July Drill: Wayne Lunt – General Manager (Amari Johor Bahru)

July Drill: Wayne Lunt – General Manager (Amari Johor Bahru)

As one of the few 5-star hospitality brands, Amari Johor Bahru is a collaboration between United Malayan Land Bhd (UMLand) and ONYX Hospitality Group. The hotel has 242 rooms and is part of the 1.49-acre Suasana Iskandar mixed development whereby residences and retail components will be built adjacent to the hotel. With over 15 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Wayne was brought to Johor Bahru to launch the brand from Amari Vogue Krabi, Thailand. As the General Manager, Wayne aspires to create meaningful and memorable experiences for guests, satisfaction of returns and growth for stakeholders, and rewarding careers for his fellow colleagues. The other components of Suasana Iskandar include Zenith, a 2-storey entertainment and retail hub and 339 units of serviced residences taking up 35 storeys.

Tell us more about the available amenities at Amari Johor Bahru

There are currently 16 Amari hotels operating across Asia and I am indeed proud to say that on 15th May 2017, Amari Johor Bahru had cemented its first foothold in Malaysia.

This magnificent hotel is strategically located in the heart of the city which is encompassed by the rich heritage trail, commercial centres and shopping malls. It has true flair with warm friendly spaces. In fact, Amari originates from Thailand which is known to celebrate the colours and rhythms of modern Asia.

July Drill: Wayne Lunt – General Manager (Amari Johor Bahru) 1

Designed for both business and leisure travellers, Amari Johor Bahru boasts 242 rooms and suites from superior, deluxe, grand deluxe, executive suite, junior suite and one-bedroom suite. Furnished in soothing beige hues and purple accents, the well-appointed rooms and suites are equipped with spa-inspired bathrooms, dual-frontage wardrobes, generous storage for shopping finds and ergonomic work stations. All amenities are of international standards including complimentary Wi-Fi, interactive TV, USB connection, mini bar and coffee/tea making facilities. A unique feature of the hotel is that it offers six deluxe pool access rooms with private terraces. It is the first of its kind in Johor Bahru where straight from the balcony; you can take a dip in the clear crystal waters.

Unprecedented level of indulgence can be experienced at the Executive Lounge on the 20th floor.

The hotel lobby serves as a social hub to access the other features of the hotel such as the signature Amaya Food Gallery which is inspired by Asian street cuisine and the attractively designed Amaya Café which is a perfect place to enjoy a selection of beverages and snacks.

In keeping with Amari’s commitment towards facilitating shared experiences, the 6th floor also offers meeting venues including the Ballroom, The Library, Idea Room and Social Space.

On the 8th floor, the Fit Centre, the pool together with the Dip Bar is surrounded by lush tropical gardens and the stupendous spiral staircase leads all the way down to the terrace area outside the Amaya Food Gallery and the Ballroom.

My favourite place is of course the Breeze Spa which offers a wide range of treatments including signature mood-based scrubs and treatments. This spa is the only Spa in Johor Bahru that has 150–minute Energy Boost Package which actually uses fresh coffee and a special blend of citrus essential oils. 

There are many hotels operating in the heart of Johor Bahru currently, how will Amari stand out in comparison?

Being the latest addition in the hospitality industry in Johor, all eyes are on us. One advantage that we have is that we are new and fresh, equipped with the latest modern technology and infused with Thai influences. Being the first Amari in Malaysia, the hotel has been strategically designed to meet the market demands and trends. I am confident that Amari Johor Bahru will be well received by local and international tourists as its location is perfect within a few minutes away from the border of Singapore. Although we have a number of new hotels that have recently emerged in the city, Amari Johor Bahru stands tall among the rest due to the brand name itself with world class standards and warmth Asian hospitality perfected in all Amari hotels. 

Amari is currently operating in 13 locations; from Thailand to Maldives, and is now cementing its first foothold in Malaysia. Will there be more Amari hotels coming up in the near future?

Amari’s network of properties spans across Thailand and beyond, from scenic seaside locations to vibrant urban settings. Currently, we are looking into expanding further within Malaysia and there is great potentiality to build an Amari in Penang and Ipoh in the next coming years.

The opening of Amari has also paved the way for the upcoming OZO Medini and Shama Medini at the UMCity Medini Lakeside Complex in Iskandar Puteri, also developed in partnership with UMLand.

This July, the new Tourism Tax (TTx) will be introduced and will see local and international tourists paying a levy to the operators of accommodation premises. Any thoughts if the TTx will help or hurt the industry?

The tourism tax bill is the latest challenge facing the hotel and accommodation providers with an introduction this month. Several issues have been raised. However, as a member of the Malaysian Association of Hotels, Johor Chapter, Amari Johor Bahru will collectively adhere on what will be set and implemented for the new Tourism Tax. 

You’ve been in the industry for a long time and you’ve been to many countries as well. What are among the changes that you would like to see in the Johor tourism industry?

July Drill: Wayne Lunt – General Manager (Amari Johor Bahru) 2The Johor tourism industry is indeed booming and it is the fastest growing metropolis in Malaysia. Johor is already playing a vital role with domestic and foreign investment in the hospitality industry and as more property development projects are coming into Johor, we shall be able to see an influx of tourist arrivals, locally and internationally. There is extensive expansion in the pipeline, especially international hotels, world-class golf courses, convention centres and luxury service apartments. A focus on the development of strategically well planned major attractions be it entertainment, nature or culturally based could further enhance Johor as a major tourist destination and I believe some of these attractions are already being planned. 

What does Wayne do when he’s not busy manning the hotel?

I have yet to have much time away from the hotel, but when I can, I enjoy swimming, surfing, travelling and exploring nature and sometimes play golf. I have been in Johor for about a year and it gives me great pride to see this hotel grow from bricks to a new born baby.

What can we expect to hear from Amari for the rest of 2017?

Since opening, we have been receiving positive feedback from our guests, patrons and partners. With the unique positioning of Amari Johor Bahru especially its location coupled with rich cultural surroundings and latest modern technology manifested within the hotel, we are confident of strong performance in the coming years and for the rest of 2017.

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