Before Georgetown in Penang was accorded UNESCO status as a World Heritage site, many visitors liked staying at the beach hotels at Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Bungah.
I was driving with my freind Alex Wong along Gold Coast Sepang the other day. I usually write my travel stories in my mind as they unfolded. Every keyword, adjective or noun that I wanted to use was a name of a hotel in Penang. The story can end up sounding like a list of beach hotels in Penang; Bayview, Golden Sands, Casuarina Beach Resort, (now Hard Rock Hotel), Lone Pine, Lost Paradise, etc.
Tanjung Rhu Resort was in Langkawi though. Penang owned catchy Beach Hotel names since the 80s. During pre-Penang Bridge days or before Georgetown was accorded UNESCO status as a World Heritage site, many of us headed for Batu Ferringhi or Tanjung Bungah rather than the now newer, hipster and so called boutique hotels in Georgetown.
Many beach hotels had what they designated as their own private beach reserved for their room guests. Many locals will walk in through the lobby and swim at the beaches unfairly reserved for foreign tourists. A friend in the industry told me the hotels came up with an ingenious idea to protect their beach from free loaders. They hired Ang Mohs (white men) and stationed them like a Secret Service agent guarding the perimeter. It worked. LOL. It frightened locals away.
The bullying of locals worked in Singapore too. I went to a casino in Singapore and there was a Mat Salleh at the entrance screening people going in. Singapore has a set of casino restrictions for locals and the Ang Moh bouncer in a suit and tie terrified local rule breakers.
I suppose it is mere Asian politeness, shyness or a colonial day hangover.
Now with its heritage status, George Town saw many new city hotels being built and is attracting even more visitors. Hotels flourished at the Gurney Drive area as well. Gurney Drive is essentially a sea facing esplanade. Note that not all seafront hotels are sea touching and you may be required to a walk across a busy main road. Check maps of hotel you selected. Here is list of Penang Hotels, usefully sorted into their respective categories : http://www.mycen.my/hotels-in-penang/