STORY BY Will Wiriawan
PHOTOS BY Westin Doc.
Strategically situated in one of Jakarta’s prime commercial district, Gama Tower wrapped construction in mid 2016. The Westin Jakarta now occupies the 20 top floors of the tower’s 69 storeys, plus the ground floor for the ballroom and the second floor for function rooms. It’s the country’s highest luxury hotel with an unprecedented level of city view, an edge The Westin Jakarta has over other five-star hotels in the city.
When the crisis hit in 1997, developers had to cut losses and halt the costly construction of “Menara Rasuna”. In 2008, more than 10 years since the last worker left the original site, the project was resuscitated.
Nearly eight years later, the designers of Sekawan DesignInc Arsitek (SDA) took over the unfinished construction to be reconfigured into a commercial-cum-hospitality tower more than 200 metres up above ground, where The Westin Jakarta now resides.
Taking over the design, Warren Daubney and the SDA team forked together a viable plan for a new, bolder tower that’s not just another building, but a skyscraper that would be part of Indonesia’s history and pride.
SDA faced a challenge when the owners decided to incorporate a five-star hotel to the original commercial-only plan. Starwood was brought into the picture, as was Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) — a hospitality design firm with more than 50 years of global experience. In a period of three years, together with the main interior contractor Magna, the parties collaborated and were finally able to conclude this historical piece of engineering.
To highlight the hotel’s locality, the design of the 26,000 sqm space takes inspiration from natural, organic forms and textures interpreted into Indonesian botanical elements, along with some Indonesian-inspired motifs on various aspects ranging from colour, accents, to patterns. On the tower’s ground level, in the ballroom area of The Westin, the chandeliers’ thousands of custom-blown florets gently light upon the batik-inspired rug produced by Brintons. The custom fittings and utilities also suggest an Art Deco influence, and the electronically controlled shade on the floor-to-ceiling glass windows attempts to reaffirm the style for another decade to come.
Travelling vertically upward from the ground floor, are two dedicated high-speed lifts to take guests to the lobby area — dubbed the Lobby Lounge — on the 52nd floor. The generous lounge area serves not only a refined, specialty tea, gourmet bakery and coffee, but also a bird’s eye view of the nation’s capital. Translucent panels with LED-lit walls hide the operational area in the middle of the space, with green walls partitioning the glass-guided concrete staircase giving access to the 51st floor, where “Seasonal Taste”, The Westin’s take on luxury hotel gastro experience resides. The restaurant is surrounded by glass windows, so pick a seat anywhere you like to enjoy the 360° sweeping view of the city.
Extensive collaboration between HBA, Starwood, the owner representatives, numerous consultancies, and the contractors contributed to the final result of the interior. Keep in mind that “A hotel of this scale is never designed overnight, and Starwood’s Westin branding also evolved during HBA’s design development, which helped to add layers to the original design intent,” says Paula O’Callaghan, HBA’s Senior Associate. “We collaborated with Silver Fox where the lobby overlooks into the all-day dining restaurant, ensuring both consultancy’s design married smoothly together instead of clashing.”
As if being the highest is not enough, Seasonal Taste also features some fascinating design feats. Fitting a gas-fired stone pizza-oven in the middle of a skyscraper is every chef’s dream, but an engineer’s nightmare. Along with dozens of exotic kitchen appliances, one stood out: a round stone hearth oven from a Queensland, Australia-based Beech Ovens. Covered with double-layer brushed stainless steel panel, as well as industrial-grade exhaust to keep the smoke and heat out of harm’s way.
Westin’s strong emphasis on guest experience is signified by its spacious room, including the bath and shower area. Each typical floor has approximately 26 double and suite rooms (a total of 272 in the hotel), and every one is equipped with a separate bathtub and rainforest shower, at a space and height level unseen in other establishments. A cleverly designed walk-in style storage and closet area will surely be an inspiration to guests and designers alike.
Ambition morphs impossibility into I-am-possibility, and it can even bend time. It resurrected a dead project to life, and turned it into the iconic, buzz-making, Gama Tower, currently Jakarta’s — and slated to be the country’s — tallest building at 280 metres high. The tower’s four facades are designed to create visual variations from the ground level, while the podium steps allow the tower to be seen from ground level from each side, which itself is quite a sight from The Westin’s 52-storey high Lobby Lounge. High tea will surely never be the same.