Thursday, August 25, 2016

Lombok becomes more popular as halal tourism destination

The first half of the year is usually a lean season for tourism industry in Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Province, a center for halal tourism. 

This year, however, the Lombok Island enjoyed a significant increase in tourist arrivals.

The beautiful island recorded some 2.2 million domestic and foreign tourist arrivals during the January-July 2016 period, and the hotel room occupancy rate reached some 80 percent.

Intensive tourism promotion activities, organized by both regional and central governments, led to this increase in the number of tourists, Head of the NTB Tourism and Culture Office M. Fauzan said on Aug. 25.

Various national-level events, such as the National Press Day and Quran Recital Competition, held in NTB earlier this year, also contributed to the trend, he added.

The NTB provincial administration has set a target to attract some three million tourists this year.

"Within just first seven months of 2016, we have received 2.2 million tourists. We are optimistic of achieving the target of three million tourists," he remarked.

The NTB administration has lately intensified promotion of halal tourism. Halal means permissible according to Islamic teachings.

"Halal tourism does not concern the products but is related to meeting the criteria for halal services. For instance, beer not being served in hotels is required for the facility to be halal," he pointed out.

Halal tourism not only attracts tourists from Muslim-majority countries but also from others.

Foreign tourists visiting Lombok came from Australia, Malaysia, the Great Britain, France, Germany, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Iran, and Oman, among others.

Lombok, one of NTBs main islands, was adjudged the best halal tourism and honeymoon destination during the World Halal Travel Awards 2015 held in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, in October last year. The event was held in conjunction with the World Halal Travel Summit 2015. 

Some 65 percent of the 4.7 million population of West Nusa Tenggara lives in Lombok and up to 93 percent of them are Muslims.

The NTB tourism office has improved facilities and services for Muslim tourists, for instance, by providing halal food and easy access to facilities for Islamic prayers and other activities in accordance with the Islamic laws (Shariah).

The ministry has planned to set up a Middle Eastern culinary center in Loang Baloq tourism park located near a beach in Mataram, Lombok Island, to anticipate increased arrivals of Middle Eastern tourists, Deputy Mayor of Mataram Mohan Rolisakana disclosed recently.

Emirates Airways plans to start direct flights to Lombok International Airport from December 2016. 

Indonesias flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia is also considering serving direct flight between Lombok and Jeddah of Saudi Arabia, Dasep Suanda, a general manager of Garuda, said on Aug. 24.

"Many foreign tourists are visiting Lombok, but we have to study the demand during non-peak season every year. We have to consider the conditions in winter and summer," he added.

Meanwhile, General Manager of PT Angkasa Pura I of the Lombok International Airport I Gusti Ngurah Ardita said the state airport company plans to team up with the tourism service and travel agents to organize Bali-Lombok and Lombok-Bali tourist flights.

Ardita said Lombok, which is located relatively close to Bali, could gain from the fact of its location as Bali is well known all over the world.

Furthermore, Akmal Saleem, an investor from Saudi Arabia, is interested in building an Islamic tourist resort for Muslim holidaymakers in Lombok.

"This resort will be built for Muslim families around the world, so they can enjoy their holidays while also experiencing a spiritual ambience," CEO of Maarij Capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia said recently.

Akmal could not provide details on the land area required for developing the Muslim holiday resort, but he did speak about some of the facilities on offer, such as hotels, resorts, restaurants, and swimming pools, all of which would be built based on the Islamic concept. 

"We will build a hotel for Muslim families, halal restaurants, and indoor swimming pool for women," he said, adding that the resort will also house a library for Muslim tourists.

Akmal remarked that the holiday resort would be located on a private island with a beach area for women where the entry of men would be prohibited.

"There will also be a special beach for men and one for families. All of them will be located away from each other," he explained.

Akmal admitted that he had developed a liking for Lombok and Mataram after visiting the regions.

He hoped the Muslim tourist site will be ready by the end of 2017 or early 2018.

He has invited all, individuals and companies, to take part in the construction of the Muslim tourist resort project in Lombok.

Globally, halal tourism sector is considered to grow rapidly. "The population of Muslims worldwide is estimated to increase to 26 percent of the total population by 2030, giving opportunities to the Islamic tourism sector to keep growing," the Division President of Mastercard, Safdar Khan, said recently. 

Data from Mastercard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2016 shows the number of global Muslim tourists' visits reached 117 million in 2015.

The number is estimated to grow to 168 million by 2020 with a total expenditure value of US$200 billion.

The Indonesian tourism ministry aims to attract 5 million Muslim tourists from the Middle East and other parts of the world in the next three years, more than double the 2 million expected this year.
Earlier this year, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said Indonesia, which has become a top tourist destination for travelers from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries, would provide more halal tourist destinations to further lure more tourists from the region. (Antara)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Swiss-Belhotel properties win at the Bali Tourism Awards

Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar and Swiss-Belhotel Tuban were named Bali's Leading New Resort and Bali's Leading 4-star hotel respectively at the recent Bali Tourism Awards
Swiss-Belhotel International Chairman and President, Gavin M. Faull, said: "The recognition given to two of our hotels in Bali is a clear indication of our passion and professionalism at Swiss-Belhotel International. I congratulate and warmly thank the entire team at Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar and Swiss-Belhotel Tuban, as well as our regional and group teams. All of whom are critical in the success of those hotels and in achieving such awards." 
Christopher MacLean, Area General Manager Bali/General Manager Swiss-Belresort Watu Jimbar added: "Swiss-Belhotel International thanks all our guests and partners in Bali for showing their continued support. These awards motivate us to further improve everything we do." 
Swiss-Belhotel International currently operates 7 hotel properties in Bali's key tourism spots, including Kuta, Sanur, Legian Nusa Dua and Petitenget. The group recently opened the 51-room, 2-star Zest Hotel Legian and has 6 more hotels scheduled to open by 2018. 
"We are committed to consistently providing a memorable experience for our guests and also to fulfil our goal in promoting the sustainable expansion of the country's travel and tourism industry," added Mr. Faull. (TravelDailyNews)

Fairmont, Raffles, Swissôtel Acquisitions by AccorHotels is a game changer

For Garth Simmons, the chief operating officer of AccorHotels for Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, the hotel chain's landmark acquisition of three luxury hotel brands — Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel — is a game changer that will cement the world-leading travel and lifestyle hotel chain's reputation.

"For us, we say it is a really strategic acquisition," he told the Jakarta Globe in a recent interview, adding that the main impact from the acquisitions will be strengthening AccorHotels' luxury end of the market.

AccorHotels is the largest international hotel operator in Asia Pacific and Indonesia. On July 12, the group announced the addition of Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel into its hotel networks, following a strategic deal with Fairmont Raffles Hotels International (FRHI), the Toronto-based parent of the three luxury hotel brands.

AccorHotels shareholders, in a special meeting at its Paris headquarters, approved the acquisition of the entire stake of FRHI via a deal making the previous controlling shareholders — Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Kingdom Holding Company (KHC) of Saudi Arabia — pay $840 million in cash for 46.7 million shares in AccorHotels.

As part of the deal, QIA and KHC now own 10.5 percent and 5.8 percent of AccorHotels respectively and both investors attain the privilege to add three new representatives to the Accor board.

AccorHotels is an operator and at some properties an investor (hotel owner) of more than 4,000 hotels, resorts and residences as well as more than 2,500 luxury private homes around the world. It operates in 95 countries, including Indonesia. The acquisition of FRHI will add to AccorHotels' network 154 hotels and resorts — of which 40 are still under development — in 34 countries and five continents. Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel employ more than 45,000 staff worldwide.

"That means we have got over 450 hotels in that end of the market, luxury upscale. Worldwide, we've become the latest addition in that end of the market," said Simmons, who has been a COO for AccorHotels Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore since July 1, 2015 and has been with the group since 2007.

The three luxury hotel brands are already listed into AccorHotels' website. Now, the hotel chain classifies its hotel brands into four categories: top luxury (Raffles, Fairmont, Sofitel Legend); upscale (Sofitel Universe, Adagio Premium, Grand Mercure, The Sebel, Pullman, Swissôtel, MGallery); midscale (Novotel Suites, Mercure, Mama Shelter, Adagio, Orbis); and economy (Ibis Hotels, Ibis Styles, Adagio Access, Ibis Budget, Hotel Formula 1, All Seasons, Coralia, Etap Hotel).


Singapore's Raffles Hotel is one of the city state's strongest icons, having started operation all 129 years ago. The much-younger Raffles Hotel Jakarta — sitting in the Ciputra World 1 superblock — meanwhile, according to Simmons, has already been rated "the best hotel" in Jakarta by users of travel website and app Tripadvisor.

Simmons also pointed out that the Fairmont Jakarta luxury hotel, near the prestigious shopping center Plaza Senayan, and the Fairmont Sanur Beach Bali that offers a scenic beach nearby, are both perfect businesses for Accor to grow further.

"For Accor, the game-changing part is presenting our loyal guests, customers and our own teams with these wonderful new options," Simmons — a 30-year veteran in the luxury hotel business — said. In Indonesia, AccorHotels operates around 100 hotels, the bulk of which are budget or mid-scale hotels. The hotel chain only operates these hotels in Indonesia, with ownership of the hotels usually belonging to investors, both local and global. Still, even as an operator, Simmons said the group brings "significant" investment into the country, which is seen as a market for "all levels" of its brands.

Upbeat on the prospect of doing more business in Indonesia, the group plans to grow the number of hotels it operates to 200 hotels by 2020 in partnerships with selected partners. "Acquisitions like this will only help us reach that [target], giving us more brands to drive and develop," said Simmons, who has held a variety of strategic positions in the group, including most recently as a senior vice president of its New Zealand, Pacific Islands and Japan operations.

Eastern Indonesia? 

While currently the group focuses its attention on Java and Bali, Simmons said the group will not close its eyes to prospects in the eastern parts of Indonesia.
"Java has the biggest population base in Indonesia, but we are also looking at really good niche areas in East Indonesia. We're very excited about that," he said.

In October last year, AccorHotels set a new milestone in Indonesia by launching its 100th hotel, the Novotel Makassar Grand Shayla City Center in South Sulawesi, marking its first sojourn into the eastern parts of Indonesia.
Simmons said AccorHotels is also eyeing Lombok, with the group set to operate a Pullman hotel currently being developed in the island.

Like many players in the hospitality businesses, the hotel chain would also welcome stronger government effort to improve infrastructure in the island. "We need the government to continue to invest [in infrastructure] to make sure that Lombok has an international-standard airport," he said, arguing that this will encourage more people to travel and stay on the island. A veritable rival to Bali with its picturesque beaches and prime surfing spots, Lombok nevertheless still lags behind the Island of the Gods in tourism dollars, as poor infrastructure and lackluster resort development kept people away from the island.

Meanwhile, in terms of general business climate in the hotel industry, Simmons said the industry also felt the impact of the economic slowdown in the last few years. He said growth in the industry is "very static" at the moment. However, the hotel chain is more than confident that the country's economy will recover sooner rather than later.

"There are 250 million people living in this country and 80 million of them are the middle class. And they constantly travel, both for business and for pleasure," Simmons said.
"We see a strong future ahead, that's why we've invested significantly in Indonesia. We already have a very strong head office here in Jakarta, the only way is up from now on."(Jakarta Globe)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Experience world-class service at Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort

This property is 3 minutes walk from the beach. Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort boasts facilities such as an outdoor infinity pool, a fitness centre and a spa. Each room comes with a hot tub and free Wi-Fi access is provided on its premises.

The resort is within a 15-minute drive of the Hindu temple, Pura Luhur Uluwatu and Nusa Dua Beach. A 20-minute drive leads to Garuda Wisnu Kencana cultural park. Ngurah Rai International Airport is a 40-minute drive away. A free shuttle service is available to Padang Beach.

Fitted with a living area, luxurious air-conditioned accommodation feature a flat-screen TV, an iPod dock and a personal safe. Coffee/tea making facilities and a minibar are included. Select accommodation offer pool access or ocean views.

360 Restaurant serves hot plate teppanyaki dishes, alongside international cuisine. Splash Restaurant offers Mediterranean specialities. Alternatively, in-room dining is possible.

Staff at the 24-hour front desk can assist with luggage storage, airport shuttle or transport rental services. Guests can also enjoy daily on-site activities like Balinese dance lesson, yoga class, ceramic making, and batik making workshop. 

This is our guests' favourite part of Uluwatu, according to independent reviews.
We speak your language!
Anantara Uluwatu Bali Resort has been welcoming guests since 4 Jun 2012
Hotel Rooms: 74, Hotel Chain: Anantara Hotels & Resorts 

Jl Pemutih, Labuan Sait, Uluwatu, id, 80361 Uluwatu, Indonesia Great location - show map 


Monday, August 22, 2016


Batak Ulos
For the Batak ethnic group of Lake Toba in North Sumatra, - as indeed with other communities in Indonesia, - their meticulously handwoven textiles, known as “ulos” are not merely made to wear as clothing, but are significant symbols of status, serve as precious heirlooms, or are ceremonial gifts during rites in human’s life cycle from births and weddings to deaths.
Traditionally, weaving was the task of women only, and men were prohibited from the work, since it is believed that while weaving, women imbue the cloth with symbolic values connected with women’s role in caring for family, children and the community. Whilst men’s duty is the protection of family and village.
Therefore weaving can be done only during leisure time while women tend to home and children. It is small wonder, then, that one cloth may take months to complete.
Batak textiles use mostly cotton yarn, while colors are produced by immersing the yarn in plant dye. The blue color comes from the indigo plant, red is made from sappanwood and morinda which grow abundantly in the tropics. Yellow comes from turmeric, whereas black is produced by mixing morinda with indigo, and green is a mix of indigo and turmeric.
Most ulos have either blue, dark red, black or white backgrounds. White denotes purity, black eternity and red bravery.
Textiles are woven on back-strap or body tension looms, where tension is created by the weight of the seated weaver who leans against the back strap.  That is the reason why this type of hand-woven cloths can only be made as wide as the arms’ span of the weaver.
With modernization, the ATBM (alat tenun bukan mesin) or the non-mechanized upright loom was introduced. Cotton yarn is now also bought rather than made personally, and more synthetic colorings are used, purchased in stores to make the cheaper versions for use in modern designer dresses or for sale to tourists.
Among the different kinds of ulos, the ulos sibolang is the one most commonly used. This is the blue ulos with light blue patterns with arrowhead patterns. This ulos is used as sarong or shoulder shawl, known as selendang.
The ulos ragi hotang or the spotted rattan cloth is used at weddings when the ulos is draped around both bride and groom’s shoulders with wishes that, like the rattan, the marriage will be long lasting with strong conjugal bonds. The ulos ragi hotang is also used at the birth of a baby boy. This ulos has usually a particularly beautifully designed broad edge, finished off with tassels.  
The ulos ragi hidup (or the pattern of life), on the other hand, is one that can be worn only by men or by their widows in special ceremonies. This beautiful ulos consists of a main red field (or badan) with two white strips of finely decorated pieces at top and bottom ends. Two red side strips are then sewn onto the entire piece, making this a large ulos.
Today, around Lake Toba it is not easy to find women weaving in front of their houses.  But,  truly traditional ulos cloths are still made in the three villages of Tongging, Paropo and Silalahi – known as sitelu huta (three villages)  –  on the northwestern shore of Lake Toba. However, trading areas are at Pematang Siantar or atBalige. You can also easily find a large number of ulos sold in souvenir shops or handicraft stalls in Tomokor Tuktuk.
Therefore, when buying an ulos do feel the texture of the material. If this is too supple and smooth, then it is likely machine made with synthetic dyes, whereas the original hand woven pieces feel rougher to the touch.   Of course the original handwoven ulos pieces do not come cheap. (


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