HUNDREDS will say goodbye to their “family” and “home” at Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur, where guests will be checking out for the last time today.
The 40-plus-year-old hotel is part of several landmarks in Jalan Sultan Ismail in Kuala Lumpur that will be demolished to make way for new structures.
This announcement was made in October last year, and the hotel owner’s application for a development order was confirmed by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).
Pirabakaran Arumugan, 59, who has been with the hotel since it opened, was saddened by the news.
“Some people ask if I am married to this hotel. I tell them no, this place has been like a mother to me,” the VIP personal butler who is fondly known as Jason said, adding that he had helped built the hotel.
His history with the hotel began by chance when he walked the streets of Kuala Lumpur after being fired from his previous job. He was hired as a construction worker for the five-star Kuala Lumpur Hilton.
“I became an odd job worker after that, and when they found out that I could speak English, I was asked to help out at one of the hotel’s big events and I was the lift attendant.
“It was then that I met the Hilton Hotels chairman who hired me on the spot,” he said, adding that he had applied for a job there seven times prior to the offer.
Pirabakaran went on to be a busboy, waiter and finally, a personal butler, a job he cherishes and continues to do proudly until the hotel’s last day.
“My job is very enjoyable and it gives me the opportunity to meet people that one ordinarily would not be able to,” he said, adding that among the famous people he had met in the past were Richard Nixon, Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, local and foreign royalties, Margaret Thatcher, Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth II and past Malaysian prime ministers, to name a few.
“When we heard the news that the hotel’s days were numbered, I felt grateful for every day it still stood.
“I had sleepless nights and felt lost,” he said, adding that the past few months were spent appreciating every aspect of his job at the hotel.
“I spent my time talking with guests though I had to stop after a bit as chatting with them brought me to tears. When I walk along the corridors, I sometimes run my fingers along the wall,” he said.
Hotel business development director Carmen Teo, who has spent nine years with the property said the hotel had cared well for her.
“It is a great place for career development, with plenty of training and learning opportunities. In fact, we have a father and son as well as husband and wife working here,” she said, adding that she had joined as the hotel’s sales and marketing manager.
Marketing communications manager Kenny Gordvyn said this was his second hotel after working for a string of corporate companies.
“Everyone knows each other and there is an open communication. Asking for help when one does not know how to do something is easy. It really is a company that looks after its own staff,” Gordvyn said.
The human resource department had in fact, organised a two-day career fair with 15 other hotels in December last year and one with the new Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur to help the 470-strong staff find new jobs.
“We even have staff members who will be moving to Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore after this,” Teo added.
All three will most likely move on to other hotels though in Teo and Pirabakaran’s case, they may just opt for a break.
“I have already been offered jobs by a few hotels but I think I may need to take a short break so I can get over Crowne Plaza before moving on,” Pirabakaran, who had also won the Grand Superstar Award from the Malaysian Association of Hotels KL Chapter in April 2011 for services above and beyond.
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