Dato’ Eric Lim
Managing Director and CEO of Cititel Hotel Management
The hospitality industry is a challenging one that can be susceptible to external factors as well as local factors but after 44 years in this industry, Dato’ Eric Lim Hock Kheng has got the ups and downs pat to be able to face any challenges without any qualms.
Dato’ Lim first became involved in the hospitality industry in the tours and travel sector in early 1971. What first piqued his interest for the travel industry was the few times he helped visitors around the island when he was younger. “I used to drive my father to work and after that, I have his car at my disposal so I could drive around and when I saw visitors looking at maps and confused, I stopped to help them, I even gave them lifts,” he said.
The interest to help visitors grew into a lifelong passion that lasted over four decades and there is no sign of him regretting going into this industry. Dato’ Lim joined Shangri-La International in Penang in 1979 and for the next 18 years, was instrumental in the development of the Shangri-La group of hotels in Penang.
“I have been in the hospitality industry right from the start and till today, the passion is still there,” he shared. On top of leading CHM as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Dato’ Lim has also served in various other capacities that included the formation of the Malaysian Association of Hotels, Penang chapter in 2001. He has also served in various trade bodies such as the IMT-GT Tourism Sectorial, Pacific Area Travel Association, Penang Hoteliers Association, Penang Tourist Centre and State Tourism Council and one of the founding members of Upper Penang Road Society.
He was last based in Shangri-La International in Bali, Indonesia before moving back to Penang to spearhead the Cititel brand name in 1996. Since then, Cititel Hotel Management Sdn Bhd has grown in leaps and bounds with over 3,800 rooms under its portfolio of hotel brands that included Cititel, Cititel Express, MiCasa and St Giles.
Taking a leaf from the highly successful St Giles London and Heathrow and The Tuscany and The Court, New York, Cititel Hotel Management (CHM) imported the group’s UK St Giles Brand to Asia by introducing a 512-room St Giles Makati in Philippines in mid-2010. It also rebranded The Boulevard and The Gardens Hotel & Residences as St Giles Hotel. Just recently, St Giles The Wembley was opened in George Town, adding another 415-room to the island state.
Prior to this, CHM introduced its second brand, Cititel Express, to fit into a different market segment. This is a value-based budget accommodation, complete with functional and basic amenities, with a “Smart, Clean and Simple” concept. There are now Cititel Express in Kota Kinabalu, Ipoh and most recently, Penang.
CHM also expanded its reach into the extended-stay segment with its two serviced residences that included the MiCasa All Suite Hotel in Kuala Lumpur City Centre.
“This means we have more options to offer,” Dato’ Lim says of the additional rooms. The hotelier may have been in the industry for many years but he does not become complacent. He continues to watch the market trends like a hawk and is always a step ahead in anticipation of what’s next.
“We’ve been through several cycles in our industry and it is very vulnerable to all sorts of developments, from politics to economy to diseases,” he said. One has to always be alert to market demands and changes to be able to incorporate marketing intelligence into the hotels’ strategy.
Another important factor to remaining strong in the industry is to always encourage and train up a workforce that is as passionate about the industry as he is. It is no easy task with fewer young employees having a passion for such a demanding industry but Dato’ Lim is not one to give up easily.
“I will continue to encourage and motivate our personnel to keep the passion alive and the professionalism intact because our human resource is an important component of the industry.”
Looking forward, Dato’ Lim said CHM will continue to seek opportunities in key Asian cities to build up its portfolio of hotels especially in the three and four star categories. “We are always looking towards adding more rooms and hotels in and outside of Malaysia,” he said.
1996年，林福庆回到槟城担任龙城酒店(Cititel Hotel)的品牌推广先锋，在这之前，他驻扎于印尼巴厘岛的香格里拉国际集团。此后，龙城酒店管理有限公司(Cititel Hotel Management Sdn Bhd)飞速增长，逾3800间客房的酒店连锁品牌，其中包括龙城酒店、龙城快捷酒店(Cititel Express)米卡萨酒店(MiCasa)和圣吉尔斯酒店(St Giles)。
而取经于伦敦、希思罗，托斯卡纳与纽约圣吉尔斯酒店的成功模式，龙城酒店管理(CHM)也积极“进口”英国的圣吉尔斯(St Giles)品牌到亚洲，首先在2010年中旬引入一家拥有512间客房的圣吉尔斯酒店在菲律宾的马卡迪(Makati)，接着采取品牌更名，将The Boulevard、The Gardens和Residences等酒店转为圣吉尔斯酒店。而拥有415间客房的圣吉尔斯温布利(St Giles The Wembley)最近在槟城乔治市盛大开业。
CHM也延伸扩展2项酒店式长居住宅，其中也包括吉隆坡市中心的米卡萨酒店(MiCasa All Suite Hotel)。