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Jamal Hussain: The Blessing and Curse of Running a Hotel in Bali

Earlier this year, it was predicted that the number of hotels in Bali will see a 100 percent increase compared to 2015, with around 50 new properties set to welcome tourists. With the growing competition that hotels must tackle, we sit down with Nusa Dua Beach Hotel’s General Manager Jamal Hussain to find out how his team is holding up and what it is like to run a hotel on the island of the gods.

Hi Jamal, thank you for taking your time to have this interview with us. Let’s start by introducing yourself.

I am Malaysian and have been in the hotel industry for about 35 years starting in junior positions and then working my way up into management. I did my hotel education in Salzburg, Austria and started my vocation in Vienna, Austria. I have also worked in several Asian countries including Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Maldives and of course, Indonesia. This is the 4th hotel in Bali that I am managing and I have been in Bali (off & on) for about 12 years and in Indonesia for about 17 years. 

How would you describe the hotel industry in Bali?

Very competitive. Hotels are aggressively promoting their properties and claiming their market share. Rooms inventory increase year on year also results in price wars where ultimately the guest or consumer wins.

Can you share with us your experience of running a hotel in Bali? How has it  been different compared to other places or countries?

Each destination has its own unique characteristics as well as its challenges. Bali offers almost everything to everyone: culture, sports, meditation, spa, ocean, hills, shopping, entertainment, nightlife and more.

To successfully run a hotel in Bali one has the added challenge of understanding the unique culture of the people and how to interact positively with all of them. 

What are the challenges of running a hotel in Bali? And how does Nusa Dua Beach try to overcome them? 

Running a hotel in Nusa Dua is a blessing as it is well known for its beach location and relatively quiet surroundings and great accessibility. Being also home to two large convention centres, the events boost occupancy when it happens. The real challenge however is to differentiate your product from all the other hotels in the area.

Would you say that the competition of the hotel industry in Bali is high? 

Definitely. Competition is very tough but having said that each property tries to carve a niche market for itself. Some use their location, others their Ballroom (MICE market), some their Spa, others like us – our heritage and being predominantly “Authentically Bali”, whilst yet others offer unique entertainment, etc. 

In your opinion, what do guests expect when they stay in hotels in Bali?

In Bali, guests generally expect to see some form of authentic Balinese culture in the form of temples, local food, offerings, a wedding ceremony, a holy procession, or a typical Legong or Kecak dance and etc. Besides the immersion into culture there is always the need to “chill & relax”, enjoy the beach and ocean, enjoy the warm weather, try different food varieties and take lots of photos. Of course they also expect to experience the authentic and warm hospitality of the Balinese people in the resorts they stay in. 

What are the latest trends that hotels in Bali are currently picking up? How does Nusa Dua Beach maintain its authenticity?

Well the trend is that more hotels are still being built in Bali, all with restaurants, bars and swimming pools. Some are even focusing on having a shopping mall attached or close by for customer convenience. With operational costs on the upswing, hotel owners and operators are also looking into architecture & planning that can support productivity and require less manning. 

How do you see the future of the hotel industry in Bali? Would you possibly still be around to see it for yourself?

I certainly see a bright (but indeed challenging) future for hotels in Bali for many years to come. I am confident that tourism infrastructure will further improve, arrivals will increase, new international markets will venture into Bali as their holiday destination, as it has been the case over the last 20 – 30 odd years.

I certainly hope to be around to either participate in the changes or just sit back, relax and have a coconut whilst enjoying the wonderful transformations that Bali will definitely offer in the future.

Thank you Jamal!


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