It didn’t take long for Aryaduta Hotel Group CEO Anthony Ross to hit the ground running. Upon his appointment in February 2016, Ross immediately took to work introducing an ambitious plan to rebrand Aryaduta’s image and business strategy to get it up to speed to attract new markets including millennials. As the group actively expands with new hotels in Bali and East Java being prepared to open and with dozens more planned in the next few years – Ross is fully aware he has demanding schedules ahead. NOW! Jakarta chatted with the Australian veteran hotelier cum golf enthusiast on work, life and vision for Aryaduta.

How are you enjoying Indonesia so far?
It has been great.  Living in Indonesia has provided exceptional experiences and wonderful hospitality that comes natural to most. I live in Lippo Karawaci, located away from Jakarta’s hustle and bustle and my home is only five minutes away from our golf club. I am able to easefully ride my bike around Karawaci, go to malls, and every once in a while when I feel brave, I will take on the Jakarta traffic (laughing)

How do you see the hospitality industry in Indonesia today?
Indonesia has enviable potential given its large and young population and natural resources, therefore there’s a promising future for the hospitality industry that goes without saying. I see that purchasing power is growing and with more citizens provided increased opportunities to spend money on leisure and travel. The government also has put in place key initiatives to boost tourism with ten destinations earmarked for development. The percentage of international arrivals in Indonesia is relatively small compared with Malaysia or Thailand, so I think efforts like this will be beneficial for both the tourism and hotel industries. In step with that development, we will launch new hotels in Bali and Jember planned to open by the end of this year and early next year respectively. We are looking to have 20 to 30 new hotels under management in the next three to four years time.

That sounds like a big plan. What’s the strategy?
Well, there’s a quote by Norman Vincent Peale, “Shoot for the moon”. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. That says it all. At the moment, the hotel is a small component of Lippo Group’s businesses as the conglomerate is very strong in property, malls, department stores, media, medical and other businesses. We think that there are always benefits of big-scale businesses. And by expanding, the company provides better opportunities for our fantastic talent to grow. We aim to be a world class Indonesian hotel company which provides its guest with a true Indonesian hospitality experience.  We think there is a niche there for us between the multitude of international brands and the local hotel companies.

What’s the idea behind Aryaduta’s corporate rebranding?
We currently have nine hotels under our management, which took many years to assemble. Today, we see the opportunity to reposition and recreate our brand identity in a direction that is ‘contemporary Indonesia’. Our brand was founded in 1974, so we have many loyal and older clients who have had precious memories with us. We also have younger clients who might have stayed with us as children traveling with their parents. We want to be more inclusive, reignite our relations with Indonesians while also gleaning millennial audiences who will grow with us. This is a work in progress that applies to all aspects – from the logo, website, food, as well as the people – how they interact with guests, how they present themselves and carry the brand identity and simply engage as not just employees but hosts. We want our guests to experience the new Aryaduta in all respects, from our own brand scent to our unique greeting and of course a style that is our own within our facilities and rooms. If you come to any one of our hotels in the third quarter of this year, you will sense a palpable difference, some things subtle others rather dramatic in change.

What can we expect from your collaboration with Chef Marinka?

The collaboration with Chef Marinka is an example of our ‘Contemporary Indonesia’ direction. We are most enthused to collaborate with well known Indonesians artists and tastemakers who appeal to millennials. And let’s face it, Marinka is a very talented chef and television personality who brings a significant following on social media. She was also essential in the creation of our contemporary Indonesian dishes that will be launched gradually in all Aryaduta hotels. Aside from Marinka, we’re also collaborating with renowned Indonesian fashion designer Sebatian Gunawan to design new uniforms for the team members of Aryaduta Hotels. These are exciting partnerships. Further collaborations with other talented Indonesians are right around the corner that we expect to announce soon.