CEO, Maxima Realty Group
Luxury hospitality developer Djoni Hasjim talks to Asia Dreams about his work and his life.
Q: You’ve been involved in the commercial property industry for many years, how did that happen?
A: When I returned to Jakarta after graduating, I started working as assistant manager in a big property company and was involved with leasing residential, office and retail properties, so I’ve been involved in the property business for a long time. I also greatly enjoy travelling and seeing properties in cities around the world; these two combined interests resulted in me starting my own property company.
Q: What skills did you draw upon to build your business into such a booming success?
A: I wouldn’t call it a booming success, but I’ve been focusing on property for almost 35 years. You have to be focused, passionate and creative, and I feel that the experience you gain while working is more important than a formal education; to me, being street smart is more important than school smart.
Q:What made you decide to branch into hotels?
A: You may find this difficult to believe, but for many years I really disliked hotels as a business; when I started my career, it was really a long process to get any return on investment, so I had no plans to become involved. Nowadays, for the last 12 years, all my projects have been hotels, so I’ve learned never say never! I’ve come to really love them. I enjoy the combination of business, heart, passion that hotels bring. It’s not easy to establish a successful hotel, you have to offer something that differentiates you from the others. At the same time, to achieve a faster return on investment, I changed my business model and decided to sell some of the units within the hotel. Even though the investment is quite high, it then becomes worthwhile.
Q: Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort is very successful. What is the secret behind its success from your point of view?
A: Partly the timing was right. There was almost no investment happening in Bali back in the early 2000s; we bought the land in 2006, built in 2007 and opened one year later. This was, coincidentally, when Bali started to boom again. In addition, we have a perfect location right in front of the beach. Our suite concept was also very different at that time – they are all 80sq.m. and finished with high-quality materials and I think we were the first to put a Jacuzzi on the balcony, which is a great place to watch the stunning Seminyak sunsets.
Q: You have New World Grand Bali Resort opening soon and a Waldorf Astoria-operated boutique hotel planned. How has the market changed since you started with Anantara Seminyak?
A: Bali has so many hotels, those already established, being built and in the planning stages. The key is making a creative product, one that has a differentiation from the others. While there are plenty of international five-star brands here, I think there is still room in the market; everyone wants to have luxury, even if they aren’t paying that much. So, you need the crème de la crème of the hotel brands, an excellent, world-class hotel operator and a differentiation factor.
Q: Are you satisfied with your current success, or do you have more plans and ambitions?
A: I still have enough energy to do something more for my country, something that contributes, even if in a small way. I love luxury resorts and my three kids are already helping me with the company, so I will continue to contribute for as long as I can.
Q: What advice would you give to people looking to emulate your success?
A: When you work in hospitality, you benefit from travelling around the world to see what is available in other countries and cultures, to explore the latest trends. You also have to build a strong marketing network, success takes more than financial investment, you have to know what to do with your business once you have built the hardware.