With over 17 years of experience under his belt, Jack Widagdo has taken pivotal positions in the luxury hotel world that spans four countries, including the Four Seasons in Thailand; the Signature Resorts of Voyages Hotel Group in Australia; Kempinski Haitang Bay Sanya in China; Mandapa, Ritz Carlton Reserve in Ubud, Bali. The Indonesian national who spent most of his life in Down Under was recently installed as the new general manager of Alila Solo. Over a sumptuous breakfast at the hotel’s Èpice Restaurant, Jack shared with Indonesia Design his vision of propelling the hotel forward.
What was your impression of Alila Solo upon your appointment as the hotel’s new GM?
A solid team across all divisions with the backing of great owner and great operator; it’s what Alila all about. Nevertheless, we’re not going to satisfy that level because competition is continuously coming to not only solo but throughout Central Java. So, my aspiration is to take this property to the next level. This means we need to fine tune across all areas, such as marketing, operations, training, and so on.
Any strategy or step you have taken toward taking the hotel to the next level?
I’ve only been here for a few months, but training is high on my list. It’s vital that we elevate the training, not just be satisfied with what we’ve had or achieved. We are currently at the forefront of the hotel industry in Solo, but our goal is to look beyond the city. There is a huge opportunity for us to lead the luxury hotel industry in Central Java. So to do that, we need to introduce new events, bring celebrities to the town to do various things for us. We want to be the hotel where other hotels looking what we’re doing. In other words, we want to become the benchmark. In fact, we are already the benchmark in many areas. We are currently the price leader in the market and with that comes expectation; and the guests know about it (smiles).
What distinguishes Alila from its counterparts in Solo?
One of the hotel’s DNA is “making someone’s day”. Our staff are well trained to accommodate all the difficult needs. We act quickly when we hear the guest mentioning something. We are also very proud of our facilities; the Agra Rooftop Bar & Lounge is the city’s highest entertainment venue; the Solo spa’s hot and cold contrast bath therapy is the only one in Central Java; and this month we’re going to launch our executive lounge on the 30th floor, dubbed the tallest in Central Java.
In your own words, how do you define the best hospitality?
There are two simple answers to the question: what the guests are saying and what the employees are saying. In my view, it’s the balance between the two. We can’t say we are the best unless that’s what the guests say on their review or survey.