Since Covid-19 reached Malaysia, the country has endured 1½ long years of battling the pandemic, with no clear end in sight as yet. Casualties are aplenty, ranging from a climbing death toll and a rise in new daily infections, to businesses shuttering, jobs lost and sheer mental, physical and emotional fatigue being shouldered by an already-weary population.
The Malaysian Association of Hotels reported that, as at end-June, at least 120 hotels nationwide had ceased operations temporarily or permanently, with cumulative losses of over RM11 billion and counting.
“What we’ve learnt since the pandemic hit is that the ability to innovate and adapt quickly is crucial,” says Tracy Khee, director of marketing and communications for The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur, The Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui and Higashimaya Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, all of which fall under the umbrella of YTL Hotels. “We also had to decide quickly how to move the business forward continuously and sustainably.”
Working with Geraldine Dreiser, vice-president of marketing for YTL Hotels, Khee and the marketing teams from the group’s other properties, which include but are not limited to The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Hotel Stripes Kuala Lumpur and the JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur, launched a comprehensive delivery and takeaway programme almost immediately, in April 2020, after the first shockwaves from the pandemic were felt.
“Deliveries and takeaways provide an extension of the restaurant brands in the comfort of our guests’ homes. Food provides a sense of comfort and familiarity; we have many regular loyal guests who have been supporting us through the years and to be able to cater to them during this time has been much appreciated on their part and ours. Response has been encouragingly good, with diners enjoying the fact that they can still indulge in the finest restaurant fare crafted by our master chefs and tastemakers,” says Dreiser.
Refreshed home delivery and takeaway menus have just been launched for JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur’s Shanghai restaurant, famed for its Shanghainese cuisine, The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur’s celebrated Cantonese restaurant, Li Yen, the popular Luk Yu Tea House as well as Shook!, the latter two located at The Starhill., to the delight of gourmets about town.
“These restaurants have been established in the market for more than 10 years, with an array of signature dishes that are well-loved by our guests,” Khee points out. “We also considered efficiencies across the operations in deciding which outlets to begin deliveries and takeaways, so as to optimise our workforce, amongst other factors.”
Also joining the line-up is the Majestic Hotel’s Colonial Café, once thronged by regulars who couldn’t get enough of its traditional afternoon tea and authentic Hainanese dishes, particularly the chicken rice balls, which were created based on the recipe of Puan Sri Kai Yong Yeoh, wife of the YTL founder.
Although the Malaysian hospitality landscape remains far from normal, YTL Hotels’ team is nonetheless excited to be able to dish out the award-winning cuisine they are famous for. “Our chefs and stars — as we affectionately call the staff — are very passionate and proud of the well-honed recipes we have created and grateful to the loyal guests who have supported us over the years,” says Khee.
“To be able to sustainably hone their craft and skills in the kitchen while preparing takeaways and deliveries, as well as communicate with our customers — albeit over digital channels — brings a sense of normalcy and purpose in the midst of the pandemic.”
There is hope, though, as Malaysia’s ramped-up vaccination rate continues to gain momentum. Khee concurs, saying, “It has been seen in other countries with high vaccination rates that some return to a semblance of normalcy is possible, and this provides a positive outlook for other countries, like ours, which are in the midst of achieving high vaccination coverage in the population.
“Ultimately, what all of us are looking forward to is simple. Being in the hospitality business, the focus of our work is bringing distinctively crafted experiences to our guests, whether through dining at our restaurants or holidays and stays at our properties in Malaysia and beyond. We hope to be able to open all our doors to our guests in the near future and see our hotels and restaurants hum to life again.”
To review the menu or to place an order, please WhatsApp the individual restaurants directly via the following numbers to enjoy 20% off your bill (excluding delivery charges) for a limited time, or you may also find them on Grab, Foodpanda and Easi:
Shanghai at JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur (018) 591 8537
Colonial Café at The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur (014) 647 1060
Li Yen at The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur (018) 646 8033
Luk Yu Tea House at The Starhill Dining (018) 632 8060
Shook! at The Starhill Dining (018) 929 8060
This article first appeared on July 26, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.