He had been running Clove Hall (the hotel) for the past seven years or so, but is now calling it a day. Retiring, he said, though I believe retirement is the furthest from his mind. It just frees up the time for him to go into other, perhaps more worthwhile, ventures. But he did admit that it was the right time for him to exit the business, seeing how he was faced with several bureaucratic problems.
On one hand, he said that the Penang government was trying to promote tourism - and Clove Hall happens to be one of the more premium and well-known boutique hotels in the state, having won many world-wide accolades and recognition - but on the other hand, the same government puts up obstacles which no amount of meetings seemed able to overcome. There's no flexibility on their part, he admitted to me and my friends.
So Jim and Jo will be relinquishing the hotel business at the end of the month. Already, they have stopped accepting any booking and the existing four or five staff will be released. The new owners will not be continuing with the hotel business. In the meantime, he invited some of his friends to Dinner@CloveHall last night. Fine gathering. Obviously, the 14 of us old schoolmates outnumbered the rest of his guests. We talked and we jawed, but eventually had to call it a night.
Thank you, Jim and Jo. Although we know that you will still be around in Penang, we shall definitely miss Clove Hall.