A second generation expat, 30-year-old Nathan Flax is an avid surfer and sportsman, as well as a leading marketing and management consultant in vacation resorts and villas.
Nathan, where are you from?
I was made here and raised here; but I was born in Australia.
How was it growing up right near the blue ocean?
Growing up here, 150 metres from the beach, was so great. You hit the water and you feel so rejuvenated. We were all so lucky to grow up in Bali. To be in a place where, even when you’ve had the worst day, you hit the water and within a few minutes your feeling great. The whole crew are on 66 Beach, always surfing, with a couple of the guys surfing the circuits. I still go for a surf every day. I like the beach breaks. It’s so easy and you catch a lot more waves. It’s a cool vibe. You know everyone in the water and it’s good for the spirit.
Where did you receive your education?
At fourteen I went to Western Australia, to boarding school. I was really into sports and I still am. That was a bit of an eye-opener. Coming from an island where you are so well taken care of, where your room is kept clean for you, it’s easy to be unaware of all the work that is being done for you. At this school, a military academy, one had to do everything by themselves. It was a good experience and I got a good education. I learned to be responsible for my life and maintain a balance between work and a healthy lifestyle. I think everyone should take a year off before embarking on higher education. I didn’t—I went straight back into International Business School in Sydney. In Sydney, I could go days without seeing anyone I knew. So I went back to Perth and into University. I was Nathan while on Bali and Flaxie in Oz. It was similar to living between two realities.
Why did you choose Bali as your main base?
My parents were part of that first wave, so I’m part of a great community. I have so many really good friends here. Whenever you come back nothing’s ever really changed. It’s still like when we were hanging out when we were twelve or thirteen years old. We are in this special place! As busy as I am, I still find time to break away and be on the beach and catch some waves. If it gets to be too much here, I just go away and come back. You realize it is all here for you. We are so lucky to be in such a vibrant economy and environment. It is really cool having a life here and one in Oz. It gives you perspective and makes you appreciate each place. I get inspired and energized when friends visit me and I see through their eyes.
What are you doing professionally right now?
I am a consultant; primarily for a unique villa company my friends put together. We work with an Australian company and I provide consulting to enhance the experience of visitors to Bali. There are so many villas here now, but a lot of them do not know how to market themselves right. That is where I come in. As long as the villa is all legal, there is nothing to stop them making money if they are managed and marketed properly. I have spent two years of ten and twelve hour days, learning the fluctuations and projections of the high end holiday residence market, and how to improve on sustainability and yield, as well as maintaining a high quality product, which embraces the local culture. It is very competitive, but with my local knowledge and so many friends, here and abroad, I know what people expect when they arrive here. I help people get their villas and hotels marketed properly. When visitors come for the Bali experience, they want it to be a total experience. They do not want imported plastic wrapped food from China. We have so much high quality local products; such as foods, body products, and home accessories, which visitors greatly prefer over imports. All these details create a more sustainable and marketable product. I stay one step ahead by keeping informed. I love working with the diversity of people I come into contact with through my work.
What do you see as the greatest challenge facing Bali right now?
Even I am not good on the roads. The constant gridlock is stressful. Getting from one place to another has become so difficult. Every year at high season Bali decides to fix the roads.
And leave it half done because it is Idul Fitri.
Yes, it is like clockwork. Take a break and leave the holes there. There is a slight lack of foresight in planning the infrastructure. The way Bali is right now, we need to get away from it to breathe. It is so toxic. No trees, no oxygen. My friends have a great surf spot in Roti (www.surfroti.com). You fish off the rocks. You got these waves going off. I see myself spending time there – back to basics, surf and nature. It is what brought us all here.
Thanks, Nathan. To find out more about his current project, visit Total Bali Villas (www.totalbali.com).