It is always good to have a schedule when going to a new location, or revisiting, but Fairmont Jakarta came up with a first. In the car from the airport the gal was offered water, Indonesian sweetmeats – and this illustrated schedule, on the left. And then what could be better on finally arriving at about 9.45 p.m than a big basket of whole fruit – and the luxury of ingredients to make a G&T. No ordinary labels at this hotel! The gin is MOM: God Save The Gin, supposedly in homage to the UK’s much-loved late Queen Mother but in fact distilled in England for the Spanish giant, González Byass. The tonic is Bickford and Sons Blend No 02, with Natural Cinchona Extract, and the ice cubes, four times the normal size, have a prominent F on them.
This is a hotel that, in typical Fairmont style, wants you to feel at home and, at the same time, part of the community. It is literally right next door to Senayan Golf Course, now redesigned by Bob Moore, and Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex, which includes a half-covered stadium that re-opened January 1st, 2018 – it now seats over 88,000, mostly hosting football matches and if you want maximum peace and quiet you might prefer to avoid such events. Like me, you might want to experience the local flavour somehow, say via food. I was longing for a good goreng, a mix of protein and vegetables and starch.
They had some on the amazing breakfast buffet – see the video below – along with an Arabic section, a Chinese section and Japanese section and so much more. I loved the way one woman was pushing round a trolley with local drinks (see above) and I was also tremendously impressed by the avocado bar, a first in my experience. This takes the avocado toast, so beloved in the USA, to a new level. Here you can have avocados any way you want – the servers were most amused when I wanted mine just simply sliced, to go alongside eggs. Indonesia’s hotels are typically, well, quite heavy on staff: this friendly place has 800 team members for 380 rooms, though there are also 108 long-stay suites.
GM Carlos Monterde saw turnover among his team members running at under 10%, until a rush of new openings from early 2018 – one defensive initiative is his Jakarta Ladies Business Forum. Every 6 months hotel employees join locals in a 200-250 person 2-hour programme, with an inspirational female speaker. We had breakfast together, before he left to take part in the Bali Triathlon. I stayed on for a few hours, to enjoy the luxury of being able to unwind and then, in 1945, named for the year of Indonesia’s constitution, get my local dish. Here is my mie goreng, which came with three small satays propped up over still-hot charcoal. SEE SUITE 2002, AND THE BREAKFAST BUFFET (ARABIC CORNER IS OUT OF THE PICTURE)