Guided by her entrepreneurial instinct, Datin Lea Chan, CEO of Sirocco Hospitality Group who is also Executive Director of three M101 signature projects shows us how it’s done.
What do you give a lady who has everything on her birthday? That was precisely the case with Datin Lea Chan, CEO of Sirocco Hospitality Group Sdn Bhd (Sirocco) and Executive Director of M101 who just turned 39 on the day of the video and photo shoot with Entrepreneur Insight.
The interview session took place at none other than at RED by Sirocco, Kuala Lumpur of which she conceptualised the hotel component from scratch into a four-star creative masterpiece to complement the M101 Dang Wangi development located on Jalan Kamunting.
The hotel has been attracting attention lately especially among tourists who visit the area as they pose against the singular tower featuring a full-scale, tastefully done graffiti-infused wall by local artist Kenji Chai whom Chan invited to paint his striking interpretation of a mural on the entire wall in a bid to promote local talent. And, that is only one of the projects this entrepreneur with sassy determination has on her platinum plate of to-do things to accomplish.
Earlier, our team comprising videographer, Photographer and Editor were briefed on the 11th floor of the hotel by her internal Hospitality and Corporate Communications team regarding answers to an earlier set of questions given. The quirky furniture and artistic renderings on this lounge cum check-in level of the hotel complement both Chan and her husband Dato’ Seth’s tasteful painting collection which command instant attention to a tee.
No stranger to photo and video shoots – having graced a few select high profile society magazines with many a chameleon look oozing style and class, she was the perfect personification of entrepreneurial elegance at the photo shoot that day.
Proceeding to pose at the rooftop of the hotel’s red themed infinity pool juxtaposed against the Kuala Lumpur skyline – it is obvious that the world’s literally her oyster this side of town. Chan’s charming personality emerges centrestage as she points to the adjoining work-in-progress bar area and conjures a picture of how it will operate once it is ready and in full swing. Already, her mind is at work conjuring a myriad of possibilities for this area – envisioning the parties that would be held here and the deejay hires she would have play at upcoming events held here.
The epitome of sassiness and brains coming together in a down-to-earth ensemble – Chan is certainly living proof of someone who can have her cake and eat it – icing, cherry and all. For one, she alongside her husband Dato’ Seth Yap has visualised into reality three M101 integrated developments into conception alongside their own respective signature hotel brands.
“Sirocco Hospitality Group Sdn Bhd is the hospitality arm of M101 Group of Companies, where M101 Holdings Sdn Bhd is the property developer – helmed by my husband. Being the M101 Group of Companies, we champion property tourism as our core business strategy. Instead of your typical development, we aim to build and manage developments that can further elevate Malaysia’s tourism industry,” she adds.
Since the group’s aim is for its hospitality arm to be an extension of its property tourism business strategy, rather than being a typical hospitality service provider which only emphasises on services – the intention is to bring a new flavour to the hospitality industry for instance as reflected in its recent partnership with Hasbro and Planet Hollywood for its M101 Skywheel development.
M101 Developments & Accompanying Hotels
Clearly instrumental in conceptualising RED by Sirocco from scratch for instance, the hotel is the prized possession of the group’s integrated freehold M101 Dang Wangi in Kuala Lumpur. The total gross development value (GDV) of the completed mixed-use development comprising commercial retail and Small office Flexible office (SoFo units) exceeds RM100 million and all units have already been fully taken up to date.
Meanwhile, its M101 Bukit Bintang on Jalan Baba in Kuala Lumpur was no small feat either – the accomplishment being with the mixed-used development commanding a GDV of nearly RM300 million and spanning a land area of 25,000 sq ft. Scheduled to be completed next year, the singular tower spanning 27 levels encompasses 255 rooms – boasting eight layouts with built-up areas starting from 407 sq ft.
The development will be complemented by its hospitality arm in the Monopoly Mansion housing the first Monopoly-themed hotel. Neighbouring the upcoming Bukit Bintang City Centre and Tun Razak Exchange (TRX), its coveted location is compounded by convenience – by virtue of it being located within walking distance to the Bukit Bintang shopping belt and nearby the light rail transit (LRT) and monorail stations respectively.
Not to be left out, the group’s M101 Skywheel located on Jalan Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur will represent the first-in-the-world integrated development design by Studio F. A. Porsche which boasts the first of Asia Planet Hollywood suites located 200 metres above ground level. The freehold mixed-use development with a total GDV of RM2.2 billion that is scheduled to be completed by early 2022 will house Planet Hollywood. And, if this wasn’t iconic enough – the development would also boast the world’s first Sky Ferris Wheel luxurious sky mall for those wanting their share of shopping pie in the sky.
Painting The Town Red with RED By Sirocco
“We created the brand RED by Sirocco because we envision the market’s potential in the area where M101 Dang Wangi is located which has always been an essential part of Kuala Lumpur. Although it is situated within the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, Dang Wangi has managed to retain its local flavour – ranging from food to culture.
“Sirocco has infused all these elements in RED by Sirocco whereby we want to bring to life these local experiences to guests who stay with us. Right now, we are working on RED by Sirocco which is a four-star boutique hotel. However, we can definitely enhance it to be transformed into a five-star hotel brand for other projects,” enthuses Chan who is brimming with ideas for her latest project.
RED by Sirocco was incidentally just awarded the “Best City Hotel” last month at the Property Insight Prestigious Developer Awards (PIPDA) 2018. The hotel with its flaming signature red logo adding that extra sizzle to the M101 development here which opened in January has an average occupancy of around 60 to 70 per cent currently.
“I would say that our target market represents the chic, Millennial urbanites who are looking to enjoy a stay at a hotel that has character. We are proud to be named the “Best City Hotel” at PIPDA 2018. This is a testament of the team’s commitment in providing the highest level of customer service and RED by Sirocco’s true hospitality to guests.
According to Chan, this idea of coming up with RED by Sirocco came about as “an extension” of the company’s property tourism business strategy.
“When we started out as a developer, we coined the property tourism concept because we want to ensure the sustainability of our developments and want the concept to come alive. Therefore, instead of just building, we also looked to partner and build brands which people can easily identify with,” she enthuses.
Being a frequent traveller herself for both business and pleasure, she really appreciates the little things that the hotel provides to their guests.
Therefore, she reasons how she can confidently share that RED by Sirocco is designed with the traveller in mind while placing a lot of importance on the guests’ experience with the hotel.
“RED by Sirocco is the new kid on the block with the commitment to never stop providing the best hotel experience to every single one of our guests – from the massage services at The Rub Bar to evening drinks at The Rouge Club representing the rooftop bar.
“Although there is a certain industry standard to adhere to when it comes to service, at RED by Sirocco, we practise this as our culture. We want to make sure everyone has 101 reasons to stay with us, and only one reason – if at all – to leave when it is time to check out. At RED by Sirocco, we dream to be inspired.”
Guests will be pampered by a Café Richard coffee making machine and perks like quality Chinese tea in each room. Furthermore, no expense was spared in having a fully automated valet car park life system fitted into the hotel.
“In line with RED by Sirocco’s property tourism strategy (which is reflected in all of our M101 developments), we also aim to grow it into the next phase by expanding the hotel’s regional presence in Bintan and Bali, Indonesia,” discloses Chan further.
More Plans Ahead
“Right now, we are starting with RED by Sirocco but we also aim to extend Sirocco’s DNA of hospitality beyond possibilities to Monopoly Mansion as well as Planet Hollywood suites later on at M101 Skywheel on Jalan Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur,” she claims.
Similarly, her plans for Monopoly Mansion by Sirocco, Kuala Lumpur and Planet Hollywood testify to her entrepreneurial expertise in which she discloses her plans to enhance the brands under the group’s belt. Situated in Bukit Bintang, Monopoly Mansion will feature 255 rooms.
“The overall look and feel of the hotel will resonate with the distinctive character of Mr. Monopoly’s energetic, charming, experienced and successful lifestyle with class in a 1920s Gatsby feel – harkening back to Monopoly’s origins. The hotel which will also boast thematic facilities, bar and restaurant is targeted to open its doors for operations in 2019.
“At M101 Bukit Bintang, we are working with the theme surrounding guests experiencing Mr. Monopoly’s mansion. There are so many exciting possibilities to explore and innovate with,” she enthuses.
The aim moving forward she reveals, is to “continue bringing something different to the hospitality industry”. Also central and unique to the fleet of M101 signature developments is the company’s sustainable business strategy.
“Further to being a developer, we also take things one step further by managing our own hotels via our hospitality arm, Sirocco Hospitality Group – thus ensuring the success of our developments and maintaining the quality of our hospitality services. We believe that our business strategy will not only drive our company’s
success but also elevate both Malaysia’s property and tourism scene internationally.
“Sirocco Hospitality Group Sdn Bhd is the hospitality arm of M101 Group of Companies, where M101 Holdings Sdn Bhd is the property developer – helmed by my husband, Dato’ Seth. Being the M101 Group of Companies, we champion property tourism as our core business strategy. Instead of your typical development, we aim to build and manage developments that can further elevate Malaysia’s tourism industry,” she adds.
Since the group’s aim is for its hospitality arm to encompass an extension of its property tourism business strategy, rather than being a typical hospitality service provider which only emphasises on services – the intention is to bring a new flavour to the hospitality industry for instance, as seen in its recent partnership with Hasbro and Planet Hollywood.
Success Agrees with Resounding Success
Claire Gilchrist, Vice President of Hasbro Consumers Products agrees that M101 has built a very successful business partnering with international IP owners.
“We were very excited by their understanding of the Monopoly brand and their creative ideas as well as their innovative approach infusing the brand DNA in memorable ways into every aspect of the hotel experience to delight guests – both young and old.
“What they proposed to us concerning what Monopoly Mansion will be like was a good representation of the brand DNA. M101 studied the profile really well and everything from there went on smoothly,” she says.
The Essence of RED by Sirocco is “Relax, Enjoy and Dream”. Its mission is for guests to connect with and fully immerse themselves in the “redness” concept. This is not viewed as a task but as part of the hotel’s ongoing dynamic mission.
- • The hotel houses 143 unique and stylish spacious rooms.
- • The rooms are furnished with premier amenities including a Café Richard coffee machine, Chinese tea set, electronic weighing scale and travelling kit.
- • Each room comes with an added ceiling fan and balcony to enable guests to enjoy the stunning panoramic view of Kuala Lumpur City and the KL Tower
- • Standing at the 25 level of the hotel with its signature red coloured rooftop pool overlooking the city, guests can enjoy their breakfast at the Skybar named The Rouge Club or cool off in the evening by partaking a drink while the live band plays.
- • Those seeking to unwind and rejuvenate can visit the hotel’s adjoining spa called The Rub Bar.
- • Another unique feature lies with the dedicated DIVA floor for women only where guests can host their slumber parties and bachelorette night.
- • The DIVA floor will feature personalised amenities such as headbands, facial masks and in-room massages.
- • The hotel is located along the stretch of the charming Heritage Row on Dang Wangi and situated within a five minutes’ stroll to Dang Wangi LRT station and the Bukit Nanas Monorail, Quill City Mall and local eateries as well as art galleries and night entertainment outlets.
- • Inspired by RED by Sirocco’s location nearby Dang Wangi which is famous for local arts, Datin Lea Chan and her husband Dato’ Seth Yap’s collection of art pieces by local artists are displayed at the hotel’s lounge area while certain replicated art pieces are displayed in the rooms – bringing to life the “Dream” element of the hotel.
- • To further emphasise on the “Dream” aspiration, RED by Sirocco also worked together with another local artist, Kenji Chai who painted a huge mural extending the entire length or the hotel wall.
Maintaining A Balancing Act At Work & Play
Trained as a lawyer, Datin Lea Chan’s foray into the property game and other entrepreneurial ventures came about quite naturally stemming from her experience on handling property related deals as reflected in the drafting of joint ventures, Sales and Purchase Agreements (SPA) as well as other payment structures for land deals.
Chan was also elected as a Committee Member of the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (REHDA) Youth and also spearheaded the REHDA Planning Policies & Standard (PPS) Committee and Strata Development.
In 2007, she joined Messrs Abraham Ooi & Partners as a Legal Assistant and was subsequently invited to be a Partner of Messrs FL Foo & Co in December 2007. A graduate from the University of London, the UK, Chan received her Certificate of Legal Practice (CLP) from the University of Malaya in 2002 and was admitted to the Malaysian Bar in 2003.
Fundamentally for Chan, finding a balance with her work and family life as well as working alongside her husband makes its all work out.
“We have different strengths:- My husband is the adventurous type and his strength lies in strategising. He has other businesses in various other industries; experiences he gained over the years which resulted in him becoming a property developer. For me, I look into the details and am more meticulous. My experience from being a lawyer has taught me to be more cautious and analyse situations from all perspectives,” she attests.
“We both have different strengths, and we recognise that. We believe in acknowledging that to each other and it creates mutual respect as well as allow each other space to do what we believe each other is good at. I would say this is how we complement each other,” adds Chan.
At the end of the day, she says it all boils down to teamwork and working to complement one another.
“Even when we are building a team, we look for talents with good attitude and who share the same vision as us. We each have our own roles and respect each other to play their part. We work as a team and always talk about our goals with each other – just to get each other’s opinion and insight. We are a firm believer in team work,” she sums.BACK