A natural born entrepreneur, Davina Konatra was raised in a family of businesspeople and already familiar with hardworking since a young age. When she became a family member of Surabaya’s industrialist Hermanto Tanoko, it was only natural that her father-in-law assigned her to run the then-newly founded Tanly Hospitalty group. She oversaw the creation of the alluring Vasa Hotel Surabaya along with a number of other properties, and is now busy with the development of more to come.
Q: Can you tell us about how Vasa Hotel Surabaya started and how much were you involved in the development?
A: Vasa began when my father-in-law wanted to celebrate his wedding anniversary. We already had the land, and it was in a prime location. As for my involvement, I was there from the very start. I was there even when the design was still a rough sketch. I selected the architect, I supervised the layout, I chose the materials – everything needed to be right. Since the project was made for that one event, we had an absolute and uncompromising deadline that we had to meet – and I was involved in everything from day one.
Q: Your entrepreneurial career is very vibrant, but can you tell us what is it about the hospitality industry that attracts you?
A: After the wedding anniversary celebrations were done, we realised that we fell in love with this project more than we’ve expected. Thus, it gave birth to the Tanly Hospitality. We began to acquire more land all over the city, and develop more hotels, from five-star, to three-star and business hotel as well. So far we have four properties in Surabaya, with three of them being business hotels, and then Vasa. We have the Solaris line, one in Malang and another in Bali.
Q: Who has been the most influential figure in your career to date?
A: Of course, my father-in-law, Hermanto Tanoko. He had the big vision, and then trusted it to me. I was married to his son at a very young age, and less than 24 hours after my wedding day he gave me the Vasa Hotel project. Just like that. He completely left it under my leadership, with no constant monitoring or micromanaging. A lot of things need his approval, and there will be regular meetings, reports and targets, but overall he maintains his position to allow me to captain the group. Somehow for me, given that much trust is actually an even bigger responsibility. He is also our advisor and, more often than not, our problem solver. He always finds the best solutions and motivations to keep me and the whole group going.
Q: Name one really special thing about Vasa Hotel Surabaya. What is the competitive edge compared to other properties in Surabaya?
A: The short answer is that we are different – but I would like to elaborate why. We are located in Surabaya’s prime neighbourhood, which is also close to the highway access. We have excellent event and meeting facilities, which soon will have the most meeting rooms in Surabaya. To top it off, our presidential suite is the only one with an indoor pool. I am also very proud that this hotel and the whole group is built and managed by Indonesians.
Q: Are there any plans to improve or expand the hotel? Can we expect something interesting in the near future?
A: In case you didn’t know, Vasa Hotel is sharing its space with an office building under the same business corporation, which is called Voza. With the hotel’s almost always full occupancy, especially with business travellers and meeting purposes, our facilities are often not enough. So at the moment we are expanding to add seven more meeting rooms, all located in Voza. Other than that we will be adding a lobby lounge, a Japanese restaurant, and a plan to expand our all-day-dining restaurant, 209 Dining, into the biggest in Surabaya.
Q: What’s next for your hospitality group?
A: In the next four or five years we will be opening more properties in Bali and Mount Bromo, and another one in Batu, Malang, to join the emerging mountainside tourism there. We also have a plan to open another five-star, but this time a resort. In total, we have at least six projects in the pipeline.
Asia Dreams Volume 48