Jetsetters and trendsetters in their own right, these next generation developers travel the world in search of inspiration for their projects.

The young next generation developers are a well-travelled lot. Having gone far and being exposed to various overseas lifestyle developments, they are infusing global trends, concepts and ideas into their developments to benefits the local real estate scene. In this exclusive interview, YES paper delves behind the scenes to gauge their future directions. Close on the heels of Visit Malaysia 2020 peeking upon the horizon, and buoyed by optimism despite an overall sluggish market sentiment, here’s how they are seizing the silver lining to turn the property market around.

DATIN LEA CHAN – Executive Director /Chief Operating Officer of Meridian Berhad and Executive Director for M101 Group

Life begins at 40 they say. But, for the irrepressible Datin Lea Chan – life at 40 for her is already in full swing. Sharp as a tack, and always game for a challenge, she instantly agreed to join the cover photoshoot despite being in her advanced stages of pregnancy.
Helming M101 Dang Wangi with its maiden hotel RED by Sirocco under the group’s hospitality arm; M101 Bukit Bintang and M101 Skywheel which will introduce the world’s first Monopoly-themed hotel and first in Asia Planet Hollywood Suites, she says the Meridian Berhad group has had a good run -finally launching its flagship project – Malaysia Tourism City (MTC) in Kuala Linggi, Melaka in May 2019.
“Our private entity arm (M101 Group) has signed a licensing agreement with Hasbro Inc. for the World’s First Hasbro Water Themed Park at MTC besides launching the LuaSempit Weekend Market in September inside MTC.
“Being developed in Melaka, a main contributor to the tourism industry, is Kuala Linggi International Port to revive Melaka back to its glory days.” “We’ve acquired partners such as AirAsia, MATTA, DTR Group, Dropee, Store & Send, Traveloka, G Future, iPay88, StoreHub and Big Ledger, etc for this to attract visitors,” says Lea who is also CEO of Sirocco Hospitality overseeing also Red by Sirocco, Monopoly Mansion Kuala Lumpur by Sirocco, Planet Hollywood Hotel Kuala Lumpur.
“We’re launching two- and four-bedroom Balinese themed bungalow villas called Estate and are seeking vendors for Luasempit Weekend Market with 3,000 stalls spanning a 100-acre land deemed as Asia’s Largest Weekend Market that is set to open next year, targeting 2 mil tourists.
“In addition to being our vendor, there will be a reward/complimentary Omni Channel & E-Commerce Platform that is ready across six countries spanning 150 mil users,” she adds. Welcoming the government’s move of lowering of the threshold on high-rise property prices for foreign ownership from RM1 mil to RM600,000 in 2020, she hopes this will encourage foreign investors to buy properties.

Tourism 2020’s impact on properties?

This will have a positive impact to our properties as groundworks are already taking place with MOTAC, Melaka Tourism, MATTA, AirAsia Big and other partners which will attract more tourists to MTC and further enhance the project. Media coverage has been extensive for our projects, and support to and from Tourism Malaysia is increasing monumentally.
Our aim for MTC is to increase the arrival of tourists and prolong overnight stays. In 2018, average tourist arrivals in Malaysia was 28 mil, and 15 mil for Melaka of which there is an average of 1.5 mil stays overnight. With MTC, we are targeting an increase of another 2 mil tourists arrival and an additional 1.5 mil overnight tourist stays in Melaka, thereby creating a multiplier effect on tourist receipts up to an additional RM5 bil per annum.

Do your ideas come from your travels?

The inspiration for MTC comes from several places; mainly the US, Europe and China. I’ve visited many theme parks. Some aren’t similar to what we have in Malaysia now. That’s why Meridian Berhad is bringing in the world’s first Hasbro Water-Themed Park and an exciting Intellectual Property (IP) Branded Adventure Park. Next on my bucket list to see is the Auroras either in Iceland, Northern Norway, Sweden or Finland. And, Egypt to experience the historical time of the Pharaohs.
There isn’t a fully immersive international brand water theme park in Malaysia so we partnered with Hasbro Inc. to introduce the Hasbro Water Themed Park. The Luasempit Weekend Market will be where local and international tourists can experience a feel of all the 14 Malaysian states at one place – in partnership with the Chatuchak Board inspired by the Malaysian version of the famous Bangkok Chatuchak market.

Your outlook and strategy for 2020?

The property industry will evolve. As the market develops, people will become more sophisticated in their purchases and eventually become more brand conscious so we’ve decided to include famous IP brands. Meridian Berhad is championing property tourism as our core business strategy. Instead of building just another integrated development, we’re building a branded development that fits the market’s needs which will further elevate Malaysia’s tourism industry.


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