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Echo Resorts shows its resilience

The group’s other businesses remain buoyant even though hotel operations have temporarily ceased

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Echo Resort's environmental conservation arm, the Marine Ecology Research Centre, is attached to Gayana Marine Resort. Credit: Echo Resorts

KOTA KINABALU: Echo Resorts has shown its resilience despite global travel restrictions and the Movement Control Order imposed by the Malaysian government. The group's other businesses remain buoyant even while hotel operations have temporarily ceased.

As the owning company of Gayana Marine Resort, Bunga Raya Island Resort and Borneo Eagle Resort, the family-owned and run business has diversified interests ranging from hospitality, environmental conservation to wellness.

Its Borneo Eco Fish Farm and Green-Os organic vegetable farm have seen rising orders from consumers and restaurants since the pandemic began.

Borneo Eco Fish Farm rears an assortment of fish and prawns including the First Backcross Grouper Fish and the Echo Grouper, a hybrid produced by back-cross of a male giant grouper with a female hybrid grouper. The farm adopts environmentally friendly practices, including chemical- and antibiotic-free organic feed to ensure product quality and safety.

Green-Os organic vegetables, locally farmed without using any pesticides or chemicals, is popular for its variety of organic vegetables grown in healthy, fertile soil created by compost and organic fertiliser.

"As a result of the Movement Control Order and a conscious desire to adopt a healthier lifestyle in the midst of this pandemic, we are seeing increasing delivery orders from the public. Business has more than doubled since February. More than this, we are pleased that the public is recognising the benefits of consuming natural, wholesome produce," said Ms Gillian Tan, Echo Resorts' owner representative.

With the temporary closure of Gayana Marine Resort, Bunga Raya Island Resort and Borneo Eagle Resort, 50 hotel employees have been deployed to render support to Green-Os, Borneo Eco Fish Farm and Alu Alu Kitchen. This, in turn, gives them a deeper insight into the group's holistic approach.

Alu Alu Kitchen, the group's restaurant located in the city, serves fresh, organic seafood and vegetables from the farms. Its head chef, Ah Keong, creates menus inspired by Chinese and Malaysian influences to bring out the "fresh tastiness of the produce untainted by chemical fertilizers and obtained from sustainable sources".  

According to Ms Tan, home orders placed at Alu Alu Kitchen have also increased significantly since February with some families placing orders for the whole lockdown period.

Ms Tan's team has mapped out specific training syllabi for all staff at Echo Resorts to include Cornell Online Education Programs for some of the department heads.

Ms Tan said," Employee welfare and wellbeing remain the very core of our business. No employee has been made redundant. These may be trying times, but it has also revealed the tenacity of our people and it has been beautiful seeing everyone rally together to weather this storm."

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Head chef Ah Keong (seated), and his team create menus inspired by Chinese and Malaysian influences. Credit: Echo Resorts

Reef regeneration and giant clam and seahorse propagation
In the absence of visitors, the group's environmental conservation arm, the Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) attached to the 45-villa Gayana Marine Resort, is devoting more time to R&D on its reef regeneration and giant clam propagation including caring for the Baby Giant Clam nursery. MERC's successful efforts in the propagation of seven of the world's giant clams found in Malaysian waters were recognised by the Malaysia Book of Records.

The team has also expanded their R&D to include seahorses which have been overly harvested for supposed medicinal values. The recent births from two male seahorses have provided much excitement and encouragement into the behavior of seahorses with the hope of increasing the seahorse population in the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, Klinik Gayana and Gayana Pharma from Echo Resorts' health and wellness division, are registering a higher demand for its supplements and medical services.

Formed in 2007, Echo Resorts acquired its first resort, Gayana Marine Resort, off the Sabah coast in East Malaysia. This was followed by the Bunga Raya Island Resort in 2009 and Borneo Eagle Resort in 2018.