Accommodating heritage

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Angela Hijjas, who is renovating a piece of property along Hutton Lane into a boutique hotel, talks about the project and the wider issues of George Town as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

OUR objectives in buying into Penang’s conservation area were vague when we bid on a property in Hutton Lane, but we won the tender and are now renovating it into a small boutique hotel. Penang has a special quality that is unmatched elsewhere; its population makes it distinct and it is essential that it be maintained for Penang to retain its pull for tourists and locals alike. Much of the food and urban ambience depend on the older Penang population who are more attuned to their version of quality of life rather than monetary rewards. But the risk that their passing will not be replaced is a key issue. Although we are building a boutique hotel, there are only so many hotels that a heritage urban area can sustain, the working trades that have been there for the last century have to be supported, otherwise all that will be left is an architectural heritage without the people to give it the colour and vibrance it has now.


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