Altering a hospitality concept from a public establishment into a five-star boutique hotel is not an easy feat to pull off, and especially when it has to be done in Malang, a quaint city unlike the large metropolitan cities of Jakarta and Surabaya. This was the challenge faced by the hotel management team under the helm of Lily Jessica Tjokrosetio, the director of The Shalimar Boutique Hotel. Together with the General Manager of The Shalimar, Sanjoyo Tjokro, they sat with Indonesia Design and shared details about the tricks that are needed to conquer the increasingly tight competition of the hotel industry and how to win over their guests’ hearts by pampering them with exceptional service.
What was the initial concept that you had envisioned when this Malang hotel was to be reinvented with a new look?
We wanted the main concept to portray Indonesian Dutch Hospitality, a colonial heritage concept that is expressed throughout the hotel with an in-depth approach. It is a concept that showcases the friendly nature of the Indonesian people, merged with a historical building with an art deco-inspired interior design.
How did you end up with Hidajat Endramukti of Endramukti Design as the designer in the hotel’s renovation project?
He is famous for his heritage-style in his interior designs, and he is also a good friend. We both have the same passion in restoring the historical values of a building, especially an old construction like The Shalimar.
The hotel is located in Malang. How do you see this city in terms of a target market that suits The Shalimar as an upscale establishment?
Malang is a favourite holiday destination for many travellers. The market has expanded over the years, and as we all know, there is a limited number of five-star establishments in this city. We also believed that many holiday makers would be interested in staying in a historical building that had been beautifully preserved, complete with an array of facilities available at their leisure, from good food to impeccable service.
And has it happened in reality?
We have welcomed a large number of tourists, from business travellers to holidaying families. Most are domestic travellers who come from large cities across Indonesia such as Jakarta and Surabaya. There are also foreign tourists who mostly come from Europe. Lately we have had a surge of Singaporean visitors who have come to stay in our hotel.
What plus points and unique qualities does that The Shalimar offer in terms of its colonial heritage elements?
When we talk about our unique competency, our restaurant serves a variety of dishes with authentic traditional flavours. We would like to promote Indonesian food that was served during the Dutch colonial times. To complement that, on the walls throughout the hotel we also display a series of photographs that present images of Indonesia during the Dutch occupation era. In addition, there are also various books about the culture and tradition of Indonesia that guests can borrow and read. In essence, we have prepared this hotel to promote Indonesia in general and Malang in particular.
Has it been quite a challenge for the management team?
Our biggest challenge is to introduce and communicate the new brand of ‘The Shalimar’ from what it was previously ‘Graha Cakra’. We would like our customers to experience the whole new concept with top-notch services while at the same time promoting the true value and concept of The Shalimar.
What are the main attractions of The Shalimar in terms of facilities and service?
Facility-wise, we have the de Hemel Restaurant. Dining at the de Hemel Restaurant is a true experience in itself because it offers exquisite Holland-inspired flavours that are skillfully merged with local and Asian tastes.
In addition, there is the cozy Zestien Terrace and Lounge with its semi-alfresco setting that is located adjacent to the swimming pool. Here guests can enjoy tempo doeloe (old-style) delicacies served with a cup of coffee or tea while engaging in a relaxed conversation with families or friends. This place also offers a great selection of cocktails and wines.
There is also the Soga Boutique, an exclusive one-stop shop that should not be missed as it sells beautifully crafted ethnic and traditional handicrafts, as well as various accessories designed by local artists. Next to it is a library that is designed for guests to have a leisurely read or a quiet chat with friends. There are various reference books available, with topics that include history, culture and arts. We also have the de Tjakra Hall, Taman Aroem Spa, a fitness center, a swimming pool and a business center.
In terms of service, our friendly staff are always ready to offer their personal know-how to all our guests should they need information about local landmarks, destinations or culinary traits. It is our aim to make your stay feel like home away from home.