Impiana Hotel opens in Senai

I smiled when I read the details printed on the Exclusive Invitation I received for the grand opening of the Impiana Hotel Senai. The event was planned for 10am on October 1o. I thought 10-10-10 was such an auspicious collection of numbers!

Facade of Impiana Hotel Senai
Senai is no longer a small town and the time is ripe for a business-class hotel to open here. It is home to Johor Baru’s airport and close to industrial parks as well as award-winning golf courses and a popular shopping destination like Johor Premium Outlets.

As Senai International Airport increases the number of international flights, more international tourists are expected to arrive and depart through this airport.

For overnighters or short-term stays, this hotel will provide tourists and business travelers with the service quality they are familiar with.

So early that morning of 10-10, I made my way to the hotel to arrive before 10am but I was still later than many early-birds. As I drove pass the hotel to make the U-turn from the highway to the entrance, I spied a troop of lion-dancers alighting from their transport and others guests milling around the fountain at the porch.

As soon as I parked, I quickened my steps and headed into the lobby.

The decor in The Tiffin - decorated by tiffin carriers!
If I looked beyond the rows of congratulatory bouquets and throng of guests, I could see the comfortable lounge seats that dotted the spacious lobby. At once, I was enveloped by the melodious sounds of a string quartet that was performing ‘live’ somewhere nearby.

I spotted a few familiar faces and one of them broke away from his conversation and approached me with an extended hand.

He was hotel general manager, Tengku Faizal, and I shook his hand to express my congratulations on the opening of the first business-class hotel in Senai.

At once, he suggested a hotel tour and handed me over into the capable hands of a hotel team member, who led me to the lobby level restaurant named, The Tiffin.

A picture postcard view from the Club Lounge
I enjoy tiffin and I like tiffin carriers! And I thought it was rather apt to name a restaurant after a light-midday meal. While it is an English practice, this dining culture was taken to greater heights in India.

When I lifted my eyes in the restaurant, I was charmed by the sight of a variety of tiffin carriers – low and tall ones, mostly vintage types – that decorated the shelves above the serving counter!

After I had my fill of admiring the tiffin carriers, I was led to a bank of elevators.

From the panel of buttons inside the elevator, I realised that it was a low-density hotel with the highest floor at level 9. I was also pleased to see that the hotel has a keycard security system for guests’ added peace of mind.

A well-appointed Deluxe room
Our elevator ride was not long but in a few moments, I suddenly noticed that this elevator does not have a level 4!

There was ample time for a quick tour before the Guest-of-Honour was due to arrive so we made good use of the time to explore the various locations to view the infinity swimming pool, the gym and spa [yet to be opened], club lounge and guest rooms.

After the brief tour we returned to the lobby and I saw how the crowd seemed to have swelled almost double the number of people. There seemed to be hardly any standing room left.

The music of the string quartet was a welcome relief and I was drawn towards them like a magnet. A sofa was placed almost directly in front of the musicians and a gentleman was seated on one end, clearly enjoying the music.

This string quartet provided live music at the event
It was only natural for me to join him on the sofa to enjoy the music created by two violin players, a viola player and a cellist. We sat in silence, just appreciating the music by this ensemble. People were still milling about but we just escaped into the music.

I don’t remember who started speaking first but we chatted briefly about the beauty of chamber music. While I don’t play any musical instrument, I confided that my dad took up playing the piano after his retirement.

I told him my dad had an ear for music and he used to play a banjo-mandolin in his younger days. But to play the piano, dad even went to Yamaha Music School for a basic course to learn to read music. Soon he was playing his favourite pieces from memory!

After chatting for a bit, we introduced ourselves and he said his name is Farouk.

When Tengku Faizal passed by, he paused with a comment, “I see, you’ve met” or something to that effect but I didn’t give it much thought. I had already introduced myself as a friend of the hotel as I was going to do a review when the hotel was ready.

The finale of the official opening ceremony at the porch
There was a flurry of activity that signaled the impending arrival of the Guest-of-Honour, Chairman of Johor Executive Committee for Tourism, Trade and Consumer Association, YB Datuk Tee Siew Kiong, so I excused myself to join the welcome at the porch.

By then, I realised that the distinguished gentleman I was chatting with about music was none other than the Executive Chairman of Impiana Hotels & Resorts Management, Yang Teramat Mulia Dato’ Seri Ismail Farouk Abdullah.

And there he was standing in line with the Guest of Honour and other distinguished guests to officiate the opening of the Impiana Hotel in Senai.

Congratulations Impiana Hotel Senai on your official opening on 10-10-10!

P.S. Tomorrow, Oct 26, would be dad’s 95th birthday if he was still with us. Happy Birthday, daddy. I still miss you, dearly. 

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