Take to the hills: Malaysia’s Genting Highlands

IT'S  JUST over half a century since the original idea of a creating a hill resort 1,800 metres above sea level within easy reach of Kuala Lumpur first occurred to the late Malaysian tycoon Lim Goh Tong. In the intervening years, Resorts World Genting has blossomed to embrace hotels – First World, with more than 6,000 rooms, is one of the largest on the planet – theme parks, gaming, nightlife and a host of other attractions that are enjoyed by thousands of visitors from all over Asia and beyond every year.

For MICE visitors, it’s a one-stop-shop, with a wealth of meeting facilities balanced by dining and entertainment options, all within easy reach of an international hub with regional and worldwide connections. This is what delegates to Malaysia Business Events Week discovered when Resorts World Genting hosted the MyCEB-organised conference in August.

Naturally, Genting hasn’t stood still and 2019 will see the opening of the resort’s biggest attraction to date – 20th Century Fox World – a movie themed park featuring more than 25 rides and attractions. Some of the films that are expected to make an appearance in the park include Alien, Predator, Ice Age, Life of Pi, Rio and Night at the Museum. A 300 sqm movie memorabilia store has already opened.

But for many visitors, Genting’s original attraction – its spring-like climate, with annual temperatures no higher than 25°C and rarely falling below 14°C yearly – remains its strongest drawcard. Here’s a selection of other attractions for groups:


There’s nothing like a big act to pull in the punters, and Genting’s 5,200-seat Arena of Stars has played host to numerous international and local celebrities. Check top artistes such as Aaron Kwok – one of the four heavenly kings of Hong Kong Cantopop – veteran British performers Elton John and Cliff Richard, and the classical crossover vocal group Il Divo. It’s also been a stage for such world-class events as the World Lion Dance Championship, the Zee Cine Awards, the Guinness Black Party, the MTV Asia Awards, and the Malaysian International Dance Championship.

The resort has also put on its own events at the arena, such as the Genting International Jazz Festival and an International Magic Festival.


Appealing to seven-year-olds of all ages, the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary makes for a good day trip from Genting. That Malaysia should have elephants, let alone somewhere that shelters and raises orphan pachyderms, may be a surprise. Yet over the past 25 years staff at the sanctuary have relocated more than 400 elephants into the wild, helping preserve and enhance Malaysia’s incredibly diverse ecology.

Riding and feeding the elephants was previously A Thing here, but these activities have been halted to avoid stressing the animals unduly. Instead, visitors can watch bathing and feeding, and donate bags of rice and the youngsters’ favourite treat – brown palm sugar.

A video presentation helps interpret the work undertaken by the sanctuary. Capturing a wild elephant is no easy task, which is when two older resident elephants, Chek Mek and Mek Bunga, come into play to induce the wild elephant in need of rescue to board a specially adapted truck. The two elephants position themselves on either side of the captured elephant while the team attaches chains around its shoulders, a process that can take several hours. A visit to the sanctuary can be combined with the nearby Deerland Park, which is home to numerous deer and a variety of other animals.


There are few better ways to arrive at Genting than by cable car, which soars upward above a rainforest that’s millions of years old. The ride to the resort takes a mere ten minutes from the Awana Station, with the gondolas – ten of which have highly Instagrammable glass floors – speeding along at six metres per second. The French-manufactured gondolas are more than two metres high, making it easy to get in and out, and are fitted with special windows and louvres to allow cool mountain air to flow inside. Towards the end of the ride, the gondolas pass over the resort itself, allowing a bird’s-eye view of the facilities laid out beneath.

For groups, the SkyWay, which runs seven days a week from 7am until midnight, acts as a tremendous ice-breaker, giving everyone a shared experience that they can talk about. Naturally, anyone who suffers from vertigo or claustrophobia can reach the resort by road. SkyWay tickets are reasonably priced, starting at seven ringgit (about US$1.6) a head, rising to 33 ringgit for glass-floored gondolas.


There’s one reason to go to Snow World – because it’s there! Stuck in the middle of tropical Malaysia, here’s a chance to dip into Arctic temperatures. All visitors are provided with warm clothing, including jackets, hats and gloves.

There is a lot of fun to be had inside this imaginative complex. The 3D Tricks allows for snowy selfies, while the Winter Downtown is a European shopping street seemingly in the grip of a very cold snap, with fairy lights twinkling above an English tea shop, a French bakery and an Italian pizzeria.

Other stores showcase Spanish wines, Dutch clogs and Swiss chocolates. A hi-tech LED system transforms the street from day to night, and a magic castle viewpoint grants a panorama of the entire snowy scene. More actively, there’s a play slide and a Cresta Run toboggan slide, plus a host of ice sculptures. As the temperature is maintained at minus 6 degrees, most visitors like to pop into the Warm House to relax before heading out into the chill again.


The Chin Swee Caves Temple works on two levels. Firstly, it’s a dramatic sight, an architectural marvel perched on the edge of the mountain with stunning views; yet it’s more than just a tourist attraction, with strong religious implications for many visitors who come here to pray and meditate. For overly busy MICE executives, the temple and its surrounds provide a space to take stock, contemplate and consider the important things in life.

Built to revere the memory of the ancient Chinese sage, the Reverend Chin Swee, the temple is remarkable for its dramatic nine-storey pagoda, which is decorated with Buddha figurines and thousands of blessing lamps.

The temple is accessible by road, but the most convenient way to visit is by riding the Awana SkyWay.

The entire complex was very much a personal project for Genting’s founder, Lim Goh Tong, who recalled his parents praying to Chin Swee when he was growing up in China’s Fujian province. Besides donating the land for the project, he encouraged friends to contribute funds for construction, which, given the arduous terrain, took 18 years before the temple opened in 1994.


Here’s an excursion, or rather an excursion to two places, that blends teambuilding with F&B in generally relaxing environs. The Genting Strawberry Leisure Farm at Gohtong Jaya supplies a low-key fun outing, allowing visitors to see how Malaysia’s signature alpine fruit is grown.

Pick-your-own is a popular activity, although naturally, strawberries are not a year-round crop – grabbing a souvenir pot of strawberry jam is always an option. The farm also grows mushrooms, herbs, flowers and hydroponic vegetables. In a similar vein, Happy Bee – only a short way from Genting – provides a triple whammy with its beehives, vast collection of bugs of all shapes and sizes, and a butterfly compound. Each is of special interest, with the staff at the bee farm taking visitors through the process of keeping swarms of bees and harvesting the honey, while emphasising the important role they play in pollinating the world’s crops.

Insect World takes a similar course, distancing itself from the idea of “creepy-crawlies” to explain an entire ecosystem and how it contributes to life on the planet. Finally, Butterfly Wonderland – swarming with hundreds of different species – occupies a specially designed and landscaped garden with a waterfall and a stream filled with Japanese koi.

MBEW 2018: embracing change

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