Covid-19 appears to have dealt yet another blow to Penang’s hospitality sector with the impending closure of Hotel Equatorial Penang.
The five-star property is located on a hillock in Bukit Jambul near the Penang International Airport and adjoins the championship 18-hole Penang Golf Club.
The hotel has, from the time of its opening in the late 1980s, been a favourite of Penang and international industrialists, owing to its proximity to the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone and airport.
“Adverse business conditions caused by the Covid-19” were cited by the hotel in a memo to all employees informing them of the closure.
“This is a very sad and difficult decision. The last day of business to the public has yet to be decided but will be before March 31, 2021,” the hotel’s general manager Alan HC Ong said in an internal circular to employees.
“Until we cease operations, all of you shall remain employees of the hotel and we remain committed to upkeep the strong heritage and name of Hotel Equatorial Penang.”
Ong, who is also Hotel Equatorial Management Sdn Bhd’s senior vice-president for operations and projects, said: “Despite huge losses suffered by the company, the hotel will pay severance benefits, details of which will be announced later.
“Please be rest assured that the management will strive to comply with all its obligations to you in accordance with the terms and conditions of your employment.”
It is learnt that the hotel has a headcount of over 271, excluding management staff.
The hotel is a convention resort with 413 guest rooms catered primarily to business travellers, meetings, banquets and conventions. It has two large column-free ballrooms that can accommodate up to 2,600 people and 21 function rooms.
Hotel Equatorial is a Malaysian hospitality chain with properties in Malaysia and Vietnam and was established in 1971.
Last year, Hotel Equatorial Kuala Lumpur announced a voluntary separation scheme (VSS) to employees who were keen to apply.
The 400-plus room hotel, which is located in the Kuala Lumpur city centre, had reopened its doors in 2019 after a RM1 billion redevelopment exercise.