Johor Baru welcomes GM Andi to DTHJB


Andreas Justkowiak, the newly appointed General Manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru (DTHJB), arrived in Johor at the start of the Chinese New Year season 2023 so a Yee Sang prosperity toss was an apt way to welcome him to our community.


A platter of Yee Sang salad
designed with Rabbit motifs

When we met at the reception held to introduce him to DTHJB regulars like me, the GM of German origin said, “Just call me Andi,” the shortform of his name.


To better introduce myself, I briefly shared with him about my history with this hotel which is located on Jalan Ngee Heng, the same road as our grandfather’s house that was once at No. 154, a spot located diagonally across the road.


It was good to reminisce with him about meeting Simon McGrath, the first GM at DTHJB, when the hotel was at its pre-opening stage and the fun in being escorted on a tour of the premises even before it opened to the public.


A long banquet table with large
platters of Yee Sang at Axis Lounge

My review stay at this hotel was especially memorable because it was the first time I stayed overnight on this familiar road where I grew up, staying with our grandparents.


Having spent a large part of my childhood with our grandparents in an address across this road… where that bungalow and badminton court were demolished to make way for Jalan Tun Abdul Razak… it was very significant that I was staying on this road again.


It simply felt good to share with GM Andi, who was new in Johor, about the partnership between DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru and My Johor Stories over the years.


We were pleased that this partnership will continue in a Book Reading session planned to be held in the hotel on March 18.


Heritage Walks and Book Reading sessions are among the activities in the My Johor Stories in Downtown Johor Baru project*, an initiative under the Downtown Johor Baru Grants Programme: Arts, Heritage and Culture.


The site of our grandfather's former house at
No. 154 Jalan Ngee Heng, with its driveway
occupied by an enterprising warung operator

While GM Andi may have lived in Asia for many years, with a previous job assignment with the Hilton Kuching, I assured him that he will find Johor Baru a new and exciting experience, particularly during the Chinese New Year season.


I told him that while Chinese New Year may be traditionally celebrated for 15 days in the first lunar month, in Johor Baru the celebration will continue with a religious tradition of the Johor Old Temple that will culminate with a colourful street parade.


When he responded by saying, “Chingay,” I was pleased that he had done his own homework to learn more about this street parade which was recognised as a National Cultural Heritage in 2012.


A tradition of the ancient temple – also known as the Temple of Unity – this annual street parade had continued uninterrupted since the 1800s except once due to the Japanese Occupation in 1942 and more recently, in the past two years due to the global pandemic.


GM Andi addressing a few words
to guests gathered at his welcome

Over the years, this popular procession [Pulsating Parade, Life & Times, The New Straits Times, 16 Feb 2012] gradually developed into a grand event that was graced by the Johor Sultan and other dignitaries and attracted not only tourists but also television documentary crews from abroad.


However, due to health concerns in the past two years, the temple deities were carried on lorries through the streets in a hugely toned-down parade.


This annual tradition was not only an important event in the temple’s calendar but also a major attraction in the city so downtown hotels like the DTHJB can expect more visitors and higher levels of occupancy over this season of celebration.


While the community is looking forward to the return of this exciting street parade after a two-year hiatus, I believe GM Andi and his team were happy to anticipate playing host to more guests.


It was good to be back at
the DTHJB again

With almost 30 years of working experience in first-class resort and city properties, GM Andi’s career journey had taken him to various Hilton properties that cover luxury and full-service operations, cluster properties and big box hotels located in Germany, Asia and the Middle East.


With GM Andi leading the team at DTHJB now, it is my pleasure to join the local community to say, Selamat Datang, a warm welcome to Johor Baru.


DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Baru is located at No. 12 Jalan Ngee Heng, 80000 Johor Baru, Johor. Tel: +607 268 6868


*This Downtown Johor Baru programme is a collaboration between Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) and Think City, supported by Majlis Bandaraya Johor Baru (MBJB) that focuses on the heritage core of Johor Baru and aims to support community-based initiatives to reactivate Downtown Johor Baru.


In February 2023, Heritage Traders will be featured in the My Johor Stories Heritage Walk and Book Reading session while the Teochew Heritage and the Cantonese Heritage will be featured in March 2023 and April 2023, respectively.

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