The Habitat Penang Hill
Bukit Bendera, 11300 Penang, Malaysia.
T:+604 826 7677
Eco-tourism is no stranger to any country with tropical weather, & even more so in Malaysia. Amongst the many forests and hilltops that populate the country’s landscape, The Habitat stands as the latest addition to the spread and we talk to Managing Director Mr Allen Tan from Flagstaff Holdings Sdn Bhd, the owner-operator of this hidden gem in Penang Hill.
The idea of The Habitat Penang Hill
Due to our founders’ love for the Hill as well as its natural beauty and heritage, we owe it all to the Cockrell family who have been long-time residents at the Hill. Alongside with their support, the state government of Penang and Penang Hill Corporation, plus the Hill’s operator Railway all share the same passion and are immensely proud to be a part of this mission.
Introducing such a project to Investors
The founders & sole investors are, in fact, the inspiration for our project. What began as a RM3-million project ballooned to over RM20-million. We were very fortunate that the Cockrells were more than willing to invest the additional funds to make The Habitat a truly world-class destination.
Some of the aspects needed to consider in order for the project to take off
As this is The Pacific Tiger Group’s first eco-tourism project, we had to design, build & develop the park, and put together an operations team. Finding the right team is the biggest consideration and challenge as delivering a high quality attraction and experience for visitors is our fundamental. We continually invest in development and education of our staff who stand as the heart and soul of this organisation.
Maintenance Issue with almost 10 acres of Land
Maintenance is a constant challenge for us and we commit a lot of time & resources to this in our monthly & yearly budgets. We ultimately strive to present our visitors with a Malaysian rainforest experience that is as authentic as possible whilst providing easy and safe access throughout the Hill.
How to overcome these Challenges
Aiming to establish ourselves as a centre for conservation & sustainable eco-tourism, a big part of that means educating and/or inspiring people about the importance of sustainable living and making choices that have a positive effect on the environment.
We’ve practiced rainforest harvesting; installed eco-toilets that produce treated water for irrigation & compost for gardening and are currently in the process of installing solar panels at key buildings on-site as well as buying a compositing machine for our organic cafe waste. The Habitat employs both traditional as well as modern methods that require investment in technology.
What makes The Habitat stand out from other eco-tourism spots in Malaysia
We are located at the fringes of a 130-million year-old rainforest and the Government Hill Virgin Jungle Reserve, which is one of only two remaining virgin jungle reserves on Penang Island. On top of that, it used to be a gazette in 1911. The biodiversity along our trail is tremendous and we are still discovering new species of insects & other creatures almost on a weekly basis.
The fact that we are located over 700 metres above sea-level also makes The Habitat a unique highland environment where temperatures drop three to four degrees Celsius lower. With the combination of the Hill’s historical & natural heritage, as well as location (a mere 6km from a city of a million people), The Habitat stands out in comparison to other eco-tourism destinations. Further more, our park is 90% wheelchair-and pram-accessible, a feature we are very proud of.
Tell us about some of its attractions
Along the 1.6km nature trail (the backbone of the park) is where we have canopy bridges (230m in length). Themed gardens, a butterfly bank, rest areas, giant swings, a gift shop (Shop on the Hill), The Habitat Cafe and, of course our feature attraction, the Curtis Crest Tree Top Walk, the highest-viewing platform in Penang.
Favourite Attraction of The Habitat
Definitely the forest itself! And all of its beautiful inhabitants that live within. Walking along the trail at dusk with the sun setting in the valley below, you are often surrounded by deafening yet peaceful sounds of the rainforest as the light begins to fade into night. It is at times like this that I feel the most relaxed & happy, especially when I’m surrounded by nature.