R.I.P. Marco Battistotti

Marco Battistotti

I’ve been receiving a lot of sad phone calls today … from people I’ve worked with and collaborated before … telling me that Marco Battistotti, ex-GM of the g Hotel, has passed away.

Not only was I insanely shocked by the news, but I was/am deeply upset.

Many years ago (2008), I was not a fan of the g Hotel. In fact, I wrote a blog post about it – proclaiming the g Hotel to be one of the 3 worst hotels in Malaysia. At that time, if you googled “g Hotel Penang,” my review would come up on the first page. Naturally everyone working in the hotel was not too happy to receive a write-up like this.

One day, a very good journalist friend of mine told me the hotel had a new manager and journalists from all major newspapers were invited to stay the weekend at the g. I was like super snarky and said, “Haha … good luck.”

Later on that evening my mate called me and said, “Hey this place is pretty awesome! The service is so good, the rooms are so nice etc etc” and I replied, “You’re a bloody journo, of course they’re gonna treat you guys super good.”

My friend asked me to go to the g and have a drink with him at the bar because it was so nice. I reluctantly went. When I walked into the g Spot, all the marketing staff knew who I was (I guess they had read my write up hehe). Marco walked up to me and introduced himself. “Hi Ben, I’m Marco. I know you don’t like the g Hotel very much, but I’m new here so please give me a chance to change your perception of the place.”

A few weeks after that meeting he called me and asked me if I would be interested in working with him to enhance the environment of the hotel as well as assist him with some marketing endeavours.

And then, I became one of the g Hotel’s strongest ambassadors. Occupancy at the hotel went up and the g Hotel had the highest occupancy rate in Penang for 3 years running.

g Pool

During the 2 years that we worked together, we did all kinds of crazy things. I wanted to do a pool party, so Marco built me a DJ booth IN THE MIDDLE OF THE POOL. He wanted to have a DJ in the lounge so we created the g Lounge. Marco wanted better sound in the lobby so I designed an audiophile-level sound system for him with handcrafted speakers from the U.S. hidden into the ceiling. He wanted a unique soundtrack for the hotel so I hand-picked different music for every part of the hotel and designed the delivery system which is still used to this day. The music policy was a hit and soon other bars/restaurants began copying the stuff we were playing and people started to refer to it as the “g Sound.” I didn’t think the things that their in-house designer did were classy enough so I revamped their whole design identity and created a “g look” for the hotel.

Marco and I created an incredible environment at the g … one that had never been seen in Penang before. I really put a lot of effort into creating a unique sound experience for visitors to the g Hotel, and the parties that we threw are still talked about to this day.

g Lounge

I’ll always remember how he stood at the doors of the hotel and stop police coming to raid the pool parties because they received noise complaints. That was Marco. He took care of everything else so I could do my job uninhibited. It was a wonderful experience working with him and I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.

Marco Battistotti was a legend and a daredevil.

May he rest in peace.

Instagram: @badboyben

The Pullman Kuala Lumpur Bangsar

The Pullman Kuala Lumpur Bangsar

Had a great stay at the Pullman Kuala Lumpur Bangsar over the past few days and I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone planning a trip to KL.

It’s location is perfect (if you have a car) because it’s about 15 minutes to Pavilion and 15 minutes to Bandar Utama, which is fantastic.

The rooms are great, well-designed and very, very clean. I also love the bathrooms – they have a nice tub and a separate shower cubicle with a rain shower. Every room also has an iPod/iPhone dock on the bedside table, which is a nice touch. Unfortunately, they are the older type and don’t have a Lightning plug, which means anyone with an iPhone 5 onwards won’t be able to use it. The wifi at the hotel is pretty fast (especially at night) so I was super happy with that.

The front office staff are incredibly friendly as are the staff in The Lounge. They really made me feel welcome and handled all of my requests quickly and efficiently. The daytime valets are also wonderful – special mention to Ganesh, who took good care of my car.

I like the pool at the Pullman, its very quiet and the deck chairs are very unique, comfy and made me want to lie there all day!

In terms of F&B at the hotel you must try the Tapastry menu at The Lounge (I highly recommend the Grilled Miso Cod @ RM8/USD2.50)

The only gripes I have about the hotel are:

1) Despite putting the “Do Not Disturb” card on the door outside my room, housekeeping insisted on ringing the fuck out of my doorbell every morning and when I didn’t answer they proceeded to bang on the door. Not cool.

2) The valets working the night shift were not helpful at all and kept ordering me to go park in the carpark despite me explaining that I was already parking in front of the hotel during the daytime. When it’s 4am and you’re drunk/tired the last thing you want is a foreign worker telling you that you can’t park in the space that was reserved for you.

3) The food at La Cucina was a huge disappointment. After the inspiring tapas served at The Lounge I wanted to try the Mediterranean cuisine at the adjoining restaurant but I was so let down. I ordered the Beef Shortrib w/ Pumpkin Gnocchi and the gnocchi was tougher than the beef and looked/tasted like a plastic pellet. As a self-proclaimed gnocchi aficionado, I was horrified. Do Not Eat.

Apart from those three things, the rest of my stay was perfect and I would like to thank Jagdish Pantlia, GM of the Ibis Styles KL, and Cindy Yeoh, hotel manager of the Pullman Kuala Lumpur Bangsar, for making all the arrangements for me and the staff of the Pullman for taking such good care of me over the weekend.

I’m now rested, recharged and ready to get back to work!

Pullman Kuala Lumpur Bangsar
No.1 Jalan Pantai Jaya Tower 3
59200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Instagram: @badboyben

Paul Newman – The Penultimate Daytona Ambassador

Paul Newman - The Penultimate Daytona Ambassador

For those who don’t know, the late American actor Paul Newman was the penultimate Rolex Daytona ambassador. It is said that he wore a Daytona every single day from 1972 (a gift from his wife when he took up motor racing) till his death in 2008.

Since then, the Daytona has steadily built up a cult following, and is now considered one of the Holy Grails of watch aficionados everywhere.

The original Daytonas were not really in demand when they launched in 1961, and were relatively inexpensive. Somewhere along the way the hype built up and last year Christie’s auction house sold a 1969 Daytona for over a million US dollars.

Not bad for a watch that was originally sold for USD210!

Instagram: @badboyben