Surprising Alila
    Category: Luxury & Lifestyle By : Justin Doebele Read : 4770 Date : Saturday, October 12, 2013 - 07:43:49

    Courtesy of Alila

    The first Alila hotel opened in Jakarta in 2001, and won praise for its minimalist design—a look common now but considered edgy back then. For Franky Tjahyadikarta, one of Alila's founders and shareholders, the look was a match of necessity and style, as the recession at the time forced him to streamline his plans.

    This less is more approach is now part of Alila's branding. “Here there are no crystal chandeliers,” says Alila Chief Executive Frederic Simon, sitting in the Alila Villas Uluwatu's Warung restaurant overlooking the resort in southern Bali. “Our properties are all about space, physical, intellectual and emotional space.” Alila resorts tend to highlight their surroundings, rather than call attention to themselves. The entrance to Uluwatu, for example, is an open white square framing a view of the infinity pool and Indian Ocean beyond it.

    Alila does pamper guests with plenty of space. The Uluwatu's one-room villas are 291 square meters, and equipped with two sinks, indoor and outdoor showers, a private plunge pool and cabana. The larger villas have even more space and facilities.

    Now this Indonesian-born brand is taking a pioneering role to become a regional player in the highest end of the luxury hotel and resort sector. The Alila has gone from its one hotel in 2001 to nine today, and one luxury live-aboard yacht. The chain is centered around Bali, with five properties, and two each in Jakarta and India. “First and foremost, Alila is an Indonesian brand, created in Indonesia,” says Frederic.

    Alila's owners don't plan to stay in Indonesia. Next year, Alila will open its first two resorts in China, its first in Oman and a third in India. By 2016, another five should be opened, including its first two in Malaysia. Alila has also internationalized its shareholding with Nepalese billionaire Binod Chaudary helping to develop the brand in South Asia. “The brand has created a distinct personality for a luxury product,” says Binod.

    Alila's pedigree is complicated. Unlike brands launched by a sole visionary entrepreneur, such as Aman or Banyan Tree, Alila grew through collaboration and partnerships. The brand is actually shared by two companies, the first is the real estate arm, the listed PT Bukit Uluwatu Villa (BUV) that owns Alila hotels and the second is the management company, the privately held Alila Hotels and Resorts Ltd (AHR), a Singapore-registered entity (the brand is formally known as Alila Hotels and Resorts).

    BUV doesn't own all Alilas in the chain, some are owned by outsiders and AHR is just the manager. The figures for BUV also show growth. Revenues for the company have risen 35% from Rp 166 billion in 2010 to Rp 224 billion last year, with profits growing 36% from Rp 41 billion to Rp 56 billion in the same period (the stock has remained, however, flat at around Rp 400 a share for the last two years).

    The key individuals in Alila are Franky, Indonesian Okie Rehardi Lukita, American Mark Edleson, Frenchman Frederic and Binod. In 2000, Franky and Okie formed BUV, and remain, respectively, its president director and president commissioner, who also own at least 13% each of BUV. AHR, meanwhile, has Franky, Frederic and Mark as its directors, and it is owned by 30% by Binod, 20% by BUV, 10% by Frederic and the rest by undisclosed investors.