Anantara’s mastery of unassuming minimalist chic has transformed it from humble beginnings into one of the world’s most respected boutique hospitality brands. BTN caught up with Ivan Casadevall, General Manager of Anantara Seminyak, Bali to find out a few secrets behind the success of the brand.
BTN: How would you describe the Anantara Seminyak experience?
IC: Anantara is derived from the Sanskrit word which means “without end”, and each Anantara resort showcases the excitement of discovery and exploration that comes with the destination. Here at Anantara Seminyak, we are dedicated to offering our guests an amazing experience from all angles – a personalized journey with all sorts of local experiences offered by our young and talented team. Seminyak is a contemporary and exciting destination so we like to ensure that our guests can experience a hip and stylish ‘playground’ at the resort and discover the local unique culture which is truly memorable. Anantara Seminyak is an all-suite property which offers total indulgence for our guests and a true pampering experience which makes them want to return time after time.
(Ivan Casadeval, General Manager, Anantara Seminyak)
BTN: Which aspects of the resort are you most proud of?
IC: The team here at Anantara Seminyak is our biggest asset and all our stakeholders recognize this factor. The team has built up Anantara Seminyak’s reputation and raised the bar to a new level in Bali. In addition, SOS Supper Club after its full renovation in 2009 is one of the most spectacular and chic sunset spots in Bali, and it brings thousands of guests each week to the resort!
(Anantara is a master of unassuming minimalist chic)
BTN: Which are your key markets? And which markets offer you the greatest potential and why?
IC: Our top five markets in order are Australia, Indonesia, Japan, UK and Germany. By all means the Australians make up our most important segment at this point in time and they have strong purchasing power resulting from a solid home economy. The flight accessibility with almost 70 flights a week out of Perth to Bali is also a great asset. Secondly, the Indonesian market and expat residents in the country are a very strong market for Anantara and we continue to see growth in this market. Lastly, our European markets are also growing year on year and they tend to stay longer with high spending power. This is the key growing market and will be a strong focus over the coming months and years.
(Sea View Suite)
BTN: Bali offers a host of incredible attractions and activities – what’s your favourite and why?
IC: I have been an expat in Bali for a number of years now and I also had the opportunity to live in different locations, but I have to admit, my personal preference would be Seminyak as it’s well situated with regards to other key destinations in Bali and of course the airport. Here in Seminyak, I also really enjoy following the new trends in the area and catching the latest openings of restaurants, bars, galleries and shops. I personally think that it’s a great privilege to live in Bali and the warmth and kindness of the Balinese makes living on the Island of Gods memorable!
BTN: How would you like the Anantara Seminyak to evolve?
IC: My team and I would like to see Anantara Seminyak as the trend-setting resort within Seminyak, both with regards to the suite accommodation experience as well as food and beverage offering, and we are working really hard to achieve this target.
(Contemporary chic comes as standard at Anantara Seminyak)
How did you first get started in hospitality?
IC: It all started in the USA during an exchange student programme. I had the opportunity to travel around and discover a lot of new places, to meet new people and learn about the culture. It was such a great experience that upon my return to Spain (home) I knew what I wanted to do the rest of my life! After my graduation, I devoted myself to the industry in different countries and cultures and I have absolutely no regrets. I would do it all again from the start, it’s been a very enriching journey!
BTN: Which of your achievements are you most proud of and why?
IC: There have surely been many but if I had to chose, I would most probably choose my first GM posting back in 2000, where I was responsible for an international boutique resort chalet-style in northern Vietnam, as well as a luxury over-night train. Why? Well it was my first GM role and I was given the opportunity at the young age of 26 to take on a large responsibility. There were many challenges, such as the remote location, high staff turnover and extreme weather conditions, but it was a great experience. I really think that effectively managing that assignment was a key factor in my hotel career.
(The Anantara Spa)
My experience here at Anantara has also been very rewarding. I joined the company five years and it has been a great experience to have been here during a time of strong expansion. I also had the opportunity to manage three different resorts with a very diverse guest offerings and this has been quite a significant achievement to be very proud of as well!
BTN: What’s your favourite hotel outside the Anantara stable and why?
IC: I would have to say the Four Seasons Tented Camp in Golden Triangle, Thailand. The spectacular setting overlooking three amazing countries, the Mekong river, an elephant camp on site, elevated African-style tents – stunning! That coupled with the timeless elegance of the Four Seasons style, make it a personal favourite of mine.
BTN: Describe your perfect resort of the future?
IC: a 100% sustainable project which is totally geared towards guest satisfaction, developing the local community and ensuring the associates’ happiness… regardless of the financial returns!
How do you see Bali evolving as a destination over the next decade?
IC: Bali is striving to become one of the best tourism destinations in South East Asia. The ‘Visit Indonesia 2010’ tourism campaign was successful in increasing awareness about the beauty of Indonesia in general and Bali in particular to overseas tourists. This will continue in the coming years with more government initiates and plans to boost tourism to the country.
(Ocean views at dusk)
Indonesia and the Bali Tourism Board have been working closely to tackle some of the challenges we face as a tourism destination but there is also strong support coming from the private sector through the Bali Hotels Association, in which Anantara Seminyak also plays a significant role. We develop proposals to foster sustainable programmes for our environment, contribute further to the social community as well as develop investment plans to enhance the infrastructure of the island.
(Wild Orchid ocean terrace)
Immigration and customs at the airport are also some areas of focus at this point as well as the upcoming renovations of the international airport, which are greatly needed.
It’s in our best interest to contribute to Bali and Indonesia as a destination so if we all work closely, public and private sector, listening to our visitors and respecting the local people and its culture, I am very optimistic we have a bright decade to come!