The Malaysian-born Sim Leisure Group (SLG) is highly regarded among prominent theme park development and management companies in Malaysia and abroad. The group was founded by Dato Sim Choo Kheng, who has dedicated more than three decades of his life to the leisure and entertainment industry.
Today, SLG is poised to be an economic driver for Malaysia’s tourism sector. In fact, the Group has been regarded as a disruptor of the longstanding model used by conventional theme parks by focusing on the rediscovery of childhood fun and a reconnection with nature with the Group’s ESCAPE brand, which is SLG’s claim to fame.
Marketing to one’s inner child, the ESCAPE brand has seen phenomenal expansion with the inclusion of ESCAPE Penang and ESCAPE Challenge in Paradigm Mall, Petaling Jaya. A few more ESCAPE destinations is targeted to open in Ipoh and Cameron Highlands, as well as ongoing international projects in Sri Lanka, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and China. Towards this end, SLG has essentially created the first Asian attraction brand to be exported internationally.
“With the ESCAPE brand, we sought to create a truly different experience using a ‘low tech, high fun’ approach where fun is measured in ‘smiles per hour’. Today, the ESCAPE brand is one of the most trailblazing developers of theme parks, answering the call from consumers for different experiences altogether,” says Dato Sim Choo Kheng.
ESCAPE is home to more than 40 games, rides and activities which leverage the brand’s proprietary Waterplay, Gravityplay, and Adventureplay, which harnesses the simple forces of nature. These include many “world-firsts” such as the Guinness World Record-breaking Longest Water Tube Slide and the Longest Zip Coaster in the world in ESCAPE Penang. Recently, ESCAPE also introduced Malaysia’s first ski slope, a Dead Sea Pool and an expanded Base Camp in ESCAPE Penang. ESCAPE has, in recent times, seen increasing demand from school groups and corporate organisations for fun-filled school holiday programmes, family-day celebrations and corporate team-building sessions, bearing further testament to ESCAPE’s unique ability to gather people after a raging pandemic. Notably, the corporate team building exercises held at ESCAPE is 100% HRDF claimable.
Sustainability at the Core
All this can be enjoyed amidst lush, natural surroundings with ample shade from the scorching heat for some “cool and refreshing” fun. Even the ESCAPE Challenge in Petaling Jaya, which is located within a mall, has taken on a natural setting by bringing the outdoors, indoors.
In this regard, SLG and the ESCAPE brand emphasises a strong focus on sustainability, which has been paramount since the Group’s inception. In fact, the Group’s approach to sustainability is premised on the recognition that the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) aspects of its entire business and operations, are second to none.
“Take ESCAPE Penang for example, which was built on a construction dump! But with our low-impact approach to development, we see such things as opportunities, giving old wastelands and brownfields a new lease of life, while reducing waste and energy consumption. In Penang, we rehabilitated the land, planting more than 3,500 trees, while taking every effort not to compromise the already existing, decades-old trees. Many of our buildings are cooled with lush vegetated roofing and enhanced with window openings that allow daylight to provide cool illumination. We have also created natural paths for drainage,” explains Dato Sim Choo Kheng.
Additionally, SLG has created around 200 job opportunities for the local community since its establishment till today. Moreover, the ethos of SLG’s operations is to provide fun and leisure with minimal impact on the environment, while using low electricity consumption.
Charting the Way Forward – in Malaysia and Beyond
Sim Leisure Group has certainly built a name for itself, while also placing Malaysia on the world map. What SLG has done with ESCAPE is essentially creating a whole new genre and future direction for the global leisure and entertainment industry. More than that, the brand lives up to its name, providing a holistic and refreshing ‘ESCAPE’ from the ordinary into a thrilling retro-eco experience, raising a new level of tourism interest in Malaysia while strengthening the country’s tourism industry.
As such, MIDA welcomes quality investments that involve high-value and innovative tourism products and services without compromising the impact on the environment, which could contribute to a comprehensive ecosystem. This is in line with the National Tourism Policy 2020 – 2030 which emphasises value creation through innovation aimed at increasing competitiveness, promoting sustainability and strengthening enablers. Therefore, projects like these fit the transformation strategies of the blueprint to make Malaysia a resilient global tourism destination.