Hotel de Art, one of the first art-themed hotel in Malaysia features rooms designed according to a specific theme that combines handpicked artwork and furnishings. Each room is designed with a specifically inspired theme ranging from nature, fairy tales, legendary singers such as Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson and famous cities including Paris, New York, Egypt and more. This hotel is established by Dr. Jenny Liow, a certified doctor who is also a successful hotelier who has three hotels under her belt. In this interview, she shares her journey and idea behind Hotel de Art.
Can you tell us about yourself and how you have gone from being a doctor to a hotelier?
I never thought that I would start my own business one day. At a very young age, my parents persuaded me to take up medicine and I thought I would be a doctor for the rest of my life. When I graduated eight years ago, I started off my medical career at Seremban hospital as a medical intern but it wasn’t too long that I found out that life as a doctor wasn’t for me, it was somewhat too stressful and it wasn’t something I was interested in. Lucky for me, my parents was keen on venturing into the hotel business. So, I quit medicine and volunteer to manage the hotel. My parents were pretty furious at the beginning, but they told me if you want to manage the business it had better be a success if not I was told to get back into practicing medicine.
Why did your parents decided to venture into the hotel business?
Well, my parents owns a tyre/sport rim business, and at that time the hotel business especially budget hotels were popping up and that was when the interest came about. During that time, my parents bought a property in Shah Alam and because of its strategic location nearby universities, hospitals and I-City, they thought it would be a great location to have a budget hotel.
Where did the idea come about to open Hotel de Art?
Once I decided to go into the hotel business, I began pouring my heart and soul into it. I read a lot of travel magazines, and there was a reader who wrote to the editor asking whether there were any themed hotels available;this was about the same time that my parents wanted to get into the hotel business. Why not start a theme hotel here in Malaysia, I thought to myself. At that time, I didn’t have a solid idea on what I wanted the hotel to be themed after, so I did a lot of research, flipping through interior magazines – Creative Home was actually one of my favourite go-to magazine.
What inspired you to do an art-themed hotel?
So happen, as I was sourcing furniture for the hotel overseas, I stumbled upon a wallpaper boutique, and there were many interesting and eye catching wallpapers. And during that time, wallpapers that were available in Malaysia were quite boring. I was so fascinated with the wallpapers I stumbled upon when I was abroad, it gave me an idea for the hotel of creating each rooms with a specific theme and behind every theme there’s a storyline that follows. No one room is the same. And that was how, Hotel de Art came about.
What are some of the challenges faced when starting up Hotel de Art?
I am not from a hotel background and with no experience in managing a business, there were a couple of bumps here and there. With that said, the biggest hurdle I had to overcome was managing people. The reason being, during family dinners, my parents would talk about their day and the challenges of managing their staff and etc. After hearing that, you can’t help but to have the same worry when you have your very own team. However, one thing that I learned is that if you treat your staff with sincerity and trust them, they will do the same to you and even give you more. I believe that my team is my biggest asset and I am very happy that they share the passion and vision as me.
What are the services that Hotel de Art provides?
One of our branches have its very own kopitiam, where guests can have their meals and their tea time fix. As for our latest outlet, we have function rooms to be rented out for meetings,birthdays and it can accommodate up to 100 pax.
Why do you think your guests keep coming back?
I think when it comes to choosing a hotel, there are a couple of factors that customers look for. One of it being, the online reviews and we try our very best to accommodate our guest’s feedback and suggestions. And nowadays, people are more well travelled where they are looking for a more unique experience with an extra edge during travelling and we hope to achieve that with Hotel de Art.
What are the future plans for Hotel de Art?
This is our fifth branch, and two more branches are currently in works and we are hoping to open next year. And we are also planning to open in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. We also hope to franchise our business to those who are keen in venturing into the hotel industry.
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