Why Ev­ery­one Should Visit Lom­bok

A Chat with Evan Burns, Gen­eral Man­ager of Liv­ing Asia Re­sort and Spa Lom­bok

Indonesia Expat - - CONTENTS -

Can you tell us about your background? When and why did you move to In­done­sia?

Since I was a child I have al­ways been in­ter­ested in work­ing in the ho­tel in­dus­try. I am from a small coun­try town in Vic­to­ria, Australia called Gipp­s­land. My par­ents used to travel to Mel­bourne for work and I was of­ten lucky enough to join them on the trip.

The ho­tel that we used to stay in was pre­vi­ously called Sher­a­ton South­bank. It was in­deed the great­est thing as a child to stay in such a grand place. Amaz­ing lux­ury rooms, mar­ble bath­rooms, and they even used to serve ice cream for break­fast. How­ever, what in­spired me to work in ho­tels was the door­man. He used to stand proud at the front of the ho­tel, wear­ing a long black tuxedo and a big tall top hat, re­mem­ber­ing ev­ery­one’s names and wel­com­ing them back to the ho­tel. As a child I al­ways re­mem­bered this. How can some­one can be so pas­sion­ate, so proud to work where they work, and per­son­alise ev­ery­one’s stay by re­mem­ber­ing their name. This is the in­dus­try I wanted to work in.

At the age of 14 I got my first taste of the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try. My best friend John and I de­cided to open a cap­puc­cino stall at our school car­ni­val. The only one sell­ing any­thing sim­i­lar was that of the Devon­shire Tea ladies. By mid-morn­ing we had a line so long that we ran out of cof­fee. This is where I learned the skill of en­trepreneur­ship and not be­ing scared to take on com­peti­tors with a new prod­uct. It was a very suc­cess­ful les­son and one I will re­mem­ber for a very long time. At 15 I had my first job work­ing in a café in Gipp­s­land. I used to open the café be­fore school, take the one hour bus to school, go to classes all day then go back to work af­ter­wards. I en­joyed this job very much. I worked six days a week and earned a very min­i­mal salary, how­ever I en­joyed talk­ing to the cus­tomers, mak­ing their cof­fee and help­ing to grow the small busi­ness.

I worked at that café for four years, un­til I moved to Mel­bourne for work. Fast for­ward to to­day and I am now liv­ing in and lov­ing In­done­sia.

I moved to Jakarta in 2013. Since then I have worked in Jakarta, Bali and now Lom­bok. In­done­sia is like a sec­ond home for me. I love the peo­ple, I love the cul­ture and I couldn’t think of a bet­ter place to raise my fam­ily.

What is your ex­pe­ri­ence in the ho­tel in­dus­try?

My first ho­tel job was as a trainee at The Westin Ho­tel Mel­bourne. I spent six months (un­paid) work­ing as a pub­lic area house­keeper. I used to do the clean­ing of all the pub­lic ar­eas of the ho­tel. This in­cluded the toi­lets, the staff locker rooms, the cor­ri­dors in the ho­tel and any other du­ties that came up. It was a tough job, but I am glad I started in this po­si­tion.

Af­ter that I had mul­ti­ple jobs at The Westin Ho­tel. I was a night ban­quet at­ten­dant, a waiter, a bar­tender, a head bar­tender, a reser­va­tions at­ten­dant and fi­nally a se­nior reser­va­tions at­ten­dant. I worked at the Westin for al­most seven years.

I was trans­ferred to another ho­tel in Syd­ney, Australia called Sher­a­ton on the Park. A 500+ room, 23 story ho­tel that was incredible. I was first trans­ferred as an Ex­ec­u­tive Club Man­ager. I over­saw an amaz­ing ex­ec­u­tive club and this was the first time I man­aged staff. I had a team of 15. Shortly af­ter my hard work and ded­i­ca­tion paid off and I was given ex­tra re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in­clud­ing duty man­ager, man­ager on duty, VIP Man­ager and man­ager of the spa and well­ness cen­tre.

How­ever, my main role was VIP man­ager look­ing af­ter 40 suites, and the but­ler ser­vice of celebri­ties. I was lucky enough to look af­ter some amaz­ing celebri­ties in­clud­ing Justin Bieber, Snoop Dog, Harry Kewell, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue, The Ea­gles, and the late Ge­orge Michael, just to name a few of my favourites.

This ho­tel is where I met my men­tor. Brad was the ho­tel man­ager and took me un­der his wing. He taught me everything about man­age­ment and was a key part of my suc­cess. We have both moved on and iron­i­cally now we are both gen­eral man­agers, how­ever my re­spect for him is still there and I can al­ways ask him for ad­vice. My goal now is to men­tor other peo­ple just as I was men­tored my­self.

Af­ter Sher­a­ton Syd­ney I moved to Sher­a­ton Fiji where I was a Com­plex Rooms Di­vi­sion Man­ager look­ing af­ter two re­sorts. It was a love-hate re­la­tion­ship with Fiji. It was a very en­joy­able time, how­ever work­ing on such a small is­land was very dif­fi­cult. I worked there just over a year, and dur­ing that time I went through po­lit­i­cal un­rest in the par­lia­ment, two floods and a very dan­ger­ous cy­clone iron­i­cally called “Cy­clone Evan”. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I found out this is true in Fiji. Man­ag­ing a ho­tel was not my only chal­lenge - there were many out­side fac­tors that also needed to be man­aged.

Af­ter Fiji I moved to Jakarta. Wow what a city Jakarta was com­pared to Fiji. Big city lights, shop­ping malls and many things to do. The ho­tel I worked in was called Ker­a­ton at the Plaza (A Lux­ury Col­lec­tion Ho­tel by Star­wood Ho­tels). It was an amaz­ing lux­ury ho­tel and res­i­dences. It was also con­nected to Plaza In­done­sia Shop­ping cen­tre. I worked as di­rec­tor of rooms in this ho­tel for four years. It is in­deed a very spe­cial place for me and I met some great friends, co-work­ers and staff. It is also the city where I met my wife Melina.

Af­ter we mar­ried I de­cided to leave Star­wood ho­tels, af­ter 13 years, and work for an in­de­pen­dent com­pany. I ended up choos­ing Trans Re­sort Bali. The re­sort is nice and I was work­ing for another Aus­tralian Alex Jo­vanovic (a sea­soned hote­lier). It be­came very easy to man­age and we hit it off very eas­ily. I spent two years as re­sort man­ager in Trans Bali, and I lived in the re­sort so sometimes it was very hard to es­cape. Dur­ing the first year there my wife be­came preg­nant and gave birth to a beau­ti­ful boy Char­lie. This was the plus side of liv­ing in the re­sort as I was al­ways able to see my fam­ily at any time. Fam­ily and work life balance is the most im­por­tant as­pect for me.

Af­ter Trans Re­sort Bali I took some time off and moved back to Australia to be with my fam­ily. It was hard to re-ad­just to life back in Australia, so as a fam­ily Melina and I de­cided to take up an op­por­tu­nity for me to work for Liv­ing Asia Re­sorts in Lom­bok. I had pre­vi­ously met the owner and owner’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive when I was in Bali. All I needed to do was in­spect the prop­erty, make sure my fam­ily would be happy and pack our bags. I didn’t have to think twice about join­ing such a great com­pany. Lom­bok is an amaz­ing place and as a fam­ily we are very happy to live here. The re­sort I cur­rently man­age is called Liv­ing Asia Re­sort. Liv­ing Asia Re­sorts also has a sis­ter com­pany called The Chandi Bou­tique Re­sort and Spa and a new five star ho­tel open­ing next year called the Chandilla.

If you want a hol­i­day that has everything then Lom­bok is your des­ti­na­tion

Tell us about Liv­ing Asia in Lom­bok. What sets them apart from the other re­sorts in Lom­bok?

Sit­u­ated on the west coast of Lom­bok, just ten min­utes away from Seng­gigi cen­tre, Liv­ing Asia Re­sort fea­tures 66 beau­ti­fully ap­pointed rooms, di­rect beach ac­cess, stun­ning views, fab­u­lous open-air restau­rant, in­fin­ity pool, spa, high speed in­ter­net, daily com­pli­men­tary high tea and happy hours. There is an amaz­ing sun­set over­look­ing Bali’s Mount Agung and a great sandy beach.

What sets as apart from other re­sorts in Seng­gigi is our ser­vice. We pride our­selves in giv­ing a per­son­alised ser­vice en­sur­ing you feel more re­newed than when you ar­rived. Liv­ing Asia Re­sort is suitable for fam­ily va­ca­tions, ro­man­tic es­capes, or sim­ply a re­lax­ing get­away. We are al­ways look­ing at ways to im­prove our re­sort, such as drop-off shut­tle to Seng­gigi, beau­ti­fully man­i­cured gar­dens per­fect for a wed­ding or func­tion, yoga, cook­ing class or per­son­alised tours tai­lored to in­di­vid­ual needs.

Are there plans to build another re­sort in the fu­ture?

The own­ers of Liv­ing Asia Re­sorts and our sis­ter ho­tel The Chandi Bou­tique Re­sort and Spa are al­ways look­ing at ways to grow the busi­ness. In­done­sia is a growth mar­ket for our chair­man and Liv­ing Asia Re­sorts is a com­pany to watch for the fu­ture.

What is your opin­ion on tourism in Lom­bok com­pared to other pop­u­lar hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions in In­done­sia?

I have been in In­done­sia for a very long time now and I have seen a lot of changes. Lom­bok is a des­ti­na­tion that should be on ev­ery­one’s list. If tourists want a hol­i­day that is cost ef­fec­tive, re­lax­ing, with beau­ti­ful scenery with moun­tains, wa­ter­falls, beaches and is­lands then it should go on ev­ery­one’s bucket list. Lom­bok as a des­ti­na­tion is only a 20-minute flight from Bali. The in­ter­na­tional air­port is ac­ces­si­ble from most Indonesian ci­ties. The in­fra­struc­ture is good, we just need some more in­ter­na­tional flights and I’m very con­fi­dent over the next two to five years it will over­take other pop­u­lar hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions in In­done­sia.

Why should tourists visit Lom­bok?

If you want a hol­i­day that has everything then Lom­bok is your des­ti­na­tion. It is less than two hours from Jakarta. The Gili is­lands (which are also part of Lom­bok) are only a ten-minute boat ride from the main­land. We have by far the best beaches and is­lands in the area (in­clud­ing Bali). We have South Kuta which is be­com­ing very iconic. Cen­tral Lom­bok for the wa­ter­falls and cul­ture, West Lom­bok for Seng­gigi, and North Lom­bok for the Gili Is­lands. Lom­bok has everything you need for a hol­i­day. The beauty is cur­rently un­touched.

Ex­plore Liv­ing Asia www.livin­gasiare­sorts.com

EVAN BURNS AND HIS FAM­ILY

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