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Nexus is getting back on course
Published on: Saturday, May 02, 2015

Kota Kinabalu: Nexus Resort Karambunai is on the mend after close to 20 years in operation.

The resort for years enjoyed a flow of guests from China who are lured by its beautiful stretch of beach, lagoon, sea activities and top class golf course.

It also won rave reviews from industry observers.

But amid all the good business, the management of the hotel learnt a very valuable lesson when business turned for the worse after arrivals from China dropped sharply due to the incidences in 2013 and 2014.

Its marketing team has not diversified its business targets.

"At the moment, we are still struggling," said General Manager Peter Sprenger.

"We are still struggling to maintain ourselves."

As the tourism industry is expecting to be back on the rails this year, the resort currently held a steady number of occupancy from around 60 per cent to 80 per cent at present.

But it no longer depended on the Chinese arrivals, but also lean on a steady number of European, Australian and the Japanese visitors.

Sprenger is not a new face to Nexus Resort Karambunai, having served in the same capacity from 2006 to 2010, he returned in 2014 due to the insistence of the "owners" and the "fantastic sunset and tranquillity".

Despite running a restaurant and hotel operations in Langkawi with his wife, he returned to Nexus, hoping to get it back to profitability. His wife is now running the whole show in the peninsula.

The laid back 70-year-old was immediately on the job, starting first on several remodelling works, hiring new people onboard and roped in a new executive chef.

"We are in the midst of relaunching the resort. We are trying to update the hotel to today's standards and return it to profitability and be one of the best," he said.

While 50 per cent of the renovation works have been completed, covering rooms and mostly public areas like the Kingfisher Restaurant, The Penyu Restaurant and the Noble House Chinese restaurant, all remodelling works will be completed by end of the year, he said.

"After the completion of the Sunset Bar end of this month, we are moving to the banquet and redo the convention area.

"This will take a few months but that will be our last project," Sprenger said, adding that much of the designs will incorporate more class, style and loads of wood.

But that is not the only changes that are expected to come.

According to Sprenger, traditional shows are now held everyday, as opposed to once or twice a week previously. He also plans to restart a conservation programme and herb garden project to boost the resort's day-to-day operations.

On top of that, Sprenger also hired a local Sabahan to be the Executive Chef, perhaps the State's first, who already had all the resort's old menu changed with a new one.

Brian Chong, 38, was roped in about six months ago and has already prepared a list of specialties into all the restaurant's menu, including fronting the traditional "Hinava" dish.

Sprenger maintained the local pick was an advantage for the resort as Chong also able to identify with the local cuisines.

"It's not that we are looking for a local. We are looking at the capacity of the individual. Brian has worked in many areas and has a good culinary background," he said.

Meanwhile, he noted that the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax will only have a minor impact on the resort's operation, saying it has been a norm for hotels to charge 10 per cent atop of a six per cent government tax.

Sprenger said Nexus Resort Karambunai plans to be more socially involved and host more social events or other events like photo shoots or fishing tournaments, and also be part of the local community.

At the same time, it also wants to keep the tranquillity of the environment, he added.

Nexus Resort Karambunai was opened in 1997 and at present has over 500 staff to look after the 3,355 acres of land, where the hotel only made up a third of the land size.

The resort has over 400 rooms and a banquet hall that could cater for over 1,000 guests at one time.

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