Banyan Tree brand makes Malaysian debut. It’s luxury – understated and redefined.

In 1994, the Banyan Tree brand was introduced to the world with Banyan Tree Phuket. Today, the brand is renowned as a sanctuary to rejuvenate mind, body and soul in the international hospitality industry as it manages and develops resorts, hotels and spas in Asia, Africa and the Americas. Now, 24 years after the brand’s inception, Malaysia gets two of its very own Banyan Tree properties…

Iconic hospitality brand now opens in Malaysia

Anders Dimblad (pic) is a man on a mission. With more than 19 years of experience under his belt in the luxury hospitality industry, the Swedish national is tasked with helming the foray of iconic global brand Banyan Tree into Malaysia in the form of two properties in Kuala Lumpur.

They are Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur and The Pavilion managed by Banyan Tree.

Set to open its doors soon, Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur is nestled within the heart of Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle and features 55 lushly appointed rooms and suites, ranging from 51 to 200 square metres with exquisite contemporary flair, boasting breath-taking close-up views of the Kuala Lumpur skyline, which includes a view of the Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower.

A truly pampered experience awaits guests at the Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur. Unique to Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur are in-room facilities including the brand’s signature aromatherapy essential oils and chromotherapy shower in all room categories.

Selected suites will also feature a private relaxation pool, a spoiling treat for the senses – and that’s just getting started.

The Pavilion managed by Banyan Tree, on the other hand, is the Pavilion Group’s first hotel brand of its own.

Taking up 13 floors above the six-storey high Pavilion Kuala Lumpur shopping mall, The Pavilion managed by Banyan Tree features 325 rooms and suites filled with its unique charm for the discerning traveller in need of an urban getaway.

Its facilities will include a Banyan Tree appointed spa and gallery, a club lounge, a rooftop infinity pool, a sky gym, banquet halls and meeting rooms, a fusion Japanese and all-day dining restaurant, as well as a whisky bar.

Indeed, leading Banyan Tree’s debut into the Malaysian market and managing arguably two of KL’s most luxurious and exclusive hotels to-date, Anders undoubtedly has his work cut out for him as General Manager for both properties.

However, Banyan Tree seems to have certainly picked the right man for the job.
Although appointed as General Manager for the pre-opening of both Malaysian properties in 2016, Anders is no stranger to the Banyan Tree brand.

His appointment follows ten years of successful management tenures with the Group, being instrumental towards the success of other iconic properties around the world including Banyan Tree Al Wadi, Banyan Tree Ras Al Khaimah Beach, Banyan Tree Seychelles, Banyan Tree Bangkok, and Angsana Ihuru, Maldives.

A testament to his accomplishments are an array of accolades and awards, including being listed among the “Hotelier Middle East Power 50” and ranking among the top five of the “General Managers of the Year” by

MARKETING had the opportunity recently to have a brief tête-à-tête with the man himself over a fancy beverage at the yet-to-be-opened Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur, getting an exclusive sneak peek into what the highly anticipated hotel has in store for guests while garnering his insights into introducing Banyan Tree to a whole new market.

First things first, Anders – congratulations on your appointment! You have indeed been a stalwart of the brand, having been previously involved with other Banyan Tree properties around the world. How does it feel to not only lead the opening of Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur and The Pavilion managed by Banyan Tree, but more importantly, lead the brand’s debut in Malaysia?

Thank you, Ham! It is certainly a privilege and honour for me to be where I am today. It is also a huge responsibility to say the least – but an exciting one, nonetheless. Being part of the brand’s opening in a new market is certainly exhilarating, and I look forward to leverage on my past experience with the brand to firmly establish Banyan Tree’s footprint on Malaysian soil.

Let’s start with the developments that led to this rather historic milestone for the Banyan Tree Brand. What spurred the decision that led to the opening of Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur and The Pavilion managed by Banyan Tree? Why now?

As a Group, Banyan Tree is always seeking out new locations to develop new properties. In the last five years alone, we have introduced 12 new properties around the world.

We are open to setting up just about anywhere that we deem fit but given the right conditions. These have certainly helped to establish our brand presence globally and cementing our footprint as an iconic and renowned brand.
These two openings in KL were certainly a long time coming. This effervescent and cosmopolitan city is at the heart of Malaysia with vibrant beauty and diversity.

This, combined with the current economic and business landscape here, has led to Kuala Lumpur being a mecca of sorts for both tourists and business travellers around the world.

Add to this ideal mix a vibrant night life, some of the best shopping malls in the world, as well as modern and historical landmarks – all these make Kuala Lumpur “fertile ground” to plant the Banyan Tree brand seed.
And so we set out to do just that, and in the process, we found an ideal, like-minded partner in the Pavilion Group.

Not only do they have a strong track record in developing world class properties including high-end residences and large-scale retail mixed used developments in a prime city centre, but they also echo the core values of our brand.

So we set out together with them towards bringing to Malaysia its first Banyan Tree property – and that dream is now a reality, which I am sure will take well to Malaysians and travellers to Kuala Lumpur alike.

Malaysia’s economy is certainly growing with a positive uptrend, while the government has also implemented positive and effective measures to promote the country internationally.

At the same time, from an economic standpoint, we see growing demand for luxury hotels in Kuala Lumpur now.

What are the challenges of opening and marketing Banyan Tree in Kuala Lumpur?
I think every hospitality brand has its share of challenges when opening a new property, especially when opening in a new market – and we’re no exclusion. However, we see these challenges as an opportunity to further strengthen our brand.

As great and wonderful a city that Kuala Lumpur is, I think our biggest challenge here, being a new market for us, is the lack of awareness about the Banyan Tree brand.

This is mostly due to the fact that many of our properties are associated with holiday getaways and located in exotic destinations, such as our first property in Phuket.

While we do have many urban properties, such as those in big cities like Shanghai, Tianjin, Seoul, Bangkok and Macau, these were opened only a few years ago.

That’s an interesting point you brought up. So how do you translate the Banyan Tree brand that is typically synonymous to exotic beachfront holiday destinations, to a metropolitan conurbation such as Kuala Lumpur?

Yes, it’s interesting really. Most people associate our brand as a beachfront holiday brand.

This is mainly due to the fact that some of our more established properties are located in iconic destinations such as Maldives, Seychelles, Bintan and Samui – what people would call your ideal exotic retreat.

But what this has done for a brand is that it has built a reputation for us – and quite a legendary one at that – of being a brand associated solely with getaways.
However, the truth is that we are more than that. As a matter of fact, Banyan Tree has successfully built and runs hotels in various locations – not just beach getaways.

We have properties in the mountains, we have properties by riversides, along lakes, valleys and as I mentioned earlier, we do have a fair number of our resorts located in urban areas, where the nearest beach or countryside is miles away!

But no matter where we are, we at Banyan Tree pride ourselves in our unique brand offering. It’s exclusive to us and no other brand has this unique identity.

Enter any Banyan Tree, whether in a bustling city or an idyllic beach, and you will find a treat for all the senses – a sense of romance, a sense of rejuvenation, a sense of exploration, a sense of wellness.

This is the distinct offering of Banyan Tree – that no matter which of our properties you are in, you will get the authentic Banyan Tree experience in an awe-inspiring setting. It truly is a Sanctuary for the Senses.

This is the heartbeat of the Banyan Tree brand. It’s understated luxury – and this will certainly carry through in Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur and The Pavilion managed by Banyan Tree. While guests in both these properties will be in the centre of Kuala Lumpur’s bustling city life, no matter where in the world they are from, they will have their very own “haven” to come home to.

This does not mean that we disassociate ourselves with where we are located, but rather, complement it with our own identity.

There have been a few recent openings of high-end, luxury hotels in KL with a few more slated for opening. How does Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur differentiate itself in this market?

We have a very clear and definitive vision for our properties in Kuala Lumpur, which is to be the most exclusive urban resort in Kuala Lumpur, committed to inspire our associates to surpass their own self-expectations, leading to positively remarkable guest interactions, delivery of unbending respect for real Malaysian hospitality experience with optimum returns to our stakeholders.

Internally, we educate and train our associates to live, work and play towards achieving this vision, in order to exceed guests’ expectations all the time.
Externally, the infrastructure and positioning of our properties itself will exude a sense of exclusivity; from our 55 suites with breath-taking views to what will perhaps be the highest rooftop bar, located on our 59th floor!

It’s certainly something unique to Kuala Lumpur, even to Malaysia. Our properties are designed to impress.

What are your views on the marketing of luxury hotel brands in Malaysia? What can be done better? How will Banyan Tree address this with Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur and The Pavilion managed by Banyan Tree?
I believe marketing of luxury hospitality properties is staying true to your brand’s core values – and this is certainly true for us at Banyan Tree.

We’re all about providing naturally luxurious, ecological and culturally-sensitive experiences to even the most discerning of travellers and guests – and this is ingrained into our DNA and is evident in all we do here at Banyan Tree, no matter where we are in the world.

We’re also big on Corporate Social Responsibility. At Banyan Tree, we realise that our business leaves a significant impact on the communities and localities in which we operate, and we see it as our responsibility to make this impact a positive one.

We use our business as a means to create something that we hope is beautiful and sustainable, brought about by our deep-seated beliefs. So even with Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur and The Pavilion managed by Banyan Tree, we are committed to being socially responsible.

Even before opening our doors, we have already embarked on several CSR initiatives including assisting a local primary school in creating a herb garden in their school compound for educational purposes, while tying in to the Banyan Tree brand.

Besides Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur and The Pavilion managed by Banyan Tree, are there any future plans of opening more Banyan Tree branded properties in the Malaysian market in the not too distant future?
Right now, we are currently working on the Angsana Penang, slated for opening in the first half of 2019.

We are also in on-going discussions with a few other partners in establishing more opportunities here, but for now, the Malaysian market has plenty to experience with Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur and The Pavilion managed by Banyan Tree.

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