We sit with Marchella Purwanaika, VP Marketing of Jambuluwuk Hotels and Resorts. Established over a decade ago, this true blue Indonesian brand is a collection of hotels and resorts strategically located in some of the archipelago’s most exotic tourist destinations.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I am 100% Indonesian, I was born in Jakarta and I have lived here all my life. I am married with two wonderful daughters; they are nine and 14 years old.

Tell us the meaning behind “Jambuluwuk” as your brand’s name.

Jambuluwuk is actually the name of a little village in the Puncak area – also known as Desa Jambuluk – where our first resort was built. As we continued developing more hotels, we decided to keep the name Jambuluwuk Hotels and Resorts because the word also has a very nice meaning behind it. It means “good spirit” so it has become our guide.

Tell us more about your brand. How has the Jambuluwuk Hotel and Resorts developed over the years?

We have been in the industry for the past 11 years. Since establishing our first resort in 2008, we now have six hotels and resorts around Indonesia. 

Our Puncak resort in West Java consists of three and four-bedroom garden villas, some with a private pool. Since these villas looked like houses we called the resort “Rumah Jambuluwuk”.

After Puncak, we established a resort in Batu, which is a mountain range in East Java. The location of our Batu resort is incredible as it is up in the mountains surrounded by lush nature, boasting magnificent views of the valleys from your wooden villas. This place gives you a different experience compared to the city modern living you often experience. 

The third one is in Yogyakarta, which was established in 2011. This one is more like a city boutique hotel, which is located nearby Malioboro Street – also known as Yogyakarta’s Orchard Road in Singapore – and is walking distance to tourists and historical spots.

Next, we have a resort in Gilli Trawangan, which is a beautiful island 90 minutes away from Bali. On this island there are no cars or motorcycles, so you have to rely on your feet to commute. We also established a hotel in the heart of Seminyak area in Bali two years ago. This hotel is suitable for those who enjoy being around hip areas and lifestyles such as incredible restaurants, nightclubs, beach clubs and so on. The sixth hotel, which we have just established is Jambuluwuk Thamrin. It is right in the heart of the capital city.

What inspired you to be in the hospitality industry?

This is actually a family business and we were all inspired to build our first resort 11 years ago because we wanted to provide guests with a place where they can escape from their busy, big-city lives. Since the first one was successful, we were inspired to build more.

What are the unique selling points of Jambuluwuk Thamrin?

Jambuluwuk Thamrin is our newest jewel. The hotel is located in one of the most strategic areas in Jakarta. It is within walking distance to the city center, big shopping malls both high-end and inexpensive ones as well as the MRT station. You will be able to see unique expressions of the colonial times mixed with touches of traditional Batavia throughout the building. 

On top of the spacious rooms, we also have other facilities such as a pool, sauna, and a gym. We also offer very competitive prices because we believe in giving guests value for money. This hotel is suitable for all kinds of travelers including business travelers, couples, families, friends and others who want to explore the city while staying in the middle of it.

How do you think the hotel industry in Indonesia has changed over the years?

You will always find more and more new local as well as international brands of hotels popping up in Indonesia’s tourist destinations. But what I have noticed is that these days they’re a lot more variety of hotel ‘types’. By this I mean, you do not only find ordinary business hotels anymore but also unique, thematic ones, which gives guests a lot more options to choose from. 

What are some of the challenges you have faced in establishing this brand and how have you overcome them?

One of the main challenges is to remain genuine in our brand and the services we provide to our guests. Another one is that it has become very easy for guests to interact online and share their reviews or experiences. So if guests are not happy, they can write a negative comment, which can be bad for us as it is quickly exposed to a larger audience. But on the contrary, if they are happy with their stay and write a good review then it is pretty much positive marketing on its own without us having to put extra effort. 

Lastly, online travel agents have made it very competitive to keep up with the rates around the neighborhood. So it is always a challenge to be the hotel of choice. We have to ensure that our guests have the best experience staying with us, from how they are welcomed to our services. By doing so, the response becomes a natural way of overcoming these challenges. 

Tell us your future plans for Jambuluwuk Hotel and Resorts.

Our mission is to be an asset to the nation’s tourism industry. One of the ways is to build more hotels and solidify our brand as one that can keep up and compete with international brands. We already have the locations of our next projects picked out, and we always pick strategic locations that are very close to either the city’s central business district or tourism areas. Our next projects will be at Mandalika in Lombok, Bromo, which is one of the most beautiful volcanoes in the world, Danau (Lake) Toba, Bandung and Labuan Bajo.

What do you like to do during your free time?

I like to do a lot of sports during my free time such as running and cycling. I love spending time with my children. I also love taking time off to do more traveling.

Speaking of traveling, if you get to choose to live anywhere else in the world, where would it be and why?

This is a tough question. My answer is boring because I am so used to living here and I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else despite the mess and crazy traffic. Jakarta is home in my heart.

Tell us how do you manage time between personal and professional life?

Firstly, I am lucky that my home, my office, and my kids’ school are all within one area so it is quite manageable. Also, if you do something with passion there are no time restrictions, so you can always find a way to balance everything as long as you have your priorities set. For example, I can take my daughter out in the middle of the day then come back to the office to complete my work. Finally, thanks to smartphones, everything is all within your hands – you can check reports, reviews, inquiries and everything else at the tip of your fingers, so it has made it simple to manage everything.

By: Divyha Pridhnani-Bhojwani