enjoying the picturesque valley that the highland resort is famous for. Many visitors to Genting Highlands tend to stay close to the theme park for easy access but I prefer the peace and quiet here and the cool mountain air. 

A ROOM WITH A COOL VIEW

After a 45-minute drive from Kuala Lumpur, I reach the brand new hotel at almost midday. To my surprise, the hotel is not as busy as I thought it would be except for the usual weekend holidaymakers of families with small children and a handful of guests from overseas. This makes the checking-in process a breeze. In no time at all, I am shown to my room — an Executive Suite on the 32nd floor of the Residences side. Settling my overnight bag on the grey sofa with its bright orange and yellow cushions, I walk towards the sliding door and slide open one of the clear glass panels. A blast of cool wind rushes into the unit and instantly lifts my mood. From here, I can see the valley stretch all the way till the horizon and the mountains seem to overlap one another. Clouds are gathering over the distant mountain tops and light drizzle begins to fall. Up in the mountain, the weather can be quite hard to predict. Right now, it’s sweater weather kind of day.

In the en-suite kitchen, I boil some water for tea, then check out the rest of my spacious and sunny unit. Next to the living room is a bathroom. Though it’s considerably cold, the bathroom’s rain shower still looks inviting to me. Adjacent to the bathroom is a smaller bedroom, enough for one adult or kid. A single bed is placed next to the window, which offers a view of the rolling hills. If you’re traveling with small children, make sure that you keep the windows locked at all times. The master bedroom is just next door, so it’s easy for the parents to check on their kids at night. For the convenience of guests sleeping in the master bedroom, there is an en-suite bathroom with the same facilities and amenities as the one adjacent to the kid’s room. There is minimal dècor in my unit but it is painted in a neutral palette. The living room is functional too, with a low coffee table and a huge LED TV. Apart from some stains on the floor, my unit is immaculate. The standout for me, without a doubt, is the spacious living room, which offers a comfortable space to read in. It’s no surprise that as soon as the sun sets, the temperature drops drastically.

WHAT’S NEARBY

Taking advantage of the nice weather, I head down to the lobby and register for a seat in its complimentary scheduled shuttle service to the Genting Highlands Premium Outlets. My plan is to walk across the mall and take the cable car up to the mountain top for some coffee at one of the outdoor cafès. The drive up to the mountain through the winding road can be notoriously congested on weekends or during peak holiday season, so it’s better to leave my car at the hotel and take the cable car up to the hill resort. At the top, nearly everything looks and feels brand new. There are many popular eateries and new sights to take in at Genting Highlands. Venture further and you’ll be greeted by more shopping outlets, although the prices may differ slightly. But if you don’t have plans to shop, there are plenty of nice cafes to choose from and people-watching is just as fun as shopping.

FAST FACTS- SWISS-GARDEN HOTEL & RESIDENCES, GENTING HIGHLANDS

Windmill Upon Hills, Genting Permai, 69000 Genting Highlands, Pahang Darul Makmur, Malaysia

TEL 03-9213 0777

EMAIL This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

WEBSITE www.swissgarden.com/residences-genting/

STAY There are 561 rooms ranging from Deluxe to Premier Rooms, each offering a modern dÈcor and comfortable set-up. Catch up on some good night sleep on their high-quality signature bedding in their spacious rooms. If you’d like to catch up on some work, each room is equipped with a spacious working desk as well as coffee-making facilities. Don’t worry about incurring extra data charges on your phone as the property offers complimentary high-speed WiFi. There are also various facilities within the hotel that guests can enjoy. Take a dip in the heated pool and enjoy the picturesque view of the valley below. There are also outdoor Jacuzzis and sauna if you’d like to pamper yourself more.

EAT Both the hotel and residences share the same F&B outlet — The Garden Terrace Café on the fifth floor. The café serves a wide selection of local and international dishes.

DO Swim in the heated pool, of course! Or sweat it out at the gym overlooking the natural greenery below.

GO Shop till you drop at the Genting Highlands Premium Outlet (about 10 minutes from the hotel) or relax with your family and friends in Genting Highlands.

HIGH Nice surroundings and comfortable rooms.

LOW The staff could be more attentive.

Source : NST

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