Why Choose Sarawak for Business Events and MICE


Ever since boosting the tourism profile of Sarawak in the last ten years or so, many local and international corporations and businesses still do not understand the full potential of this amazing state located on the island of Borneo, and as a frequent visitor to this culturally rich state, I will share my years of experience traveling around here and also on why choose The Land of the Hornbills, Sarawak for Business Events and MICE. 

When you ask someone on the streets about Sarawak, the first thing that comes to mind is the beautiful rainforest that is abundant in all directions possible. Next would be the the stunning wildlife that is found in many places and it stops right there. If you are lucky, they may even mention the world class Rainforest World Music Festival as an event to attend in Sarawak.

Even with the Sarawak Tourism Board running a barrage of promotions in other countries, many see this place as a pure tourism destination but much has changed over the last couple of years since The Sarawak Convention Bureau or SCB took a new approach to marketing Sarawak as a conventions and business events destination. 

To those who have never set foot in Sarawak, let me just share with you that this charming state is in fact one of the most interesting and beautiful places in Malaysia to visit. Why I say this is because when you explore beyond what mainstream media or travel companies promote, you will be introduced to whole new world of adventure and excitement. Sarawak in general is actually very modern, in terms of city infrastructure and tourism facilities.

The Borneo Convention Centre in Kuching or BCCK
Introduction to Kuching

Kuching is the capital of Sarawak and is also known as Cat City, simply because of the translation into the local Bahasa language where Kuching means cat. Here, you will find an interesting mixture of the old world and also new world where around Kuching main city, there are modern shopping malls, five star hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars and even a world class convention center that can accommodate up to 2000 people for banquet style and 5000 people in the main plenary hall. 

Over in the older part of town, you will find the old world charm of Kuching where things hardly changed, giving visitors a nostalgic experience when walking around. As the city is also divided by the mighty Sarawak River, visitors are in for a treat as there are river cruises that ferry curious tourist showcasing the once popular river life of this city. 

As for attractions, there are countless things to do in Kuching, but if you are seeking that fast paced city life like Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok or Singapore, you will not find it here. The beauty about Kuching is that it has taken its time to develop over the years but giving the best in it's city facilities. This means you will not be experiencing that rush factor that every modern city is facing, hence you can take your own sweet time to slowly discover the city, it's people, food, culture and lifestyle. 

Kuching also is home to one of the best museums in the world, which is the Sarawak Museum that has been there since 1891 and exhibits some of the best local indigenous history, arts and crafts. Nearby, you can find the Kuching Waterfront which offers visitors a glimpse of the old colonial days. Antique shops by the many offer interesting and fascinating cultural artifacts and curios while souvenir shops sell authentic and traditional handicraft items and for cuisines, you can even sample some authentic Sarawakian local food at some of the restaurants or cafes found around the area.

For nightlife, Carpenter Street in the old part of town offers a very modern but yet local concept bars and pubs that operate along the main street here. Hotels offer lounges with live bands and you can find modern coffee chains like Starbucks at most shopping malls apart from the many local and international fast food chains available there.

Kuching city during sunset - Photo by Abang Faizul Abang Rosli
Beyond Kuching
To see the real Sarawak, one needs to move beyond Kuching where professional tour operators or Destination Management Companies (DMC) offer all kinds of experiences ranging from traditional Longhouse visits to Wildlife Encounters. Apart from your meetings or events, special arrangements can be made to visit a traditional ethnic longhouse, see Orangutans in their natural habitat at the Semenggoh Nature Reserve, explore the unique Bako National Park to see bearded pigs and the proboscis monkeys or even a round of golf at the Borneo Highlands, 1000 meters above sea level. There are even some very interesting caves located about two hours out of Kuching in an area called Bau, where you can explore them with a licensed tour guide.

Transportation in Kuching
DMC's offer all kinds of transportation facilities catering to your needs, meaning that there are private limousines, luxury vehicles, standard mini buses and even full scale luxury buses at your service. They even offer private chauffeurs and drivers for special needs, including VVIP services. For general visitors, there are taxi's available and can usually be found around taxi stands or just approach any hotel bellboy to hail one down.

Ecotourism in Sarawak
The best selling product for Sarawak is the fact that this place is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world which boasts of 185 species of mammals, 530 species of birds, 166 species of snakes, 104 species of lizards, and 113 species of amphibians. For flora, there are 2,000 tree species, 1,000 species of orchids, 757 species of ferns, and 260 species of palm, offering a wonderland of ecotourism for any outdoor, wildlife or nature lover.

Niche Activities in Sarawak
While general tourism is easily found here, there are also a number of niche tourism activities available. Scuba diving is one of them where you can dive near Kuching city or even at Miri Resort City. Bird Watching in Sarawak is also a growing new niche tourism where there are specialist that offer birding tours around Sarawak.

Cultural exploration lets you visit some of the remote villages and towns in the highlands of Bario and Bakelalan, where traditional practices are still observed during festivals and ceremonies. Even for conservation or volunteerism, there are specialist that handle this kind of genre. All of this can easily be arranged by your tour operator in Kuching or Miri. 

Meeting and Conference Facilities in Sarawak

There are a number of facilities that cater to meetings and conferences in Sarawak which are spread throughout the cities of Kuching, Miri and even at UNESCO World Heritage Site - Mulu National Park. A list of convention halls, hotels with conventions and meeting facilities is listed by the city below;

Kuching

The capital of Sarawak and located in the south of the state and also the main gateway to other parts of Sarawak. The Kuching International Airport is also 30 minutes away from the city. Below is a list of the hotels that cater to business events.

One of the conferences held at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching or BCCK
Borneo Convention Centre Kuching or BCCK
Meeting Rooms: 18
Plenary: 5000 pax
Reception: 3500 pax
Banquet: 2000 pax
Exhibition Hall: 2,79 square meters
Website: http://www.bcck.com.my/

Pullman Hotel Kuching
Star Rating: 5 Star
Rooms: 389
Meeting Rooms: 10
Ballroom: 3000 pax
Smaller Rooms: 25-150 pax
Website: http://www.pullmanhotels.com/gb/hotel-6332-pullman-kuching

Hilton Hotel Kuching function rooms
Hilton Hotel Kuching
Star Rating: 5 Star
Meeting Rooms: 12
Ballroom: 750 pax
Website: http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/malaysia/hilton-kuching-KUCHITW/index.html

The function rooms at Riverside Majestic Hotel in Kuching
Riverside Majestic Hotel Kuching
Star Rating: 4 Star
Rooms: 241
Meeting Rooms: 14
Ballroom: 1400 pax
Banquet: 900 pax
Website: http://www.riversidemajestic.com/

Merdeka Palace Hotel Kuching
Star Rating: 4 Star
Rooms: 213
Meeting Rooms: 4
Smaller Rooms: 15-80 pax
Banquet: 650 pax
Normal Rooms: 30-200 pax
Executive Board Room: 12 pax
Website: http://www.merdekapalace.com/

Function room at the Grand Margherita Hotel in Kuching
Grand Margherita Hotel Kuching
Star Rating: 4 Star
Rooms: 288
Meeting Rooms: 5
Smaller Rooms: 15-80 pax
Banquet: 200-650 pax
Website: https://www.grandmargherita.com/


Miri Resort City
Sunset in Miri City, Sarawak
Miri is located in the North of Sarawak and borders the Kingdom of Brunei and Sabah, Malaysia Borneo. This developing city is also known as Miri Resort City as it is located just by the seaside and also one of the main gateways to the Mulu National Park and Niah National Park. This city is also home to the world renown Borneo Jazz Festival and also the Miri Country Music Festival which is held on a yearly basis at the ParkCity Everly Hotel and Resort.

The border to Brunei is a mere twenty minutes away while there is quite a lot of nature, adventure and ecotourism available around Miri. The Miri International Airport is only 15 minutes to the city and is about one hours flight from Kuching city or a two hour flight from Kuala Lumpur.

Miri Marriott Resort

Miri Marriott Resort & Spa
Star Rating: 5 Star
Rooms: 220
Meeting Rooms: 10
Smaller Rooms: 4-300 pax
Banquet: 600 pax
Website: http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/myymc-miri-marriott-resort-and-spa/

Pullman Miri Waterfront
Star Rating: 5 Star
Rooms: 328
Meeting Rooms: 6
Smaller Rooms: 28-150 pax
Ballroom: 1230 pax
Website: http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-9731-pullman-miri-waterfront-/index.shtml
*This listing was edited and added in April 2016

Meritz Hotel in Miri - The function rooms
Meritz Hotel Miri
Star Rating: 4 Star
Rooms: 290
Meeting Rooms: 10
Smaller Rooms: 20-300 pax
Banquet: 2500 pax
Website: http://www.meritzhotel.com/

Imperial Palace Hotel in Miri, Sarawak
Imperial Palace Hotel Miri
Star Rating: 4 Star
Rooms: 307
Meeting Rooms: 4
All Rooms: 400-600 pax
Website: http://imperial.com.my/miri/imperial-palace-hotel/

Mulu, Sarawak
Mulu National Park canopy walk

Mulu is originally a Penan settlement and then turned into a national park which was then given the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1013) and houses some of the most impressive and diverse caves and rainforest in Sarawak, Borneo.

For anyone who loves the outdoors, nature and ecotourism, this is probably one of the best places in Malaysia to experience it. The best way to get here is to fly in from Kuching or Miri to the Mulu Airport in a small 72 seat turboprop plane operated by MASwings (http://www.maswings.com.my/) which takes about an hour and this could be part of an adventure for your business events trip here.

Function room at the Mulu Marriott Resort
Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa
Star Rating: 5 Star
Rooms: 101
Meeting Rooms: 2
Rooms: 10-80 pax
Ballroom: 150-200 pax
Website: http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/myymu-mulu-marriott-resort-and-spa/

MICE in Sarawak
Pros and Cons of Sarawak

You may still be asking why choose Sarawak for business events and MICE, and let me just share with you that this unique destination offers something totally out of the ordinary compared to other cities and countries. Just take a moment and think about it - a destination so mystical and magical with so much culture and heritage to offer in a slow paced modern city. When you look at the pros and cons below, you will notice there are only a couple of negative aspects to this.

Pros
  • Favourable exchange rates (USD$1 = RM3.80)
  • MICE and business events facilities and infrastructure ready
  • Professional tour companies or DMC's
  • English language widely spoken in cities
  • Diversified culture and heritage discovery
  • Amazing ecotourism experiences
  • Unique culinary experiences
  • Seeing some of the world's unique animals
  • Exploring a real 'Living Museum' at the Sarawak Cultural Village
  • Slow paced city lifestyle, perfect for those not in a rush
  • Availability of tailor-made pre and post events for delegates and attendees

Cons
  • Slow paced modern city
  • Distances from one city to another
BCCK in an aerial view - Photo from BIP Studio
Overall, for any corporation or company looking for something unique and different for their exhibitions, conventions or business events, Sarawak is one of the preferred and upcoming MICE destinations in this part of the world with so much unique offerings for all walks of life.

Imagine telling someone that you are going to Sarawak Borneo for a convention, seminar or meeting - It would raise interesting questions, especially when the person does not know much about this unique destination. And it does not matter if the meeting or conference is large or small as there is always enough space for any size.

For more information, you can visit Business Events Sarawak or BeSarawak or the Sarawak Convention Bureau. All photos here are courtesy of the hotels, resorts and BCCK in Sarawak, otherwise credited to the photographer in each photo.

In a short summary, with a favourable currency exchange rate, a destination filled with an assortment of culture and heritage, facilities and infrastructure that meet the international world class standards, friendly faces that give you warm Sarawakian hospitality and a whole new experience in MICE, Sarawak is now on the path to be the next business events destination in the region and possibly the world.

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