Downtown @ Tune Hotel

Tune Hotel has arrived in Penang! Yep, the quite brilliant brainchild of entrepreneur king Dato’ Tony Fernandes has landed in Burma Road and was officially launched yesterday. It joins the league of Tune Hotels already established in KL, LCCT, Kuching and soon to be Bali and beyond. An entity totally independent from his flagship business AirAsia, Tune Hotel nevertheless wreaks of the branding genius of the bold red & white. Tune’s in-your-face facade has a wide-eyed Las Vegas/ Memphis appeal to it that would have made Elvis proud!

Official launch of Tune Hotel, Penang

And so, wanting to keep Tropical Spice Garden relevant to the times and appealing to the young domestic market – that AirAsia has so successfully captured the imagination of  – we jumped at the opportunity of advertising with Tune in a way so unique. To plaster bold images, captions and logos over whatever wall space available! A sure said no-no in the conventional world of resorts across the world who would usually shy away from the very least of placing an innocent flier at the reception desk. (it taints the image of the hotel, you see)

So here we were, presented with an open door to reach out to the guests in such an obvious and tangible way – a chance to bring a slice of our tropical paradise to downtown Penang. A chance to tasetefully myriad cement walls with colour and life and all things nice.

Gorgeous pillar wraps

 A Tune spokesman informed that a visiting international hotelier was so impressed with this concept of blatant advertisement in hotels that he left a transformed skeptic – not to mention that he made a comment on how tasteful our advertising was done.

So there to launch the occasion on Monday 13 April was our honourable Chief Minister YAB Lim Guan Eng and the man himself, Dato’ Tony Fernandes. These 2 formed an interesting synergy as they patted each other on the back and declared themselves ‘Dream Manufacturers’ – pushing boundaries in their respective fields.

As they were leaving the building, I managed to jump out of the crowd and accost the CM to pose in front of our pillar to which he decidedly asked me “alone?” So we rushed in Dato’ Tony as well and I went away well chuffed with my pics. 2 dream manufacturers posing next to my pillar.

The Dream Manufacturers

It was another good day folks…

Gardens Vacancy


Do you love people?

Do you understand what it means to ‘build relationships’ and does that attract you?

Do you want to join a young company with a lot of growth potential?

Do you want to be a part of a business team that is progressive, open to ideas and loves our tropical environment?

Call Kat at 04-8811797. We look forward to chat with you over spice tea…

Governor of Sarawak visits the gardens

Announcing the arrival of Tuan yang Terutama yang Di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Haji Muhammad Salahuddin dan Y.A. Bhg. Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Hajah Rokiah….

To those unfamiliar with the protocol and titles of Malaysian Heads of State, the Governor of Sarawak and his consort visited the gardens on Sunday 15 March 2009.

The arrival of the Governor of Sarawak

We also had the pleasure of hosting Y.B. Tuan Haji Halim (Speaker, PKR Penang).

They arrived after having come from the Snake Temple and we had the pleasure of their younger family members with us also. Tun, as he requested he be known as, although in his senior years, proved to be young at heart and he undertook to walk the full extent of the gardens.

He enjoyed taking in all the sights and smells and of the lush foliage and he commented how he has and will be cooped in a car all day and is happy to walk despite the frantic scurrying of preparing the official car to carry him up.

But no, Tun was determined to have his morning walk and enjoy his time at the gardens at his own leisurely pace.

Tun learning about our 'Spice Therapy' products

He had a wander around the Museum and Gift Shop before we treated him to our best cup of spice tea amdist the cool morning breeze and magnificent sea view.

We were honoured to receive an official plaque from the Astana Negeri Sarawak (Sarawak Palace) and in return Tun and consort were presented with gifts from the gardens – Tun was most impressed with his bath salts and was looking forward to enjoying them.

On his down from the Cafe, Tun expressed how much he enjoyed his walk and he extended a warm invitation for me to visit his beautiful state of Sarawak.

A gift for Toh Puan 

Who knows …tea at the palace? I wouldn’t mind.

On behalf of everyone at Tropical Spice Garden, we wish Tun and Toh Puan every happy memory of the gardens and Penang.

CAR FREE DAY 25 March 09 – Earth Hour 2009

 Earth Hour 2009



Badges sold for RM1 only


 In conjunction with Earth Hour 2009, Tropical Spice Garden & Rapid Penang have combined forces to campaign to reduce as many cars from the road as possible for one day on Wednesday, 25 March 2009.

The campaign carries a simple and straightforward message – ‘Don’t Use Your Car’. Leave it at home and join the movement to either Walk, Cycle or Take the Bus!

Why are we doing this? Just take a look at some of the facts below :

·         Exhaust fumes cause acid air, pollution, cancer, lead-poisoning and a variety of bronchial and respiratory illnesses. The average car emits a cocktail of more than 1,000 pollutants

·         Motor vehicles are the single biggest source of atmospheric pollution, contributing an estimated 14% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning

  • An annual output of 48 million means that, somewhere in the world, one new car appears every second. In eight hours, 40,000 new cars will have been built; in a day, 100,000.
  • With a growth in the human population of some 90 million a year, the arrival of two new babies is accompanied with the arrival of one new car.

                 So sign up today and join the movement. You may pledge at:

    1. Tropical Spice Garden, Teluk Bahang
    2. Rapid Penang Information Counter ( Penang Airport, Weld Quay, HQ)
    3. Malaysian Nature Society, Jalan Kebun Bunga
    4. Penang Heritage Trust, Lebuh Gereja, George Town

EARTH HOUR – “Off the Light”- 28 March 2009

Earth Hour – Saturday 28 March 2009, 8:30PM

The hour the world unites in a stand against global warming

And so does Tropical Spice Garden (TSG). As a part of Association of Tourism Attractions Penang (ATAP),  TSG is part of the organizing comittee for Earth Hour 2009 a projected adopted by WWF, Malaysia for the first time – and it’s arrived in Penang first! Read on, and as they say in Malaysia “Please Off the Light!”

p/s stay tuned for my little campaign I am running with Rapid Penang for a NO CAR DAY coming soon


At 8.30pm on 28 March 2009, cities and towns across the world will turn off their lights for one hour – Earth Hour – sending a powerful global message that it’s possible to take action on global warming.


In what we hope will be the world’s largest mass participation event, Earth Hour 2009 will be the culmination of one billion people around the globe, in more than 1000 cities from business, government and the community turning off lights, and sending a message to world leaders in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009 that we need a commitment to actions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the short and long term benefit of the planet.


Taking the first step is as easy as turning off a light.


Earth Hour began in one city, in one country in 2007, when more than 2.2 million households and businesses in Sydney turned off their lights for one hour on Saturday 31 March 2007.


Just one year later, Earth Hour reached 370 cities and towns in more than 35 countries across 18 timezones, and the campaign shifted from a Sydney event to a global sustainability movement. An estimated 50 to 100 million people around the world switched off their lights for Earth Hour in 2008, and global landmarks including the Golden Gate Bridge, Rome’s Coliseum, the Coke billboard in Times Square and Jumeirah Hotel in Dubai darkened for one hour.


Already, through the extensive WWF International network, Earth Hour 2009 will be delivered in over 60 countries, the number growing each day.


Earth Hour is a message of hope and action. Imagine what we can do if we act together.


Join us for Earth Hour 2009.



For more information, visit


It’s not all gloom and doom

I am new at this phenomenon of blogging – forgive my naiveté and my rather clichéd title. But an attitude of gloom begets a reality of doom. And well, I want to correct that, in any small way I can offer.

2008 was actually a good year for the gardens and we managed to accomplish a few notable milestones – small but significant steps.

We’re 5!

November 2003 we opened our gates to Penang Island and beyond. We’re 5 years old now and we know all too well that the next stage means maturity and even more excellence in whatever we do. How can we let our fans down? We must soldier on and take the proverbial OX by it’s horns!

Stephanie & Wee Jin marry at Tropical Spice Garden

Kat pretending to get married...again!


Healthy Meals

We introduced sea salts in to our Café operations. [Whoppee! You might be thinking] but when you compare the price of cheap sodium chloride (table salt) [can be attained for less than RM1] to the more robustly priced organic sea salt – the move was huge. But in the larger scheme of things- a small sacrifice for good health and good practice for both customer and staff alike. I figured a couple less days on Medical Leave from the staff would be a welcome move not to mention lowering my guilt index in terms of polluting staff meals!

This will in fact augur the move to eco-friendly detergents at the Café in 2009 so that we do away with nasty, soap-spewing washing up liquids being flushed back into our precious eco-system. Again a small chip away at the worlds excesses of pollutants but a small chip nonetheless. In 2009, we will begin to introduce brown rice to all staff meals – we’re serious about keeping healthy.

Who knows, by 2010, solar panels, electric cars and “HIRING VEGANS ONLY” may be our new eco-marketing position!


Retail Range

We were able to able to introduce to our retail range some pretty exciting stuff to stretch our guests pockets ever so slightly further. Most notably, we launched the evergreen, ever loved Citronella range for all those fans out there. I learned one lesson – people are such practical consumers – massage oils – only for the discerning purchaser. Citronella body spray – give me 10!

 We also finally introduced, after much delay, the historical spice map — information that was very much sought after by our guests who fully grasped the significance of history of the spice trade that has shaped global history.


Cakes & Calories

Vijaya, our bubbly Café cook, was ever so pleased that she was able to pick up some new skills in cake making last year. She learnt a variety of cheese cakes, marble cakes and cookies which she has been putting to good use. So do catch up with her and her cakes especially during our peak seasons. We’re trying to get her to speak more English, which she is very shy to use and rather limited, but she loves to chat and would love to meet you too.


Fine Young Guides

Thanks to Joseph Teoh (our in-house guide) we successfully trained 2 enthusiastic students from Methodist Girls School to undertake guided tours at a slightly cheaper rate for those who dare!  We launched afternoon weekend tours with their help which has been implemented for 2009 and we look forward to eventually offering tours around the clock, 365. Well done to Chloe and Rebecca for some great work done during the last school holidays.


Famous Friends

Chef Wan and Kat

We had the pleasure of company with Chef Wan who visited with his film crew on the ‘Jom Makan Makan’ TV9 series. He left his indelible mark with a great little quip in our guest book which reads “Fabulous, what would the world be without the wonderful spices that colors our life?” – 18 July 2008

Our staff also managed to catch glimpses of Alex Yoong (Malaysia’s Formula 1 driver) & wife but were to shy to ask for his autograph!

On a more official note we welcomed Li Changjiang (Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine Minister from China), Y.B. Dato’ Sri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib (Deputy Tourism Minister Malaysia) and Dato’ Kee Phaik Cheen (Chairman, Penang Tourism Action Council) through our sanctuary who were all on official visits to Penang.

It was made known to us that Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of Great Britain was in town in early 2008 on a private tour but unfortunately I misplaced his phone number and missed having a cup of spiced tea with him. Next time eh?


So they say the Year of the Ox will bring change and progress (did you know Barack Obama is born in Year of the Ox?) I’m not sure that this mythical animal will bring anything at all and I am certainly not banking on it but what I do count on is my wonderful team and our endurance in facing any challenge with our heads held high. And I like that Chinese expression that speaks of opportunity that emerges from crisis. God bless the gardens…

Join the Garden Team!

Yes we are hiring – Gift Shop Coordinator

It’s a great job for someone on one condition – YOU MUST ADORE THE GARDENS!

Of course there are other qualities that we are looking for too. So give us a call and find our more. Training provided.

Call Kat at the office for further enquiries 04-8811797. Starting 1st January 2009.

We’ll sure miss Divya…

Bye Bye Divya

Our pioneer staff, fondly known as Divya, is moving on. And sad though we are, the ship must continue to steam forward. But first a little spiel about this special lady that has comandeered the Gift Shop from the very inception of the gardens. She was hired about 2 weeks after me and I remember her walking in through the entrance on the first day. Divya was posted at the Ticket Office for around 3 – 4 months before the Gift Shop finally opened for operations. And there was no looking back since becuase we soon realized what selling prowess she possessed – a natural flair for sales and people.

Divya’s meticulous and committed approach to her work has made her somewhat of a model staff at the gardens and we will miss her perfect book keeping, her tireless packing of stock and her general ‘mother hen-ness’ attitude over her baby – the Gift Shop. For under her grand stewardship she has brought the Gift Shop well along and developed it into the delight it is today.

Divya has grown the shop from it’s beginning when we were still packing spices in pirate CD plastic bags and tags rolled through out office printer. In the early days, she only had one stock book to contend with and even that was half empty. Today we need start considering computerizing stock!

In her time her she has seen many come and go, she has witnessed and helped in numerous events, dinner functions, weddings – she’s come early, she’s left late – yes, together we really have seen it all from the inception of this sanctuary.

She will be greatly missed but she knows she is always welcome through our doors – to share a meal with us and a laugh amidst the blue and cheery skies at the Cafe. Here’s looking at you Divya….Thank you!