Trade Talk: Marco Groten of Hyatt Hotels Corporation

Hyatt’s Area Vice President for Indonesia speaks about the evolution of the local market and the ongoing recovery in the country’s hospitality sector.

All photos courtesy of Hyatt Indonesia

You’ve spent much of your career here in Indonesia. How has the local market evolved in that time?

I feel like the travel market in Indonesia has evolved vastly. From the time when travel was a niche commodity, enjoyed by a limited group of Indonesians and when most Indonesians preferred to travel abroad, to the present time when travel is de rigueur for many people from different backgrounds and preferences. I think the fast-paced information distribution of the social media era also contributes to the increase in travel, as more and more people want to see more of the world. The good thing I also noticed is that the local market is paying more attention to domestic destinations, even before the pandemic. It’s about time the hidden gems of Indonesia get the proper recognition they deserve.

 

What excites you most about Indonesia’s hospitality scene right now?

As we all know, the travel and hospitality scene is changing rapidly, especially in the wake of the pandemic. However, now more than ever, I think this is the right time to be creative, to change the way we look at things, push boundaries, and whip up new strategies. This is an exciting time to be bold and create refreshing outlooks and outputs for the market, which I am sure has been longing to discover improved ways to travel. Another thing that I am excited about is the opening of Andaz Bali. This is the first Andaz brand in Indonesia, and the first Andaz resort in Asia, so it is exciting to bring a new experience with new colors and a new character to the hospitality scene in Bali.

 

Inside the lobby at the brand-new Andaz Bali resort in Sanur.

It’s been a tough year for us all. Are you seeing signs of a domestically driven recovery in Indonesia and Bali in particular?

Yes, very much so. With the industry moving fast to ensure that the needed measures and protocols are being put in place, not to mention the vaccination drive that has been going rapidly and effectively, I feel like the trust and confidence from travelers are improving and will be restored relatively quickly. Grand Hyatt Bali and Hyatt Regency Bali recently hosted a vaccine drive, and I think it’s good for both the morale of our internal teams and for the guests’ outlook in the travel industry. Add to that the yearning to travel and see the world again, and I believe the leisure travel industry will bounce back and lead the sector’s recovery. However, it may take some time before we see pre-Covid levels in terms of business in all our hotels.

 

Do you think the pandemic will have a long-lasting effect on the hospitality industry?

Yes, I think the hygiene measures, the health awareness, the overall vigilance when it comes to the whole situation are here to stay, and not just a temporary trend. I also think that people are aware of that and they realize the importance of being mindful from here on forward. If anything, I believe the hardships that we are facing today are shaping all of us for the better. In conjunction with the changes, Hyatt is focusing on the much-needed initiatives including hybrid meeting service and facilities, as well as the Work From Hyatt program to cater to people’s ever-changing business and leisure needs.

 

The main pool and cantilevered Cliff-Edge Cabana at Alila Villas Uluwatu, also in Bali.

Some experts believe there will be a greater demand for wellness and sustainable travel in the post-pandemic world. What’s your take?

I saw a noteworthy increase in the demand even before the pandemic, and it is relevant to the mindfulness I mentioned before. More and more people are aware of the significance of wellness for their own wellbeing, and the importance of sustainability for the external elements, particularly the environment. The pandemic is merely acting as a nudge to further this demand. We have been implementing our wellbeing initiatives at Hyatt for quite some time, comprising Feel (how you feel, your emotional and mental wellbeing), Fuel (how you fuel or power your body with things like food and sleep) and Function (how you function or move in work, life and play). It’s an effective effort to ensure each and every one of our associates is at their best, which will be beneficial for the team as well as the guests in the long run.

 

In your view, how does Andaz Bali complement the Hyatt and Alila hotels elsewhere on the island?

Andaz is a vibrant brand that factors in the surrounding values and characteristics to create a dynamic home away from home. With Andaz Bali, we aim to offer an experience that is new but also timeless, something that is sassy but still sophisticated. Andaz Bali provides a sanctuary for travelers who want to get in touch and be part of the local community, but at the same time want to stay connected with the rest of the world.

 

The living room of a deluxe Park Suite at the upcoming Park Hyatt Jakarta.

We’re looking forward to the debut of the Park Hyatt Jakarta. Has a definitive opening date been confirmed?

We are looking toward the end of the year, however some of the restrictions during the pandemic have also had an impact on the progress of the hotel, and hence we will determine the exact opening date toward the third quarter of this year.

 

What’s next? Will Hyatt be expanding to other destinations in Indonesia?

We are working on all sort of opportunities in different parts of Indonesia, with some of the brands that our Indonesian guests are familiar with like Alila and Hyatt Regency. At the same time, we hope to introduce some brands that are new to Indonesia as well, like our Joie de Vivre by Hyatt and Hyatt Place. I cannot disclose too much at the moment, but stay tuned.

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