Goodies Restaurant celebrated the “soft opening” of its new, extended dining and entertainment area, with a large crowd enjoying the mellow sounds of the D’Heas Accoustic Group. Among the Smiling Hill shareholders present for the celebration were, at left, Mike and Debbie Hopkins; second and third from right, Yohana and Doug Cole; and right, Floyd Monroe.
Funtasy Island coming
to offshore Batam
ASIAN HOSPITALITY chain Meritus Hotels & Resorts (MHR) has signed a memorandum of agreement with Funtasy Island Development (FID) for the management of a deluxe resort development comprising a 200-room condotel, a 230-suite hotel, and an aggregate of 413-unit villas on Funtasy Island - envisioned to be the largest eco theme park and the first gated island community in the world.
Located on Riau Islands, and slated to open in 2014, Funtasy Island will house hotel suites and villas complementing retail, convention, dining and recreational facilities - all spread over 810 acres of pristine tropical islands situated between Batam and Singapore.
The island is projected to draw one million visitors once it is fully operational in 10 years’ time. Construction on the island, which comprises six Indonesian islets, began in April 2011.
A mere 16 kilometers off the coast of Singapore, Funtasy Island will be accessible via a 20-minute luxury yacht or ferry ride from the Harbourfront ferry terminal. The island is approximately two-thirds the size of Sentosa island, with 70% of its total area being preserved as a nature sanctuary. Eco-themed activities will include aquaculture tours in the surrounding waters, as well as nature trails, allowing visitors to explore the island’s unspoiled environment.
Upon completion, Funtasy Island will be the first development of its kind near Singapore, keeping holiday makers and corporate travelers close to attractions such as Universal Studios, Resorts World, Marina Bay Sands , and Orchard Road, while enjoying the natural seclusion of a private island.
The Funtasy Island resort development includes a 200-room condotel, a 230-suite hotel, and an aggregate of 413-unit villas.
Michael Yong, FID managing director, said: “This landmark development is our first response to the growing demand for eco-tourism, as well as the fulfilment of our very own vision of the largest eco theme park in the world - exposing more travelers to the rich and incomparable experience of natural island living. From a strategic standpoint, tapping the hospitality expertise of Meritus certainly enhances the potential of Funtasy Island to carve a formidable niche as an eco-resort destination of global standing.” – hotelnews resource.com
TRAVELERS looking for a getaway to the Indonesian resort island of Bintan should be prepared to fork over one-third more than this time last year, as hotel room rates in Southeast Asia rise more quickly than the global trend, according to data from HotelsCombined.com.
The average room in a Bintan hotel costs $270 currently, up from $197 in the first part of 2012, according to the Web site’s Hotel Price Trends report. Across Southeast Asia, room rates rose 6%, influenced by a variety of factors - from the soaring Australian dollar to minimum-wage policies.
Hotel customers shelling out more for Southeast Asia stays
Bradley Fleming, marketing advisor to Telunas Beach resort near Batam, said the resort has raised room prices twice in the last two years, in view of increased demand and partly in response to a minimum wage hike by the provincial government.
“While our rates have increased, that was following several years of static rates,” Fleming told Happynings. “We simply needed to catch up with rising costs.
“If you look at our site,” he adds, “we are still below the average cost
of resorts in Bintan and we include three meals per night stayed, so we still feel guests are getting a very reasonable value for their purchase.
“Our price raises have been in the range of SG$10-15, which translates to around a 6.6% price increase on average for our private chalets,” he continued. “We have seen a slow but steady rise in occupancy for our private rooms over the past three years, even with the slight increases.”
Other popular holiday destinations like Cebu City, Philippines, and Chiang Mai and Phuket in Thailand showed double-digit increases in room rates over early 2012. The global average increase was 4%.
A growing stream of tourists from Down Under with pockets full of Aussie dollars are a big reason for the rise in rates, said Kristen McKenzie of HotelsCombined.com. Australians have been venturing more overseas for holidays as the Australian dollar extends its winning streak, and that translates into higher occupancy rates in Southeast Asian resort cities, at the top of their preferred destinations.
In addition, Indonesia has become more attractive to international trav-elers as its economy has grown and its political situation has remained stable, said Robert McIntosh, exec-utive director of consulting firm CBRE Hotels, Asia Pacific. “With Indonesia’s status rising, the way people view it has changed and that’s led to a big increase in the numbers of people coming to stay,” he said.
Bali hotel room rates are up 8% in the past year, according to HotelsCombined.com, but that’s before taking into account the weakening rupiah. In local currency terms, rates are up 16% from last year; Bintan rates are 47% higher in rupiah terms, the report said.
At an hour’s ferry ride from Singapore, the Indonesian resort centers of Bintan and Batam are seeing more traffic from that city’s well-heeled professionals.
The average Phuket hotel room goes for $151.60 a night, up from $135.64 a year ago, according to the report. One night in Bangkok can be had for $82.91, up from $74.54 a year ago. Singapore’s average rate rose to $185.21 from $168.07 – WSJ
POLICE IN the Philippines have confirmed that an Australian man was shot dead last week at a holiday resort near Manila. Paul Dean Davy, 53, general manager at the Blue Rock Beach Resort in Olongapo, on Baloy Long Beach, was shot once in the back of the head, police said.
Senior officer Tyrone Tecson of Olongapo police said a witness told police that Davy had been talking to a fellow Australian man at a Blue Rock beachside restaurant when he was approached from behind.
‘‘Last night, around 7 p.m., he was shot by an unidentified assailant inside the Blue Rock Resort, the one he was managing,’’ Tecson said.
Davy was taken to Our Lady of Lourdes hospital where he later died.
‘‘Paul Davy was just approached from behind while he was talking to a fellow Australian,’’ Tecson said. ‘‘It was in the middle portion of the Blue Rock restaurant, in the customer-receiving area.
Tecson indicated that Davy knew his attacker.
The shooter was described as a man of Philippine appearance aged 30 to 35 who was wearing clear prescription glasses and a blue cap. – Brisbane Times
THE NUMBER of tourists visiting Batam has increased this year, particularly from Malaysia and Singapore, according to data. The short distance between Batam and the two countries and a wide vary of transportation choices are among the reasons for the increase.
According to data from the Batam city administration’s tourism department, the number of foreign tourists visiting Batam in 2012 reached 1.22 million people, up from 1.16 million the previous year. The tourists came mainly from China, India, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the Philippines.
Visitors from Singapore, Malaysia dominate Batam tourism market
Lion Air to make Hang Nadim home base
Singaporean hits immigration officer
Australian man killed in the Philippines
The Riau Statistics Agency (BPS) reports that the number of Singaporean tourists visiting Batam in February reached 69,378 people and 22,850 Malaysians.
“The high number of Malaysian and Singaporean tourists visiting Batam is understandable, given that Batam borders the two neighboring countries,” said the Batam administration’s head of tourism, Yusfa Hendri.
He said many tourists from Malaysia and Singapore visited Batam on weekends. “They stay here for a relatively short period; three days at the most,” said Yusfa.
Tourists from Malaysia and Singapore are interested in local cuisine, particularly fresh seafood, shopping for basic commodities and for wellness treatments, he said.
Yusfa said that his administration was optimistic that the 1.25 million foreign tourists targeted to visit Batam in 2013 was achievable. Moreover, the number of tourists from China and Korea also has also been increasing over the past few months. – The Jakarta Post
CONSTRUCTION of Lion Air’s maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) hangar at Hang Nadim Airport is halfway to completion and will be finished in June. Lion Air will then close its hangar at Juanda Airport, Surabaya, and move its maintenance operations to Hang Nadim in Batam.
The Batam hangar will be the first wholly owned by Lion Air. The shed can accommodate 12 737 ER aircraft.
“We will not hire hangars anymore. All aircraft maintenance will be here and the hangar in Surabaya will not be extended,” Heavy maintenance manager Ronny Roozanno said in Batam.
Lion Air president Rusdi Kirana and Free Trade Zone Management Agency (BP FTZ) head Mustofa Widjaya signed an agreement for expansion of 12 more hectares for Lion Air. The company has also leased low-cost apartments from BP FTZ to house employees.
A planned Rp 3 trillion (US$310 million) second hangar, to be completed in 2016, will house an engine shop, jointly developed by General Electric from the U.S. and Pratt & Whitney from Canada, and a component shop. – The Jakarta Post
A SINGAPOREAN was arrested by the police after hitting an immigration officer at the Harbour Bay ferry terminal in Batam. Identified as Muhammad Hafiz bin Selamat, 24, the Singaporean injured the immigration officer’s right eyebrow and back of his head. Hafiz then dashed to the sea before he was arrested.
Harbour Bay police post chief, Adj. First. Insp. Syafrizal, said the incident took place on March 31 when Hafiz was about to return to Singapore with his group. An immigration officer identified as Farid found that part of Hafiz’ passport was damaged and reminded him to have his passport fixed upon returning to Singapore, Syafrizal said.
“But Hafiz did not accept it and hit the immigration officer, who did not fight back. Hafiz remains in our custody,” he added.
Syafrizal said Hafiz was being detained because his charge carried a possible punishment of more than five years.
When questioned, Hafiz admitted to having consumed depressants but it was not yet clear whether or not he had consumed narcotics. – The Jakarta Post
SMILING HILL and Goodies Restaurant are pleased to announce the promotion of two long-standing employees.
Risma Fatmawati, who has worked at Smiling Hill in several capacities for more than three years, has been promoted to Restaurant and Events Manager.
Supami Ita Yulianti (known as Yuli to Goodies regulars) has been named the restaurant’s new Bar Manager.
Risma originally joined Goodies as a member of the wait staff and was subsequently promoted to Events Manager and Marketing Assistant. In her new role, she will continue planning and organizing the numerous events held at Smiling Hill and Goodies, while also supervising on-going activities and promotions in the restaurant.
Yuli is a long-standing and key member of the Goodies crew, having been a foundation member of the Smiling Hill Restaurant crew from the opening of the poolside restaurant-bar. She has been bar staff Supervisor for the past several years.
“We are delighted to elevate these two young women to more substantial and responsible roles within our growing organization,” said Smiling Hill CEO Doug Cole. “Risma and Yuli are valuable employees and are well respected and liked among their peers and by our customers.”
Doug credited now-departed Netherlands native Yvonne Schooners with improving the skill sets of both Risma and Yuli and grooming them for their new roles.
“In her relatively short time here, Yvonne played a key role in not only upgrading service at Goodies,” he said, “she also was a mentor to these two women. The training she provided was instrumental in their development and in their ability to take on these new responsibilities.”