Hospitality group Raffles Hotels & Resorts joined hands with property giant Ciputra to open its first hotel in Jakarta.  (Photo courtesy of Raffles Jakarta)

Art-Themed Raffles Pampers With 'Emotional Luxury'


MARCH 29, 2015

Some people say that Jakarta is a city that never sleeps as the capital continues to toss, turn and expand itself in size and grandeur. Glitzy high-rises seemingly pop up overnight, promising more sophistication and luxury to the metropolis.

One of the latest additions to the city's list of upscale hotels is the Raffles Jakarta.

Located within the 5.4-hectare Ciputra World superblock in Jakarta's Golden Triangle, the hotel officially opened its doors on March 16.

"Jakarta is the economic and cultural seat of one of Asia's fastest growing economies and we are delighted to be part of this growth," said Peter French, president of Raffles Hotels & Resorts.

The new establishment is Raffles Hotels & Resorts' 12th property.

The hospitality group is part of Canada-based FRHI Hotels & Resorts, a global hotel management company operating more than 110 hotels and resorts worldwide under the Raffles, Fairmont and Swissotel brands.

The first Raffles Hotel was established in Singapore in 1887.

"Although Singapore lies only an hour away by plane, it took us 127 years to [finally] arrive in Jakarta," said Thomas Meier, vice president Hotel Openings & Integration of FRHI Hotels & Resorts.

It was prominent Indonesian entrepreneur and art lover, Ciputra, who brought the hotel to Jakarta.

"I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Ciputra and was very, very impressed with his vision to change this entire district with this [Ciputra World] complex," Meier said.

Artadinata Djangkar, president director of Ciputra Adigraha, served as spokesperson for the entrepreneur at the hotel's opening.

"Ciputra Group, as owner of this project, is very proud to open the hotel, which I can say, is the best and most luxurious hotel in Indonesia," Artadinata said.

California-based hospitality design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) used striking, floral colors to decorate the hotel's interior.

"The [interior] design was inspired by the works of [the late] Hendra Gunawan," Artadinata said, referring to one of Indonesia's most influential artists.

The life of the painter and sculptor was as illustrious as his work. Hendra was born in Bandung, West Java, in 1918 and stood on the forefront of Indonesia's struggle for independence from colonial Dutch rule in the 1940s.

But in 1965, the country he so valiantly fought for turned against him and Hendra was imprisoned for 13 years for his involvement in the Institute for the People's Culture (Lekra), a movement with connections to the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

Incarceration did nothing to deter his artistic spirit as he continued to paint behind bars. Art observers have even noted that Hendra's most vibrant and expressionistic works were created during his time in prison.

The artist met Ciputra in the final years of his life. A lover of the arts, the entrepreneur was a huge fan of Hendra, acquiring more than 100 of his paintings.

Dozens of these, including those inspired by Hendra's style, now adorn the walls of Raffles Jakarta for visitors from across the globe to admire.

"Ciputra, our chairman, is an art lover," said Artadinata. "Whenever he builds something, it has to have a soul. This building is enhanced with Hendra-Gunawan-themed paintings and sculptures."

A floor-to-ceiling glass mosaic of three beautiful women dressed in the traditional kebaya , inspired by one of Hendra's paintings, is the center piece for the hotel's grand lobby.

A white and blue chandelier, especially created by Czech light fixture designer Lasvit, emanates an exotic glow.

To the right of the lobby is The Writer's Bar, dedicated and named after the string of novelists that have stayed in a Raffles hotel and written about the brand.

The bar was designed to emulate Hendra' favorite subject matter: a pond of colorful fish. Deep blue carpeting is dotted with splashes of orange, meant to depict goldfish. A chandelier, resembling a water fountain, cascades from the ceiling.

"The signature drink of the bar is the Jakarta Sling, a slightly different version of the Singapore Sling," said Pamor Budi Kurniawan, lounge and bar manager of the hotel.

Like its Singaporean counterpart, the Jakarta Sling is made of gin, soda and grenadine, but has a dash of "passionfruit puree and star anise to spice it up."

Raffles Jakarta also boasts the 2,500-square meter Dian Ballroom that can accommodate up to 3,500 guests.

The grand room's yellow and purple interior was inspired by Hendra's painting "Melasti" (a Hindu procession), which is also displayed in the foyer.

Also on the 11th floor are four meeting rooms, each of which can accommodate between 15 and 80 people.

From the ballroom, guests can access the Ciputra Artpreneur gallery and museum dedicated to Indonesian contemporary art. In line with the hotel's central theme, one section of Ciputra Artpreneur is solely dedicated to Hendra with nine original paintings and 24 sketches on display.

For those looking to relax or squeeze in a quick work-out, the hotel's swimming pool, spa and fitness center are located on the 14th floor.

The Navina Pool Bar provides guests with light meals, tea and aperitifs.

The hotel's 173 guest rooms and suites are located between the 15th and 25th floor. Each room, which ranges from 60 to 390 square meters in size, boasts floor-to-ceiling windows that offer stunning vies of the Kuningan area in South Jakarta.

Each Raffles guest is also treated to a 24-hour butler service.

"We offer in-room check-in and check-out [services], personalized wake-up calls, packing and unpacking services, laundry, shoeshine services. We can also arrange transport," said Mochamad Akbari, a Raffles Jakarta butler. "We guarantee that you will be free from worries during your stay with us."

The butler service is only one of the hotel's many features that go beyond five-star opulence.

"At Raffles, we know that good service is not just about what you give people; it's about how you make them feel," said Richard Schestak general manager of Raffles Jakarta. "We call this 'emotional luxury,' an authentic Raffles experience that we will strive to deliver to guests of this incredible city."

The Peak Raffles Jakarta