Monday, 9 July 2018

(The Star) Heritage project tells Melaka‘s story

Aside from a good blend of historical attractions, there is now another reason to visit and extend your stay at a Unesco World Heritage site, Melaka.

Just less than a 10-minute drive from Jonker Street, The Riviera Melaka will soon join the ranks of tourist hotspots, further boosting the state’s tourism and economy.

It is a joint venture between property development group First Avenue Partners (Asia) Sdn Bhd which specialises in heritage lifestyle concepts and Singgahsana Emas Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Yayasan Dunia Melayu Dunia Islam.

Built in 2015 and completed in March this year, the Renaissance-inspired architecture will take tourists through its traditionally and artfully handcrafted facade with ornaments and motifs.

The approach to creating the mixed development with European influence was to move away from the existing and upcoming modern buildings in Melaka.

“With a passion for heritage buildings and old stuff, we wanted to create something beautiful, preserve decades of history and contribute to the landscape of Melaka,” said First Avenue Partners executive director Lim Boon Heng.

Sitting on a 2.02ha land, The Riviera Melaka is a well-thought-out project as the boutique developer paid close attention to detail for a timeless beauty look.

Riviera Suites, one of the boutique hotels, is decorated with antique pieces from Old Malaya for locals to take a trip down memory lane and international tourists to learn more about Malaysia’s history. 

“The materials used are sourced locally and from across the globe to ensure the authenticity of the overall ambience and experience of visitors.

“This included using solid timber frames, windows and doors as well as balusters, bespoke vintage lamp posts, terracotta tiles and solid wrought iron balconies. It took us one year to fine-tune the balcony’s design,” said Lim.

He also revealed that the granite cobblestone walkway was imported from China; the vintage copper door handles sourced from India and the 144-year-old antique bell at the clock tower was from the UK.

The Riviera Melaka features 384 waterfront service suites which are fully sold, 100 retail units and two boutique hotels.

The first hotel is called Riviera Suites with 178 rooms, and it is decorated with antique pieces from Old Malaya such as old advertising signage and photo calendars, Lim said.

Its front desk actually mimics an old pawnshop while the lobby is decked in Insta-worthy vintage barber chairs for guests to sit and reminisce the good old days.

The second boutique hotel will commence operations by the third quarter of the year.

The clock tower that houses a 144-year-old antique bell from the United Kingdom. 

“We emphasised a lot on local history, especially the 1930s and 1940s. Most hotels have that modern vibe but we wanted something different for our guests, especially those from overseas as they can learn and experience the local culture and history.

“But it is also to provide that nostalgic feel to local travellers and the young generation to learn and appreciate Malaysia’s story,” he said.

Leading up to the boulevard is an arrangement of printed artwork tiles narrating the storyline from Parameswara to modern Melaka for visitors to have a little “crash course” on its history.

The Riviera Melaka is the second project of First Avenue Partners in Melaka, after Porto Historia Melaka in Kota Laksamana.

Porto Historia, a first of its kind heritage development in Melaka, is a modern built architecture development inspired from the late “Straits” Eclectic style between 1910s and 1940s.

“Our goal is to continue creating more attractions for Melaka that will add on to tourists’ list of places to visit.

“Through our heritage developments and upcoming ones, we hope tourists will stay longer and spend more time in the state,” Lim said.