Trade Talk: Jean Hélière of Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach

The General Manager of the popular 289-room resort outlines how his team is preparing for the return of international travelers, while touching on his work as Chairman of the Bali Hotels Association.

All photos courtesy of Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach

Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach recently welcomed its first guests after a 10-month closure. What were some of the main challenges you faced when reopening the resort?

Operationally, we faced minimal challenges for the reopening because we had ensured maintenance and housekeeping teams to be in place throughout the entire closure period. We wanted to maintain a high level of cleanliness so that we were in a position to readily welcome guests as soon as the restrictions were lifted, without compromising their safety.

 

Were there any renovations or upgrades carried out during that period of downtime?

There were no specific renovations carried out during the period of downtime — the hotel has always invested in high-quality furnishings and decor, so it is still as fresh and vibrant as it was when it opened its doors for the first time four years ago.

 

What were the top five source markets for guests of Hotel Indigo Bali in 2019? Given the ongoing travel restrictions, how has the team pivoted to focus on domestic travelers?

Our top five source markets in 2019 were Australia, China, Indonesia, the United States, and United Kingdom, respectively, so we already had a good foothold in the domestic market, particularly in Jakarta and Surabaya. Because of border closures, it became clear that we would be focusing solely on the domestic market for some time but we only needed to make a few minor operational changes, such as modifying our food and beverage selections, to be more in line with our Indonesian guests’ expectations. The “transition” was a relatively effortless endeavor for the hotel.

A 50-square-meter Sea Breeze Room at Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach.

Contactless guest services have now become the norm worldwide. How is Hotel Indigo Bali balancing the need for health and safety measures with the desire for human connection?

The hotel design has always conveyed warmth and soul, in all areas, with the vibrant spirit and stories of the local neighborhood at the heart. Although physical contact and movement has been reduced, providing the highest level of service has always been ingrained into the hotel’s fabric.

In wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the resort has leveraged on IHG Clean Promise, redefining the safety and wellbeing of its guests and staff. It has implemented new hygiene and social distancing procedures, in line with government and public health advice. Therefore, we have inevitably had to utilize our outdoor spaces more, especially Sugarsand our beachside bar and restaurant. Which I believe, is ultimately a blessing for our guests as they are able to have their breakfast in front of the ocean or enjoy dinners against the idyllic sunset backdrop.

Relaxing by the adults-only Secret Garden Pool.

You’re also the Chairman of the Bali Hotels Association (BHA). What programs have the BHA board lined up for the second half of the year?

Our main focus is to provide the right information to our members and our future guests. In order to guarantee that, we have created a new platform: welcomebacktobali.com, which can be accessed to get the most updated information on regulations, quarantine requirements, vaccines, visas, or traveler info.

To support the vaccination program and new regulations, we launched two campaigns, #maskon and #sleeveup. Because of their remarkable success, we are now launching #ourbestshot, to show the world that we are ready to welcome our future guests in to a safe environment.

We are also striving continually to educate our teams and communities, to support the local orphanages around Bali and to progress our environmental initiatives.

A lounge area in the Neighborhood Gallery (lobby) of the resort.

Bali faces several major environmental issues such as plastic pollution and water shortages. How does the BHA plan to tackle these problems?

Sustainability has been the key focus on the island. Before this crisis, the tourism industry in Bali had taken steps to significantly reduce single-use plastics in hotels. BHA coordinates several different actions such as clean-ups in order to maintain the cleanliness of our beaches and mangrove plantations — we also play an active role in the community in terms of education. In terms of water shortages, we have worked closely with the Alliance for Water Stewardship in order to identify opportunities for hotels to reduce their water footprint.

Inside a 300-square-meter Wangsa One-Bedroom Pool Villa on the property.

Looking at the current situation in Indonesia, do you think Bali’s planned reopening will be pushed back to a later time?

We have received communication from the Indonesian Government that the decision date will be postponed due to the current rise in new Covid-19 cases across Indonesia. However, our protocols remain in place so that the hotel industry is ready, when a decision is made.

 

The Indonesian government says it is preparing three “green zones” for foreign visitors on the island — Nusa Dua, Sanur, and Ubud. In terms of SOPs, what differences will there be for hotels inside and outside these areas?

Our main objective has been to always be ready for tourism — anywhere, any time. Since the start of the pandemic, whatever policies we have implemented, we have implemented across the board so that we could create safe environments across Bali. BHA has actively supported the vaccination program of the government by providing a task force along with twenty-five of our hotels as vaccination venues. We have also supported the CHSE certification program in all our hotels so at this stage there should not be any differences in SOPs for hotels that are inside or outside the green zone.

An aerial view of the main pool at Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach.

Do you think this crisis will lead to long-lasting changes in Bali’s hospitality and tourism industry, or will it be back to business as usual?

In the long-term, I believe that things will go back to business as usual. I think that the desire to enjoy life has only increased during the last two years and we have received a lot of requests for travel information recently. It may be gradual but we are confident that Bali will rise again, hopefully in the coming months but definitely when the pandemic is declared over.

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