THE Government plans to take over the management of the 100-year-old Carcosa Seri Negara which has been closed since Jan 1.
Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) executive director (Planning) Datuk Mohd Najib Mohd said with the expiry of the lease to Saujana (Saujana Hotels & Resorts), the Government now wants DBKL to manage the place.
“We are currently looking at some companies with reputable background in hotel management to carry out the day-to-day operations of the place,” Mohd Najib added.
Mohd Najib said Carcosa was a unique building. It was declared a national heritage site in 2007 and it needed suitable expertise to manage the place.
He added that as a heritage building, any development on the site must be in line with the National Heritage Act 2005.
“We want to explore ways to maximise its heritage factor because that is its selling point. At the same time, we also want to have a say in the way the place is run. That is why the Government is investing money into the refurbishment of the place,” Mohd Najib said.
Since 1989, the mansion had been leased to Landmark Hotels and Realty Sdn Bhd on a 10-year renewable-contract basis.
Since 2004, it had been managed by General Hotel Management Ltd (GHM).
From 2010, it was managed by Saujana Hotels & Resorts (SHR), the hospitality flagship of the Malaysian-owned Peremba Group, which also managed two other luxury hotels in Kuala Lumpur – The Saujana Hotel Kuala Lumpur and The Club Saujana Resort Kuala Lumpur.
After the expiry of the lease, it has now reverted to the property and land management division of the Prime Minister’s Department (JPM).
Last month, officers from DBKL, Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau and JPM had made a site visit to the grand residence-turned-hotel to gauge the work that needs to be carried out.
Kuala Lumpur Tourism Bureau general manager Noraza Yusof said, “Carcosa is special and has a significant impact on the history of Kuala Lumpur.
“During the site visit, I recommended that DBKL maintain it as a boutique hotel, but its historical and heritage value must be given due importance in whatever the Government plans for its future,” she said.
It is learnt that several companies were also lobbying for the project to run Carcosa Seri Negara.
“Carcosa is akin to a golden goose. It is a great product and the Government feels that perhaps it is time they took over (management) it,” said the source.
A visit to the site recently showed that DBKL lorries and excavators were parked outside the mansion and City Hall workers were seen tending to the gardens and shrubs in the area.
StarMetro reported last year that the hotel had declined reservations for this year and its online booking facility had been temporarily disabled.
Carcosa Seri Negara is a union of two stately bungalows, Carcosa and Seri Negara.
Its construction began in 1896 and it used to be the official residence of the first Resident-General to the Federated Malay States Sir Frank Swettenham, who moved into the mansion in 1904.
When Malaysia gained independence in 1957, Carcosa remained the property of the British government until 1987.
Carcosa Seri Negara was opened in 1913 as the official guesthouse for the Governor of the Straits Settlement and was later referred to as King’s House.
A visit to both mansions at the end of last year showed clear signs of the need for refurbishment and for them to be brought back to their former glory.
Despite their opulent British colonial exterior, the interior was fading away with ageing furniture, faded curtains and carpets too. However, the garden and its surrounding was well-kept.
Between the two mansions, Carcosa was in worse condition as it had been abandoned.
It is also learnt that the staff had been verbally promised to be transferred to work at other properties soon.