KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 — The NAK Hotel in Sandakan, Sabah has said it will cease operations after 54 years in business, the latest financial casualty in the coastal town’s hospitality industry after Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan’s recent closure.
The 24-room NAK Hotel made this announcement through a post on the official Facebook page of its Ba Lin Rooftop Bar and Restaurant.
“It is with a heavy heart that NAK Hotel has decided to close its doors for the first time in over 54 years, until further notice.
“The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, global lockdowns and advice against social gatherings, have all contributed to making it operationally unsustainable for us.
“The closure will begin on the 15th June, and will include the NAK Hotel and BALIN Rooftop Bistro,” it wrote in a poster attached to the Facebook post.
In the same Facebook post, NAK Hotel’s Ba Lin Rooftop Bistro urged its customers to make their way to the restaurant, adding that its last dinner service will be on June 14 (Sunday).
“Come show us some love before the final curtain call as we move into uncharted waters to rediscover our passion for food & connecting people.
“Over the years we have grown with shy young couples to celebrate with their friends in surprise proposals, giggled our hearts out on hen’s night and watch them bloom in pure joy at their weddings, we’ve even hosted some of their kids’ birthdays. It has been an incredible privilege and we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts,” it said.
Many Facebook users said they were sad to hear of the impending closure, noting the many memories and celebrations they had at the bistro, with some also commenting that the closure of the iconic landmark would be a big loss to Sandakan.
According to news portal Borneo Today, NAK Hotel’s general manager Linn Ngui said the hotel had continued operating during the movement control order (MCO) period, but noted the “extremely challenging” conditions even as it prioritised ensuring its employees were taken care of.
“However, for the past few months, we have burned through our savings and are now unable to sustain the current business model and have resulted in closing of the hotel until further notice to figure out the next move,” she was quoted as saying, with some of the 20 hotel staff to undergo retrenchment while the rest would take on other positions.
Borneo Today also reported that the ground-floor restaurant at the hotel — San Da Gen — will continue operations.
According to an archived version of NAK Hotel’s website, the hotel owned by the Ngui family was named after a lowly clerk named Ngui Ah Kui who later became a Member of Parliament.
The hotel, which was built in the 1960s, was one of only two large hotels in the port town of Sandakan when it officially opened in 1966 — two years after its namesake Ngui Ah Kui died.
According to the hotel’s website, a few of Sandakan’s self-made millionaires had once worked at the hotel.
Just slightly more than a week ago, the 290-room Four Points by Sheraton Sandakan hotel was reported as closing with all staff having their employment terminated on May 31.
The tourism and hotel industry has taken a severe beating due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions under the MCO, including the ban on foreigners’ entry into Malaysia, with several hotel operators announcing the closure of properties throughout the country since late April.
The hotels reported to be closing down are located in places such as Ipoh, Perak (Tower Regency Hotel and Apartments, Kinta Riverfront Hotel and Suites, Syuen Hotel, Travelodge Ipoh), Penang (Mercure Penang Beach, The Gurney Resort Hotel and Residences), Melaka (Ramada Plaza Hotel) and also GTower Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.
The Hilton KL was also reported to have initiated a retention and retrenchment programme for its employees, which would also include unpaid leave options while others would be let go.
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