Extra Photo Gallery: Deluxe Room | Swimming Pool | F&B Outlets
Grand Millennium Hotel is located on Jalan Bukit Bintang. It is adjacent to a number of high-end shopping outlets such as the Starhill Gallery, Lot 10 and The Pavilion. A number of 5-star hotels are also located in the vicinity namely The Ritz Carlton, J. W. Marriott and The Westin. There is pretty much a one-way access road via Jalan Bukit Bintang into the hotel building if you are driving, while the closest KL Monorel access is at the Bukit Bintang station.
Back in the simpler days of the 1970s and 1980s, the former Regent Hotel was pretty much the darling of Kuala Lumpur when a 5-star establishment was considered a rarity. Come the new millennium, no pun intended, with tens of high-end shopping outlets sprouting in what is now known as Bukit Bintang, it was evidently clear that the old Regent Hotel can no longer compete with the newer 5-star establishments in the area. As a matter of fact, what was previously a renowned and much-beloved hotel of yesterday had increasingly looked out-of-sorts in the very place it graced for so a couple of decades. In short, things had to be spruced up for the hotel or being left out in the fast-growing tourism industry of Kuala Lumpur.
The Regent Hotel finally had to move on for its greater good. Coming into the picture is the Millennium Hotels & Resorts, a group that manages a collection of Millennium & Copthorne hotels and resorts around the world. Apart from the rebranding, a major renovation project was undertaken to breathe a new lease of life into the jaded-looking hotel building. In fact, as of writing time, the project had yet to be completed as witnessed by a number of rooms that were still pending renovation as well as the pool area. As for myself, I had been postponing my stay at the hotel until I could assure myself that my review of the new Grand Millennium Hotel will be representative of what it has to offer. During my visit, the front façade has successfully been renovated into a glitzy wall of glass beckoning every onlookers on Jalan Bukit Bintang. If one was unaware of the former Regent Hotel, he or she would have thought the hotel building was brand-new. The main lobby is also impressive with clever usage of massive chandelier lights to mark the grand entrance for the guests, together with a see-through glass roofing to allow natural lights to pass through. Adequate patches of water fountains are placed throughout the main lobby, marking a complete transformation of the Regent Hotel into the Grand Millennium Hotel. A section of the main lobby is designated as the reception area, featuring a number of personalised reception desks and a concierge counter. The reception area is done in a bold and dark colour theme to accentuate some elegant elements. Comfortable cushion sofa are placed throughout the reception area for the guests to lounge away. As for my experience, I found the check-in procedure was too slow for my standard as the front desk staff had to fill up my details by hand, not to mention having to photocopy my IDs for whatever reason. In short, the checking-in experience was somewhat forgettable, but hope sprung eternal that the rest of Grand Millennium Hotel would not disappoint.
In the grand scheme of things, Grand Millennium Hotel boasts 468 guest rooms and suites of varying sizes and benefits. Featuring a respectable built-up of 40 sq-metre is the Deluxe room category featuring 32" Sharp AQUOS LCD television, choices of twin- or king-bedding configuration, mini bar, coffee and tea making facility, bedside control panel, two IDD telephones with bathroom extension, individually-controlled air conditioning, electronic safe, iron with ironing board, selective ASTRO channels and chargeable broadband internet port. Also with a built-up size of 40 sq-metre is the Executive Deluxe room category which carries similar offerings as the regular Deluxe, except for typical benefits commonly reserved for Executive Club guests such as access to the Club Lounge, free flow of hot and cold beverages, evening cocktails, complimentary laundry and pressing services, personalised morning breakfast, etc. Moving further up the categories are the Studio Suite (55 sq-metre), Executive Suite with separate living and bedding areas (80 sq-metre), 2-bedroom Royal Suite with living, dining, pantry, study and powder rooms (150 sq-metre), Imperial Suite (250 sq-metre) and Presidential Suite (150 sq-metre). If the sizes of those various Suites scare the mere mortals like yours truly, worry not, as this review shall be based on the experience of staying in the Deluxe room.
First and foremost, not all of the Deluxe rooms have been renovated. At least not during the review time, and I learnt it the hard way. As I am partial for a king-size bedding for a restful night sleep, I was duly assigned to a Deluxe room that fit the bill. Upon entering the room, I was beyond speechless as I found the room was NOT renovated at all. It certainly screamed "Regent Hotel" to me. As I was dying to see the newly-renovated one, I was sufficiently mortified. I instantly rang up the front desk to voice my dissatisfaction. As expected, the guest personnel acknowledged that the room was not renovated and my only option was to switch into a twin-bedding Deluxe room. I was finally reassigned to a renovated room with twin beds. Not exactly my first choice, but I finally got to see how the renovated room looks like. Entering the renovated Deluxe room was not exactly an oooh-aaah experience for me. For one, the Deluxe room looks exactly like the old ones, except with new furniture and bedding sets with a 32" Sharp AQUOS LCD TV as an icing on the cake. If I could make do with a pair of ancient-style bed frames and wood-carved furniture, the decision to retain the blue-coloured carpeting in the room is just perplexing. Perhaps softer pastel colours for carpeting would suit the room better, or even timber-strip flooring to exude more luxuriant ambience. The bathroom also lacks any distinctive features that could well distinguish the hotel with the rest of the pack. I even had a feeling that the bathroom is not renovated at all (see the "new" bathroom vs the "old" bathroom). Upon closer inspection, I also noticed that the bathroom was not thoroughly clean as traces of residual matters on the shower head were clearly visible. In all honesty, I was unimpressed with the so-called renovated room. Perhaps the hype for the hotel grew bigger than what I expected from its renovation program.
As expected, guest facilities are abound in the hotel of this size. Catering for conferencing and banqueting services are ten meeting rooms namely Millennium I to Millennium X and the Millennium Ballroom which can host up to 300 users. A business centre is also available within the main lobby and is equipped with internet PCs, printer, fax machine and others. As for health facilities, the hotel hosts a sizeable swimming pool with a wading pool, fitness centre and indoor squash courts. During the review, the pool area still retains its outdated look and without a shadow of doubt should be redone to complement the whole transformation of the new Grand Millennium Hotel.
Fortunately, the F&B outlets in the hotel have completed their respective transformation. Within the main lobby lies Bistro 160 which features a combination of street cafe cum lobby lounge experience (if anyone asks, 160 denotes the street address of the hotel). Its interior has been renovated extensively in an elegant and modern setting with extensive timber-strip flooring, automatic sliding doors and large see-through glass windows with partial view of the hectic Jalan Bukit Bintang. One floor up from the main lobby lie three outlets, namely Zing! Chinese Restaurant, the Pulse which is a night pub that can fill up to 200 patrons, and The Mill which is the main dining outlet with all-day meal selections. The Mill interior is done fairly lavishly and colourful with an open-kitchen concept, which is fast becoming a cliché throughout newer hotels in Kuala Lumpur. An impressive dining arrangement although truth be told, one can't help but feel there is a lack of distinct offering to distinguish The Mill from the rest of the pack. My buffet breakfast experience at The Mill was marred by an on-duty supervisor who was a tad overzealous in imparting his profound knowledge to his subordinates. While it is mostly a common practice to polish the new staff, perhaps it is more appropriate for him to do it behind closed doors, which was not the case as I could clearly hear the condescending conversation from my dining table. Topping off my not-so-fantastic experience at The Mill was when one of the wait staff cleared off my table when I was away selecting my next spreads at the buffet counters. She immediately apologised, much to her credit, but that particular incident took the last piece of cake from an already unimpressed guest.
In the end, my experience at the Grand Millennium Hotel was found wanting, from an average-looking Deluxe room to questionable staff competencies. To me, it is still a tall order for the hotel to see eye-to-eye with its next-door competitors such as The Ritz Carlton, J W Marriott Hotel and The Westin which have always been the perennial favourites. Perhaps, in due time.
Impressive façade and main lobby. Disappointing Deluxe room. Below par guest services. Less 'grand' than what was expected, behind a 'millennium' from the rest.