September 24, 2010

Why I love Tune Hotels, Westminster, UK

I have just came back from a 10-days holiday in London. My choice of accommodation was set much, much earlier as I had heard that a Tune Hotels will open a branch in London since early 2010. I have stayed in 2 other Tune Hotels before the one in Westminster which were the Tune Hotels Kuala Lumpur and Tune Hotels LCCT, near the airport. Both was a one-night stay as it was a kind of a transit where the former was before a trip to Singapore by bus for the Nuffnang's Blog Award show (Nuffnang office was 50 meters away) and the latter was for a trip to Phi Phi Island as the flight was very early. Then, I was also invited to Tune Hotels Damansara for a foursquare day meet up (I didn't see the room then as it was fully occupied).

Before anyone says I am bias or getting paid to blog for this, let me make it clear I am not getting anything out of this. I paid nearly RM200+ per night (which comes up to 40 pounds per night) for this stay as I couldn't get the 1 penny offer they had. And I actually don't mind paying this amount as I know how much a London hotel cost. And as for the stay I had in the previous Tune Hotels, I didn't enjoy one of them (the one in LCCT) as I think it was too small. The one in Kuala Lumpur's downtown is quite OK although I think the location is a bit dodgy.

What is perfect about Tune Hotels, Westminster is its location. The real estate mantra of Location, Location, Location can never be as true. 

How much do I love thee? Let me count the way :-

1) 10 steps (across the street) from the nearest Tube Station;

2) 10 steps to a few bus stops;
3) 500 meters to the nearest bus station/train station (Waterloo);
4) A Costa Coffee (a coffee chain in UK rivaling Starbucks) which is within the same building though not affiliate at all with Tune Hotels;

5) A Chicken Palace with good halal fried chicken and wicked lamb ribs (BBQ) across the street;

6) A 24-hours Costcutter mini mart which have all type of drinks (it is an off-license), snacks, fresh fruits and all your household need, across the street;

This is the street near Tune Hotels where on the left is the Chicken Palace and Costcutter
7) A Chinese restaurant at an intersection about 20 meters, just across the street;
8) A few Indian food restaurants within walking distance (on the way to Waterloo);
9) A few Thai restaurants and pubs (The Horse is just next door) within walking distance;
10) A few places of interest within 100 meters radius notable the Imperial War Museum;
11) 200 meters from Southbank which housed The London Eye, The London Aquarium, a few theaters, a few bridges. It was the Thames River Festival when we were there and we managed to catch the fireworks and I even have a video for it;

12) 220 meters from Westminster Bridge which brings you to Westminster, Westminster Abbey, The Big Ben and basically the best place for you to take a picture to say you have arrived in good Olde England;

13) A Bicycle Station, which cost 1 pound an hour for rental as the Mayor of London is trying to get more people to ride bike, just across the street;
14) The hotel rooms are roomy in contrast with some other London hotels I have stayed. I have enough space to perform my prayers. Oh, of course you can get roomy room if you are willing to pay RM1000 or more per night. This is London where the price of real estate for 200 square feet can fetch quite a tidy sum of money;
15) The hotel staffs are friendly;

16) They charged 10 pound of a high speed wireless internet, which I consider is the best deal I get. The amount of pictures I uploaded on Facebook while I was there justify this;
17) I can read the headlines, know the temperature and the time from a digital billboard across the street on Lambeth North Tube station outside wall;
18) It uses eco-friendly lights which switch off if there are no one in the corridors and switch on back again once you pass it;

And these are just some of the facts which I think is worthwhile mentioning which makes it a great hotel. And this does not include the fact of how Tune Hotels are being marketed and you can get it quite cheaply if you book it early. They still have rooms for the 2011 new year at 100 pounds (going fast). Some facts may change as there are so many things happening in London every other day.

And, these facts are enough for me to come back to Tune Hotels Westminster the next time I travel there. Maybe for the Olympics in 2012? And please let this be the standard Tune Hotels will always strive when they open a new hotel at a new location.

September 22, 2010

How to not be jetlagged

Just got off the plane from London in the early hour of Wednesday and now I am at the office looking through documents to be signed and signing cheques to make sure work are done. Why am I here and not going back home to sleep or rest?

This has been my way of fighting of jetlagged whenever I travel west of Malaysia. Have been doing this method since 2000 and it works...

Do you have any other method?

September 8, 2010

Eid holiday

Every year, one of the dilemma that we have to face is how many Hari Raya holidays do we give the staff. We do try to be fair and give some time-off to them but being a legal firm which constantly having to deal with deadlines and such, we can't afford to ignore the fact that there are other people out there who are still working while we are on holidays. 

So, a few years ago, my partner and I decided that we will only give 1 day holiday endorsed by the firm and we will then allow the staff to utilised their annual leave. Most are given without too many questions. They arrange among themselves (within each department) who will take which part of the week within the whole week of Eid.

This year is no better. As Raya has been decided using the ru'yah calculation to be on Friday, although the authority will look to the sky on Wednesday and announce then whether it will be on Thursday (9th) or Friday (10th), we have decided to give the staff a holiday on Thursday. Most of them are taking days off after the Raya holiday and extend their leaves until Malaysia day of 16th September. In short, most of the staff in this firm will be off for nearly a week.

As for me, I will be on extended leave (for the first time since this firm is in existence) as I am going to London on the second day of Raya (this Saturday, September the 11th - good date to travel huh?). I was usually the one who will be the first to opened up the office after Raya celebration but not this year.

My partner already took the day off for today (Wednesday, the 8th). The dilemma now for me is whether to give the staff (those who are still working) a half-day off today or not.

Anyway, Have a great Eid Mubarak, a great holiday and have a safe journey.

September 2, 2010

Is there or isn't there a property bubble in Malaysia?

I suspect that the banks have seen it coming since last year due to a few experience by my legal firm's clients when their developments are being rated as unworthy to be supported by the few banks within the vicinity of their housing development. The banks gave reason such as unattractive pricing and unfavorable locations, whilst using the sub-prime in America as an examples. 

All these excuses are given while the same banks financed housing developers in Kuala Lumpur selling strata development as small as 600 square feet at the price of RM1 Million or more. My clients were selling a semi-D with space at a price of RM220,000-00. Very much affordable to the average Malaysians with average pay between RM2,500 to RM4,000 (at the most). 

There are a few newspaper articles (which I think is quite a good effort by the Star, a local newspaper) which try to address this issue. It starts off with an article on the price war by banks around town to beat the foreign banks who have more depth in offering cheaper loan rates. Here is the links to that article entitled 'There maybe a price war to give out cheaper Bank loans'. According to that article, the price maybe at Base Lending Rate (BLR) minus 2.3%. And if you are smart enough in shopping around and twisting some bank officer's arm, they may even negotiate you a rate lower than that.

Then, Bank Negara Malaysia announced an initiative a few days ago about their effort in preventing speculative buying by asking banks to only give margin financing up to 80%. Here is the article on that entitled 'Banks to try and prevent speculation on property prices' in which in the same article, the housing developers are jumping to stop this from happening as it will be hard for them to market their products.

In my opinion, in all these articles, there were scant mentioned of the man on the street point of view in which I have seen for as far back as 2006 (before the 2008 economy slowdown). It seems that all forgot to think about how unaffordable it is houses for some people. Those who can afford to buy a 20' x 70' houses (a normal terrace house size) can sometimes have to be burdened with unreasonable financing rates (and margin) while those who can buy cash at anytime, can negotiate their margin and financing rates. 

Someone (I think it was a blogger) wrote an article once about how this is going to lead to imbalance in economy and the creation of ghetto. We already have a few of those ghettos and I am just hoping that the government is realizing the danger of speculative buying and the creation of the property bubble which I believe is very much in progress.

I am going to be joining Azizi Ali the renown millionaire coach, who will be talking about this bubble (properly) in his talk entitled 'Property Investment For the New Decade'. In that seminar, he will reveal while he thinks the property prices in Malaysia at the moment is unsustainable and what is the best investment you should invest in at this moment. As this blog post is more on my views on the property bubble than the talk, let me promote the talk properly in another post.

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