German expatriate Michael Schleuter is managing director of St Regis Langkawi, The Westin Langkawi Resort and Spa and the Langkawi International Convention Centre. Suffice to say, he knows a thing or two about the island. Here he tells us about the future of one of Malaysia’s favourite tourist destinations.
WHO ARE YOU?
Name: Michael Schleuter
Occupation: MD, St Regis Langkawi, The Westin Langkawi Resort and Spa, LICC
Time in Malaysia: Two years, three months
When I first visited Langkawi back in 2009 for leisure, I was drawn by her natural offerings. My most vivid memory was a journey through the Kilim Geopark Forest, home to well protected green mangrove forests, isolated white beaches and blue lagoons. Something unique and unforgettable!
LIVING ON THE ISLAND
Langkawi has a special feeling; work and play always seem to overlap. The unpolluted air, warm temperature, view of the sea and beach daily makes you feel like you're on holiday but you're not! On the plus side, if you need a short break there is plenty to do on the island to unwind - go sailing, fishing, or try a game of golf at some of the world renowned golf courses.
Also, being in a small community, you are bound to know one another, adding more friends from the island.
With Tourism Malaysia behind the Naturally Langkawi campaign, it aims to boost tourism to the island. On top of that, Langkawi has played host to many internationally-acclaimed events such as the Ironman Malaysia triathlon, Le Tour De Langkawi, The Royal Langkawi International Regatta, and LIMA (Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition) to name a few.
This puts the island on the world map, especially the fact that there will be international delegates travelling into the island. The hotel scene remains important and a high class convention centre will complete the facilities need to position Langkawi as a MICE destination.
A LUXURY PATH
[Langkawi's development as a luxury destination] is part of the government and tourism office's direction to keep the island an exclusive beach getaway. Being the first UNESCO-endorsed geopark in Southeast Asia, much effort and investment were made to maintain its natural beauty, hence I understand why the new openings are geared towards the luxury sector.
THE NEXT STEP
I personally feel that we can do with more international flights into Langkawi, which is often compared to Phuket in Thailand.There should also be more international hotel brands. Competition keeps the quality high. Brands like St regis will bring new travellers and, together with the top end hotels on the island, we will form an exclusive group to deliver uncompromised service for those who are looking for the best.