How many arrivals does a frequent traveller remember? Think paragliding down to Six Senses Zighy Bay on the Musandam Peninsula or, also in Oman, the forever-zigzag barren climb, up way past the treeline, to the mountain-top fort that is Anantara Al Jabal al Akhdar. There are numerous seaplane arrivals at jetties off Maldives resorts – only Cheval Blanc has a Twin Otter in its own characteristic taupe livery. The gal remembers helicopters in the Seychelles, arriving at Frégate Island, and at North Island (both islands’ landing spots are likely to be occupied, at least temporarily, by extremely slow-moving tortoises). Urban hotels have more of a challenge providing memorable arrivals. Congratulations, therefore, to Mandarin Oriental Jakarta, which showed even a mature hotel can offer luxury for today. See the arrival, above, with two flashing-light police outriders.
Through the lobby, with its pink ceiling, and up to end suite 2212, and lovely and immaculately-groomed young ladies asking if they can do anything else for you. Yes, this is all part of the arrival, which should morph into the actual ‘stay’ experience. For me, one of the first things I do is look out of the window, to get a sense of place. Once again I am looking down at Jakarta’s signature Bandaran Hi circle – Grand Hyatt Jakarta is on another peripheral corner of it. To get hotel guests to the magnificent shopping mall the other side of the circle, Mandarin Oriental Jakarta partners with BMW and brightly-coloured Mini Coopers, available any time you want them, free trip there, and free trip back, with all your shopping.
For me, however, no time for retail. I headed for a really relaxing spa treatment – they use Pevonia, and I fell blissfully asleep, and woke with just enough determination to do a session in the Technogym next door. Then it was dinner time, for a first-class steak and frites in Lyon, the French brasserie, ideal for the business people who fill the hotel every week night. At weekends, what happens? Local families come for the shopping, says Andy Abrams, GM of this hotel (because some have exuberant kids, he cleverly turns a ballroom into a check-in-area, with games and snacks). Others come for golf – Jakarta Golf Course is only 15 minutes’ drive away.
He was here as GM before, and had a four-year sabbatical working his proverbial guts out in the Gulf of Thailand. Now he is back, and happier than ever (for him the grass is never greener on the other side of the road, and now he has crossed over he is happy on this side). It seems his team is happy too – he runs on a mere three percent turnover, losing people mainly to airlines, for the travel. Indonesians interestingly are loyal to owners of luxury hotels – who owns the place their kids work seems to be important to parents (this 272-room hotel is over 96% owned by Mandarin Oriental). At that the conversation had to cease as it was the witching hour, not to turn into a pumpkin but to get back into a car and rush to the airport, weaving in and out behind my personal outriders. AND NOW SEE MY SUITE – AND THEN SHARE MY ARRIVAL!