Adly Mohamed, Acting CEO of Tabung Haji Hotel & Residence (THHR) Foto Bernama

Tabung Haji's Syariah Compliant Hotels Expanding

By Nurul Halawati Mohamad Azhari

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- Tabung Haji is the only financial institution that has invested into multiple syariah compliant investments.

Tabung Haji Hotel & Residence (THHR) is one of such subsidiaries under Tabung Haji. It was established to further develop the hospitality industry which had already been explored by TH Global through its catering business, TH Travel through its Umrah and Haj services and TH Hotel and Residence through its hotels.

After two and a half years of operating five hotels in Kelana Jaya, Kota Kinabalu, Alor Setar, Terengganu and Penang, THHR is now ready to take it up a notch further.

It will be opening new branches in Sepang, Kuching, Kota Baharu and Johor Baharu in the near future, and eventually expanding to every state nationwide.

HALAL AND PURE

THHR won the '2014 Gold Circle Award' last year from Agoda.com after online users voted it the four-star hotel of choice.

Its acting CEO, Tuan Hj Adly Mohamed said in Kota Kinabalu, guests described the rooms in the hotel as large, modern looking and clean. They also found the environment quiet and serene.

Over 86 per cent of the bookings received are online. We are proud to say that most of our bookings are from guests overseas, some of whom are non-Muslims. The reason is because they found our hotels clean and that we do not serve liquor," said Adly.

The hotel is known to be syariah compliant, but the term is best understood when one stays as a guest at its hotels.

"I am often asked, what is it that makes a hotel syariah compliant? I always tell my staff and friends, it is not just about manifesting syariah compliancy physically, through facilities and services.

"It should also be highlighted ethically, such as in how we dress and greet others," he said.

THHR regularly organises courses and training for its staff to inculcate among them the virtue of ethics and performing their duties with adherence to good Islamic conduct.

Besides providing halal food and beverages, THHR also provides a separate swimming pool, sauna room and locker for women, as well as a separate entrance to the facilities. As for the gymnasium, male guests would be barred from entering while female guests are using the facility.

The hotels also provide in its room, among others, Quranic verses and supplications, a copy of the Quran, a prayer mat and a schedule of prayer times.

Guests also need not worry that the complimentary bath set are made from animal ingredients that are haram (unlawful) as every soap and shampoo is halal-certified by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim).

"We also supply honeydew-based fragrances as honeydews are one of the local fruits. This indirectly supports our mission to help the ummah (Muslim community). We are happy to benefit the farmers and manufacturers of the bath set," he said.

THHR is also availing opportunities for youths who are interested in a career in the hospitality industry by collaborating with five vocational institutions.

The hotels accept students looking for practical experiences and trains them in syariah-compliant practices of hospitality.

"It will help set them onto the right path in reaching their career goals," he said.

MARKET POTENTIAL

THHR offers over 700 rooms through its five hotels and will reach the 1000 mark when the Sepang Hotel and Convention Centre is launched next year.

As the hotels are relatively new, Adly admitted that every plan and promotion had to be creative and appealing to the online community as most of the bookings were made online.

THHR is confident that with the right marketing technique, the hotel chain would continue to expand and become the choice of not only Muslims but others as well.

It is expecting to come up with up to 10 more hotels in the next four years before expanding overseas.

This is taking a cue from the successes of other TH subsidiaries such as TH Properties that has already penetrated into the real estate market in Sydney, Australia.

"I believe that with the strength of the human capital (that is being developed here), we are ready for a bigger and farther market. We will start once we have gained solid footing."

THHR is also looking into opening restaurants, as it also owned TH Global, which expertise is in the catering sector.

Those interested in staying or employing services offered by the TH Hotels can find out more by going to www.thhotels.com.my.

BERNAMA