Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, members of the media. Thank you for your time today.
Perhaps you are wondering why we extended an invitation to attend another briefing at Starhill Gallery.
Starhill Gallery has a personality and it is being revealed layer by layer, for to really get to know someone, it takes time and many meetings for the unveiling of the true personality. I am proud that Starhill Gallery is unveiling it like a theatre, where you have different acts played out to complete the story, ours has many chapters and it is unfolding week by week.
For most of you, the story of Bintang Walk, and the re-positioning and re-branding of Starhill Gallery has been quite well documented and explained in the past. Today, we have great pleasure in inviting you here to experience some of the other components contributing to the vision which has been with us for so long.
Feast Village, Pamper and Muse floors (food, beauty and art) will all contribute to the unique status that Starhill Gallery will enjoy in KL and also in the future for our global plans for the brand.
A retail challenge is not an easy one, but in Malaysia the potential is that with our country’s sound economic policies and strategic geographic location, retailers will continue to excel. The government’s policy and commitment of promoting KL as a shopping haven is assurance of a bright future.
How do you make a difference and how do you create an environment which has an emotional connection for people, how do you help people experience the five senses when it comes to shopping? The answer is attention to detail. It is easy to build a beautiful building but how do you bring in the personality? Starhill Gallery is flanked by 5-star properties like the JW Marriott Hotel, The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur and The Residences at the Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur. It is from these hotels that the strategy of convergence is implemented. Our knowledgeable concierge will guide and inform the guests of all shopping and dining experiences within Starhill Gallery, this is part of our formula.
For retailers who are passionate about their projects, the traditional naming of floors is long gone. We have named each floor after an experience. Starhill Gallery has seven floors of experiences ranging from Feast, Indulge and Adorn, to Explore, Pamper, Relish and Muse. Don’t you think it sounds wonderful to say “I will meet you on the Pamper floor” compared to “I will meet you on the 2nd floor” or “the handbags and shoes floor”?
Starhill Gallery is already being referenced as an icon in KL. This week saw the opening of Jaeger LeCoultre’s largest boutique in the world bringing the “A” list to town including the CEO from Switzerland. You see, in order to be the best, you have to work with the best to produce the best. On one floor alone consisting of 20,000 sq ft, over 70 fine luxury watch brands are represented, including a quality of stand alone boutiques not seen anywhere else in such a concentrated retail space in the world, this is part of Starhill Gallery’s personality.
The most dramatic and architectural floor is our feast village. Here we house 13 uniquely designed and presented restaurants:-
- Fisherman’s Cove has one of the most talented chefs, who will become an icon himself in time,
- Jake’s Charbroil Steak with 24 years’ experience in Damansara Heights,
- Vansh from the Taj Mahal Group in Singapore,
- Enak with fine Malaysian/Indonesian cuisine,
- Luk Yu Tea House, and their dimsum and teas,
- My Thai by Jim Thompson,
- Tarbush to bring Lebanese,
- Koryo Won’s Korean cuisine,
- The Bakery Moments, which offers traditional home recipes from Norway,
- A wonderful Village Bar where you can meet, greet and chill out,
- and Tiffin Bay which will be added to our Explore floor where beautiful cakes and late night music will captivate the crowd.
Two unique restaurants will be established on our Relish floor: Gonbei uses a traditional method of seeing and preparing for guests Japanese grilled dishes, called Robatayaki and even in Japan there are few restaurants which still display this tradition. Jogoya is a buffet with a difference, originating from Taiwan are coming to KL as their first global restaurant outside the country where they currently run 9 outlets. Jogoya in KL will cater for up to 650 people, displaying fresh ingredients cooked upon request, all for a fixed price per head. At any one time there will be 200 dishes to select from.
With an engineering background, I can appreciate the complexity of the work behind the scenes as well as the design aspect. The challenge for me was finding the right people to work with who could interpret our vision and bring it to reality.
We have worked with the following companies and teams to realise the vision.
David Rockwell from New York, is a global icon for mall designers, famed for their organic architecture in restaurants like Nobu and landmark entertainment centres like Kodak Theatre; Starhill Gallery was their first shopping mall assignment in Asia.
Interbrand one of the most successful brand managers in the world, credited for turning dowdy Selfridges into an exciting store, improving sales tremendously.
Design Spirits from Tokyo. A man by the name of Kawai heads this design company and has been working with his team here on site from Tokyo for over 10 months on the Feast Village project. Stemming from the Super Potato design company, I asked Kawai to help extract our vision, transpose it onto paper and then into production, perhaps he couldn’t see at first the “big” picture but he believed and has helped produce an icon within an icon.
The concept of transparency is important as people like privacy, they would still like to interact and feel part of what is going on in the surrounding environment, for without this, we would all be living in isolation and marinated with misery. Also all the restaurants are transparent in their cooking and preparation areas, helping their guests feel part of the creation that is presented on their table.
The whole project has also involved architects and designers from France, Italy, Britain, Germany, Singapore, and of course, Malaysia. In addition to the architectural and design aspects our goal is to provide a benchmark in food quality and seamless service for gourmets and also for gourmands.
YTL has brought on-board Chef Wan as our Feast Ambassador, and with his passion and God-vested skill, no restaurant or dish prepared within our group will escape his dynamic and creative influence.
We have art on the Muse floor, another area of great interest for me personally. Last week The Photographer’s Gallery opened its exhibition “5 Smooth Stones”. This is the only photographic gallery in Malaysia and the calibre of work is world class. A local photographer sold his work at Christie’s recently for RM31,000. The Muse floor currently houses the Fauzan Omar exhibition, one of the most influential and prominent painters in Malaysian contemporary art, his first exhibition in 15 years.
Valentine Willie Fine Art will present Astra, a magnificent showcase of modern artists including world-renowned Colombian Fernando Botero, Syed Ahmad Jamal, Latiff Mohidin and eminent Greek artist Sophia Vari – the calibre of these exhibitors is also reflected in the price point of works ranging from RM150,000 to US1.5 million, we welcome you all.
These events are of the highest standard representing artists who have achieved international recognition; this compliments Starhill Gallery well.
Our Pamper floor is twice the size of world renowned Harrod’s Urban Spa Retreat, we can indeed compare ourselves to other retail icons with pride. The experience of pampering at Starhill Gallery is not just about exclusive products – it is very service-orientated.
You can buy products from a department store, but where do you get the advice, consultation and service component? This is why we have chosen to work with a diverse range of services from global health and beauty practitioners. We will have a variety of specialists including a nutritionist, spa environments for men and women, make-up, hearing assistance, foot reflexology and brands such as Guerlain, Carita and Molton Brown will open concept shops.
I wonder, who would want to leave Starhill Gallery with our restaurants open till 1am and retail from 10.00am to 9.30pm – there really won’t be enough time in one day!
As we are approaching the official opening on Saturday, 30 July, we have been busy planning the long-term business associations, a great programme of talks and events has been planned for the week leading up to the opening, providing a showcase for our tenants and welcoming all to come and experience Starhill Gallery.
Starhill Gallery has been blessed in working with many exclusive international brands from a variety of categories and talented people bringing them to life including, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Kenzo, B&O, Ligne Rosset, Jim Thompson, Brioni, Anne Klein, Mulberry, Porsche Design and Korloff Paris, the jeweller which will tour their magnificent 88-carat black diamond exclusively to Starhill Gallery in September this year.
Our collaboration with NTV7 will see a first in Malaysia with a shopping complex housing a “Studio in the City”. The convergence of the broadcast medium with our narrowcast medium, Infoscreen, and our website will enable retailers to tell their stories of exquisite craftsmanship and passion better to the patrons of Starhill Gallery.
I pray that you will be excited as we are in making Starhill Gallery, a gallery of rich experiences and an icon this great city can truly be proud of.
Thank you and may God bless you.
Speech delivered by Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh
Managing Director, YTL Corporation Berhad
at the Press Briefing at Starhill Gallery, Kuala Lumpur
on July 07 2005