It is all very well having splendid buildings, ones that are higher, newer, more expensive, more outrageous and so on, than anyone else in the hotel world. But what makes any luxury hotel work is its people. Get the people right and customers will come and then all concerned, especially the owners, will be happy. And happy owners make a hotel even happier. It is a virtuous circle. The gal is not sure if it was she who induced such a feeling of happiness at this doorman at Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, but the guy’s mirth rubbed off on her and on everyone around (and there were LOTS of people around as this is an extremely busy hotel, attached to the massive shopping mall complex that seems to be taking over the centre of the Malaysian capital).
The superb club lounge, on the 24th floor, was also enough to make people happy. Is this a first? I have seen many ‘live’ pianists in hotel lobbies but I cannot remember one in a club lounge. What a brilliant idea. Quite apart from the fact that long-time husbands and wives do not have to make conversation – they can pretend they are listening to the music – having a pianist gave some little kids something to concentrate on, and they behaved really well. It should be compulsory to have live music in any club lounge that admits kids. Of course there was excellent food and drink to go with the piano.
In fact just to show how good the ‘evening cocktail’ product was, chef Markus Tauwald, a delightful German, from Nuremberg, came up to check if the sashimi and sushi were being displayed properly, and he talked to some of the guests to find out how their stay was going. Earlier, the hotel manager had also come by, and his colleague who is specifically in charge of food. There seemed to be an awful lot of people working this 643-room hotel today, and it was a weekend, too. It made me think that if you want an active ambience at weekend, choose a big hotel near good shopping, and one that is run by lots of people with passion.
But then as well as passionate people working in a hotel, you need happy customers, and here I found many of them, buying mooncakes at the hotel’s deli, in the restaurants – and around and in the pool, on an outside terrace of the third floor. Anyone who has not been here since the hotel opened in 1998 would have a shock. At that time, last century, the pool looked out over a building site at – a few low-rise old buildings, and the one-time Hilton just to the right. Now you look out, from the pool, across the splendid and much-used KLCC park, and across to all these high-rises.
It was only a quick visit, but the people made it, and the little details. I have already commented how every luxury hotel today has, frankly, just got to have WiFi, free and quick, in their airport limousines. This hotel’s Mercedes has it, and what a boon it is. In case you need something to read, the car also comes complete with a good selection of today’s international and local papers (tip for travel agents, make sure you only put clients into hotels with limousines that are well equipped!). I had the water and the moist towel that seems to be offered, as if by clockwork, as soon as you get into a car, and we were away.
And then, at the airport, there was one more person from this luxury hotel, in the form of the airport representative. Most hotels have around seven airport duty-people as they have to cover both arrivals and departures, and 24/7. But what a blessing it is to see someone when you are through immigration and customs, and perhaps in a city you have not been in before. And it does make a marvelous last impression of a hotel, and a city. Farewell Kuala Lumpur!