CFA Society Singapore
Options enjoys the Sheraton experience at its oldest property in Kuala Lumpur, and its newest counterpart on the city’s outskirts.
SINGAPORE (Apr 22): It takes us just under an hour’s drive from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport to arrive at Sheraton Petaling Jaya, a 253-key hotel located on the fringe of the Malaysian capital. Frazzled from the early weekday morning flight, the check-in process at the Sheraton Club Lounge goes by in a blur for me until an extraordinary sight jolts me wide awake while entering our Club Room on the 29th floor.
A variety of cheese, preserved fruit and nuts are arranged on a platter beside a bottle of Wolf Blass Bilyara, together with a handwritten note signed by Marriott International’s general manager, Chris Moore. The surprises do not end there; sitting on the bed are two towel elephants flanking a gift box, which contains custom bath and candle products from homegrown brand Dorothy Scents.
These are but a few of the custom welcome touches that can be arranged for at Sheraton Petaling Jaya, designed for VIP or special occasions in mind. Situated at the mouth of the always-bustling Federal Highway that links Petaling Jaya to the city centre, the establishment is the latest to open under the Sheraton brand of hotels in the Greater Kuala Lumpur area. Flush with business travellers and expatriates, it offers facilities to accommodate MICE events of every scale — at venues ranging from the 1,500 sq m Grand Ballroom with oversized lift capable of fitting an automobile, to 13 other meeting rooms for corporate functions and gatherings.
Warm and welcoming hospitality
Jenny Ong, the hotel’s F&B manager, regards us with an easy familiarity during our first meeting over pre-dinner drinks at Sala Bar, a casual Latin American-inspired establishment located by the infinity pool on Level 33 of the hotel. As I sip on my Irish coffee, she begins enthusiastically rattling off a list of must-sees and must-dos, and before we know it, she is showing us her photos taken during her last trip to Japan. We find ourselves bumping into our newfound friend quite frequently over the next two days. Be it at Miyabi, the Japanese kaiseki restaurant, or Feast, an all-day dining venue that serves breakfast buffet spreads certainly worth waking up for, she can be spotted either poring over documents with a colleague at the eatery’s entrance or seated at a guest’s table laughing and chatting away as if they had known each other for years.
We soon discover that Ong’s warm and genuine disposition is not unique to the individual, and is instead reflective of the hotel chain’s organisational culture as a whole. On our second and final evening at Sheraton Petaling Jaya, we find ourselves striking up a conversation over post-prandial cocktails with one of the staff members at Chime, a dimly-lit gentlemen’s club-style bar and cigar lounge.
She shares with us that she has managed to secure a number of private event bookings for the venue in the weeks to come, and it is all thanks to the strong relations that the hotel staff have built with their guests. “There are so many luxury hotels [in this area], so many options these days. But people don’t keep coming back to our hotel for the facilities or the rooms — it’s us they return for to show their support,” she says.
Continuing a legacy
This work ethic continues to prove true when we arrive at Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur, which is located further into the city at Kuala Lumpur’s famed Golden Triangle district. Earlier in January, the hotel relaunched with a new look after a multimillion dollar facelift. Aside from raising its inventory to 398 rooms, the property has been refreshed with brighter and more contemporary interiors that continue to underscore its reputation as an international five-star hotel.
Upon our arrival, we are greeted by a smiling elderly doorman who stands out as he is dressed in traditional Malay attire, unlike the rest who are in suits. I learn from his colleagues who affectionately call him “Pak (uncle) Tasa” that he has been working for most, if not all, of the 22 years of the hotel’s existence. The sincerity of the hotel’s customer-facing employees is likewise conveyed by others from behind the scenes. Even simple hors d’oeuvres and local buffet dishes at the Sheraton Club Lounge are always prepared to exacting standards in terms of both taste and presentation and, of course, served with a smile. The same applies to the newly renovated Cantonese dining venue Celestial Court, where an extensive halal dimsum brunch menu is also available over the weekends.
Traditional Italian pizzas are made from scratch and baked in a massive wood-fired brick oven at the hotel’s Italian diner Villa Danieli, which remains untouched by refurbishment works so as to retain its old-world architectural splendour. “We Italians just love our food,” laughs chef Frederico Bozzo when we admit that polishing off the chocolate calzone dessert was a bit of a challenge at the end of the sumptuous three-course meal prepared by him and his team. It just goes to remind us of how there are so many aspects to delivering quality service with both personal passion and professional finesse — a winning combination Sheraton seems to have achieved.