Penang is long famous for its cheap, delicious food and white sand beaches.
Now, thanks to Design Village, the Pearl Of The Orient is fast becoming the shopping destination.
As the state's first and only outlet mall, it offers shoppers attractive promotions and discounts on international and regional brands.
After all, who can resist a good bargain?
Developed by PE Land (property development arm of PE Holdings, which also owns and operates The Spring Shopping Mall in Kuching), it is located in Bandar Cassia, Batu Kawan, on the mainland of Penang.
Located just a few minutes away from the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge (or Penang Second Bridge), and five minutes from the North-South Expressway, Design Village is approximately 40km south-east of Georgetown.
It features 150 shop lots occupying 37,161sq m of nett leasable area.
Available brands are Guess, Timberland, Cotton On, Bonia, Carlo Rino, Sacoor Brothers, Esprit, Banana Republic, Superdry, Samsonite, Adidas and Padini.
Since its official opening last November, it has reached 85 per cent occupancy in the main hall. Newer stores in the tenants' list include Clarks, Kipling, Ed Hardy, The Cosmetics Company Store, RSH, Reebok, Edwin, Toyworld, Aldo, Hypergear, Arnold Palmer and Bata. Popular bag brand Coach will open its outlet next month.
After a shopping spree, one can take a break at Baskin Robbins, Make Make, Starbucks, Wendy's or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. And that's not all.
By July, a F&B section is scheduled to open, featuring a food court designed by an award-winning interior designer.
There will also be 13 specialty restaurants serving Thai, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian and Continental food.
According to Design Village general manager Tay Ai Leen, the tenant mix is one that concentrates on value and affordability, with an emphasis on mid-range and premium offerings.
"We want to provide what the consumer wants on a daily basis, and offer that option cheaper than anywhere else," enthuses Tay.
She adds that with the diverse range of shops in the mall - from fashion and sportswear to lifestyle, household, kidswear and toys, as well as food and beverage - it's a place which offers something for everybody.
In the first week since its launch, Design Village has attracted 75,000 shoppers.
Last December, it had 375,000 visitors.
"We are targeting 12,000 to 16,000 shoppers daily," explains Tay.
A designated shuttle bus offers free rides to visitors from Gurney Drive and Komtar to Design Village daily.
"We are working closely with tour operators and tour guides in providing familiarisation sessions of Design Village and to bring tourists to the outlet mall," says Tay.
"We are also working with Tourism Malaysia to increase our tourist numbers and will launch the Travellers Privilege Card and Tourist Card in June," says Tay, adding that they have tourists from Thailand, Indonesia, China, Singapore, Australia and Hong Kong.
In terms of customer feedback, says Tay, people are thrilled that they get value for money deals.
"They also like the convenience of the covered carpark, in case it rains."
Overall, Design Village has 2,500 parking bays.
Most of all, shoppers love the "open air" concept of the mall.
"They are very happy with the environment and layout, citing it to be spacious and modern while the place is airy and green."
Adds Tay: "What sets Design Village apart from other outlet malls is that it's built within tropical gardens with many water features and even a kids' playground.
Parents can leave the kids at the playground while they shop.
Touted as an eco-friendly family destination, Design Village incorporates technologies such as the ETFE roof structure.
It is a balloon-like plastic roof covering that allows sunlight through, yet provides insulation and UV protection.
With wide sheltered streets in an open-air concept, one of the noteworthy features of this mall are the "jewel boxes".
Located at the corners of the mall which houses anchor tenants and premium brands, these boxes are made with Italian perforated fabric wrapped around a web of steel structures to mimic the facets of a diamond.
The 20 boxes are lit from within with LED lighting, giving them a glittering crystalline facade.
"For Design Village, our short term plan is to improve our tenant mix, making it the preferred tourist shopping destination.
"Our long term goal is to build an adjacent hotel and condominiums, and to develop Bandar Cassia as the centre of the 'new Penang'," concludes Tay.
Design Village opens daily from 10am to 10pm.
For more information, visit designvillage.today.