Christiane Doris Wasfy, general manager of Hotel Ciputra World Surabaya, has been in the hospitality industry for more than 30 years. NOW! Jakarta spoke to her about her passion for the tourism and hospitality industry and her thoughts on tourism in Surabaya.
You have been in the industry for a long time. What drives your passion?
I think I was born a hotelier. I was born on a farm in a home that was a guesthouse owned by my parents and there were always guests around me. In the morning my mom would said “slowly… we have guests in the house.” Yes, I grew up in that kind of business.
Like my mother, she always said that she would do it until she passed away, and she did. I don’t think people like us will ever retire because there is always something to do in the hospitality industry. Working in the industry is like an addiction. It provides you the opportunity to work with people and communicate and interact with them, it’s so interesting. I don’t think many other professions can provide that kind of excitement all the time. I’m still loving it and I am still very passionate for what I’m doing.
Ciputra Group has a good reputation in that field. What do you think makes it special?
I worked for 18 years for Marriott International, one of the best brands in the world. It has a great philosophy and why does it have it? Because there’s one man behind the brand, Mr. Marriott. The strength of the company is it has many companies from banking to insurance. That’s a group of people that you’ll never see as successful as a company that is managed by one person and also by a family.
They’re really passionate about it. I’ve seen similarities between Mr. Marriott, Pak Ciputra and Mr.Gavin Faull when I became involved in Swiss-Belhotel International. Pak Ciputra is a man with his heart and passion for building companies. He creates businesses for people to make money and has also built homes, schools and many facilities in one place, so people don’t have to leave the community. Meanwhile, Mr. Gavin Faull, through the philosophy of passion and professionalism, has tried to ignite the fire of passion within the organisational culture to deliver services that exceed anyone’s expectations. The philosophy is so fantastic.
What is your impression of Surabaya so far?
Bali is my second home and I’m a Bali girl. When I came here, I was surprised that the city widely known as an industrial city wasn’t noisy and polluted. And in the years I have lived here, I have found it’s a very comfortable city to live in. It’s not as crowded as Jakarta but you will have everything you need here, such as shopping centres, restaurants, hospitals and entertainment. And I have explored East Java. I love it and the surroundings are very nice.
I cannot agree with the people in the hotel association who complain that there’s nothing to do in Surabaya. Maybe Surabaya does not have many tourist attractions like Bali, Yogyakarta or Bandung, but if you are adventurous you’ll find something interesting when you are here. There is still a lot to be done. The city is still focusing on industry while tourism is still not a number one priority.
But, we keep on fighting for the tourism industry and we need something authentic for the city, such as places to hang out, areas for street food, handicraft and souvenir stores. Also the colonial buildings need to be cleaned and tidied up.
What are some of the leisure activities in Surabaya you would recommend for tourists?
For sure, you need to be adventurous and you have to discover places here. Local food is good in the city and people come here to shop as it’s affordable. I’d recommend exploring every corner of the city like Sunan Ampel, driving around the city where sometimes you can see the Arjuna mountain.
If I want to go far, I drive to Kenjeran Beach or Suramadu bridge to Madura island and find another little place somewhere. In the evening when I drive back across the bridge I can see the excellent view with the sunny setting. Really nice. And Surabaya is a golfer’s paradise.
What are some of the facilities that Ciputra World Surabaya Hotel is known for?
When this hotel opened at the end of 2014, most of the existing five star hotels here were aging already. They’ve been around for 18 to 20 years, so this hotel was the newest five star hotel with a more modern and fresh look. The hotel’s uniqueness is that it has a different style with warm and brighter colours, beautiful marble everywhere.
The hotel is connected to the mall which is considered a landmark attraction of Surabaya which has exclusive and selected brands. The idea of the hotel is to present not only a luxury but also style. And from the very beginning we have focused on excellent services.
Where are most of your guests from? Are there plans to drive tourism to the city through marketing in specific areas where you see potential?
At the moment our guests are mainly Indonesian—from Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and other places in Indonesia, from companies which have head offices in Jakarta and factories or manufacture here as well as government and National and Multi-National Corporations. Of course also from Asian countries, such as Malaysia, Singapore, Korea and Japan.
As I said before that there are not so much tourist attractions and the lack of information about Surabaya, so that’s still our challenge. So, the guests are usually here for business, not really tourism or leisure. That why, we need to assist the city to do something for tourism in Surabaya.
This article is originally from paper. Read NOW!Jakarta Magazine May 2018 issue “Building Future Leader”. Available at selected bookstore or SUBSCRIBE here.