System Dossier: Awana Skyway

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Genting Highlands, also known as Resorts World Genting, is a Malaysian resort complex situated at the top of Gunung Ulu Kali (1,800 meters above sea level). This “City of Entertainment” is located about an hour’s drive from the nation’s capital of Kuala Lumpur and comprises of five hotels, shopping malls, a theme park, and casinos.

The idea of this hilltop resort was conceived by Malaysian entrepreneur Lim Goh Tong while he worked on a hydro-electric plant in the nearby Cameron Highlands. After an arduous construction process, Resorts World Genting opened its doors for business in 1971.

Today, Genting Highlands is a remarkable success. The resort is a one of the most popular weekend getaway destinations in the region, attracting over 20 million visitors annually from across Malaysia and the rest of Asia. As this destination contains the country’s only legal land casino, it’s no surprise that Genting Highlands is dubbed the “Las Vegas of Malaysia”.

Aerial view of Resorts World Genting. Image by flickr user Chee Hong.

Currently Resorts World Genting is undergoing a 10-year transformation project (valued at RM10.3B/US$2.5B), in order to bolster the resort’s international profile. A number of world-class entertainment options for visitors are part of the plan, which includes the world’s first Twentieth Century Fox World theme park, the newly opened SkyAvenue shopping mall and, of course, the new cable car system — the Awana Skyway.

Awana Skyway Map. Image from RW Resorts.

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The Awana Skyway is a 2.8-kilometer Monocable Detachable Gondola (MDG) that takes visitors up the mountain to Resorts World Genting. The 10-MDG system, built by Leitner Ropeways, replaces Genting’s first 2-car ATW system that ran from 1977 until it was closed in 2014.

The new system is a part of Genting’s overall goal of modernizing its facilities to accommodate growing tourist demand. Today, two ropeways service the resort: the Genting Skyway (1997), and now the new Awana Skyway (2016). Effectively, the two gondola systems provide users with safe, scenic and fast access to the resort by flying over the lush Malaysian rainforest. Note however that it appears only one gondola system provides service to the entertainment complex at any given time. 

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Construction of the gondola took place between June and December of 2015. Due to challenging topographical conditions, the Caissons method (used in the construction of bridges and many other applications) was utilized.

All 22 towers were built locally in Malaysia using parts acquired from around the world and installed using a 500-ton crane. The tallest tower reaches a height of 53 meters. Additionally, the use of a 60-millimeter diameter rope makes the new cable car one of the strongest installations in the world.

Awana Skyway. Image from The Star Online.

The cable car’s route up the mountain begins at the Awana Transport Hub at the base of the mountain. The hub consists of a bus terminal as well as a new 8-storey car park. The Skyway’s high capacity and small footprint essentially reduces traffic congestion on winding mountainous roads while freeing up land for other developments. From the hub, the cable car travels up to the mid-station, Chin Swee Caves Temple, located at an altitude of 1,514 meters. Passengers can disembark here and proceed to the temple via a descending covered walkway equipped with escalators.

Finally, the cable car reaches its terminus at the new SkyAvenue shopping centre in the Genting Highlands. The total trip time is just 10 minutes as the gondola zips up and down the mountain at a speeds of up to 6 meters per second. To enhance the rider experience, passengers have the option of riding in one of ten glass floor cabins. Regardless of the cabin passengers embark on, visitors will get a spectacular bird’s eye view of the 130 million year old rainforest during the 620m ascent.

Year opened 2016
Length (km) 2.8
Capacity (pphpd) 3600
Speed (m/s) 6.0
Fare one-way (RM) 8


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