The Soul of Sanur
Category: Forbes Life By : Anton Muhajir Read : 113 Date : Friday, November 10, 2017 - 08:57:38




Anggara Mahendra

Bali’s tourism industry is dominated by international brands, with few Balinese actually creating any of the large high-end resorts on the island. A prominent exception is the Santrian group in Sanur. It was founded back in 1968 by Ida Bagus Tjethana Putra, who was a true pioneer of Bali’s tourism industry. Though he originally worked as a professor of economics and as a government employee, he decided in 1965, at the age of 31, to make a fateful change. He went to work in the newly opened Grand Bali Beach hotel, a state-owned hotel, established by President Sukarno to promote Bali tourism (now called the Grand Inna Bali Beach hotel). It was one of only a handful of modern tourist resorts on the island at the time. At the hotel, he created a training program that trained some of the first modern hotel staff on Bali, and he eventually became the assistant director of human resources for the hotel.

Yet while working there, he itched to be an entrepreneur, so in 1968, he set up his own hotel on the side, the Santrian Beach Cottages, in Sanur Village, where his family originated and belonged to the ruling Brahman caste that controlled the area. The hotel was a modest affair, just six bungalows, named Santrian for the Balinese term for a relaxing place. Yet, within two years, it became the Griya Santrian, and it grew into a resort that still exists today. By 1972, he left Grand Bali Beach hotel to focus full-time on running his own hotel.

Now, almost 50 years later, the Santrian group is still going strong. It comprises three hotels, grown from six bungalows to a total of about 350 rooms, running at 80% occupancy. All the properties try to express the vision of its founder Tjethana. “Our main characteristic is blending Balinese culture, such as architecture, with modern hospitality. For instance, the bungalows have a Balinese design but the rooms offer a 42-inch flat screen TV,” says Ida Bagus Gede Sidharta Putra, the second son of Tjethana and managing director of Santrian group.

In addition to the Griya Santrian, the group has the Puri Santrian and the Royal Santrian. The group has also branched out into managing other leisure activities including restaurants, underwater adventures and rafting. Each of its hotels share the same vision yet target a different market. The first hotel, Griya Santrian, is targeting couples with the rate around Rp 2 million per night. This hotel is located in the east side of Sanur along the beach. Puri Santrian, the second hotel, built in 1985, is located in the southern part of Sanur, mostly for families with the rate from Rp 2 million.

Meanwhile, the premium hotel, the Royal Santrian, opened six years ago. It is meant for upscale travelers, with rates of about Rp 8 million per night. The hotel is located outside Sanur, in Tanjung Benoa, about two kilometers from Nusa Dua. “Our main guests are from Australia and Europe for hotels in Sanur, while in Tanjung Benoa, it is mostly regional visitors,” Sidharta says.

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