An interview with Rina Teoh, Executive Director of The Edison George Town

A heritage building with character


By Su Fen Tan

An interview with Rina Teoh, Executive Director of The Edison George Town

On our recent #BuroRoadTrip, the team was put up in The Edison George Town in Penang—a tastefully restored mansion embedded with modern luxury and a charming blend of old and new. As one steps into the hotel, you can’t help but admire your surroundings, from the beautiful architecture to the elegant furnishings that spell a blissful marriage of heritage and contemporary design.


Discover more about the new gem in Penang here as told by Rina Teoh, Executive Director of the The Edison George Town:

Tell us a little about yourself.

“I am the Executive Director of the company which operates The Edison George Town, Penang. I was born and bred in Penang, and am proud to be a true blue Penangite.”


The Edison is really beautiful. What was the inspiration behind its design and architecture?

“The inspiration of the interior design is a quirky take on Penang with whimsical touches of heritage. It blends with the timeless elegance of the furniture specified extending to the modern and traditional elements of quality and charm. The hotel’s architecture—designed and built in 1906—was the vessel for us to plant this inspiration.”


Could you tell us about the history of the building?

“The building that houses The Edison was commissioned and built in 1906 as a residence for a tycoon named Yeo Wee Gark. It was designed by an architect named David Nathaniel, and was only transformed into a hotel after the Second World War. During the Japanese occupation of Penang, the building was used as their administrative centre.


The building was designed with many of the opulence associated with the wealthy of those years, for instance, generous space planning and the extensive use of metal works imported from the United Kingdom. The grounds were fairly extensive and atypical of a tycoon’s place of dwelling, housing the main residence and an annexe for the servants’ quarters.”

How long did it take to plan and transform the place into what it is now?

“The whole journey was a total of 24 months. Design planning started in July 2014 and submission to the city council was a few months after. The transformation—restoration, refurbishment and renovation works—took eight months and began in November 2015.”


How did you decide on the name of the hotel?

“Edison was a portmanteau of the names of my father-in-law and my husband. It also turned out that it was the name of the famous inventor, Thomas Edison.”


What sets the guest experience at The Edison apart from the other hotels?

“Our aspiration of rekindling the romance of staying in a hotel for each of our guest is what sets us apart from our peers. The hotel’s brand pillars of alluring heritage, timeless design, diverse culture and affordable luxury characterise our personality. It is with these core values which we channel The Edison experience to our guests.”


What are some of the points of interest within walking distance of the hotel that you’d recommend to guests?

“St. George’s Church, Kuan Yin Temple, Kapitan Keling Mosque, Little India, Khoo Kongsi and the Clan Jetties, all of which are within walking distance to the hotel.”


Any recommendations for guests who are looking to unwind in the hotel?

“The lounge—an inviting and exclusive space where guests can enjoy whilst lingering over a drink, book or in contemplation.

The courtyard—an airy space in the middle of the main building where guests can relax and watch the day go by.”

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What was it like growing up in Penang?

“Growing up in Penang is like being in a close knit family. Also having the opportunity to develop The Edison George Town, it has made me appreciate much more of Penang’s heritage, culture and food.”


What makes Penang truly unique to you?

“The great varieties and diversities of local street food will be what I consider truly and uniquely Penang. Food is definitely every Penangite’s favourite talking point. It has been said many a time that you can take a Penangite out of Penang but you can never take Penang out of a Penangite—especially when it comes to the food.”


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