The general manager of Grand Hyatt Bali and Hyatt area vice-president for Indonesia on his forecasts for the hospitality sector and tourism industry, and what travellers can look forward to upon their return to the Island of the Gods.
Options: How is Bali holding up in the face of a relentless pandemic?
Marco Groten: The most outstanding quality I admire in the Balinese people is their perseverance. Yes, this is definitely a challenging time for an island that has been making its living from tourism for decades. However, the people on the island do not think of this as a dead end, but more of a challenge to overcome.
We are giving our best to work around the obstacles and come up with creative solutions in order to be able to welcome tourists back. We adjust, adapt and make the most of the situation. The island is in survival mode and, although it is very tough, we wear it like a badge of honour.
What have been the greatest lessons Covid-19 has taught you, though?
That no one should get too comfortable, as it would hinder your potential and development, even in a normal, pre-pandemic situation. Covid-19 has made us realise that change is a constant and that we will always have to renew and rethink. Agility is more important than ever and we often need to think about the next best thing. In a situation like this, it’s easy to feel defeated, but this is what we need to brush off and instead motivate ourselves and think ahead.
What is your forecast like for the hospitality industry and tourism in Bali once the vaccination rollout truly makes headway?
I think it’s not just the hospitality industry that has been yearning to get its life back, but I believe everyone is longing to travel again. As the leading tourism destination in Indonesia, I hear from so many of our repeat guests how they are getting restless and just waiting for the day they can visit Bali again.
About 70% of the population in Bali has had their first dose and we are hoping that within three months, that same percentage or more will have had their full vaccination. This, together with clear policies on how Indonesia will open up for tourism from our government, will get us ready to welcome the first tourists back again later this year, hopefully.
How long have you lived in Bali and what are some of your favourite things about it?
I have been living in Bali on and off for about 13 years. The people of Bali have always been my favourite part of living here. Hospitality is in their DNA and I can’t think of a better talent pool for the industry. Apart from that, I have made many lifelong friends during my years here, my children grew up here and we call Bali home.
We miss the island so much. What are some of the best new things to see and do?
It’s a good thing you asked! We have the ‘Le Petit Chef’ dining programme at Grand Hyatt Bali, where guests can enjoy a delicious set dinner topped with a unique, 3D visual mapping journey infused in their dining experience. It’s the first of its kind in Bali, and we aim to offer something novel, something you would not expect to find here. It’s quite an experience and a story to tell.
Apart from that, we opened our first Andaz resort in Asia-Pacific during the pandemic. Andaz Bali is located in Sanur and the hotel takes its inspiration from a contemporary Balinese village, inviting guests to immerse in the fascinating yet balanced mix of traditional and new.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on people’s physical and mental well-being. What apps, books or music have proved to be most soothing or helpful for you?
Exercise has always helped me to reduce stress and to rethink some of the things that matter most. Throughout Covid, I have had more time on hand as I am not travelling as much, and I have increased my exercise regime of running, hitting the gym and swimming. At the same time, Hyatt has been collaborating with HeadSpace for mindfulness practice for our employees and guests. I have taken the opportunity to include the use of its app in my daily life as well to look after my well-being.
What else do you do to stay on top of your game?
I always say, ‘It is not a job, it is a lifestyle!’ And I firmly believe that this needs to be one’s attitude in order to enjoy working in the hospitality industry. Apart from that, I enjoy cracking a problem, and I find it satisfying to come up with creative solutions to every obstacle. I also enjoy seeing people grow and try to coach and support them wherever I can. That’s what keeps me going, and I think — no matter how good or bad it is — the most important thing is to keep moving forward and be happy.
It is hard to leave Bali, but where would you travel to once the world’s borders reopen, and why?
My very first trip will be to Japan or Australia, depending on which country will allow people from Indonesia to visit first. My wife and I always enjoy exploring the countryside, eating great food and drinking wines or saké, and we have dear friends in both countries.
Describe a perfect weekend for you.
The perfect weekend starts with getting the family or friends together in the same place, away from work. It includes a hike, bicycle ride or another activity that brings up the heart rate, followed by long luncheons or dinners with great food and a lot of laughter.
This article first appeared on Aug 9, 2021 in The Edge Malaysia.