Brand New Genting Highlands (Resorts World Genting) – revisit March 2019

My last visit to Genting was back in 2013 – where I went up to the clouds to attend a concert at the Arena of Stars, a 5000 capacity concert hall. My previous trip was pretty short. The only thing I remembered (beyond the concert) was that I played my first table game (Big, Small) and I stupidly walked away with the table chip; wanting to cash out.

Now, six years later, we only have one objective this trip – to visit the Casino and gamble at a rate (divided by 3). Well, in addition to that once-in-a-blue-moon gambling obsession, we needed a breath of cold air (escaping the haze in Singapore) and at the same time, visiting the newly-renovated Genting Highlands Resorts World Genting.

Initially, I was planning to pay a visit only after the 20th Century Fox outdoor theme park is open. However with the on-going lawsuit(s) after Disney bought the brand over, the opening date of the theme park (whether or not it retains the Fox branding) remains uncertain. With or without the themepark, the major revamp and the new shopping mall and 238947 brands available, makes the highland worth a second visit.

How to get to Genting from KL Airport?

Similar to my 2013 trip, we took a flight to KL (approx 40-50 mins) and arrived at KLIA2.

Note: tickets were <$100 under Scoot (previously Tigerair, smaller 3×3 A320 planes if I’m not wrong)

From KLIA2, there are 3 ways to get to Genting Highlands

  1. Take the train to KL Sentral + transfer to bus + Skyway: 68 RM per pax
    • Train: 55 RM
    • Bus: 5 RM
    • Skyway: 8 RM
  2. Bus to KL Sentral + bus to skyway + skyway: 23 RM per pax
    • Bus: 10 RM
    • Bus: 5 RM
    • Skyway: 8 RM
  3. Direct bus (Aerobus) from KLIA2 to Genting (Awana Skyway): 43 RM per pax
    • 35 RM (Online booking available via Red bus (they have locked my account after i received too many referrals -_- and somehow refuse to unlock it), Busticketonline etc.)
    • Additional 8 RM for Skyway
  4. Grab up to Genting: 180RM per car
    • 150 to 180 RM + tolls

For us, we chose option 4, since there were 3 of us. It was simple and fuss-free – I even dabao Isaac toast + crepe cakes from the airport. The problem with Grab is that you can’t exactly choose the car model. It’s really heng suay on whether you get a big car or small car. Thankfully for us, our cars were of quite decent size (though malaysian-branded). On our way up, we took almost 3 hours as there was Jam at the KL area despite it being a Saturday afternoon. On our way down on Monday early afternoon, we only take 1.5 hours as the traffic was smooth.

Where to stay in Genting?

Most people, perhaps 90% of the time, will end up staying at First World Hotel – the largest hotel in the world by number of rooms – as it is the cheapest option.

For us, we decided to stay at the Theme Park Hotel (previously known as Highlands Hotel) as the more premium options like Maxims Hotel, Genting Grand and Resort Hotel were not available.

As there were 3 of us, the Theme Park Hotel – catering for families with 4 pax – came as a perfect fit with a premium price tag. It was about $125/night (Sat & Sun night) while First World would probably cost only $60.

On my way back, I found out that the newly-renovated Theme Park Hotel was actually the first hotel in the entire Genting Highlands and it had been built back in 1970s. One interesting concept of the hotel is that it is pseudo-luxurious. Instead of real chandelier, armchairs and even a wardrobe, these furnishing was cleverly designed as part of the cartoon wallpaper. I guess that’s the way of them trying to provide maximum ‘imagined comfort’ vs the limited space available.

To be honest, the room we were staying in is not suitable for the elderly. Instead of having a real bed, they had this fully elevated bed (where the bottom can be storage space) and you can’t exactly ‘climb down’ of bed easily. You have to either push your way up or slide all the way to the end of the bed to step on the ground. Then again, I realised that it was probably a deliberate decision to make the rooms in Genting as small as possible. You’re not supposed to be spending them in the room cause they would prefer you spending money at their casino/shops/them parks/f&b instead.

Nevertheless, the rooms at First World is even smaller and stripped down to the bare minimum. At least we had full-length towels, face towels and floor towel – I don’t think First World provides this. Oh, and the best part – free wifi (which was very useful in my Pokemon gym domination during the night). FYI: Not all hotels in Genting provides free Wifi.

FYI: the hotel rooms in Genting do not have air-conditioning because the cool air will just come from outside. Sometimes, it gets so chilly that you will turn off the fans or even shut the window. One of the best part of being 1,800m higher – there ain’t mosquitoes at that altitude; at least I haven’t gotten bitten yet.

Something that I was very impressed with – the hotel check-in machine

Since my previous trip in 2013, I had been impressed with their fully automated check-in machine and I still am today. You can DIY the entire check-in process on your own, using your Passport and booking number (even if it was from an OTA). You can even earn your Genting Points from the member card and all these is done – without even needing to speak to a single staff. With such massive crowds, I guess it makes sense to invest in this all-so-powerful system but it’s really efficient and saving a lot of manpower cost.

Copy my 3D2N itinerary (for the lazy ones)

Day 1

[13:30] Scoot flight from Singapore to KL
[14:30] Landed at KL
[15:30] Took slightly an hour to clear immigration
[16:00] Entered the Grab that brought us up to Genting Highlands (150RM + Tolls)
[18:00] Arrived at Genting
[19:00] Dinner @ Canton-i
[20:30] Went to play the VR @ The Void – we chose Ghostbusters. Play Time definitely less than 10 mins.
[21:00] Spent 45mins to 1 hour waiting for the Casino Service Desk for card creation
[22:30] Casino #1 + Casino #2 till late

Day 2

[11:00] Dim Sum Breakfast @ Good Friends Restaurant (Maxims Hotel)
[12:20] Cable Car down to Awana Skyway Station
[12:40] Genting Premium Outlet Shopping
[14:30] Thai Massage @ Thai Odyssey (Awana)
[17:10] Cable Car up to Genting
[18:00] Nua @ Hotel Room taking down the Pokemon Gym
[20:30] Dinner @ Burgers & Lobster
[21:30] Casino Time again

Day 3

[11:50] Lunch @ A Noodle Shop
[13:00] Grab down from Genting to KLIA2
[14:30] Arrive @ KLIA. Nua + feast at airport (Auntie Anne, BOOST, Isaac Toast) + Shopping at Watsons/Guardian
[19:00] Flight back to Singapore

It’s a Shopping Heaven – but it ain’t my priority

Sky Avenue – a shopping mall with almost every brand that you frequent in JB’s City Square. There were the staple brands like Watsons,  Uniqlo, F.O.S. and Padini. There were also higher-end and possibly luxury brands too but.. do you really want to shop when you’re 6,000 ft above ground? I guess it still caters to a small percentage of the tourists who are not able to gamble or do not wish to gamble but I honesty see and feel that most of these brands are suffering. Either the rental is close to non-existent or there are shoppers around which I don’t happen to see them at all.

On the other hand.. I did pay a visit to the Genting Premium Outlet – located at the Awana Sky Terminal – to shop for discounted items. The selection of brands was pretty decent and we did quite a bit of shopping there. I’m somehow regretting that I did not purchase the superdry winter jacket that I may need for the second half of the year.. oh wells. Maybe I’ll visit again soon enough.

Food, Food, Food and more Food

Burgers & Lobsters – we decided to give this brand a try before it sets foot into Singapore. We went on Sunday night as the queue on Saturday night was pretty insane (could have been a 1.5 hours wait). On Sunday, we waited for approximately 20 mins before getting a seat. As the menu was rather pricey and I failed to make a comeback at the casino, we decided to share 2 main course among the 3 of us. It was sufficient – not too full or hungry – and while I feel it is pretty decent; it is not something that I would crave for and need to eat again. Well, I don’t usually spend much money of food (perhaps with the exception of otoro and kobe beef in Japan), so I guess the value proposition for this brand (food quality vs price I paid) was not very strong. Nevertheles, I would still recommend to try once.

168 RM for grilled lobsters (above) and 138 RM for original lobster roll below. Each main course comes with a basket of fries and delicious salad plus signature sauce which was.. alright.

[Menu below for your reference]

Chinese Food – We at Canton-i for dinner – good quality chinese food at an affordable price. This is a well-known chain (with an outlet in city square). Thankfully, the food is affordable and decent – all the way up in Genting Highlands.

For breakfast, we had dimsum at Good Friends Restaurant (located at Maxims Hotel), which was a popular hotspot and we could only order from half the menu when we reached at about 11am.

For our final lunch – we ate ‘yi jian mian dian‘ which literally means ‘a noddle shop’ at the top floor of the new mall. Pretty decent.

KOI (warning for the clueless) – It is more expensive (than Singapore). I’m not sure about KL’s pricing.

Took a photo of the price board cause I wanted to show that the price you pay for KOI in genting is for a smaller cup size. Basically, the drinks have downsized from the usual medium and large to small and medium; and yet you pay the same price for it. I was pretty upset about the price but I ordered something that was not available in Singapore – Passion Fruit Macchiato (sour and swet; conflicting taste as always). Need to fix that koi kraving? Be prepared to pay the premium ><

Casino – The Greatest Entertainment in Genting

<Disclaimer: Please skip this portion if you’re under 21 or not allowed to Gamble for whatever reason>

Do you remember my awkward write-up on my first-timer Casino experience back in 2016? I thought I could do a better job but I don’t have much to share this trip cause my money disappeared really quickly.

If it is your first visit to the casino, please remember to bring your Passport as you will need to register for a Casino card. Playing (the slots machine) without the Casino card is possibly but ‘cashing out’ is a huge headache so the conclusion is.. just apply for the card. At the Sky Casino (the newly renovated one), the registration concierge is located on the 1st and 2nd floor. From my experience, the 2nd floor one usually has a shorter queue.

Don’t forget to register for a member card before you enter

Anyway, the ‘registration’ process was highly intrusive as they required your company name (and the industry type). No idea what they will be using all these data for >< but I guess they could be checking against your records? If I don’t recall wrongly, croupiers are not allowed to Gamble at related casinos? They also require a photo to be taken and that same photo will be printed on your membership card. Oh wells, for whatever reason it may be, I was upgraded to Silver Membership for free. They found out that I had a pre-existing Genting Rewards membership (probably from my 2013 visit) and gave me that free upgrade. What perks do I have with that upgrade? I haven’t bothered to find out..

Smokers are everywhere but do search for that smoke-free area

Masks are obviously not allowed inside the Casino but.. I wanted to try my luck. I hated the smell of cigarette and I thought that I could wear a face mask (the ones you wear when you’re sneezing/coughing) to reduce the breathing in of second hand smoke but obviously the security stopped me. >< However, I chanced upon this smoke-free slots machine zone at Sky Casino, Level 2 and I stayed there like 70% of the time. The only time I had to brave the cigarette smell was when I was trying the Electronic Table Games (aka ETG).

How to play?

Before you start playing, insert your membership into the card slot. If it is your first login, you may be promoted to create a new password (some machines work, some don’t). The default password should be 12345 or 123456. If you are gifted with the free 30RM, do note that you are either given a receipt – to redeem at the cashier inside the casino – or you will have to utilize your free 30RM at the Genting Casino (the older one). I HAVE NO IDEA WHY THEIR SYSTEMS ARE NOT LINKED but then again I’m not complaining cost my friend had a bit of winnings at the older Casino.

After inserting your card, you can start inserting in your cash. The min. amount accepted is 10RM. The cheapest machine we are able to find is 2sen and they only 5-10% of the machines. Majority was 5 to 10sen per bet per line. The minimum number of line was 25-30 lines so each button click would cost you at least 50sen. The machines were so fanciful and I had a hard time choosing a machine I had the most feel for. The advantage of having a membership card was that you could cash out anytime with ease.  If you do not have a card or you press the wrong button, you will have to ‘call the attendant’ and wait for them to print out a receipt (after verification of photo identity) before you can proceed to withdraw your winnings. It was so lei-chei that I rather just finish up my money than to cash out peanuts. That’s where you start losing more and more money T_T

On the other hand, if you have a card, you can just transfer your machine balance (whatever amount it was) and move on to another machine. With the card, cashing out is so easy with the ‘Genting ATM’. Assuming you have earnings, you can just visit the Genting ATM and withdraw the balance money with your membership card. It’s so easy to withdraw your earnings but.. it’s even easier to insert money into the machines. ahhhh. like the chinese saying goes, 10 gamblers, 9 will lose.

THEN AGAIN, even though I suffered a loss overall, I enjoyed myself at the short moments why I had a win and the music keeps going on and on; with the coins flying non-stop within the machine screens. I guess it was for that happy jingle; that chance of happiness that sinks all gamblers in to burn cash for that moment.

Electronic Table Games

I never planned to play this. I was supposed to play the real table game but I chickened out after observing. I had the intention to burn max 200 RM on table games but the people that I observed playing Roulette were doing a lot of buy-in. To add on, the real table games had a lot of second-hand smoke. Even at the non-smoking area the smoke smell was still bad bad bad. Well, there’s still smoke at the ETG area but it still felt better than the real table >< Anyway, to cut short my long-winded paragraphs, I lost my 200 RM in 20 mins. At my highest I was up by 150RM but greedy me didn’t want to stop. I was targeting to earn enough to pay for my burger & lobster meal but ha; i failed.

Sky Casino vs Genting Casino

I love Sky Casino (cause its new) and there’s non-smoking zone. At Sky Casino, I had a chance to use the Genting ATM to withdraw winnings (which I later returned to the other machines). At Genting Casino, I lost everything >< Genting Casino is also a lot more cramped (there’s some renovation works going on) and for some reason, it is super crowded. I guess the older generation prefers this older casino cause perhaps it’s where they felt those moments of happiness in the earlier days. That sensation that makes them keep coming back; it’s an addiction.

Conclusion

While it’s nice to gamble once in a while, I do not see myself letting this becoming a habit because I haven’t been winning. Sometimes, winning ain’t healthy cause it might make you addicted and let you believe that you can earn money by investing in yourself and your time at the casino.

So.. move along to some FAMILY FUN TIME

Kids Friendly Entertainment

While we are still waiting forever for the fate of the 20th-century FOX theme park, (photos below were taken from the Awana Skyway Cable Car), the indoor theme park has opened!

Indoor theme park – Skytropolis Funland

Newly renovated and open in Dec 2018, the indoor theme park is home to more exciting rides. The viking looks legit and they even have some crazy rides that Is quite common in the smaller scale theme parks back in USA. At the same time, they do have smaller rides catering to the younger ones.

There are two types of ticket – you can buy this unlimited pass (known as preview pass) for 64 RM (price is pretty reasonable) or single ride at 11 RM (weekdays)/ 16 RM (weekends)

Should I be 15 years younger, it may have been my heaven.

More information: https://www.rwgenting.com/themepark/Skytropolis/

VR Gaming – The Void

We chanced upon this VR gaming studio known as The Void and we decided to give it a shot even though it was so pricey:

  • 96 RM – Ghostbusters or Nicodemus: Demon of Evanishment
  • 138 RM – Wreck in Ralph or Star Wars

We played Ghostbusters in the end – cheap and.. relatable.

The whole experience was barely 20 mins – inclusive of indemnity form + briefing + intro video + wearing of equipment + 5 to 8 mins of game play (definitely very short).

(Spoiler alert)

I still can’t get the concept of VR and its charm. We had to carry this heavy backpack and wear a heavy helmet with the VR glasses. For our mission, we had guns that was used to shoot. Initially, I was expecting the game to be like a Time Crisis of Left 4 Dead concept where we had a health bar and we may ‘die’ before completing our mission. To our relief (or slight disappointment), it was a story game and you will still win eventually and complete the mission. Anyway, I did scream a little in the game (at the start) and I was impressed with the wind elements. Also, when you are getting ‘shot’, the backpack will vibrate and you kind of feel a buzzing impact. I guess that’s the cool factor but.. that’s it.

I wouldn’t mind consider playing again but the price should be cheaper or the game longer or perhaps it was more challenging., Maybe the mission we’ve chosen was more suitable for the younger ones..

Conclusion

Haven’t visited Genting Highlands in the past 5 years? It is time to visit again! Apart from the new and exciting changes from the renovation – new mall, new indoor theme park, new casino – you can still find pockets of the traditional and dated elements. One moment you’re staring at marble tiles and the next (after an escalator ride), you will be looking at 70s tiles. I guess it’s a good exposure for kids to see how architecture/renovation/style has changed over the years. In the older and un-renovated Genting Casino, they had european deco (which was probably very grand 20 years ago) but right now it looks very dated and dull. Nevertheless, it’s still a good place to visit, a good place to escape from the heat/haze and a good place to create beautiful memories and moments. The good thing about Genting is that you know it’s always gonna be there and that every new visit will build upon the previous one.

My next visit? Probably when the outdoor theme park opens.. or when my hands are itching for some RM gambling..

Till next time – exciting news coming by next month 😀

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