It is my first visit to Iskandar Malaysia, the main development corridor in Johor that forms part of the government’s plan to shift the southernmost state into high-developmental impact drive via the creation of an economically and socially beneficial as well as sustainable economic zone. I am here specifically to visit a new business hotel in the Medini metropolis — a 2,230-acre mixed-use development zone that makes up a small part of Iskandar Malaysia, which itself spans a staggering 547,832 acres or about three times the size of Singapore.
The Ramada Meridin Johor Bahru is currently the largest hotel in Southeast Asia under Wyndham Group’s Ramada brand. Having just opened in July, the 644-key property has already been steadily drawing in guests, enjoying a decent 50% occupancy at press time with a 70:30 leisure to business ratio, the reason for which is the presence of Legoland just down the road.
“We signed the deal in 2015,” says Tan Sri Leong Hoy Kum, the founder and group managing director of Mah Sing Group Bhd. Having cemented the group’s position as one of Malaysia’s leading property developers since 1994, Leong decided it was time for a fresh challenge. This is, after all, nothing new for the group whose story began as a plastics trading firm in 1965 before diversifying into property development.
Even the company’s name, Cantonese for “horse” and “star”, and accompanying logo have undergone several changes. “The original logo of a horse within a star stood for my late father’s dream to expand the business across Malaysia and Singapore, hence ‘Ma-Sing’,” Leong explains.
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