Exclusive Interview with General Manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City Gagan Talwar


Gagan Talwar started his journey with Hilton 16 years ago as a trainee and has since held diverse roles including front desk manager, revenue manager, food and beverage manager, commercial director, and operations director at various Hilton Hotels across 5 countries. Following his successful stint as the hotel manager at Malaysia’s premier lifestyle hotel, the Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Gagan Talwar was appointed as the general manager of the DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City.

Gagan Talwar brings over 16 years of invaluable experience with Hilton to his role, where he has demonstrated a strong commitment to fostering a culture of excellence. Through his exceptional leadership skills and motivational approach, he has built effective, culturally diverse, dedicated teams across all areas of hotel management. Currently, his dedication is to create a work environment that encourages and empowers team members

With his vast experience in Hilton’s hospitality, Gagan is well-equipped to establish DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City as a sought-after brand for business travellers, families and leisure travellers alike.

How is DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City being positioned in comparison to other brand names across the nation?

i-City, the leading Technology City in Selangor’s Golden Triangle, is a mixed development that comprises 4 key pillars namely residential (apartments), recreational facilities (i-City Theme Park & WaterWorld @ i-City), retail (Central i-City Mall) and commercial tower (Mercu Maybank). The presence of DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City, a five-star full-service international hotel, positions itself as the fifth essential component in this mixed development.

The 300-room hotel furnished its guest rooms and suites with advanced technology and a cutting-edge guest room management system such as digital key, electronic blinds, spacious workspace, a mini-fridge, high definition TV and high speed internet access (HSIA). Wireless HSIA is also available in all guest rooms and public areas throughout the hotel. 

The hotel boasts 1,700 square metre of flexible pillar-less meeting spaces and banquet facilities split across two floors including a Grand Ballroom and a sophisticated multi-event hall. All comprehensive meeting rooms are elevated with modern audio-visual equipment and high-speed internet to keep guests connected, quality catering services and Hilton’s hospitality to bring everyone a memorable event.

The DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City has easy access to the prime manufacturing zone of Shah Alam and located just 12km away from Port Klang. It is well connected with major highways such as the Federal Highway, New Klang Valley Expressway and West Coast Expressway. The hotel is 40 minutes away from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) and 25 minutes from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (SZB). Guests can expect a smooth commute to and fro the airport and into the city without hassle.

With the range of services and facilities, DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City is the hotel that caters to business travellers, families and leisure travellers alike.

Within DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City, what form of Bleisure elements could be incorporated into hosting a MICE event here? As well as for business travellers who are bringing their family with children along?

Since the hotel’s inception, we have consistently associated the hotel with the tagline – “Where Business, Leisure and Gastronomy Meet”. In order to ensure the success of any MICE events, it has become imperative for the hotel to provide top-notch meeting facilities.

Apart from the impressive MICE facilities, the hotel offers a diverse range of modern conveniences that are customised for both astute business travellers and families on vacation. We have established a recreational zone featuring an infinity pool, a 24-hour fitness center well-equipped with the latest Precor® equipment and a games room furnished with facilities like a pool table, a foosball table, a PlayStation and a reading nook that caters to the varying preferences of bleisure travellers. The hotel is also the first DoubleTree to open the Eforea Spa that offers a range of therapeutic massages and treatments.

The hotel boasts a variety of food and beverage offerings that cater to guests’ taste buds, including Makan Kitchen, Tosca Trattoria, Axis Lounge and The Koffee. Guests can savour a cup of freshly brewed coffee at the Axis Lobby Lounge, or indulge in authentic Malaysian cuisine with live cooking stations at Makan Kitchen. For an authentic Italian experience, guests can head to Tosca Trattoria, where the aroma of freshly baked sourdough pizzas from the restaurant’s open oven greets diners. Additionally, the Italian restaurant hosts a bespoke bar that delivers an innovative beverage menu from fine wines to classic cocktails.

The hotel is easily accessible through the Federal Highway and New Klang Valley Expressway (NKVE), which only about 45 minutes to downtown Kuala Lumpur. For international delegates, they can unwind by exploring attractions nearby without having to travel far to the city centre. Once they step out from the hotel, they can straight away go to the Central i-City Mall as well as the i-CIty Theme Park across the street.

What kind of flexibility is available in terms of event space and room setup, logistics and dining?

The meeting facilities are located on two different floors, with the grand ballroom and break-out rooms situated on separate levels. The Makan Kitchen, an all-day dining outlet, is conveniently located nearby both meeting facilities, providing guests with easy access for lunch. Additionally, bespoke coffee break areas are directly accessible from all rooms, eliminating the need for additional setup.

Guests can conveniently access the meeting facilities through multiple ways, including direct access from the car park, with three different car park elevators, five guest elevators and lobby escalators that lead to the first or second level meeting spaces. With these options, accommodating up to 1,000 guests at the hotel is seamless. Furthermore, the grand ballroom is outfitted with three LED screens and cutting-edge AV technology, further elevating the guests’ event experiences.

DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City was awarded the International Sustainable Award 2022 by Luxury Lifestyle Awards. Can you share with us on some eco-initiatives that has made a considerable impact at DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City and making them worthy for the new sustainability award?

Since 2008, the Hilton group has successfully reduced its carbon emissions by 49%, while also providing over $5 million in grants to community-based organisations since 2019. These impressive eco-initiatives have made a significant impact at DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City since its opening. As a result, the hotel was recognised as the winner of the International Sustainable Award for 2022 by Luxury Lifestyle Awards.

The DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City is leading the way in Malaysia by providing bulk bath amenities in both hotel rooms and public washrooms, in line with Hilton’s commitment to sustainability and reducing single-use plastics.

Additionally, the building management system at the hotel controls lighting and regulates temperature on a daily basis. Room control units (RCUs) in each room ensure that lights, televisions and air conditioners are not running unnecessarily, further reducing energy consumption. The hotel also has a recycling program in place, which includes the recycling of used oil and food waste from Makan Kitchen.

At Hilton, we work hard towards a net-zero future and collaborate with all our customers and stakeholders to minimise their carbon footprints and redefine sustainable travel, meetings and events.

What do you see as the leading trends in sustainability for the MICE industry especially in Malaysia? And how does it incorporate with Hilton’s Meet with Purpose programme?

The hotel is dedicated to implementing sustainable practices not only in guest rooms, but also in the meeting facilities. We offer clients with linenless meeting room setups, minimise the use of single-use plastics and a stationary station. Additionally, we prioritise locally-sourced ingredients and offer our clients the opportunity to offset their carbon emissions through our Travel with Purpose programme. 

The sustainability initiatives of DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City are monitored using an internal tracking system called Light Stay. Prior to any events, the hotel evaluates the potential environmental impact through Hilton’s exclusive Light Stay Meeting Impact Calculator. In addition, the hotel has launched its Meet with Purpose programme, which enables clients to make a significant impact on the attendee experience by using locally sourced ingredients, and engaging in activities that promote an enriching experience for the mind, body and soul. 

In addition, the hotel has launched its Meet with Purpose programme, which enables clients to make a significant impact on the attendee experience and the community they visit. This innovative program allows clients to conduct their gatherings in a more sustainable manner, with the hotel aiming to offset carbon dioxide emissions.

In August 2022, Double Tree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City introduced its Sustainability MICE Series, as part of Hilton’s ongoing efforts to foster eco-friendliness and promote sustainable business events. This carbon-neutral initiative showcases innovative ways to incorporate sustainability and achieve the social impact necessary to accomplish Hilton’s Travel with Purpose 2030 initiative.

Moving forward, what legacy would you like to leave behind from your leadership, with over 16 years of experiences in hospitality?

Sixteen years ago, I began my career journey as an elevator trainee with Hilton, and since then, I have taken on diverse roles such as front desk manager, revenue manager, food and beverage manager, commercial director, and operations director across multiple Hilton Hotels in 5 different countries. I am fortunate to have worked for 16 years in culturally diverse locations across various Hilton brands, including Hilton, DoubleTree and even the focused-service brand, Hilton Garden Inn. 

As the DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City continues to operate beyond its first year, our focus should be on flexibility to identify and convert opportunities, adapting to changes in demand patterns and prioritising sustainability. It’s crucial that we not only promote “Travel with Purpose” as a mere marketing strategy, but also embody it as a fundamental principle in our business operations in the years to come. I am glad to be a part of a company that upholds “Travel with Purpose” as its ethos in conducting business.

At DoubleTree, we strongly believe that providing exceptional service is not enough. Our services should have a higher purpose that goes beyond our own interests. That’s why promoting sustainability is an integral part of Hilton’s hospitality.

We strive to prioritise sustainable practices in order to create a long-lasting impact that will encourage our guests to return. We invite you to embark on an incredible journey with the Travel with Purpose programme at Hilton ~ Gagan Talwar, General Manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City

I am honoured to have been a product of the Hilton Learning and Development Programme 16 years ago. Throughout my career, Hilton has provided me with countless opportunities that have helped me build a successful career, leading to my current role as General Manager at the DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City. I believe that it is our duty to recognise and cultivate talented individuals by offering them various learning and development opportunities, enabling them to advance and succeed in their careers. Currently, Hilton operates 12 hotels in Malaysia, offering numerous prospects for our team members to explore various roles and identify the one that best aligns with their strengths and interests. 

As the General Manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Shah Alam i-City, it is one of my top priorities to ensure that we maintain a steady pipeline of talented individuals to meet the expanding Hilton portfolio.