FROM a property developer based in Segamat, KSL Holdings Bhd has diversified into hotel and shopping mall management – its KSL City and Resort Hotel in Taman Abad, Johor Baru is a successful project.
The business is categorised under its property investment division, which contributes some 30% to 40% to its total income per annum, says executive chairman Ku Hwa Seng.
Opened a year ago, KSL City emerges as one of the most popular shopping malls in Johor Baru, outshining the older Holiday Plaza, which is a stone’s throw away. Other crowd-pulling malls in the southern capital include The City Square Mall at Jalan Wong Ah Fook and Plaza Angsana at Jalan Skudai. They are 3.6km and 7.7km away respectively from KSL City.
“When we first bought the land, we already had in mind what to do with it by gathering ideas from various places,” he says.
Some of the business owners in the shopping mall told StarBizWeek that they have moved from other malls to KSL City due to the catchment, and that is despite of the higher rental.
The shopping mall has a net lettable area of 600,000 sq ft and is 90% occupied.
Complex manager Amy Tan says it had been upgrading its tenant mix since two years ago.
“When we first started, the mall was only 60% rented out. The figure improved over time as we prove ourselves to be one of the popular spots in Johor Baru.
“Our tenants used to be mostly Johorean brands. I can recall how some Klang Valley-based retailers were sceptical when I approached them initially but things have changed and we are getting more and more enquiries from them these days,” she says.
Some of the chain stores that can be found in KSL City include: dessert shops J. Co Donut and Tong Pak Fu; pharmacy Watsons; cosmetic and personal care shop The Face Shop; massage parlour Thai Odyssey, Popular Bookstore and Old Town White Coffee restaurant.
“Some people liken us to Sungei Wang Plaza (in Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur) but I do not mind that because it is one of the most popular malls in Kuala Lumpur for a long period of time,” she quips.
She also says that the shopping mall is popular among Singaporeans because they can buy things that they do not usually find in the city-state at low prices.
Among others, a durian stall at the ground floor sticks out like a sore thumb.
“This is one good example. We can offer what Singaporeans like,” Tan says.
Its anchor tenants included Tesco and MBO Cinema.
To serve KSL City patrons and hotel guests, there are five levels of carpark with 3,000 bays, while the mall is linked to the hotel.
The two towers of KSL Resort Hotel are built mirroring each other, housing 869 units of hotel rooms of various types, among which, six are smoking floors.
Its accommodation rate per night ranges from RM259 for the superior room to the more exclusive suites, which can fetch RM945 to more than RM2,000 a night.
There are 596 superior rooms, 239 deluxe rooms, 24 junior suites, 4 executive suites, Jasmine Suite, Lavendar Suite, Caladium Suite, Bluebell Suite, and Camellia Suite.
Jasmine, Lavendar and Caladium are popular among couples because they are designed to create the romantic ambience via the room designs and the special round beds especially allocated for these suites. All the rooms come with a jacuzzi.
According to KSL Properties Sdn Bhd general manager Mahadi Mathana, the peak period for the hotel are during Fridays and Saturdays as well as Singaporean and Malaysian public holidays.
“Since the opening last year, the average occupancy rate for the hotel is 78% and is definitely picking up over time. There are days when the hotel is fully occupied too,” he says.
Besides the hotel rooms, some owners of D’ Esplanade looked into the option of leasing out their units, which would further boost the number of available units for visitors.
Mahadi says the developer offered a package for the serviced apartment owners for a return rate of 8% through rental for a limited period.
“If inclusive of the serviced apartments, there are more than 1,300 rooms altogether,” he adds.
As an integrated development, the hotel also boasts facilities like a water theme park known as “Dinosaur Alive” on the seventh floor of KSL City. The theme park is open for public while hotel guests get to enter at a special rate.
Also on that level are other facilities such as a golf simulator, gymnasium, and ballroom, which can host up to 800 people.
There are nine meeting rooms and 10 penthouse meeting rooms.
Going forward, the company plans to implement the same concept in its township development in Klang, known as the Canary Garden at Taman Bestari.
Following the success seen in KSL City and Resort Hotel, Ku says it will replicate the concept in Canary Garden, which will further improve the revenue contribution from the property investment segment.