In conjunction with George Town World Heritage City Day, Lifestyle Asia KL speaks to Rina Teoh, the hotelier behind The Edison George Town about her philosophy in weathering the pandemic.  

“George Town World Heritage City Day is one of the significant dates that we mark on our calendars,” Rina Teoh opens up.  

Rina Teoh Edison Hotel
Rina Teoh (seated) and her team

Occupying the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage listed George Town is a historical mansion restored to its full glory of which Rina oversees. The Edison George Town, Penang is one of top hotels in Malaysia, which apart from its colonial architecture that speaks of the multicultural influence and tradition of which Penang is so famous for, is renowned for its unique brand of hospitality. It is conceptualised to be a microcosm of the island itself, where every element of the hotel echoes its locale.  

“Being one of the restored heritage mansions and centrally located in Inner George Town, we too celebrate George Town World Heritage City Day with our local neighbourhood and community,” she continues, despite the celebration this year will be muted compared to previous years due to lockdown. 

The Edison Hotel George Town Penang

Staying at The Edison George Town, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, a collective of independently owned hotels, is an engaging experience in itself, even if all you are after is a relaxing vacation sans a hectic itinerary that includes braving the hordes at various photogenic spots and murals sequestered among George Town’s narrow streets, or sampling the scrumptious flavour of Penang’s street food.  

A proud advocate of state government and related stakeholders’ efforts in celebrating the culture, architecture and history of George Town, through a range of events and festivities, The Edison George Town also curates its own programme to enrich the overall experience of its guests during this time in normal times. 

Rina, a Penangite who founded the hotel with her husband, has spent the entirety of her career in hospitality. As business suffers from the pandemic, it has been a “constant keep-up with the non-stop/relentless associated challenges,” she says. Harnessing the know-how and life lessons acquired as a seasoned entrepreneur, to weather the pandemic, she has had to adapt. 

The Edison Hotel George Town Penang Library

This includes finding small wins as a form of motivation. The purpose is to use these wins as positives and to drive innovation. “As we are still in the midst of this battle with the pandemic and likely having to accept that Covid-19 will be endemic in the future, taking each small win at a time motivates me forward,” she says, citing that as a hospitality player they will have to provide their offerings according to the times. 

With ever-changing circumstances, “there isn’t one set way or answer to any of the many situations which we are dealt with,” Rina asserts. “It is important that one must remain flexible, also a little hopeful, and to accept outcomes whether they may be favourable or not.” 

The pandemic has taught her the need to be better at contingency planning and by looking at the issue faced through many lenses. It has been a constant juggling act. Options are assessed not only based on present needs, she advises, you also have to “be mindful how these would affect future outcomes to the business.”  

The Edison Hotel George Town Penang Courtyard

Amidst the struggle, she admits to the emotional and financial tolls of the pandemic. “It has been difficult seeing all our efforts being lost as this pandemic drags on.” Nonetheless, she remains confident of a bright future once the dark cloud is lifted. “The plan is to rebuild what we have lost over the past 18 months,” she says.  

One aspect that will not waver, however, is their commitment towards their guests, as Rina declares, “They can expect and experience more of the exceptional from us.” 

All images by The Edison Hotel George Town 

Justin Ng
Digital Content Director, Kuala Lumpur
Often think of myself as a journalist and so I delve deeper into a range of topics. Talk to me about current affairs, watches, travel, drinks, new experiences and more importantly, the business, economics and dynamics behind it.