Club Marriott was in Malaysia a while back, and now it’s making a comeback into the Hospitality scene this year. Why the re-launch in the region, and why now?
Yes, Club Marriott was in Malaysia a point in time before, but we wanted to create a much more robust programme for our members. So now, we’ve basically combined all the hotels together that were participating in the past, and now will be with us in the future, too. We wanted to give the opportunity to our members to enjoy a larger portfolio of hotels, and more importantly, having the chance to go to our 49 restaurants throughout our hotels. This will, obviously, create better benefits for our members in Club Marriott Malaysia.
Before this, if you were a member of the programme, you could only visit one hotel, so you could only get the discounts and vouchers of only one property. Although that is still obviously a great, but why not create a larger member base to drive many more loyal guests? It’s definitely much more compelling for a member. What makes the Malaysia programme unique is the 35% discount that our members get here in all-day dining is above and beyond any other programmes we’ve had in the past. The complimentary room offer that can be used anywhere, as well, is something that’s quite rare to see elsewhere.
Is there any particular reason it’s being launched now? Is the Malaysia market more inclined to luxury hospitality?
I don’t think there’s really specific reason. I think it’s just more about aligning the hotels together, it’s really about getting as much hotels on board to enrich the benefits for the members. It took us a little bit of time to get us where we are today, and we continue to strive for growth, as well. Malaysia is growing, and hopefully Club Marriott is able to grow together with it.
Diving into the F&B industry, what do you guys think about the Malaysian cuisine?
I’ve got a couple of favourites, actually. Char Kuey Teow, Laksa, Rendang… I was also just telling the team here that I had the best Chicken Rice with a special chilli sauce when I traveled here about 5 years ago. We stopped at a little street and an old lady was cutting the chicken and I had a taste of the chilli sauce, and it was really the best that I’ve ever had. It was really an amazing experience for me. I think that Malaysian cuisine is a lot about sharing family heritage recipes that are brought down decade after decade. I love spicy food, so that’s something that immediately brings it home for me.
How would describe the Club Marriott F&B experience in five words?
Diverse, Spicy, Exciting, Evolving and Engaging.
How do you see the Malaysian cuisine on the International stage?
Malaysian cuisine is such a big part of the Asian food scene because Malaysians are very well-traveled and they’re continuously inspiring other cultures. There are plenty of Malaysian communities across the world, and wherever we travel to, there’s almost always going to be dishes like Laksa and Nasi Goreng at the buffet table. At the same time, I also feel like it has potential and space to grow bigger and more widespread across the world in the next few years to come. Within the portfolio, we do bring chefs from Malaysia to China and other different countries, and that has helped us a lot with culinary and cultural exchanges. I believe that that’s the power of the brands we have — and we have 207 restaurants across the brand. We’ve got chefs crossing borders for a week or two to learn more and boasts a great opportunity for them to grow.
Marriott International is such a big name in the hospitality industry, and F&B division is a crucial part of the group. Why do you think the gastronomy experience is important for this industry?
For us, the Food & Beverage division is critically important and our total revenue from the entire group comprises of up to 40% of the entire business here in Southeast Asia. For our local communities, too, our Food & Beverage outlets are the main faces of the hotel and sometimes, it’s equally or even more important than the room business. So, for our owners and partners, it drives them to strive for bigger and better accomplishments by pushing the restaurants in their properties. With that being said, our Food & Beverage outlets are usually where the best memories are being made. You remember the times that you went for a Christmas Day brunch and you remember the groups of people you spent significant moments with at these particular environments. Food is also sometimes the main reason people travel! There are just so many opportunities to find the best dishes across the globe and it has really driven other local businesses up through the significance of its city’s signature dishes.
Yes! Food tourism has grown so much in the last few years. What are your thoughts?
Food itself is a destination. People barely travel for the beaches or other usual tourist destinations, it’s now almost always because of food. [You now also see a large demand for food tours!] Story-telling is actually also equally important for us in every single restaurant we open, whether it’s pushing a story about the chef, about the recipes from the chef’s personal heritage, whether it’s the ingredients that are locally produced and sources by the farmer next door. It’s crucial for us to relay the story right to our customers.