– Agus Suananda General Manager of Wyndham Tamansari Jivva Resort Bali
This edition, we talk to Agus Suananda, GM of international chain Wyndham's first property in Indonesia – Wyndyam Tamansari Jivva Resort Bali – about professional challenges, then head over to Surabaya to talk to JW Marriott's General Manager Colin Young about his passion for hospitality and memorable moments.
Agus Suananda, whilst still at university, was inspired by his work placement at The Oberoi in the 1990s and fell in love with the hospitality industry. Starting out in the Room Divisions and making his way up through the ranks from receptionist to assistant front office manager at Risata Bali Resort, today, Agus is a Certified Hotel Administrator and heads the world’s largest international hotel chain Wyndham’s first property in Indonesia.
Q: Bali is famous for its hospitality, how long have you been in the industry and what motivated you to pursue this career?
A: I was born and raised in northern Bali and studied here at the tourism university based on an idea I had in high school that being a tour guide might be interesting work. So now, 27 years later, I think it is fair to say my passion is definitely in hospitality. I always love to meet new people and I take great satisfaction in ensuring guests are happy, even today.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge in your professional life?
A: Without a doubt being on the postopening team of Waka Nusa Resort on the tiny island of Nusa Lembongan, just off mainland Bali. At that time, it was the first property on the island and every single employee was from the same village and, obviously, had little formal work experience. We Balinese pride ourselves on our culture, but anytime there was ritual or ceremony, everyone simply wanted to prioritise that. In fact, even if they were on the resort, their mind was still at home! It took the team several months to understand and comply with the company's policy and operating procedures. It was intensive, continual training. It was a great challenge but one we overcame.
Q: Opening the first property on Nusa Lembongan must have been extremely difficult, how did you cope with the lack of infrastructure?
A: There were daily fast boats but the last one left the island at 4PM, so if you had a problem after that, for example with the
generator, then there was no-one to repair it, no spare parts on the island and thus no electricity. So we adapted and made sure to always clearly communicate with our guests and manage stocks well. It was a unique and memorable experience.
Q: Wyndham Tamansari Jivva Resort Bali is the first up-scale resort in the area, how is that working out?
A: This was the first Wyndham resort in Indonesia and we have worked hard to educate and train staff in providing excellent service and promoting guest satisfaction. Our Klungklung location might seem a challenge but, in fact, that is mainly because tourists are relatively unfamiliar with this area. We aim to change that.
Q: What does this resort have to offer? A: The floating lobby has a great wow factor, we have the great Jivva Beach Club, which is also open to the public, Tirta Spa, a business centre, fitness centre, sauna, garden pools, a beach pool, poolside bar and great restaurants. Located just an hour from Ngurah Rai's international airport, we have a beautiful beachside resort, surrounded by rice terraces with mountains creating an idyllic backdrop.
Q: How about for the explorer? A: Klungklung is the gateway to the eastern and central parts of the island, but if our guests are looking to explore the local area, we are just minutes from several of Bali's most famous destinations, such Bali Safari and Marine Park, Pura Goa Lawah, Nyoman Gunarsa museum and the famous Kertha Gosa hall of justice. We offer tranquillity but with easy access to exciting activities like surfing at Keramas Beach, which is just 7km away and offers both day and night surfing. Ubud and Sanur are an easy 30-minute drive from here.
Q: What is one of your favourite memories from your professional life? A: When I was nominated as one of the best general managers in the Centara
group, I was the only local GM at that time and I made it to the final three! I will never forget that. It gave me so much motivation.
Q: Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
A: I am moved by Mahatma Gandhi's words. He offered a different paradigm, suggesting that doing actions in peace was a better way. As a leader, I still follow many of his sayings and lessons. My father also influenced me.
Q: Do you use the Balinese philosophy of Tri Hita Karana in this hotel?
A: Yes, of course. The balance of humans, nature and God is important. As a Balinese, I am so proud to see that the Balinese life philosophy Tri Hita Karana is implemented in most of the hospitality industry, schools and even government offices. I have just registered the hotel to participate in the Tri Hita Karana award and accreditation program for hotels in Bali.
Q: Outside of your work, what do you enjoy doing?
A: I make the most of spending time with my wife and children, visiting our home village in northern Bali, where we are involved in various religious commitments, rituals and community activities.
Q: Last but not least, what advice would you give to people thinking of going into hospitality?
A: Hospitality is about passion and commitment and you just can't do it for any other reason. You need total dedication and support to get good results. In Bali, I believe the Balinese must keep working hard and take up the challenges they are offered or lose their opportunities. The ASEAN Economic Community has started and all the involved countries have agreed to implement free flow of skilled labour, hence competition is getting tough. The Balinese must develop and improve their competitiveness and productivity.