GEORGE TOWN : With guests forced to stay away and no tourists in town, several Penang hotels are turning to hawking street food to make ends meet.
Not only are top chefs putting on a new hat as roadside food handlers, the hotels are also giving away free stays for regular patrons of the hawker fare.
In the MCO period, hotels are not allowed to offer rooms to anyone except government officials, frontliners and essential service workers. Their kitchens and restaurants are also closed as dining-in is not allowed.
To reap the full benefits of the takeaway market, a five-star hotel near Komtar here has converted its front entrance usually filled with valet cars into a hawker street.
JEN Penang has now gone into the food business full-time, with top chefs leaving their kitchens to take to the wok and make local favourites such as char koay teow.
Business for the hotel’s “hawker strip” has been brisk since it opened its doors yesterday, a spokesman said, driven by the un-hotel like prices of between RM6 and RM8.50. Drinks, ranging from teh tarik to lattes are also reasonably priced for a top hotel, ranging from RM2.50 to RM10.
In search of an alternative source of income, other five-star hotels on the island are also taking the food and beverage outside their premises. The Rasa Sayang Resort and Golden Sands Hotel in Batu Ferringhi have turned their car parks into a space for pop-up stalls, selling laksa, hokkien mee and cendol.
Food is priced between RM5 and RM12 with a point given to buyers for every RM2 spent. With 350 points collected, a customer can earn one night’s free stay.
G Hotel at Gurney Drive has also taken a similar approach in offering takeout at RM15 nett for a variety of high-end food. Bayview Beach Hotel in Batu Ferringhi is also taking the hawker route, selling food outside its entrance, with RM5 “ais kacang” and RM6 dalgona coffees.
The Malaysian Association of Hotels recently told FMT that hotels are in dire straits, with occupancy dipping below 20% nationwide. Between March and November last year, a total of 204 tourism and hotel businesses closed because of restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
By : Predeep Nambiar – FMT