Celebrating Johor at Impiana Senai

When my cousins told me about their plan to take advantage of the Sale happening at the Johor Premium Outlets (JPO), I promptly suggested that we stay with the Impiana Hotel in Senai.

The deluxe guest room with a king-size bed
That’s because its location is close to the city’s latest shopping and leisure attraction, Paradigm Mall.

Being brand-conscious shoppers, my cousins’ shopping strategy is to seek out the best bargains for a range of branded items at JPO before heading over to explore the new mall.

Our rendezvous at this hotel is simply ideal because we, the serious shoppers, don’t want to waste any precious shopping time commuting from one mall to another.

I’m sitting on the comfortable sofa in the hotel lobby and can see through the wall-to-ceiling glass panels for a view of the porch where the fountain is merrily splashing. Then an airport taxi drives into the porch and I jump up to greet my three cousins who are safely here!

In-room Comfort

Facade of Impiana Senai Hotel
We check into our adjacent rooms, a Deluxe Twin and Deluxe King – conveniently connected by opening both the side doors in our rooms – and are thrilled to be together again.

This new hotel is the first business-class hotel in Senai and it’s always fun to check out the room amenities. So we explore the tastefully furnished rooms to find a room safe as well as a handy ironing board with an iron, in each room.

While I make it a priority to test the pillows, my cousins discover how firm the beds feel and how soft and luxurious the comforters are.

All this is vital for serious shoppers (like us!) who know how important it is to have a good night’s rest before we head out for our shopping adventure.

I only see the jug on the counter so I put water to boil while I look around for the tea and coffee making items. Then I discover a pair of tall ceramic mugs and a pair of glass tumblers with the makings for coffee and tea, all neatly arranged within a drawer.

A view of the Pulai Range from the hotel swimming pools
I like this sense of space-saving in a hotel room. Likewise in the bathroom, I look around for similar storage spaces and happily discover a smaller drawer where the extra toilet roll and set of toiletries are tidily stored.

All of us made quite a crowd in the bathroom but we agreed to give full marks to the hotel for the good lighting above the bathroom sink. That’s because we know how the good light helps us see better when we are (Ahem!) ‘putting on our faces!’

Johor Trends

Freshly brewed Johor brand coffee at The Living Room
A visit to Johor is not complete without a taste of Johor so we head to the café on the lobby level to check out the menu.

We are ushered into The Living Room, a lounge next to The Tiffin, for afternoon tea. The staff introduces their menu of warm beverages and highly recommends a choice of Johor coffees – either Kluang coffee or Muar coffee.

I’m familiar with the taste of both these popular local coffee brands and am pleased that the hotel is promoting local fare to their guests.

Buffet spreads served at The Tiffin
I also like how the coffee is served in old-fashioned ceramic cups and saucers – just as in traditional kopitiam (coffee-shops) – and how the coffee is topped by a layer of froth, probably because the barista cannot resist pulling (tarik!) the coffee in the local way to create a better presentation!

When we learnt that dinner can also be served at The Pool, the dining area by the swimming pools, we opted to dine there later so we pre-ordered items in a Tiffin Set Meal to share.

We cannot help but notice how the hotel is preserving Johor heritage in their own way – from the Johor specialties served in their café menu as well as from the names they have given to their event halls – Maharani (Muar!), Mersing, Endau and Senai – after Johor towns.

Local Malay favourites served in
charming, traditional tiffin carriers!
The highlight of our stay must be the delightful dinner of local Malay favourites from The Tiffin that is aptly served from charming, traditional tiffin carriers!

The set meal comprises popular Johor specialties with steamed white rice presented in a cone of banana leaf with a shot glass of sambal belacan on the side. A generous portion of fried fish crackers and ulam or local green salad with slices of tempe, tofu and wedge of salted egg.

As the serving staff unlocks the tiffin carrier, the aroma escapes and our mouths water just anticipating the taste of the spicy (Fish) Ikan Assam Pedas made with slices of Red Snapper, Prawns in Sambal Petai and (Chicken) Ayam Lemak Chili Padi in a rich and spicy coconut gravy.

Our meal together is like a balm for diners homesick for Johor food and as casual as dining at home on mother’s cooking. But here, we have a refreshing mocktail dubbed Senai Sours to help put out the ‘fire’ from the spicy but delicious gravies!

Impiana Hotel Senai
Jalan Impian Senai Utama 2, Taman Impian Senai, 81400 Senai, Johor
Tel: +607 595 8899
Fax: +607 595 8989
Email: info.ihs@impiana.com
Website: www.impiana.com

A total of 172 guest and club rooms, and six executive suites equipped with dedicated workspace, high-speed internet access and modern amenities with ensuite bathrooms.

Food & Beverage outlets: The Tiffin, The Living Room, The Terrace and The Pool

Infinity Swimming Pool, Gym and Chill Reflexology & Spa

Just nine minutes driving distance to Johor Premium Outlets, an international shopping destination and Johor Baru’s latest shopping and leisure attraction, Paradigm Mall.

Hotel provides complimentary transport in a daily schedule to Johor Premium Outlets on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The hotel is situated by a dual carriageway on the Johor Baru - Senai Highway and drivers have to negotiate a U-turn to reach the hotel.

A version of this was published in The New Straits Times, Life & Times on 10 May 2018 

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