For the Love of Art

Photography By Raffles Doc.

One of the biggest and brightest stars in the dynamic hotel business firmament brings a balanced union of brilliant Indonesian art, majestic surroundings, and its world-renowned service to the bustling capital of Indonesia. Raffles Jakarta, the latest addition to the Raffles Hotels & Resorts portfolio, is set to uphold the legendary Raffles Butler service amid handsome interiors that bring to life the vibrant works of the late acclaimed Indonesian artist, Hendra Gunawan.

Distinctive business and leisure travellers return to their favourite hotel for various reasons.

The convenience of the location, its “coolness factor” or reputation, a modern or elegant architectural style, an efficient business centre or trendy bars and fine dining are among the magnets that keep loyal customers coming back.

But there are other “invisible” factors that can set one establishment apart from the rest. The hotel staff’s discreet, personal attention to its guests adds that special touch of feeling at ease in a place “far away from home”. The maître d’hotel who remembers every guest’s name and his or her preferred table, the steward who anticipates the client’s needs before the request is even uttered. These thoughtful touches can spell the difference and set the hotel on an utterly new level of exclusivity.

The iconic name “Raffles” strikes exactly that chord of impeccable service, which translates to what the hotel terms “emotional luxury” – not just delivering efficient and personal looking-after but how the customer is made to feel “good”. The Raffles Jakarta Butlers have undergone a customised world-class training course conducted by an internationally acclaimed butler graduate school to meet the needs of the hotel’s demanding clientele. One of them has the distinction of having served royalty, heads of state, and celebrities. Top that service with bespoke architectural surroundings, the most modern facilities and technology, elegant bars and restaurants, and a prime location in a lively complex of commercial high-rises, luxury apartment blocks, an art/theatre centre and a museum – then all the elements are in place for a truly five-star guest experience.

Magnificent masterpieces of one of Indonesia’s best known artists, Hendra Gunawan, dominate the classic and elegant interiors. His paintings, rarely seen until after his death in 1983, have now been put on show to be admired - thanks to Raffles Jakarta’s owner, Mr. Ciputra, a dedicated art lover, architect and high-end property developer. Appropriately, Raffles Jakarta is located next to the art-and-theatre complex Ciputra Artpreneur in Kuningan, another prestigious Ciputra project, in the heart of Jakarta’s Golden Triangle.

Hendra Gunawan’s creative legacy is most evident as one steps into the grand lobby. Lush carpets exude a warm deep burgundy, a colour lifted straight out of his works. The visitor’s eyes feast on high ceilings, pale ivory-hued marble, a massive stunning mosaic reproduction of a Gunawan painting “Menyusui 2” (Breastfeeding) showing a woman nursing a baby.

Like its Singapore cousin, The Writers Bar invites you to meet friends and share a cocktail. Try a Jakarta Sling, a local version of the Singaporean original. Guests can settle and relax on oversized chairs and sofas, perked up with comfy pillows in splashes of orange and teal blue. Antique mirrors dominate the walls and unique lighting fixtures in the form of cascading glass tendrils burst out of the ceiling like falling rain. A stylized flowing metal “scarf” and patches of Gunawan’s artwork showing his early childhood experiences peek out of rectangular window-like wall panels, reminiscent of an Advent calendar while custom-made carpets mimic the blue tranquil waters teeming with lively fish.

An impressive blown glass chandelier in shades of cobalt blue, aqua, and pale green mesmerizes and captivates. Huge metal and blue glass conical lamps on the wall symbolize the mythical Garuda’s (humanoid bird) talon.

During the day, the 173 rooms and suites are bright and well-illuminated with natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows which look out over a breath-taking view of Jakarta’s skyline and the hotel’s Gunawan-inspired gardens. Bedrooms are separated from the lounge through sliding panels. Accessories and furnishings play back Gunawan’s vivid colours, but in muted, soothing tones in the bedrooms to guarantee a restful sleep with other touches such as room slippers inside a gauze bag and a batik bathrobe designed by famed Indonesian designer Oscar Lawalata adding to the overall sense of luxury.

The Art Café is a gourmet’s heaven. A rich buffet of local delights, Asian selections, as well as international favourites like its signature Singapore Chili Crab hidden in a black bun and doused in a piquant chilli sauce and Beef Cheek Bourguignon, will certainly arouse your taste buds.

The spacious 2,500 sqm Dian Ballroom was being prepped up for a wedding reception the day we were there and at the Ciputra Artpreneur, its museum was showing several important Gunawan masterpieces for the public to enjoy. Other facilities such as 25 m swimming pool, fitness centre, children’s pool and Kids’ Club, help make one’s stay at the Raffles Jakarta truly enjoyable and memorable. The signature Raffles Spa is set to open early 2016.

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