Tumblr trawlers would love Rosa Malacca. The head-turning building in Jalan Parameswara, one of the oldest streets in Melaka, is the latest branch under the family-owned Rosa brand of hotels.
However, unlike its forerunners — Rosa Passadena, Casa dela Rosa and De’La Ferns in Cameron Highlands, Pahang — Rosa Malacca offers more than a comfortable bed and bath. In fact, you may actually be drawn “out of your comfort zone” when you step into the dimly lit lift lobby with questionable-looking elevators against sketchy walls. Deliberately crafted so, the unfinished appearance is to prompt an appreciation for the beauty of imperfection, a theme that resonates throughout its design.
Established in February 2017, the 8-storey 60-room Rosa Malacca is the first rustic industrial design boutique hotel in Melaka. It is easily recognisable from its brick-layered facade in contrast to the backdrop of city structures.
Built from scratch
From an acquired piece of land, B S Kumar and his wife Shazana Ab Jalil (who prefers to be called Ana) took two and a half years to build the hotel from scratch.
“I’m not new to the hospitality industry as I have been helping my family manage our hotels in Cameron Highlands, but Melaka is a totally new place for us. Being the newcomer, it took us longer to realise the plan,” says the 32-year-old who graduated from Switzerland with MBAs in hospitality and finance.
With 19 years of experience under his belt, augmented by his own learning and travel experience in European countries, Kumar observed an increasing demand for more individualistic accommodation rather than a high-density conventional hotel.
“People want something different. Branding and design are the keys to attract them. Lifestyle hotels [like Rosa Malacca] are not catered for the mass market but for the adventurous travellers who are looking for extraordinary experiences,” he shares.
Ana, who is also the branding director of Rosa Malacca, says Rosa Malacca is their first attempt in creating a new image for the 32-year-old Rosa identity.
“It’s not easy to explain the Rosa lifestyle hotel concept to the public. We even had trouble explaining the required designs to the contractors. When we requested for the building to be kept half-untreated, such as leaving the raw walls in the common areas untouched and pipes exposed, most of them did not understand and were sceptical with our decisions,” recounts Ana, who holds a degree in accounting and finance from the University of Sunderland, England.
In fact, it takes more effort to uncover the beauty hidden under the bare architecture.
“There are certain parts of the building we left untouched to emphasise the rustic feel, but for most of the spaces, we actually had to crack our brains over how to make every detail exhibit the industrial elegance,” says Kumar.
For instance, the interior walls of the guest rooms are painted with a special coating that makes the surface look smooth, but still retain a cement-like appearance.
All the custom-made wooden furniture in the guest rooms are also treated with a matte coating to achieve the aged and unpolished effect. Complemented with the wooden flooring and steel-rod cabinets, each room makes for a perfect setting for insta-lovers.
Ana’s favourite spot in the hotel is the courtyard. Unsurprisingly, it is also the top pick for hotel guests and cafe patrons.
Located on the first floor, the cosy patio is inspired by European architecture, created for people to rest and unwind. In adapting the open concept to Melaka’s high temperatures, Ana says: “We refined the idea with UV-laminated tempered glass roofs and walls, green plants and air-coolers, making it a garden for relaxing or for events.”
Fuelled by social media platforms, Rosa Malacca has started to attract walk-in customers seeking a distinctive dining and dwelling experience.
The hotel is complemented by Bika & Co cafe, which offers F&B, and Rs General Store, a mini boutique behind the cafe selling the Rosa brand collection of apparels, accessories and souvenirs like posters and pillows.
More in the pipeline
With the first phase of the hotel up and running, Kumar and Ana are already planning for the future expansion of Rosa Malacca. On the 0.5-acre land, the founders intend to add another 50 rooms and a swimming pool within the next year to welcome more travellers and offer more facilities to its guests.
“The main design will still be based on the rustic industrial theme but the interior will be different,” reveals Kumar.
After that, the last phase will include another 40 rooms, making Rosa Malacca a 150-room hotel, which is sufficient to cater to a bigger group of travellers without losing its concept as a boutique lifestyle hotel.
212, Jalan Parameswara, Melaka
Contact: (06) 2819888 / rosa.com.my