Culturally Yours

Marriott hosts a melting pot of leisure travelers

By: By Monica Poling


JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur
183 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
Rates from $162 (per night) 

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Kuala Lumpur Hotel Packages

Urban Oasis at The Ritz-Carlton
Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur hopes to reconnect guests with the Malaysian experience. With this affordable package, clients can enjoy white-glove service at the country’s first full-butler, boutique hotel in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The package starts at $295 per night and includes daily breakfast for two, personalized in-room check in, a welcome drink, one butler-drawn Revitalizing Muscle Soak and a one-hour Swedish or Oriental massage at Malaysia’s renowned Spa Village.

Feast Like a King
Malaysia is a food-lovers paradise. From Chinese cuisine to Indian delights to delicacies that are unique to Malaysia, there just isn’t enough time to try everything. Designed both for food lovers and for the traveler who prefers to stay within his comfort zone, The Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel offers the Feast Like a King package. Starting at $135 per night for a superior room and $155 per night for a deluxe room, the package includes a daily breakfast buffet for two at one of the hotel’s restaurants, a daily dinner buffet for two, daily newspaper and complimentary access to the fitness center and Olympic-sized pool.

Traders Weekender
For a close-up view of Kuala Lumpur’s signature Petronas Twin Towers, Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur is the traveler’s best bet. Located just opposite the towers — as well as opposite the KLCC convention and shopping center — Traders offers 571 rooms that cater to leisure and business travelers alike. The Weekender package starts at $100 per night and includes complimentary breakfast for two, unlimited in-room internet access, complimentary overnight parking and a $5 shopping voucher at the adjacent Isetan Mall at KLCC. Spa treatments are also available to clients at a 20 percent discount.


Are you from America?"

I’m riding in the elevator of the exclusive 29-story JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur with a family of four. I try not to stare at my new friend, the youngest daughter, who seems caught between two cultures. Her hijab head scarf feels strangely at odds with the hot-pink Snoopy backpack she’s slung over her shoulder.

When I answer yes, her mother is overjoyed and laughs gleefully.

Built in 1997, JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur was the brand’s first Malaysia property. // (c) JW Marriott
Built in 1997, JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur was the brand’s first Malaysia property.

"We can always tell."

The other daughter, whose backpack sports a Barbie logo, nods.

"Americans are always the friendliest people."

The blending of cultures I find in the elevator is actually pretty standard fare at this five-star Kuala Lumpur (known as KL) property. Malaysia is a popular destination for travelers from Muslim countries, and the clientele at the JW Marriott reflects a very diverse, international and cosmopolitan population. For example, at the lavish poolside breakfast buffet a young woman covered from head-to-toe in a traditional burqa dines next to an elderly European couple in shorts, T-shirts and knee socks.

The various cultures aren’t the hotel’s only contrast. Built in 1997, this was Marriott’s first property in Malaysia. Although designed to meet the needs of the business traveler, there is plenty here to keep leisure travelers happy.

The hotel architecture is also a blend of styles. The rooms are fairly standard and, with the exception of much-appreciated free wireless Internet, the design is reminiscent of most Marriott properties around the world. The lobby also doesn’t stand out.

Where the hotel sparkles, literally, is in its extras. Its connection to the adjacent Starhill Gallery, for example, is a Star Trek-esque maze of twinkle lights that leads visitors from the hotel into an opulent, seven-story shopping center. Basically, this is Rodeo Drive crammed into seven themed levels with names like Feast, Indulge, Adorn, Explore, Pamper, Muse and Relish that offer a lavish assortment of high-end jewelry, clothing, shoes and art that carry such iconic names as Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Dior and Gucci.

On the bottom level, Feast, which is more formally known as Feast Village, is a sort of high-end food court on steroids. Here, more than a dozen lavishly decorated restaurants feature cuisines ranging from Lebanese to Norwegian to seafood to Asian fusion. Although each restaurant is uniquely and elegantly appointed, none have the boundary of a front door. Visitors sitting at the central Village Bar, which is made up of five counters each serving a distinct drink style, can watch the activity at each restaurant, while waiting for the culinary muse to strike. Restaurants also allow guests to charge their meal back to their room, and the truly stymied can even enjoy a cross-cuisine experience. So, if Asian wins the group decision, tapas can still be had just by asking the waiter for a menu from an adjacent restaurant.

If all the high-octane shopping, drinking and dining prove to be too stressful, guests can take advantage of JW Marriott’s Mandara Spa, located on the hotel’s fifth floor or nearby Spa Village.

The hotel’s central location is another attribute that makes it an ideal choice for leisure travelers. The property is located on KL’s popular Bintang Walk and is just a short walk away from the famed Petronas Twin Towers. My 15th-story room had a stunning high-definition view of the sparkling towers that once were the world’s tallest. Bintang Walk itself is an international mix of shops and restaurants. Here, visitors will continue to find the cultural dichotomy that makes up Malaysia. As Arab businessmen sip coffee at the ubiquitous Starbucks, a nearby Planet Hollywood promotes free drinks to women on Ladies Night.