Above: The Suites at Straits Quay facing the marina.
As a traveler in Southeast Asia it isn’t often that you find lodging with all of the following features: facing the sea; behind a marina where you can charter a yacht; equipped like a high-quality serviced apartment; and directly above a shopping center with bars, shops, cafes, restaurants, and a two-stage performance center.
Thanks to recent developments you can now enjoy this on the Malaysian island of Penang—but unless you stumble across this article, good luck finding out about it.
The property is called The Suites at Straits Quay. That name needs some explaining. The Straits Quay part is a 12.4-acre shopping center fronted by a large promenade and marina. The “suites” are high-end serviced apartments. All of it is new.
The apartments are available for short- and long-term rental, but only if the individual owner decides to rent them out. Depending on how much time in a year is left open, you can reserve a unit from a single night to several weeks.
Because only a handful of these units might be available at any given time, the developer makes little or no effort to market them. No hotel-like lobby indicates their presence or welcomes drop-in visitors. Most passersby remain unaware of them, even as they shop, dine, or stroll below.
As with a hotel, The Suites at Straits Quay offers a bevy of facilities—in this case a fitness center, tennis courts, and a charming pool that’s rather romantic when lit up at night. There’s daily cleaning service, and a concierge is available from 9 am to 7 pm.
The complex holds 217 units overall, many with sea views and very large balconies. They range in size from 853 to 2,255 square feet and come in four different layouts. All units are tastefully furnished, sport fully equipped kitchens, and feel spacious and airy.
The shopping center below features about 30 food and beverage outlets, among them a Starbucks and other coffee chains, Irish and German bars, a 7-11 that’s open 24 hours, and a good range of restaurants. Among them is Delicious, serving Western and Asian fare in a cheerful space with sea views (try the “Napolicious Spaghetini,” a tangy mix of tomato, cream, and crispy beef bacon). A large Tesco is within walking distance in case you want to stock up with supplies and put on your chef’s hat—and take advantage of the fully equipped kitchen.
As a contribution to the community, the developer has also installed a large two-stage performance center within Straits Quay. Check the schedule for upcoming performances, which might include dance, dramas, or musicals performed by local, national, or international talents.
The Suites at Straits Quay are well situated, about halfway between the beaches of Batu Ferringhi and the Unesco world-heritage city of George Town, each about 15 or 20 minutes away by car. Even closer are the hawker stalls and restaurants of Jalan Gurney, Penang’s well-known coastal boardwalk.
The apartments, mall, and marina are part of an enormous new residential project on Penang called Seri Tanjung Pinang, the first phases of which were recently completed. It also includes seafront homes and condos—if you’re in the market for a second home in Southeast Asia, put this place high on your list.
The developer is E&O Property Development, which is also behind the island’s landmark E&O Hotel, an upscale and beautifully restored heritage property. Guests at the Suites can access free shuttle service to both this and to the Lone Pine Hotel, a serene resort in the island’s Batu Ferringhi beach area recently renovated by E&O.
The Suites face a wide promenade, the Straits Quay Marina, and the Andaman Sea. Yachts can be chartered through the marina (see below).
The units are a surprisingly good deal: A one-bedroom goes for about US$150 per night, and a two-bedroom for about US$220. Combine that with their low profile and many excellent features and the Suites instantly rank as one of the island’s best-kept secrets.
To reserve an apartment: Contact Zaimee Zainal, the concierge coordinator (60-4/ 891-8000, ext. 814; zaimee.za[email protected]).
To charter a yacht: Contact John Ferguson, the manager of marina operations, at 60-4/890-6521, ext. 879.