Conventional wisdom in Victorian England was that the sea possessed not just fearsome monsters but also curative powers. Doctors prescribed retreats to the coast for maladies ranging from a poor constitution and melancholy to tuberculosis and stress, the latter resulting from the pressures of “urban life, pollution and the general deterioration of society”, according to The Atlantic.
Facing the same ailments, contemporary society seeks that age-old therapy of fresh air and sunshine by the sea, which has been proven to restore good health and spirits. Once freed from the restrictions of the Movement Control Order, Malaysians flocked to beachfront hotels all over the country to enjoy nature almost with a vengeance. As far as the timing for a resort launch goes, this seems an opportune moment.
“I think we were lucky that we had not yet opened when the novel coronavirus pandemic first swept through Malaysia; we would have taken a real hit,” says Datuk Simon Foong. “Now that life is returning to normal somewhat, people are looking to get out of the city. It is a great time to Cuti-cuti Malaysia, as the local tourism campaign goes, and it shows: bookings for opening week are very encouraging.”
Foong, best known as the man behind The Body Shop Malaysia and Aquaria KLCC, is talking about Angsana Teluk Bahang, the new jewel in Penang’s crown of seaside resorts. Set at the northwestern tip of Penang island, Teluk Bahang is a gem of a bay, where the sparkling sea laps a stretch of pristine sand that gives way to an ancient rainforest. A close friend, who owned this plot of untouched land, convinced Foong and his wife, Datin Mina Cheah, to visit in 2014.
“Mina has always wanted to live by the sea, so we had decided that we would someday own a beachside property outside Malaysia,” he says. “But then we walked out onto this bay and fell in love [with it]. She saw the possibility of a dream come true, right here in Malaysia. 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 was a location that deserved to be appreciated.”
The start of something new
Entrepreneurship fuels Foong the way some people run on caffeine. He kicked off his career in 1982 as marketing manager at PMI Compex EDM, which distributed Apple computers. Two years later, the husband-and-wife team brought The Body Shop franchise into Malaysia and expanded its network to more than 70 stores across the country, finally going public earlier this year. He founded Aquawalk Sdn Bhd, which owns and operates Aquaria KLCC and Aquaria Phuket, launched last September, as well as virtual reality/augmented reality theme park The Rift in Mid Valley Megamall.
For the full story, pick up a copy of The Edge Malaysia (Oct 5, 2020) at your nearest news stand. Save by subscribing to us for your print and/or digital copy.