Book ship Doulos turned into hotel on land


PETALING JAYA: The floating bookshop MV Doulos, which made annual calls at Malaysian ports, has been saved from shipbreakers and turned into a hotel on land on Bintan island, Indonesia, near Singapore.

Operated by Christian missionaries, the century-old ship was a familiar visitor to Port Klang, Penang and other Malaysian ports over the past four decades, and was the world’s oldest ocean-going passenger ship.

Singaporean businessman Eric Saw, 64, who spent S$2 million to save it from the scrapyard in 2010, is turning it into a luxury hotel on land beside the Bandar Bentan Telani ferry terminal in Bintan, an hour from Singapore, according to the Singapore Straits Times.

He hopes to open the hotel by Christmas or early next year after refurbishment costing S$20-$25 million. Renamed Doulos Phos, the ship will house a maritime museum, swimming pool, library, spa, piano lounge and an amphitheatre, the report said.

Christened Doulos Phos The Hotel on Friday, the ship’s eight decks will reflect different periods of its history while a presidential suite of more than 1,000 sq ft will occupy the captain’s deck.

The engine room and bridge, which contains a century-old compass, will be retained and turned into a museum, and old wash basins and the frames of bunk beds reused.

Saw, a director of a food and beverage company, intends to donate the profits from the hotel to charity.

The ship began life in 1914 as a freighter and transported onions, troops and supplies during the two world wars, then converted into a liner for first-class passengers before being bought by German-based Christian charity Good Books for All.

Over the next 32 years, Doulos sailed to more than 100 countries as the world’s largest floating bookshop, but was put up for sale in 2008 when it became too expensive to run and renovate.