Hotels all booked up
By Azlan Othman

There is no better time for hotels in Brunei Darussalam than during the birthday celebration of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

This year is no different. At least three hotels are heavily booked for the forthcoming His Majesty's 60th birthday celebrations starting from mid July till the first week of August.

The Brunei International Tattoo (BIT) and the 23rd East Asian Insurance Congress, which the nation will host at the end of July and early August, have brought a mini windfall for the hotels.

It is believed that even the former SEA Games village in Jln Ong Sum Ping will also be used to occupy the visiting participants due to a shortage of hotel rooms.

The Revenue Manager of Sheraton Utama Hotel said that from July 15 to August 4, rooms are fully booked. Bookings have peaked in July. After the first week of August, it will be back to normal.

Sheraton also offers a special rate for local residents at $99 excluding 10 per cent service charge.

Cynthia Bong, General Manager of Brunei Hotel in the capital, said bookings are quite high even from locals who wish to witness the festive celebration around the capital.

"Our hotel is fully booked as the celebration coincides with the insurance congress from July 30 to August 2. We had to reject others who wanted to book rooms in our hotel for training.

"The organisation of the congress is timely as it coincides with the 60th birthday celebrations of His Majesty. This will give delegates the opportunity to join Bruneians in this most joyous and memorable occasion. The whole country is already in a festive atmosphere and the colourful lightings, banners and the ambiance will make the delegates' visit a memorable one," Cynthia said.

The Empire Hotel and Country Club's public relations officer said July 15-17 as well as July 29 to August 3 will be a busy period for the hotel.

He also said the hotel is going to have a special promotion including special room packages, beach carnival and special dining rates on Sundays. There will also be a middle-eastern food promotion from July 19 to 30 with a chef specially flown in from a resort hotel in Dubai.

Muhd. Irwan Goh, General Manager of the newly built Rizqun Hotel in Gadong, said the occupancy rate for July is around 58 per cent. For August, he said it would be marginally better between 60 and 70 per cent.

Over 1,000 military musicians and performers are expected to take part in the Brunei International Tattoo, a colourful extravaganza incorporating martial music and military performances that will be presented in conjunction with His Majesty's 60th birthday celebrations by the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) for 3 days from July 29-31 at the Hassanal Bolkiah National Stadium.

The last time such an event was conducted by the RBAF was in 1992 to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of the Coronation of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

Brunei Darussalam, Australia, China, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Vietnam will be the twelve countries that are expected to participate in the event.

Like other military tattoos, the primary showcase of the tattoo will be performances by military pipes and drums, as well as brass bands, to complement the performers' marching formations.

The Brunei International Tattoo will feature Chinese martial arts performance by the People's Liberation Army of the People's Republic of China. A German team of motorcycle performers has also been invited.

The climax of the tattoo will be a grand finale of a combined performance by the participating bands, followed by an enthralling fireworks display.

Meanwhile, the insurance congress will see some 855 delegates from Europe, Asia and the Americas converging in Brunei to discuss key issues faced by the industry and exchange ideas and information.

In highlighting these events at the recent Brunei International Consumers Fair, Dato Hj Hamdilah, the Deputy Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, said that Brunei can become a medium-size conference destination of choice. - Borneo Bulletin (7th July 2006)