[编辑 Editor 吕大人 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer 黄大人]
So near, yet so far… this iconic landmark 30km west of Johor Bahru is making headlines for different reasons, but one thing is for sure – Forest City is not merely another property development project but a “city development project”. Sceptics and critics may beg to differ, and the project may sound distant like a futuristic city beyond our reach but hey, it is actually happening right now as we speak, and only a mere 30-60 minutes from Johor Bahru city centre. Seeing is believing, as we bring you the lowdown on one of the hottest topics in town…
Even before the full completion of this iconic and extensively scaled project, a smart and intelligent city located near the second link bridge of Iskandar Malaysia and adjacent to Singapore, it is easy to lose your way for first-time visitors, given the lack of adequate signages. Be sure to seek help from the guards on duty along the way, and they will be most glad to point you in the right direction.
Just how accessible is Forest City to the rest of the world? You would be surprised…
• 10 minutes drive from Second Link
• 30 minutes drive from JB City Centre
• 45 minutes drive from Senai International Airport
• 55 minutes via connecting flights from KLIA
• 60 minutes drive from Singapore’s Changi Airport
• 3 hours drive from Kuala Lumpur
Forest City Phoenix International Marina Hotel
Hotel lobby fit for the royalty
You know that thing they say about first impressions, and what’s the first thing we see upon entering a hotel? The lobby (no prize for guessing right). While it’s also important that the bed is comfy and the bathroom sparkly, the lobby can somewhat make or break a hotel’s reputation, so how’s this for a welcoming reception when we enter the spacious lobby of Forest City Phoenix International Marina Hotel, which features marble flooring and wood panelling. As if that weren’t enough, the grandiose space is topped off with a magnificent ceiling that draws inspiration from the ocean waves of the Straits of Johor, as we revel in the natural wonders of the sea amidst spectacular lighting fixtures that are reminiscent of the marine life gathering to celebrate our arrival. As we walk further back into the 1,100 m² space, we will see the property’s gardens through the lobby’s floor to (very high) ceiling windows, where a bar sits on the right for us to take in the sips and sights in a casual and relaxing ambience.
So, what’s the fuzz and buzz surrounding the latest hotel kid on the block? Located on a 4.23-acre land, Forest City Phoenix International Marina Hotel is the first hotel ever built outside the China province among 50 other hotel chains. It is also the largest mixed-green Marina Hotel in Southeast Asia totalling 54,554 m² where each of the 283 well-appointed rooms is guaranteed to look out into the Straits of Johor through the floor-to-ceiling glass window and balcony!
Deluxe Suite for the entire family
Judging from a glimpse of the Deluxe Suite which trounced most studio apartments on offer (all 4 rooms were unfortunately fully booked at the time of our visit), we dare say this is truly waterfront living at its best! We couldn’t take our eyes off the carefully-appointed suite, especially the unbeatable L-shaped balcony which offers a sweeping 270-degree view of the Straits of Johor, even from the bathroom. Gasp! This is literally “breathtaking”!
Superior Room unlike any other
8035 may be a lucky number to some but for us, this is where we would be calling it home for tonight. The Superior Room (as most other rooms were fully booked too) has indeed set the standard for others to emulate, with its 42 m² room size the largest in its category with ample space for our luggage. And YES! We still get to enjoy the privacy of our own balcony which looks out into the garden, and you guessed it – The Straits of Johor LOL!
Again, we spent most of our time looking out to the balcony, which is also home to our evening snacks and Saturday morning “add on” breakfast on the go from the nearby Droptop Cafe!
Actually, the poor weather turned out to be some kind of a blessing in disguise, as we get to savour the “seasonal change” between spring and autumn all in one night! So much about an “overseas” trip of sorts in home soil haha!
In all, the hotel comes with 7 different room types that suit every accommodation needs:
• Superior Room – 195 (rooms)
• Deluxe Room – 67 (rooms)
• Garden Room – 4 (rooms)
• Garden Suite – 2 (rooms)
• Superior Suite – 10 (rooms)
• Deluxe Suite – 4 (rooms)
• Presidential Suite – 1 (room)
Make a splash at the infinity pool
All hotel guests get to enjoy this unusually large infinity freeform pool next to the Chinese restaurant, with the bottom of the pool spotting a pattern of a lotus flower adding a touch of grandeur to the surrounding meticulously landscaped garden. If you think this is cool, wait till you see how everything seems to “come alive” when dusk falls, as we leave you to see and imagine it for yourself from our shots below. So much for many thousand words…
PS: These are not photoshop tricks but actual sights seen through our eyes and lens!
Stay fit and healthy
Like most gyms in other hotels, the Gymnasium (with private shower facilities) opens from 8,30am to 10,30pm. But unlike most hotel gym, we get to enjoy (again) full-height floor-to-ceiling views of the garden and a distant bit of the Straits while on the treadmills.
State-of-the-art conference halls
Paying tribute to the state, the conference halls are named Johor Conference Hall I, II and III respectively, with the largest ballroom (760 m²) located at Level 1 accommodating up to 900 guests for any occasions ranging from banquet, theatre or classroom-style setting. The best part? The Johor Conference Hall comes with the state-of-the-art height-adjustable stage featuring the largest LED screen in town, as well as having its very own VIP holding room and private changing area at the backstage.
For those looking for a more intimate setting for smaller group events, Johor Conference Hall II (180 m²) and Hall III (90 m²) located at Level 2 can accommodate between 20 to 60 guests comfortably.
Wedding reception by the beach
For an exotic island wedding in JB, there’s no better destination than Marina Hotel, offering hotel room block rates for wedding parties and well-appointed event space for bachelor and bachelorette parties. Situated between the hotel’s private garden and coastal park, nestles the tranquil Beach ROM. This hidden gem which boasts magnificent panoramic sea views from its slightly elevated position can host both small and large wedding parties and a beautiful area for wedding photos, particularly as the sun sets on your special day. As the dream destination even for honeymooners and couples seeking a starry-eyed island escape, advance booking up to one month is highly recommended.
Apart from the Beach ROM and walkway, the coastal park is also an exciting playground to many exciting water sports and beach parties.
Private dinner by the pool
Nothing screams “vacation” like private fine dining in a chic poolside setting under the sunshine or moonlight. Thanks to Ms Shu and her F&B team, Marina Hotel has alfresco feasting covered to ensure our staycation time is filled with memorable moments.
Dinner tonight is made special with a special 3-course menu that spells “Fine Dining”, with the Mushroom Ragout Vol-au-vent, Stewed Premium Herbs Soup (unusual for a Western menu but taste superb), Poached Salmon with Seasonal Vegetables & Mash served in Dill Cream Sauce, and Creme Brulee infused with fresh oranges! Kudos to the live band for putting up a mesmerising performance that adds further enjoyment to our evening by the pool.
Think you can do better than us? For sure, you can. Just get in touch with Ms Su and her team will take care of the rest.
Modern Chinese cuisine @ Phoenix Restaurant
The Chinese Restaurant combines a modern art deco design masterfully blended with the essence of a traditional tea house, creating a warm and unique dining experience for authentic Chinese cuisine. The main dining hall is filled with natural sunlight through floor-to-ceiling windows, while four private VIP rooms with ten to twelve seaters are also available, offering privacy and different design themes perfect for intimate gatherings of our families and friends, or an impressive business banquet to help us seal the deal.
Exquisitely decorated and tastefully finished for any occasions, each private room V1-V5 (except V4 for the apparent reason) comes complete with a plush sofa, huge LED screen and ensuite or shared washrooms, while the partition between V1 and V2 can be removed to accommodate a larger group. Advance reservation with a minimum of 10 pax is required with no time limit. Fit even for royalty, don’t you agree?
East meets west cuisine @ C&M Restaurant
Our hotel breakfast is served at the atmospheric all-day C&M Restaurant conveniently located beside the hotel lobby, serving the best of local and international fare with its emphasis on balancing both the visual and taste to suit the local and visitors’ taste buds. Natural sunlight fills the restaurant again through floor-to-ceiling windows, where diners may choose to sit indoors with air-conditioned comfort or outdoors in the comfort of the cool natural sea breeze.
Breakfast (6.30am – 10am)
• Adult RM58+
• Child RM29+ (Children aged below 5 dine for free)
Dinner (6pm – 9pm)
• Adult RM80+
• Child RM40+
(Special request available by reservation in advance)
Shop to your heart’s content at Harbor Commercial Street
For those who want a change in scenery, the Harbor commercial street is just a few steps away from the hotel. Arguably Southeast Asia’s largest mixed-use green duty-free area, the commercial street comprises a broad range of leading international brands, and F&B outlets, making shopping (with pleasure) or window shopping (always a tough challenge) an important part of our itinerary!
At the end of the leisurely stroll comes the familiar sight of both the unmistakable vertical garden and the massive scale model the centre of attraction. To our surprise, the large scale model which shows our current location on Pulau Satu (Island 1) is only slightly over a quarter of the entire project, due for completion in 2035!
For the (still) uninitiated, Forest City is made up of 4 man-made islands near Tanjung Kupang, which adopts a multi-layered design and features vertical “greenification” with green facades and parks without vehicles. Built with a green construction standard for sustainable development, the city is representing a model for a low-carbon, green eco-city of the future which we hope to be still around to witness 😉
With over 300 high-quality property projects delivered or still under construction throughout China, serving over 3,000,000 homeowners, there are certainly reasons to cheer for what is to come. After half a year’s building and development, the city is already taking shape where currently, the Forest City’s International Clubhouse, Transportation Hub, Coastal Park, Harbor Commercial Street, SECOO flagship luxury store and not forgetting Marina Hotel are already in operation. In partnership with international hotel groups such as the Hilton and Maritime Group, it would not be long before Marina Hotel can rise above the rest and help place the destination on the global tourist map. We wonder how things would change from now till our next visit, say in 1, 5 or 10 years?
Once again, special thanks to Forest City for an eye-opening staycation that took us on a journey “back to the future”! Till we meet again!
Forest City Phoenix International Marina Hotel
📍 1, Jalan Forest City, Pulau Satu, 81550 Gelang Patah, Johor
(Exit 313 towards Port of Tanjung Pelepas Interchange)
📞 +607-505 3333