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PEOPLE


To ensure it delivers, Destination Resorts is exploring joint venture opportunities with hotel partners which have a proven track record and which have a philosophy that’s in line with the concept and positioning of its projects. As its goal is to become the lead investor in resorts and hotel brands in the country, Destination Resorts owns a “not insignifi cant” shareholding in each of the branded hotels being built. In 2012, Destination Resorts also be- came the majority (51 per cent) sharehold- er in an existing hotel group called Archi- pelago Hotels & Resorts. The Asia-based company was established in 2010 and has four, fi ve-star hotels with spas, which it owns and manages in Malaysia. They include The Datai Langkawi, The Carcosa Seri Negara, The Club Saujana Resort and The Saujana Hotel Kuala Lumpur. Under the partnership, Archipelago


will run hotels and spas for Destination Resorts where branded partners aren’t involved. On top of this, Archipelago will retain its own identity and operate as its own company outside of Destination Resorts. Longer term, says Metzger, the plan is for Archipelago to grow its newly launched Datai Hotels & Resorts brand in other regions – something that will fi t well with the government’s objective of building quality Malaysian brands.


LOOKING FOR INVESTORS Although the resort developments are primarily being funded by Khazanah, Destination Resort’s aim is to get private investors involved to operate them. Khazanah’s total investment in Destina- tion Resort’s current portfolio is almost MYR7bn (US$2.3bn,E1.8bn, £1.4bn) – one of the largest in the region for a leisure-based development. According to Metzger, the government doesn’t need


48 LEISURE HANDBOOK 2014


Archipelago already runs spas, such as at The Carcosa Seri Negara in Kuala Lumpur


to run the developments as the principle shareholder, but isn’t looking for an exit strategy just yet.


“When most developers sign a deal, they don’t want to get involved with oper- ations –they just want to buy, build and leave,” he explains. “We’re not doing that. We’re building communities and we’re committed to it.” Having said that, a large component of the three current projects are residential properties and these will be developed and managed by the UEM Land Group, which also part of Khazanah.


A LAND OF OPPORTUNITY Metzger isn’t fazed by what needs to be achieved. Although he regularly jokes about “getting too old for this” and pretends to be unsure about his position – “I forget what my role is here!” – you get the impression this is his way of taking the shine off him- self and giving the limelight to others. He’s already proven himself a master of leisure development with the runaway success of


Sentosa island in Singapore, which together with his team at Sentosa Leisure Group, he transformed from a tired looking island resort into Resorts World Sentosa – one of south-east Asia’s top tourist destinations. But his role at Destination Resorts is slightly different. It comes with the added challenge of bringing a new product to a market that isn’t well-versed in high-end lei- sure offerings. On top of that, in creating a success of Sentosa, he’s made his current job harder as he now has to compete with the well-visited tourist offering of Singapore as well as with the nearby and popular tour- ism destinations of Thailand and Bali. While Malaysia is well known for its shopping and beaches, tourism is mainly focused around the city and city-based hotels, plus a few island resorts known mainly to backpackers who enjoy diving. “People’s perception of Malaysia is that it’s underdeveloped and underutilised, but that is the great opportunity,” explains Metzger. “We have all this land, friendly


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