Julie & the Lime Tree Hotel, Kuching, Sarawak

May 10, 2010

Lime in a Cat

Not often you get to meet the proprietor of an establishment that you like, who sits you down, buys you a beer and relates a-dream-turned-reality, whose stories inspires and you’d come away motivated, daring you to fulfill yours. While she talked, I would start taking notice at the little things – the motif on the napkins, the way my welcome drink (lime juice of course) was presented, conscious of how space was distributed around the room, and wondering if she had a hand in all of this.  Engaging as the conversation was, it helped that she was a young thirtysomething, and pretty. 

I love to hear of how things came into being, and in this case a 10ft long solid sandalwood table, characteristically grooved with chainsaw markings, comes complete with a story of the effort it took to get it where it was, a rooftop lounge (http://www.limelightlounge.com.my/) with a panaromic view of downtown Kuching, plus a glimpse of the namesake river.  The building it seems had been in her family possession, and left abandoned for many years, and efforts to get it occupied in various guises ran aground, until the idea of a hotel came up. And yet, it is also a background story on the bureaucratic circus hoops that she has to jump through to get the approvals & licences, a veritable minefield I am surely well accustomed to. 

The thing that I really like about Julie & her hotel is how well thought out it all is – it is staffed just right to maintain quality, as evidenced by their no.1 ranking on tripadvisor.com; it does not harbour any delusions of grandeur and over-reach to compete with the four. five-stars, and you can see it in its minimalistic decor and in its pricing; it is sure of itself as a product, that it is a boutique hotel with clean lines and modern touches, of strange bedroom layouts because of structural restrictions and creative ways to overcome that, which results in a kind of kooky charm; and that it is lime-themed, which works well garnishing windows & portals, its little cafe, its elevators, its laundry bags, its airport van, her mother’s pants (really!).  The icing is that they literally do own the lime plantation which supplies them the fresh fruits for the lime cocktails!  

The death knell to any entrepreneur is the lack of a solid plan at the start and the fortitude not to tinker about with half-baked ideas.  Julie has no such problem. Novice hotelier as she may be, she must possess high standards and maintain them, understand her niche and hold (or raise) its value, ultimately recoup her initial investment.

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