Sweet & savoury guide to the city

“I’m late!” the thought crossed my mind but I’m not going to break any traffic rules to reach the Renaissance Johor Baru at the appointed time.  I underestimated the distance from my last appointment in Senai but with smooth traffic on the expressways, I’m just 10 minutes late as I ride the elevator from the upstairs carpark to the lobby.  The receptionists are expecting me and they cheerfully greet me by name.  The business of checking-in is quick probably because there are no other guests and I’m comfortably refreshed by a welcome drink.

Facade of the Renaissance Johor Baru
A staff stationed in the lift lobby graciously greets me as he ushers me into the elevator and helps me with the security key card.  Housekeeping staff I meet along the corridor to my room pause in their tasks to smile and we exchange greetings.  I can’t help but notice the personal touch at every point and when I open my room door, I’m welcomed by 5-star elegance in designs of contemporary luxury.  And just like Goldilocks, I give the bed and pillows a quick feel to ascertain if their support will give me a restful night.  While the bed is nice and firm, I have to check the wardrobe for a firmer pillow.

The 3-I’s Concept

A welcome tray and City Guide with samples of items
indigenous to various sites to intrigue guests enough
to seek them out independently!
While exploring the room to check out the essentials, I not only find coffee and tea making facilities but also a mini bar.  But my eyes are riveting to a City Guide presented in a welcome tray complete with small bottles filled with various items.  Curiosity gets me reading the guide and I’m amused by the clever way the hotel is introducing local attractions to guests.  The amber liquid, I read – represents a nearby Irish pub while the little fish-shaped crackers points to neighbouring seafood restaurants.

Intrigued by the nostalgia in the button biscuits topped with coloured sugar tips, I soon discover that they represent the Chinese heritage area while the strings of spicy muruku direct guests to the Indian heritage site.  By the time I reach the last bottle, I’m itching to find out what those halved sandwich biscuits stand for.  The guide says it’s for the local durian market to taste our King of Fruits; “But what has biscuits got to do with durians?” I wonder as I twist opened the bottle cap and the answer is evident from the pungent pong of the filling in the durian flavoured biscuit!

Deluxe King rooms like this, are furnished with
quality Slumberland ComfortRest mattresses
“This is in line with our 3-I’s concept where we present samples of items in the City Guide which are indigenous to various local attractions so as to intrigue guests enough to seek them out independently,” said the hotel’s Public Relations Officer, Siti Natrah Raidanie Roseda Abdul Halim.  At Renaissance hotels, guests are regarded as discoverers and the hotel’s task is to intrigue and excite them to go out to discover the local attractions.  Natrah said items on the welcome tray are changed to match guests or particular celebrations like wedding, birthday or anniversary.  This is complemented by a Navigator service, where dedicated concierge staff will provide answers and directions for discoverers to explore and experience the city at leisure.

Delightful Dining

Chef recommended 3-combinations appetizer at Wan Li
Restaurant [L to R] sweet & sour beancurd roll stuffed with
prawn paste, smoked duck roll and wasabi prawn topped
with chopped fresh mango
In the last two years, Renaissance JB has earned a reputation for their sumptuous spread at Café BLD, the acronym for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, where the café is often jam-packed with diners at meal times.  

I’m advised that reservations are a must at weekends, term holidays and festive seasons, particularly for dinner as long-term and in-house guests prefer to dine-in to enjoy the yummy buffet.  Besides Malay, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Italian food and a separate vegetarian section, every food station also offers a vegetarian item.  The 3-I’s concept flows through the buffet and ala carte menu where guests may be intrigued enough by the choice of indigenous food items to experience the food independently!

I pass the Chocolate Cake Company, an open-concept bakery, and pause to watch the bakers remove bread and pastries hot from the oven and cannot resist popping in to savour the mouth-watering aroma.  I make a mental note to indulge in their English High Tea served with two types of scones, sandwiches, tarts and cakes, in a portion big enough for two at RM38++ only.  They also provide a Grab & Go offer in a range of pizza and sandwiches for takeaways that’s popular with guests who are leaving for work in Pasir Gudang or to explore local attractions.

The outdoor swimming pool is adjacent to the fitness
centre which is open 24 hours for the convenience of
fitness buffs!
From the tables occupied by families and groups who are enjoying the “All-you-can-eat” dim sum buffet at Wan Li, an elegantly furnished Chinese restaurant in the lobby, I figure that it’s a popular choice for leisurely brunches.  But the Chinese chefs want to show off their skills in exquisite halal Cantonese cuisine so I sit back to savour a menu of double-boiled Herbal Chicken Soup, 3-combinations appetizer comprising Sweet & sour beancurd roll stuffed with prawn paste, Smoked duck roll and wasabi prawn topped with chopped fresh mango, and an irresistible range of quality dim sum.  As I sink my teeth into the freshly-baked egg tart and sip the chilled lemongrass dessert, I’m comfortably sated and ready for a plunge into the swimming pool but that will be after my quick snooze!


Renaissance Johor Baru Hotel
No. 2 Jalan Permas 11
Bandar Baru Permas Jaya
81750 Masai, Johor
Tel: 607 – 381 3333
Fax: 607 – 381 3500

Getting There

From the Causeway via the Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) and Senai International Airport via the South-East Highway, exit to the Permas Jaya Bridge and a short drive will take you to the hotel on your left in Bandar Baru Permas Jaya.  From Pasir Gudang to Bandar Baru Permas Jaya drive via Jalan Pantai.


A total of 345 well appointed rooms and suites with non-smoking floors and Club Level

Main Attraction

It’s location in a city suburb keeps it close to the city and midway to the industrial zone and port of Pasir Gudang

First Impression

Contemporary and comfortable

Overall Service

Friendly and attentive

F&B Outlets

All-day dining at Café BLD with international buffets and a la carte selections; Wan Li Restaurant for contemporary Cantonese cuisine and dim sum; R-Bar, a lifestyle lobby bar, The Chocolate Cake Company delicatessen and The Poolside Bar


Outdoor swimming pools, 24-hour fitness centre, 24-hour in-room dining, ballroom, function rooms, executive boardroom, business centre, Navigator service, laundry and dry-cleaning, in-room safe, convenience store, high-speed wireless internet connection and in-room safe

Places Within Walking Distance

Aeon shopping mall and dining options in a range of restaurants and cafes for Korean, Japanese, Italian, Irish cuisine and street food in nearby shops and stalls; Night market on weekends

A version of this was published in The New Straits Times, Life & Times on 23 April 2015

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