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Question 1: What is the primary goal of The Banyan Tree Owners Exchange Program, and could you further explain how it operates within Senja Aman? 

The world-renowned Banyan Tree Group, being developers themselves, has a unique program where some of the units within a hotel resort development can be made available to the public to purchase for investment. This is part of Banyan Tree’s much-lauded Sanctuary Club initiative. Owners are allowed sixty days of complimentary stay per annum in their owned units whilst enjoying attractive financial returns under a lease-back scheme for management by Banyan Tree. Owners can also exchange fifteen out of their sixty days allowance to stay in more than forty other participating properties in superb locations around the world. This is a truly attractive value proposition for investors looking for a holiday pied-a-terre or their dream beach holiday home that will simultaneously generate income for them through professional management by Banyan Tree when they are not staying in their units. 

When we were looking for a hotel partner back in 2014, this program was one of the reasons why we decided to partner with the Banyan Tree group. In our development in Penang, we have made eighty-three serviced apartments available for purchase by savvy investors. Under the Owners Exchange Programme, investors not only will be able to enjoy luxury stays in their units but also experience other Banyan Tree resorts around the world, from Mayakoba in Mexico right up to Li Jiang in China. Such investments are hassle-free as every operational aspect is taken care of by Banyan Tree, a trusted and internationally recognized hospitality group. Owners will enjoy a forty percent share of the gross room revenue generated from their units. Such returns to the owners should exceed six percent annually. 

Question 2: What are some of the challenges encountered during the construction of this wellness resort? 

The construction process had been a challenging one for us. When we were carrying out the piling works, the contractor claimed to have found hard granite within the substrate that made the bore pile installation difficult. This required a comprehensive review of the sub-structure engineering design which took time for us to implement, resulting in an elongation of the contract period. In addition, during the construction, there was a serious landslide along the main road leading to the site that effectively closed off access for material delivery. It took quite a long time for the landslide to be cleared by the authorities causing the pace of construction to be severely slowed down resulting in a delay. Mid-way through the construction, the main contractor who was a mainland China construction company, found it difficult to continue due to a myriad of issues and we mutually agreed to assign the construction contract to a local Malaysian construction company. This was a complex and disruptive process that took us some time to implement, but collectively we believed that the right decision was made and subsequently, the local Malaysian contractor was able to successfully deliver the project for us.

Question 3: Share with us your inspiration or motivation that leads to the combination of elements of a unique lifestyle and investment in this project.

We believe that we have a spectacular site, beautifully framed by a forest reserve in the background and the Andaman Sea in the foreground, an ideal location for people looking for a beach holiday home in Penang. We have therefore, as explained earlier, made available a number of serviced apartments for sale to the public. This is a unique investment proposition where owners of the serviced apartments are able to enjoy luxury stays with five-star services, yet benefit from investment returns professionally managed by Banyan Tree. The Owners Exchange Programme also gives our owners the opportunity to discover Banyan Tree’s much-desired destinations around the world. Owners will automatically be enrolled in Banyan Tree’s Sanctuary Club which enables them to enjoy a range of benefits including discounts for accommodation, dining, spa, and golf fees in their worldwide properties. Such lifestyle investment is the first of its kind in Malaysia. We have just recently released our developer’s units for sale, and open for inquiries from interested savvy investors looking for such lifestyle investments. 

Question 4: In the near future, what do you wish to achieve in this wellness resort?

In the near future, we are opening a Specialist Centre focused on anti-aging regenerative medicine. This center is linked to the hotel by an overhead pedestrian bridge and will provide a comprehensive range of treatments including health screening, cell therapy, aesthetics, medical wellness care, and many other minimally invasive treatments. Together with the Angsana Spa, our guests will be able to have a total wellness experience, a place where they can also “heal and holiday” in a beachfront environment. 

Question 5: Considering the various strategic options available in Penang, what factors influenced your decision to choose a beachside location for this wellness resort?

Our Founder and Group Managing Director, Dato Simon Foong acquired the site in 2009, and I would like to quote him saying, “When I first walked onto the site, I immediately had a vision of a seaside resort that would allow people to share this spectacular view of the sea and forest reserve. It is a location that deserves to be appreciated. I envisaged a resort like no other, one that provides a unique wellness lifestyle, underpinned by a sustainable business that acts as a force for good.”

Question 6: What sets Senja Aman Wellness Resort apart from other beach hotels in Penang?

I believe that our resort is the only one that each and every room in the resort is sea-facing with spectacular views of the Andaman Sea. We are directly fronted by two hundred meters of pristine sandy beach that leads further up to the Teluk Bahang Fishermen’s Village and the Penang National Park. Our location is also close to many eco-tourism destinations and attractions including Entopia, Escape Park, the Tropical Fruit Farm, Spice Gardens, Teluk Bahang Dam and the famous durian farms in Balik Pulau.

We have eight different room types that cater to a range of needs by our guests, including a number of carefully designed two-bedroom suites that are ideal for families. We have a dedicated family pool with special features for children, as well as another separate fifty-meter length infinity pool with gorgeous sunset views especially for adults.

We are also located in a more tranquil part of Penang, with calmer waters protected within the Teluk Bahang bay. This is an ideal place for retreats and romantic getaways.

The design of the resort has also received a number of accolades including the PAM Award for mixed-use development, ATAP award for hospitality and leisure, the International Property Awards for the design of our specialty restaurant No.11, and the MIID/Reka industry award for the interiors. We have also been given Trip Advisor’s “Travellers’ Choice” award two years running in 2022 and 2023, which is a resounding endorsement by our guests and a great accomplishment for a new hotel with less than three years of operations.

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