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Shaun Dünhofen: Leading the Way at Karma Resorts Bali

Shaun Dünhofen: Leading the Way at Karma Resorts Bali
Shaun Dünhofen: Leading the Way at Karma Resorts Bali

At the helm of the luxurious Karma Kandara resort, a man with a rich tapestry of cultural experiences and an unwavering commitment to excellence leads a domain where hospitality soars to new heights.

Shaun Dünhofen is the embodiment of a worldwide journey through the lens of service, culture, and leadership.

Born and raised against the backdrop of Cape Town, Dünhofen’s odyssey began at the Cape Town Hotel School. From there, fueled by an insatiable curiosity, he journeyed across continents, guided by the bonds of human connection and a pursuit of excellence. After the landscapes of game reserves and the corridors of Europe, Dünhofen’s soul eventually found its resonance in the captivating charm of Asia.

Since those formative years, Dünhofen’s journey has unfolded seamlessly, rich with cultural immersion and a dedication to community well-being. As the Regional General Manager at Karma Resorts Bali, his tenure not only marks a pinnacle in his career but also serves as proof of his leadership grounded in integrity and compassion.

With your extensive experience in the industry, what inspired you to pursue a career in hotel management?

I’ve always been passionate about taking care of people. Although my parents weren’t from the hospitality industry, they were people-centric. My dad, an engineer and ex-military, constantly faced problems to solve which instilled in me the idea of finding solutions. I’m grateful for his contribution as he fostered a sense of diligence and pride in what I do. If something doesn’t work, I learned not to be too hard on myself and to explore alternative solutions — a mindset I’ve embraced for a long time.

My mom worked as a personal assistant to a high-ranking delegate, and together they focused on community service within the municipality or government. This early exposure to community-based work, such as village upkeep and waste management, has been with me since childhood. I was fortunate to develop problem-solving skills — identifying what needed to be done, how to approach it, and how to collaborate with different levels of management.

I learned a great deal from my parents and the managers they worked with, finding inspiration in their experiences. This led me to start my career in the industry a bit earlier, with qualifications and paperwork following later on. The lessons I’ve learned in the past have consistently helped me to develop and shape what we are doing in the future.

Congratulations on your recent appointment as Chairman of the Bali Hotels Association! What initiatives do you hope to spearhead during your tenure?

Thank you, I feel very privileged to be part of the Bali Hotels Association board. One of our primary objectives this year is to foster a sense of network, growth, and development. The association comprises various levels of hotels, ranging from five-star to one-star, large to small or boutique. Each member has unique practices and insights that they’ve adapted from their company or brand that they can share with others. Our focus is on gathering this network of information to identify the best practices being utilised across the industry. By doing so, we aim to improve upon what we are already doing and drive continuous advancement in the hospitality sector.

There is a wide range of experiences and expectations among the guests visiting Bali. Our responsibility is to ensure that the customer experience is as smooth as possible. Each hotel and resort plays a crucial role in this endeavour as we support Bali and the initiatives we work closely with, including the community, sustainability practices, environmental conservation, as well as cultural preservation and social responsibility. By working together, we have been able to bridge the gap and continue to make progress. We’re excited about the opportunities this year presents, as the industry is continually expanding, and we openly invite those who would like to contribute to the development of tourism within Indonesia.

Karma Kandara
Karma Kandara
Tell us about Karma Kandara.

We offer a luxury experience that builds strong loyalty among our members and owners by focusing on their high expectations. Our beautiful destination in Southern Bali by Ungasan boasts the unmatched ambience of our Karma Beach with its crystal-clear waters, ideal temperature, soft sand, and inviting environment that beckons you to relax and unwind.

We’ve also recently introduced Mentari, an apartment block featuring well-appointed one-bedroom, studio, and two-bedroom units. On the top floor, a Muay Thai ring imported from Thailand hosts daily training sessions with Muay Thai specialists. The property also offers extensive outlets, including Schooners Sports Bar in the residence’s basement.

The property itself holds 78 villas, each between a one-bedroom to five-bedroom luxurious residence. Then, our Cliff Spa and our Karma Beach Spa are both well known within the community not only for the view but also for their spectacular massage area, the jacuzzi and the infrared sauna that overlooks the entire bay of Ungasan.

A 2-bedroom unit at Mentari apartment
A 2-bedroom unit at Mentari apartment

Our acclaimed restaurants have also received numerous accolades. Our latest addition, the Temple Lounge, offers Monday paella nights featuring flamenco dancing and live guitar music. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, a jazz band performs upstairs in this cosy boho-chic venue.

Our award-winning di Mare restaurant offers a relaxed atmosphere during the day, which transforms into a fine dining experience in the evening. Much of our culinary journey has been curated by Joseph, our incredibly talented global executive chef for Karma who has created exceptional tasting menus alongside our dedicated kitchen team.

Veritas, our private wine cellar that houses over 10,000 new and old-world wines, also serves as a dining outlet and is the perfect spot for wine enthusiasts. From there, you can enjoy our spectacular poolside area overlooking the cliff, which is one of the most photographed locations in Karma Kandara.

To reach the beach, we provide guests with a shuttle service that travels along the Melasti walkway leading to our iconic Karma Beach which is home to three distinctive outlets. The first is Le Club 22, offering Mediterranean cuisine. The bar features an open layout where guests can engage with mixologists to create cocktails while enjoying the sea breeze.

Just around the cliff, you’ll find the charming Phoenix Bar that we open for sunsets and cocktails and feature a resident DJ who plays daily. The beach hosts various activities such as open-air cinema screenings and barbecues that we plan to offer in the future.

Finally, there’s the Tiki Bar & Restaurant, where our Komodo barbecue takes centre stage as one of our highlights, with every dish prepared there being simply outstanding. Of course, you can also enjoy the pizzeria and a range of water sports activities.

Ultimately, it’s about the people and the memories, and that’s where the entertainment comes in. We create experiences here at Karma Kandara.

As Regional General Manager of Karma Resorts Bali, how do you maintain such high standards of excellence?

Over the past few years, we have encouraged our team to do their best. If mistakes or failures occur, we consider them as part of their training and include them in our training hours. This mindset shift has allowed people to approach challenges differently, asking, “Okay, it didn’t work this time. What can we do next time? How can we improve?

This year, our focus is on what I call, ‘the people behind the product’. While the product itself is beautiful, even more important are the people taking care of you. Each individual has something unique to showcase.

One example is our lifeguard, Pak Arya, who participated in a gruelling 13km charity race last year as part of our Karma care program. He not only raised funds but also placed first out of 140 participants and was also the first Indonesian to do so. Despite never having travelled outside the country and working with Karma for many years, his dedication has allowed him to progress through various roles. We saw an opportunity to send him to Western Australia to learn, experience, and observe the differences in lifeguard association practices. He returned with the bronze medallion, one of the highest accolades within the lifeguard association. At Karma, we strive to show that through loyalty, we provide opportunities for our team members to explore their talents and share them with others, serving as an inspiration to the entire team.

Dining with an ocean view
Dining with an ocean view
Travellers today are increasingly seeking authentic and immersive experiences. What cultural experiences or activities do you recommend to guests looking to explore Bali’s rich heritage within or beyond the resort?

I would highly recommend our curated events as they align perfectly with our philosophy of providing immersive experiences. Whether it’s climbing a volcano, taking an e-bike ride through the area, or exploring the local community and culture, we work closely with partners to support these activities. For example, when it comes to food, we invite our guests to try artisan local cheeses. During COVID, when importing became challenging, we sought out local suppliers within Bali. Chef Joseph, an avid explorer of Bali and Indonesia, discovered various resources that enhance our culinary flavours, creating a journey for the palate.

For those interested in exploring beyond the resort, we offer tours that showcase the best of Bali. We have exciting new curated events in the pipeline, so stay tuned for updates. Rather than sticking to the norm, we strive to keep things active and vibrant. Within the community, we encourage people to join these tours, providing a fresh perspective on Balinese culture and the way of life here. If anyone is interested in participating in these programs, I invite them to visit our membership website for more information.

The poolside at Karma Kandara
The poolside at Karma Kandara
What’s next for you and Karma Resorts Bali?

We are committed to continuous growth and improvement. I work closely with various levels and hierarchies within the company to identify opportunities that can enhance our guest experiences. Rather than following trends or norms, we stay true to our own brand as we evolve.

As the Regional General Manager for both Karma Kandara and Karma Jimbaran, I’m proud to say that our managers at both properties have embraced a commendable level of learning and development. We encourage cross-training and internships between the properties, allowing team members to observe best practices and learn from one another. By providing our staff with the space, time, and support to grow, we foster their professional development.

There’s a strong sense of loyalty across all our properties, from our origins in India to our locations here in Bali. We recently celebrated our 30th anniversary, and it’s remarkable to have team members who have been with us for over 25 years. This collaboration and growth are exciting to witness as the company continues to expand, driven by our desire to create unforgettable experiences for our guests.

How can our readers get in touch?

I always encourage everybody to stay up-to-date on our Instagram: @karma.kandara.bali and website:

If you would like to reach me at Kandara, I’ve always got an open-door policy. I’m located right by the reception and we’re here to ensure that our guests have a good time. They can contact me there or through my email: [email protected].

And of course, whether you are coming to stay with us or exploring the property and need some assistance–reach out, and I’ll be happy to assist.

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