Telling Penang’s story then and now … The Edison George Town

When Sharon told me several years ago that a new boutique hotel was opening in George Town and it was poised to be Penang’s first Small Luxury Hotel of the World, I simply HAD to write the story.

Thanks to her introduction to Eugene Tan the owner, I got to find out more about the passion and commitment which were put in by him and his father Eddie (better known to many of us as the former general manager of the Penang Mutiara Beach Resort) into the project.

The plans shared by Eugene before the hotel even opened its doors have taken form, and this luxury hotel situated smack in the heart of the Unesco World Heritage zone seems the perfect place for a visitor to call home.

“Many countries have a good variety of old buildings, places of interest, monuments and parks,” said Eugene.

“Steeped in history they mean a great deal to their collective community. George Town just happens to be endowed with a unique heritage based on a rich blend of historical and cultural elements.

“We are proud to be part of that heritage. With this architecturally rich building on Lebuh Leith, we embarked on the opportunity to develop a Lifestyle hotel, the first for the brand – The Edison Hotels.

“Our aspiration of rekindling the romantic moments of staying in a hotel is guided by our brand pillars of Alluring Heritage, Timeless Design, Diverse Culture and Indulging Luxury. Simply put, there was no other building like it in George Town, and we were sold on being a part of something extraordinary when we stepped through her doors for the very first time.”

While I was unable to accept Eugene and his wife Rina’s invitation to the book launch on Friday, the event and product (which is a book titled Penang Then and Now, A Century of Change in Pictures by Marcus Langdon and Keith Hockton) deserve special mention here.

According to a media release issued by the hotel, the book showcases 115 iconic Penang locations.

“They are not necessarily the most beautiful sites, although quite a lot of the old buildings are absolutely stunning, but all 115 sites in the book are historically significant to Penangites and visitors alike.

“When planning what images to use, it became clear that despite the many hundreds of old images owned by the authors, finding suitable current locations to feature would prove daunting. Not because the current location would be unknown, but because today so many changes have taken place that the exact photographic spot or angle was simply no longer possible.”

It was also said that the authors wanted the now image taken from the exact spot that the photograph had been taken originally, and the exercise proved to be quite the challenge as many of the vantage points were gone or inaccessible, or trees were in the way, or in the case of the Penang Botanic Gardens, large trees had died.

Some concessions had to be made, especially when substituting drone images as the wide-angle lens of the drone distorts the perspective when compared to the old hand-held shots from high locations.

The authors had their work cut and patience was indeed a virtue because in some instances, months went by waiting for renovation hoardings to be removed from buildings and in others, old images had to be used because said renovations were taking longer than expected.

The end result is described as a stunning book, and a joyful collaboration with The Edison George Town, Penang, Nam Loong Fine Jewellery and Think City, that took three years to produce. “Penang, Then and Now, A Century of Change in Pictures”, offers readers a snapshot of Penang over a century ago, and a snapshot of where she is today.

(Copies of Penang Then and Now, A Century of Change in Pictures are on sale at the hotel and other established book stores. Purchase requests can also be made by dropping an email to:wecare-GT@theedisonhotels.com or calling the hotel at +6042622990)

Images courtesy of The Edison George Town, Penang

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