Hospitality Asia (HA), a regional hospitality, F&B and travel magazine celebrated its 20th anniversary on 21 November 2014 at the Berjaya Times Square Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, attended by leading icons and personalities in the hospitality industry from Malaysia and across the region, family, friends, and clients.
While waiting for the girls to arrive I kept myself occupied playing the electronic dart machines from iDarts as well as the racing simulators. As more people trickled in I bumped into some familiar faces from the hotel/ F&B industry and managed to catch up with them over some Pisco cocktails.
The party was hosted and organised by founder and Chief Executive Officer, Jennifer Ong of WAP Asia Group Sdn Bhd, to celebrate the team’s achievements, HA’s 20-year journey, and its sustainable contribution and impact in the hospitality industry for the past two (2) decades. The night was also a one-stop venue to showcase WAP Asia Group’s standard of professional services provided in Publishing, Awards and Events Management.
Speaking at the event, Jennifer detailed the history of the magazine and how HA is now the most recognised magazine within the hospitality industry in Asia and the one that provides an informative platform for most professionals working within the industry. “HA has been through 20 years of trials and tribulations but also many amazing achievements. The success of HA as a trusted publication stems from the strong partnerships we have enjoyed over the last 20 years with various brands, operators and members of the industry. Our clients have been very supportive throughout these years,” said Jennifer.
She added: “After working in Singapore for 5 years, I returned to Malaysia in 1994 with my late husband, Stevens Ernest. We identified an opportunity to produce trade publications in Malaysia. With very limited funds, we established a publishing company in Malaysia and Singapore named as E&O Media Asia representing Ernest & Ong. After many challenging months, we launched our first publication, Hospitality Asia and subsequently, Retail World Asia. After a few years of publishing trade journals, WAP decided to venture into consumer publications and launched several consumer titles, namely Travel & Dine Asia, Fitness & Health Asia, Motor & Boats Asia as well as Working Woman Asia.”
Apart from the beers by Guinness Anchor Berhad, and cocktails from Marini’s on 57, we also got to try some special cocktails made from Pisco which is a white spirit distilled from fermented grape juice, a wine and the national drink of Peru. Pisco was created in the 16th century in the Pisco valley, although today producing valleys are located in Lima, Ica, Moquegua and Tacna regions.
By Peruvian law which refers to a technical norm, there are certain requirements an alcoholic beverage must meet in order to legally be called “pisco”. The spirit must be made from one or a blend of eight specific grape varieties grown in Peru. It must also be distilled to proof and no water, artificial flavouring, wood aging, or additives may change the pure essence of the distillate.
We got to enjoy lots of delicious food prepared by eight HAPA (Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards) Award-Winning Chefs from the region, a variety of desserts prepared by the pastry chefs from the Academy of Pastry Arts Malaysia, signature drinks by mixologists from Marini’s on 57, and a deejay set staged in a stylish and chic ambiance.
Hospitality Asia has gone through two major facelifts since the inaugural issue with the current redesigned issue branded simply as HA, HAPA bills it as the latest and most innovative to date, helping readers keeps abreast of the latest trends.
In 2002, an Awards Programme to recognise establishments and people in the hospitality industry, particularly people from the back-of-the-house, was conceived. It was Jennifer’s vision to create an industry awards programme supported by fellow industry players to recognise and reward the ‘unsung heroes’ for their hard work and dedication and, at the same time, elevating the benchmark for excellence. After long consultation with leading professionals within the hospitality trade, Jennifer launched the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards (HAPA).
I’ve actually attended the latest HAPA awards and you can read more about that here – https://timchew.net/2014/05/12/hapa-gab-excellence-awards-2013-2014/
The HAPA Awards Series is known as the ‘Oscars of Hospitality’, and is designed to set the benchmark par excellence, elevating the hospitality industry to greater heights. The programme is an audit system, specially designed to identify, acknowledge and salute those in the industry who are pushing boundaries, elevating service standards within hospitality. The Awards Programme was also designed to elevate service and quality standards to a level where they meet international standards of world-class excellence. The HAPA brand firmly endorses credibility and integrity,” added Jennifer.
At the party, WAP Asia Group announced HAPA’s 13th Series and HAPA Regional’s 3rd Series, which will take place in 2015 and will cover 6 countries in South East Asia. Nominations for the HAPA Regional 2015-2017 Series is now open for submission, with a total of 32 categories. The HAPA panel of judges consist of professionals from the hospitality industry, corporate firms and media sectors. HAPA has always been aware of its corporate and social responsibilities and that of the industry. Thus the HAPA Awards Series has provided the perfect platform for CSR activities and WAP has worked with several charity foundations to ensure that the HAPA Awards benefit a broader community other than the one it serves.
One unique initiative undertaken by HA is the Chefs & Cuisine Experience (CCE), designed to make fine dining unique and exciting whilst maintaining a degree of exclusivity. This annual event also presents itself as an opportunity for exclusive social interaction amongst the host, guests, chefs, food and beverage experts and wine sommeliers via an unconventional setting which will see guests moving freely around to taste various types of imported food and beverages, socialise, network and enjoy a course-by-course dinner.
“The gastronomic part of the event is an open kitchen with HAPA Award-Winning Chefs showcasing their culinary skills and interacting with guests while they cook. Guests will have the opportunity to mingle with the chefs throughout the night to learn new skills. As part of our out-of-the-box concept, all guests are invited to the bar to pick their choice of beverages and to take their seats at a different table during pre-selected courses” mentioned Jennifer.
Jennifer added “With our 20-year milestone, we are re-launching Hospitality Asia with a fresh look, contemporary layout and more exciting features mixed with some light reading articles. The new HA features three sections for industry professionals, corporates and leisure travellers. Copies of the magazine are placed at selected hospitality establishments, private banking halls, airport lounges as well as onboard Malaysia Airlines First and Business Class for review”.
The company is constantly growing and evolving with the times. WAP has progressed from a pure publishing house to a company specialising in Awards Management as well as Events Design and Management. Under the new consolidation, the WAP Asia Group now has three brands – HA (Hospitality Asia), HAPA (Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards) and MAD (Make A Difference), being our latest addition.
The strong, unwavering and dedicated leadership of Jennifer Ong was rewarded when she was nominated for the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Award for the Women Entrepreneur of the Year 2011 as well as the EY Entrepreneur of the Year (Women Category), 2014 Malaysia by Ernst & Young. A dynamic entrepreneur in her own right, Jennifer Ong, founder of HA, HAPA and MAD, remains as hands-on and as committed to the business as the day she started it 20 years ago.
More info at http://hapa.asia/