An avant-garde hotel for Pulau Tikus


Michael Hanratty.

Situated along the bustling Jalan Kelawai, in the heart of Pulau Tikus, is a futuristically designed building called G Hotel Kelawai. Uniquely inspired, G Hotel Kelawai is the sister establishment of G Hotel. Due to the immense success enjoyed by the latter, K2Ld Architects, an award-winning Singaporean architecture firm, was once again invited to design G Hotel Kelawai. It has clearly outdone itself yet once more – the fivemonth- old hotel is greatly lauded for its sense of style.

Penang Monthly speaks to Michael Hanratty, general manager of G Hotel Kelawai, to find out more about the new establishment.

First of all, why another hotel in the same vicinity?

Michael Hanratty: A few reasons, actually. G Hotel has been operating for over eight years now, and during that time, the occupancy rate has been very strong. And because there has been a lot of support for the hotel, there have been times when we’ve had to turn business away. At the end of the day, we thought, “Why not build ourselves another hotel?” We have a plot of land, and it seemed a natural thing to do; business was doing very well and we wanted to increase the offering to our guests. That’s really where it all started.

Bird's eye view at Gravity, G Hotel Kelawai's rooftop bar.

Tell us more about the philosophy behind G Hotel Kelawai’s futuristic concept.

We wanted to keep both G Hotel and G Hotel Kelawai similar in terms of being innovative design-orientated hotels. If you were to look at G Hotel from an architectural point of view, it’s not exactly architecturally “advanced”; it was an existing building so we couldn’t do much to its exterior. But as for the interior, that is very modern.

Then we had the chance to develop the wired, fluid look of G Hotel Kelawai from the start. It was an opportunity to show how we can make it much more dynamic than most of the existing buildings in Penang, and not just a standard block. For example, the exterior of the building is 100% lit up. It can change between about 35 different colours! Also, if you look at the building from different angles, the metal frames kind of move. We basically strive to do things differently, and be different.

What are the trends influencing the interior design of the hotel?

If you look closely, it is a very modern, European kind of style. You could say that we got our inspiration and ideas mostly from Milan and Barcelona, where hotels are much more innovative and tend to divert from the traditional – or “heritage” – kind of style.

It is quite evident that we focus on using monotonous colours instead of bright colours – the hotel is furnished with material from Italian-based manufacturers, namely Baxter, Minotti and Poliform, and not forgetting Tom Dixon lighting. They integrate so well with one another because they are very streamlined, with minimal colours.

The Executive Premier room.

What are the major differences between G Hotel and G Hotel Kelawai – design-wise?

In G Hotel, everything is big – from the lobby to the gym, poolside and hallways. It has 312 rooms; it’s a really big hotel. Apart from that, due to its location and because it’s right next to Gurney Plaza, G Hotel is very busy during the weekends; a lot of people like to come into the lobby and have a look around because it is very lively and it seems like there is a lot of activity going on.

But there are certain guests – corporate guests or business executives in particular – who would prefer some peace and quiet, and we wanted to give those guests options. G Hotel Kelawai is deemed to be more intimate and cosy in a way; for example, the 208-room hotel does not have a children’s pool. Hence, the recognisable distinction I would say is that G Hotel is probably a much more familyfriendly hotel whereas G Hotel Kelawai is much more sophisticated and businessorientated.

G Hotel Kelawai's designer lobby.

In what way does the design influence the services you offer your guests?

I think that the services of the two hotels are different because they are dictated by the design of the lobbies; the lobby of G Hotel Kelawai is much smaller, so guests can get a much more personalised service as it is much more intimate – and you can make a real impact with that. The design and size of space do change the level of the service given.

What are your future hopes for the hotel?

I want us to continue being different. I am very proud of our two properties that are so unique – I think that we managed to add something to the scene in Penang, and that is a really brilliant situation to be in. If we are able to continue doing so, I’d be very happy.

Also, something that we are always looking at is to plan for a new property and maybe to expand elsewhere, as the brand has got a lot of value and its own identity now. There are no exact plans to do that yet, but if we were to do so, we will be very conscious of what it would be because it will have to be similar to these two other properties.

Lastly, what is the best word to describe the design of both G Hotel and G Hotel Kelawai?

I would say… “sleek”!

Chang Jia Ying is a student and an avid reader of independent magazines.

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