The complex general manager of the newly-opened Parkroyal Collection Kuala Lumpur on the latest addition to the country’s hospitality scene and how he is looking forward to revisiting Florence, Italy, the city of his birth.
Options: Congratulations on the opening of the Parkroyal Collection Kuala Lumpur. How do you think the property will add to the city’s portfolio of travel and leisure offerings?
Cristian Nannucci: The Parkroyal Collection Kuala Lumpur is the first hotel to open, post-pandemic, after a redevelopment exercise. Malaysia is opening up for travel, both in the leisure and business sectors, so we are looking forward to offering a new location on the map.
Could you explain a little about the redevelopment?
The hotel has been rebranded to the Parkroyal Collection, the first Collection hotel in the group to open in Malaysia, which is an added advantage. The Parkroyal Collection Kuala Lumpur is the new eco-chic icon and social hub of the city and will provide refreshing green surroundings for guests to reconnect with nature, the community and themselves while being in the heart of the city. We look forward to delivering inspiring experiences, memorable stays and heartfelt celebrations.
It is also labelled as an ‘eco-chic, biophilic-designed hotel’, correct?
Parkroyal Collection hotels are always designed with the environment and wellness of being in mind. Our location, in the very heart of Bukit Bintang, offers 527 rooms and suites, with roof terrace greenery spanning 13,000 sq ft of lush plants and a vertical garden façade with sky planters. Amid the hustle and bustle of urban life, Parkroyal Collection Kuala Lumpur is a welcome hideaway in a world of biophilia, nestled amid skyscrapers. Guests can immerse themselves further in relaxation and nature with our in-house wellness facilities, comprising the St Gregory spa, a modern gymnasium, fitness studio as well as a resort-like swimming pool, also surrounded by lush greenery.
Tell us more about the hotel’s green façade and interiors. It looks amazing.
Beneath its biophilic design, the hotel features environmentally-conscious operations, including sustainable bathroom amenities, biodegradable packaging, a filtered drinking water solution in every guestroom and a food-waste management system, designed by world-renowned FDAT Architecture.
You are also known for your love of food and wine. What can the gourmet-minded guest expect during their stay?
Our gourmet offerings comprise an inspired and original selection of traditional local and international recipes. At Thyme, expect food cooked to perfection in our tandoor ovens by chef Suresh, our specialist in Indian cuisine. His mastery in blending spices for curries is unrivalled. And don’t miss the naans, especially when they are straight out of the tandoor. Thyme’s Nyonya laksa and Singapore Hokkien prawn noodles are also a must-try. At the Botanist, try the lychee rose panna cotta with raspberry sorbet and the Botanist Board, which is good for sharing.
And what should one try at the St Gregory spa?
It is always nice to take a break from the demanding pace of life and retreat into our spa’s tranquillity. The Therapeutic Rejuvenation spa ritual is especially perfect for two. Or go for the body treatment, which includes an Elemis body scrub and Imperial herbal bath.
Where and when did you begin your career in hospitality?
At the front office way back in 1987, in Florence — the city of my birth — and Siena, Italy.
What did you want to be while growing up, though?
It was always my ambition to grow in the hospitality industry. I started learning foreign languages early, which later developed into hotel studies. Hospitality is a business which gives a lot of opportunities to travel and experience the world. You get to not only visit landmark locations, but also immerse yourself in different cultures.
Where would you recommend guests go for a true taste of KL?
There are plenty of heritage sites in KL and beyond. If you have just three or four days, Chinatown, Merdeka Square and Petaling Street offer plenty of interesting walking. You must explore the local markets, sample street food readily available at every corner and indulge in some shopping, of course. What I must recommend also would be to invest a few extra days to spend in Melaka and Penang.
What are you reading right now?
A book on progress, technology and leadership and how the business landscape is evolving at a faster pace, especially in the past two to three years following recent events. One book I always reread though is John C Maxwell’s Developing the Leader Within You.
What are you listening to right now?
I remain a steadfast lover of 1980s music. I think it was one of the best evolutionary times in music, when rock, metal and new generational trends were coming up. I’m at oldie rocker at heart and like Metallica and Iron Maiden but also pop.
Being a hotelier can be intense work. How do you manage and unwind?
By spending time with family and friends at social engagements. I also play golf to ‘switch off’ — a four or five-hour session on the green and under the sun always does the trick. The course or club doesn’t matter. What matters are the people with whom I golf.
Now that the hotel is open and running smoothly, what are your travel plans like for the rest of the year?
With borders open and travel seemingly easier and the hotel open, I may travel home to Italy for a well-deserved break! I always look forward to each trip home to Florence where the first thing I would do is indulge in a Florentine Steak with white beans, ribollita and a bottle of great Chianti — it’s the best! Just the smell of Florence brings all the childhood memories flooding back.
Describe your idea of a perfect weekend.
Saturday morning coffee and a croissant at a nice café, followed by dim sum for lunch with the family and dinner with friends. The day after, once I have had a good night’s sleep, a round of Sunday afternoon golf and a chilli crab dinner in the company of good friends.
This article first appeared on June 20, 2022 in The Edge Malaysia.