The hotel sees many repeat guests as it has become a favourite, especially among business travellers, over the years
by LYDIA NATHAN
IN A history of firsts, the Hilton Hotels brand has become one of the largest chains globally today with its innovative approaches to products, services and amenities.
From its very first hotel in Texas, the iconic brand now has more than 586 properties across six continents.
In Malaysia, it runs 11 hotels, and the 12th is expected to be launched soon. The properties are placed under three brands which are Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn, and they are located in Kuala Lumpur, Sabah, Penang, Johor and Melaka.
However, Hilton Petaling Jaya (PJ) has remained an old but gold persona, having roots back to when it was formerly known as the Jaya Puri Hotel.
After closing to undergo a RM40 million renovation, it reopened its doors in 1984 to what it is today.
Consisting of two blocks housing 553 rooms, the East and West towers sit on opposite ends, but are easily accessible through the floors. The East Wing consists of 21 floors, while the West Wing has 10 floors.
The group’s regional GM Jamie Mead said even though the brands vary across segments, what’s clear is that a guest walking into the hotel will know it is unmistakably a Hilton.
“Hilton PJ is very proud to have operated for many decades, it has a strong affinity with people that live in Selangor. It is a good fit for the environment and has traded extremely well,” he said to The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) in an interview recently.
Welcoming Guests One thing noticeable is the friendly atmosphere at the lobby, unlike some places that appear stiff and cold, and Hilton PJ’s guests are always welcomed with a smile — and a genuine one, at that.
As many as four counters are usually open to better serve guests, while families and children mill around, chatting or enjoying the comfortable sofas provided in the corner.
With its low ceilings, dark marbled floor and intrinsic light installation, it’s easy to feel at ease and at home in this space.
Canisters of infused water and iced lemon tea are also available for guests in the lobby.
Hilton PJ learning and development assistant manager Sukhvin Kaur said the hotel sees many repeat guests as it has become a favourite, especially among business travellers over the years.
Some of the popular international travellers include Australians, Dutch and British. “The location of the hotel is a major plus point in attracting our guests. It sits in the city’s financial and entertainment district.
So, we see plenty of business travellers, but also leisure travellers who come with families to relax and do some shopping,” she said to TMR.
A variety of rooms await the guests too, with different privileges, of course. However, even the standard rooms come with ample space, a flat-screen television, marble bathroom with a walk-in rain shower and a stylish workspace for those wanting to get on with business.
The suites and executive rooms on the higher floors are classic and simple, yet elegant in style.
In particular, the Twin Hilton Executive Room Plus on the 17th floor is beautifully furnished, with its dark mahogany brown carpets, warm-toned artwork and light brown furnishing.
The two single beds are placed against coffee-coloured walls with two fluorescent-shaped lights mounted on the wall, both on each side of the bed in a warm yellow tone.
The room, albeit simple, has plenty of storage area, be it for a suitcase, books or small items, and comes with a safety box in the wardrobe.
The bathroom is fully equipped with a separate toilet, rain shower cubicle and a large square-shaped bathtub, set in brown-coloured marble.
An interesting part of the bathroom is that it has blinds that could go up or down for privacy and all bathroom amenities are products of sweet smelling L’Occitane.
The Executive Lounge is definitely worth paying for, understandably. Most hotels today have a lounge but the one at Hilton PJ is different for a few reasons.
First, the venue is very cosy, with plenty of seating areas, either at the tables, sofa sets or the high tables. It also has partitions that allow people to have more intimate conversations or be able to conduct business meetings.
The decoration and artwork at the Lounge stay true to the rest of the hotel, with mocha-coloured furnishings and elemental brown soft carpets.
Unlike other lounges, the services here include five available desktops, with a photocopier and a fax machine which are perfect for business travellers on the go.
Additionally, the food served for afternoon tea is hearty enough for a main meal, with some favourites like macaroni and cheese, different varieties of sushi, finger sandwiches, and little fruit tarts that are served warm.
Staff at the Lounge are also readily available to serve all kinds of drinks, ranging from sparkling water to coffee/tea, soft drinks, beer, and white and red wine.
Guests are also welcomed to relax at the Lounge for all-day snacks and drinks, as well as breakfast every morning.
For those not wanting to forego exercising while on holiday, the Clark Hatch Fitness Centre proves to be a very accommodating and well-equipped gym after undergoing an equipment upgrade a year ago.
Sukhvin said the gym is popular not only among hotel guests, but it is also open to the public via membership subscriptions.
“On any given day, you’d find plenty of people using the gym. It is big enough to accommodate guests and outside visitors as well; the public pays about RM175 monthly for a membership,” she said.
The large gym, run by trained professionals, features a vast amount of machines and weights for any type of workout one might prefer.
Meanwhile, the wave-shaped outdoor swimming pool is inviting and clean, with plenty of sundeck chairs to lounge on or umbrella-covered spaces for those wanting to avoid the sun.
“The pool area is for people to have a dip and relax. Usually, over the weekends, you can see kids splashing about, watched by parents because we don’t have a kids pool. But there are lifebuoys accessible in case of an emergency,” she said.
The hotel also has a third-party firm, Life Spa, that operates inside the hotel, offering traditional massages and various packages for guests, as well as a hair salon.
Its six treatment rooms feature Balinese-inspired furniture and finishing, and a central sound system with soft music playing in the background.
Among the more popular hotel ballrooms in town, Kristal Ballroom has been a favourite with many, especially for weddings over the years.
The pillar-less ballroom features interlocking, glistening crystal chandeliers that shimmer and shine, making it the perfect spot for a grand nuptial.
Sukhvin said the ballroom receives a lot of bookings because of its capacity to fit 1,000 people and 650 people in banquet style.
“Other than the ballrooms, we also have corporate groups that would book the meeting rooms that can be tailored for any setup according to their needs. The meeting rooms have plenty of direct sunlight, so it’s nice and airy for people,” she said.
A Portfolio of Food
Hilton PJ has quite an extensive array of food and beverage (F&B) outlets, aiming to provide guests with a variety of cuisines that showcase local flavours.
Operating for the last 35 years, Paya Serai has been a popular outlet, especially for its buffet spreads, namely breakfast and hi-tea. The outlet is simple and classically decorated with silver and metallic shades, while open kitchens line the backdrop.
The breakfast spread consists of a huge variety, from Western-styled dishes to local delicacies to warm buttery pastries and an egg station.
There are also traditional dishes being served like the Huanying breakfast of dim sums, yam cake, fried rice and fried noodles.
For the ones who do not want to indulge so much, there are many types of cut fruits, fresh yoghurt, salads and cereals, both regular and muesli types available.
Right beside Paya Serai sits Cafe Cino, a nice and casual but comfortable space to relax with a cup of coffee or enjoy some cakes over a business meeting.
The outlet, much smaller than Paya Serai, offers cakes, pastries, sandwiches and specially brewed coffee, as well as other hot drinks.
For a fine selection of Chinese cuisine, guests are able to indulge at Toh Yuen, the resident Chinese outlet at Hilton PJ.
The home to authentic-styled dishes, the outlet often has specials for its lunch set menus and pulls the likes of the office crowd, especially from around the area.
Sukhvin said it has also been the choice for Chinese wedding dinner banquets.
Diving straight into Japanese seafood all-you-can-eat spread is Genji Restaurant, an outlet with classic contemporary decor and private dining areas for guests.
The spread is indeed huge, with fresh seafood stations full of oysters, sashimi, tuna, octopus, salmon, Japanese salads, fried garlic rice, crumbed prawns, lamb chops and a large variety of sushi. Some of the specially created dishes include the scallops with cheesy mayo on top, which is rich, succulent and beautifully seasoned.
The dessert section is enough to cater to many sweet cravings, but the one to look out for is the mochi, which has different fillings inside.
Proved to be quite popular, mochi comes in different colours — blue, green and red, and has nice moist fillings of red bean and yam paste.
Saving the most chilled outlet for last is Uncle Chilli’s Bar & Restaurant, located beside the lobby of the hotel.
The ambience is bold, with red and black decorations to complement the low-light settings, giving it an almost eerie feel.
Uncle Chilli’s manager Adam told TMR that the place often gets very packed over the weekends and on Fridays with the after-dinner crowd.
He said the live band changes every month and the outlet currently is the stop for a band from Indonesia.
“This place has remained quite popular over the years. It has seen some really good bands and performances. Drinks and food are also served, so it’s like a one-stop kind of place for dining and entertainment,” he said.
Two of the bar’s signature cocktails are not to be missed — the Mangosian and Red Chilli, both winners at F&B Master Competition.
The Mangosian has a creamy but sweet taste to it, a real refresher on a hot day, while the Red Chilli, true to its name, is red in colour with a red chilli as the garnish, and has an interesting concoction of liqueurs.