Sleepless in Genting

Its my forth or fifth trip to Genting Highlands, Malaysia’s premier Integrated Resort(IR). I remember being here with my own parents and siblings some 28 over years ago. I remember my tiny hands cuddling a rubber shark my dad had bought for me in one of the many souvenir shops. If I look hard enough, I may still find the photos somewhere in the attic.

28 years on, Genting Highlands has changed quite abit. While I remembered the Genting Hotel and Highlands Hotel then, the Genting group has since added another two hotels to the resort. (the First World and Resort Hotels) both slightly more budget accomodations. Catered for the masses.

The attractions have also improved over the years. While there was nothing much to do except gambling 28 years ago, now there is also a huge theme park and a convention center at Genting, obviously an attempt to market Genting as a family retreat. And successful they probably are, judging by the scores of people at the resort.

Genting will no doubt feel threatened by Singapore’s IR ambitions. The Republic has publicly announced its intent to build two IRs by 2007, and the share that Genting Highlands has in the South East Asian gambling pie is clearly in its targets, and I think it has a very good shot at reducing Genting’s market share. Why? Well… Genting has had the luxury of an almost monopolistic environment since its inception in 1971, and I think in 3 decades of monopoly, i has gotten lazy and sluggish.

Ask anyone going to Genting about its facilities and customer service, and at best you would get stares wondering if you were crazy to ask the question at all, or at worst, you might get the person releasing his frustrations about service standards as well as the lack of proper facilities. My latest experiences confirms this. Service standards and facilities have not improved significantly in my last two visits, one in 2001 and the other, just the last three days. I list my pet peeves from my latest trip, in no order of significance. They all suck.

1. The carparks in Genting have remained largely the same…. old, stinky, narrow and in some places stinking of urine. The aprking in Genting remains a huge problem, and jams can occur in its carparks that lasts hours! I was just stuck in one this morning in carpark 5, the designated carpark or First World Hotel.

2. Lifts from the carparks to the shopping/hotel lobbies are insufficient and are unable to cater to the crowds. In fact, lifts in the indoor theme park are also grossly insufficient.

3. Toilets in shopping malls, the casino, where-ever, are maintained in terrible condition. My goodness!

4. Customer service at Genting Hotel (supposedly the mst expensive hotel in Genting) was sooooo BAD! Housekeeping went through our room on the first day, and we had missing newspapers, soap, unreplenished toilet paper, etc. On our first day, we also discovered that we had no coffee cups, and I called housekeeping to get two cups. The person on the other end refused to believe me, and asked me to check the drawers several times. In the end, he sent someone up, who then went ahead to check my drawers, and entered our ajoined room (without permission – where my sister-in-law was sleeping), and also attempted to enter the bathroom, when my wife was in it. I was so mad that I gave him a piece of my mind. You know what? He had one of his juniors in tow, and neither of them brought along the cups!!!! After I scolded them, did they proceed to get the cups. I wonder if they thought I had stolen them.

5. On the second day, I called the frontdesk for an extra bed, and the answer I got was literally “ok” and then the phone got hung up! I was so furious, I called teh frontdesk again and confronted the person who spoke to me. Only after I did that, did she willing got my details (room number, confirmation of when the bed will arrive, the stuff she needs from me (deposit, etc))

You get my drift. Genting has to buck up if it wants to survive teh Singapore onslought. It needs to spruce up its image, both physical as well as percived. Perhaps what sums up well the condition of Genting, is its general facade. The landscape, roads, fountains, pavements, etc have not changed for 3 decades. I guess the mantra they have is “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it”. —Especially if it doesn’t have an ROI. And thats probably why you only see new attractions, new malls, etc, but very little in improvements in the general facilities and services of its premises and people.

I for one will gladly pay the S$150 deposit to get into a Singapore casino, and give Genting a miss anytime.

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