EMKAY Group, via wholly-owned M.K.N Group Sdn Bhd, has big plans to bolster eco-development of Banding Island, Perak, home to its four-star Belum Rainforest Resort.
The group is looking to rope in investors to jointly boost the development of the island, senior company officials said.
"The island, which we own, is about 600 hectares. We've already used 14ha for the resort and we are now searching for like-minded investors to invest in 53.7ha of land for the development of luxurious boutique hotels," M.K.N general manager of operations Wan Rashdi Wan Ibrahim said.
The 53.7ha comprises a 31ha on the nothern tip of the island and the remaining 22.7ha at the southern tip.
"We welcome anyone or corporate bodies who would like to invest in the land, but they do need to fit our criteria.
"Whoever wants to invest here needs to be able to develop conscientiously, be mindful of the environment and adhere to the Emkay's green conservation objectives," Wan Rashdi said.
The group is also in discussions to develop 45 eco-friendly luxury villas along the perimeters of the island.
"We are due to begin development of the first villa in the fourth quarter of this year. Based on demand, the villas can be converted into a high-end eco-friendly luxury holiday homes for high net-worth individuals," he said.
The villas, the first 18 of which will be built within five years, from the fourth quarter of this year. It will be on lease-hold, sell-then-built concept and is priced at multi-million ringgit each unit.
Things are also moving progressively forward for Emkay on the eco-tourism front with the second phase of Belum Rainforest Resort completed early this month.
"The second phase of the resort was completed early this month and it should be officiated by the prime minister in November," said Tan Sri Mustapha Kamal Abu Bakar, founder and chairman of the Emkay Group.
"I have funded some RM100 million collectively from my own money for the development of this resort. Phase Two differs from Phase One as it is slightly more commercial and luxurious," he said.
Phase Two of Belum Rainforest Resort boasts 42 more rooms, inclusive of a six "rumah kampung-inspired" chalets, one VIP villa, 36 deluxe rooms and one world-class pool, which all sit on four hectares of land.
"Belum Rainforest Resort now sits on about 14ha of land and we have no plans to develop further. However, if there is demand, we will look into it," Mustapha said.
The group is also in talks with a London-based company to organise canopy tour activities on the island.
"We are right now at the tail-end of our discussion and it will probably cost us about RM2 million for the implementation of a 3km zig-zagging flying fox and the normal canopy tours between tall trees on the island.
"The fist implementation of the project should be implemented by year-end," Wan Rashdi said.
The resort attracts a healthy number of local and international visitors on a yearly basis who are interested in exploring the Belum-Temengor Rainforest, which is believed to be older than the Amazon and Congo at 130 million years old.
"The Belum-Temengor Rainforest is just a 20 minute boat-ride from the resort, and where else in the world is a century-old rainforest as accessible as it is from Banding Island? Nowhere, absolutely nowhere," Wan Rashdi remarked.