With the May opening of the Four Seasons Resort in Langkawi — the first North American chain to be represented there — it looks like Malaysia has broken into the American incentive market. Although the country is home to several four- and five-star brands, including Shangri-La, this new resort, with 91 villas on the Andaman Sea, is a standout — “the most outstanding beach resort in all of Malaysia,” according to Shaifol Bahrin, marketing manager, MICE, for North America at Tourism Malaysia.

Bahrin recently brought representatives from the major U.S. incentive houses, including Carlson and Maritz, to Malaysia. “At first, they couldn't understand what made Kuala Lumpur different from other large Asian cities, like Hong Kong or Singapore. But we took them to see how the people live, to the schools and the temples, and they experienced the hospitality of the people and our diverse culture. It changed their perceptions,” he said.

Also new is the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, which is part of a mixed-use development that includes a Mandarin Oriental with 551 rooms and 41 suites.