Hotels and tour operators are weaving Indonesia’s nature, culture and heritage into new experiences for travellers, discovers Mimi Hudoyo
With the removal of Covid-19 red tapes, the Indonesian travel industry is going full swing to entice international travellers back to the country with new and attractive products.
A number of hotels and tour operators have developed personalised and localised experiences for smaller groups, and have chosen to scale up Indonesia’s biggest assets of nature, cultural and heritage values in new and innovative ways.
Four Seasons Resort Bali At Jimbaran Bay has taken a unique culinary approach to mixology by highlighting arak, Balinese rice wine, at its newly-opened Telu, an aromatic herb and cocktail garden. The standalone venue showcases Bali’s age-old traditions and natural resources.
Telu’s open-air design features 100 per cent repurposed and upcycled materials, and an Arak Cellar. Guests learn about the traditional uses and medicinal benefits of arak, and forage with head bartender Sufian Mahmoud in the garden to pick their favourite spices and herbs before getting behind the stove with him.
“It’s a journey back in time that unlocks another layer of Balinese culture, as well as a vision of the future through the lens of sustainable bartending,” said Nicolas Senes, food and beverage director at the hotel.
At Adiwana Resort Jembawan, Ubud, the Herb Library offers the contemporary healthy dining that features plant-based ingredients and responsibly-sourced fish and chicken.
Made Adiguna Kusuma, CEO of Jeevawasa, the holding company of Adiwana Hotels & Resorts, hopes that the plant-based concept will inspire both health-conscious guests as well as gourmands to appreciate rich and flavourful recipes that the Herb Library has to offer.
Alila Villas Uluwatu’s Journeys by Alila takes guests to nearby islands for a deeper destination experience. The four-hour Fly Me to Nusa Penida and Sky Ride to Nusa Lembongan present birds’ eye views of the natural attractions around the islands while the Sail me to Nusa Penida is a one-day luxury cruise inclusive of a butler, barbecue lunch, and activities like snorkelling, paddling or fishing.
Weddings in Bali are also given a creative spin, and this is one that satisfies sustainability needs. The Apurva Kempinski Bali has joined forces with like-minded suppliers to offer a Sustainable Wedding Package, which sees the use of recycled paper, wooden chairs and potted plants in venue decoration, as well as locally handmade crafts for wedding favours.
Creative stays extend beyond leisure island Bali. In big city Jakarta, The Hermitage, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel has curated a number of heritage, arts and sports programmes for guests. The Menteng Historic Tour, for instance, takes history buffs around the prestigious Menteng neighbourhood on foot. This used to be the residential area for upper-class Indo-Dutch in the early 1920s.
Butlers – known as guardians at The Hermitage, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel – also lead guided visits to galleries and art exhibitions.
Over in Surabaya, Aneka Kartika Tours and Travel Services has introduced Tour the Kampung, a four-hour walking tour where travellers stroll down small lanes and meet the locals residing in villages within the city. Travellers will experience the Arab quarter and explore a housing complex tucked behind a 150-year-old Confucian temple.
“Every spot has its own unique characteristics with ample opportunities to meet and chat with friendly locals and children to discover real hospitality,” said Adjie Wahjono, operations manager of Aneka Kartika Tours and Travel Services.
Guests can also choose to indulge in a culinary experience that features famous local dishes such as rawon beef black soup, sate kelopo coconut beef satay, and bebek goreng deep fried duck with sambal sauce. Guides will craft the route and dining spots according to the choice and dietary requirements of guests.