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Penang haven

THE advantage of working in the hotel industry - especially when you're posted abroad - is to identify places in which to have a second home or to retire in.

Former hotel high-flyer's Penang haven

Click on thumbnail to view. Story continues after photos. E&O, BT

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Eddie Tan's first introduction to Penang was in the late 1980s, when the five-star Mutiara Beach Hotel was being built, and he's had a second home on the island ever since.

"Even after my stint at the Mutiara ended in 1997, I kept a home here - an apartment in Gurney Drive," says the Singaporean hotelier with a distinguished career, standing out as one of the rare breed of local general managers of five-star hotels in an industry dominated by Caucasian managers.

Mr Tan's first job in the hotel industry was at Cockpit Hotel (an interesting tale in itself, but more on that later) and he was last at Marina Mandarin, where he was the general manager from 1997 to 2005.

"Many people ask me why I chose Penang out of all the places I'd been to, but really, Malaysia is the best alternative to Singapore and there are so many similarities between Penang and Singapore. They're both islands, and predominantly Chinese. English is spoken here, and then there is the local food and then the hills, the heritage and the sea," he plugs.

Plus, Penang moves at a slower pace, compared to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, Mr Tan, who is in his 60s, points out. "There's that holiday mood the minute you land on the island," he says.

A pace which fits the Tans well, as Mr Tan now runs a hotel consultancy business that takes him around the region; most recently, to Jakarta where he has a couple of projects. Another big pull is his son is based to Penang.

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