Declared as the "6th Most Price Competitive Country in the World" in the Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2015, Malaysia is fast becoming a choice destination for MICE planners. On top of its excellent infrastructure and convention facilities, the country offers exotic experiences that feature lush tropical rainforests, unspoilt sandy beaches, and a melting pot of cultures.
Making business a breeze
To achieve the target of 36 million tourist arrivals by 2020, Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCeb) and Malaysia Airlines Berhad will be partnering for one year to incentivise meeting planners and attract more business events to the country. For instance, event organisers can take advantage of special fares for pre- and post-conference trips within Malaysia.
Mega exhibition space
The Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition (Mitec), set to be the country's largest exhibition space, is expected to complete in Q3 2017. Situated in the heart of the KL Metropolis, the new development is expected to accommodate 40,000 guests with a gross floor area of over 92,900 square metres (1 million square feet).
Ideas for Incentives
For a unique and meaningful team-building activity, try your hand at building a bicycle. During a two- to four-hour session of Asia Ability's Building a Dream activity, groups must solve puzzles to "earn" tools and bicycle parts that will help them build bicycles, under time constraints. Best part? These creations will go towards making local underprivileged children very happy.
Located within Kuala Lumpur's popular nighttime entertainment district Bangsar is The Cooking House, which offers culinary team-building activities. Channel your inner MasterChef and roll up your sleeves as you pit your culinary skills against colleagues during themed challenges like Pasta Queens and Kings or Oh Gourmet Pizza!
Get up close and personal to crystal clear waters with Blue Water Star Sailing's Southern Islands Sunset Dinner Cruise in Langkawi. Explore the beautiful surrounding islands, and admire the fascinating rock formations and pristine beaches. After 1.5 hours, you will arrive on Pulau Timun, where you'll be served a generous spread of freshly prepared food. Yachts can accommodate 6 to 150 pax.
Conveniently located near the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in Jalan Cendana, Fraser Residence Kuala Lumpur consists of 445 units outfitted in sleek minimalist decor. The hotel offers opportunities for a work-life balance with its sky gym and yoga suite. For smaller-sized business events, consider any of its six meeting venues, which can host up to 80 people, classroom-style.
Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa is situated on Cenang Beach in Langkawi. Housed in clusters of wooden chalets on stilts, its 355 rooms are designed in the style of a traditional Malay village. The five-star resort has a pillar-less ballroom, which can accommodate up to 700 guests, theatre-style; nine meeting rooms; and an open terrace with drive-in facilities - great for outdoor or motor exhibitions.
Set against the backdrop of a 10-million-year-old tropical rainforest, The Datai Langkawi is a stunning option for an incentive retreat; spot dusky leaf monkeys or Sunda flying lemurs during your stay. The Gulai House, which is outfitted in the rustic style of a Malay kampong, is an interesting venue for smaller events up to 60 people. The restaurant serves authentic Malay and Indian cuisine.
Hotel Equatorial Melaka comes with not one, but two pillar-free ballrooms, that can seat up to 1,600 and 1,450 persons. The larger Melaka Ballroom is equipped with state-of-the-art technology like an oversized LED wall to support your business events. Guests to its 64 Club Rooms enjoy 52.5 square metres of space and are entitled to full club facilities like complimentary shoe shine and shirt pressing, and all-day coffee and tea at the lounge.
Decked out in classy mid-century Shanghainese style is Opium KL, situated in Changkat Bukit Bintang. This restaurant-cum-bar serves up cocktails with interesting names like Consort Yang and Silk Road Martini created by renowned bar consultant Joshua Ivanovic; and Oriental fusion food such as Curry Spaghettini with Salmon. Enjoy a classical Guzheng performance while you are here.
Fat Cupid in Langkawi may be a little off-the-beaten-path, but this 50-seater restaurant (can be expanded to take 100 pax) is worth the trek in to enjoy its cool Scanadinavian style interiors, relaxing vibe and East-meets-West menu featuring classic Nyonya dishes like Laksa and Nasi Ayam Pontay and Australian favourites like Beef Burger.
You wouldn't believe it by looking at its charming shop house exterior, but The Baboon House in Malacca is a hidden gem that serves up quintessential American fare like burgers, which you can enjoy in its lush jungle-like interiors.
Centrally located in Quill City Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur, Makespace offers versatility for creative events such as hackathons, team building or parties with its flexible stage, projector, whiteboard and wireless network. Spanning across two levels, the 1,672 square-metre warehouse can accommodate up to 500 standing guests.
Pia's The Padi offers a quaint dining experience amidst the paddy fields in Langkawi. Serving a range of Western, Northern Indian, Malay and Chinese food, the restaurant can cater for up to 500 guests. There is also a monthly cooking class that would be great as a team-building activity.
Consisting of a hall, mausoleum, library, offices, open courtyard and minaret, The National Mosque of Malaysia (Masjid Negara) offers a modern take on its traditional Islamic roots. The most striking feature is its multi-fold, umbrella-like roof, which symbolises aspirations of an independent nation.
Lovers of nature should not miss Kilim Karst Geoforest Park, a 100-square kilometer nature reserve in Langkawi, which features stunning flora and fauna, and geological formations like mammoth limestone rocks and fossils. The best way to appreciate the sights here is on a motorboat tour through the Kilim river.
Gain insight into the region's arts and performing arts scene at the three-day Melaka Art and Performance Festival (MAPFest) at St Paul's Hill in Malacca, which presents site-specific performances from independent practitioners of various forms of arts like dance, film and music. In 2014, the festival drew over 35,000 visitors.