When the Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta closed its doors just over two years ago after announcing a major makeover for the brand locally, nobody quite knew what to expect.
Fast forward to 2016 and the hotel group has embarked on something boldly different.
Not only did the hotel move out of its old digs and into the newly developed Capital Place (conveniently located in Jakarta’s commercially-focused southern area) but Four Seasons took it as an opportunity to completely shift away from the tired old business hotel model of relatively soulless utilitarian box-like rooms, barely furnished with a desk, bed, armchair and a large but dull bathroom.
Building upwards instead of outwards – a sensible move given the densely packed jigsaw of Jakarta’s urban landscape – the reinvigorated Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta brand provides the discerning international traveller with spacious suites featuring king-size beds, walk-in robes and a substantial separated sitting room-come-office. Adding to the feeling of space are full size bathrooms including the relatively novel modern inclusion of an actual bath, Bose sound systems and luxurious toiletries from edgy Italian fashion house Etro. Think gorgeous modern inner-city townhouse meets French art-deco and you’d be on the mark.
Put simply: the hotel’s 125-suites represent the changing tastes and needs of the global business elite by providing them with a modern and stately inner-city residence in the heart of Jakarta.
With commerce in mind, it’s no accident New York-based designer Alexandra Champalimaud’s interiors display subtle and artful nods to a time when Indonesia sat at the centre of the international spice trade. Stylised frescoes of cinnamon, cloves and Bismarck palms adorn the walls of the expansive lobby – a reminder of the Indonesian archipelago’s organic mercantile treasures.
On arrival in the Bill Bensley designed Atrium, staff deliver on the promise to make busy guests feel right at home. The warm welcome is further embellished by the hotel’s less-noticed physical attributes such as the plush, warmly rich carpets you feel underfoot as you pad through the suite, the chinoiserie adorned walls and Indonesian artworks.
The comfortably dim library offers a quiet haven for coffee or aperitif and the all-day eat-in cafe La Patisserie delivers those in need of sugar a range of sweet delights in a stylish salon. There’s also a substantial fitness centre to work off the accompanying guilt.
From the open kitchen in the hotel’s main dining venue Palm Court, executive chef’s Marco Riva’s team churn out an ever-changing selection of sumptuous all-day treats representing a range of cuisines. Sunk comfortably into a Jade-green leather cocoon chairs I stare into the 13-metre high cupola above the dining space where an impressive chandelier, constructed using over four hundred fanning crystals hangs as a homage to the Bismarck palm. Outside, guests recline in the lounging pavilions on the terrace overlooking the hotel’s manicured gardens.
It’s not exactly your average suburban home but the space exudes a sense of complete peace and calm.
On the culinary front, Palm Court’s take on the Malay-style laksa is a real crowd pleaser and according to the hotel’s banquet chef, Philip Walasary, the dish has undergone a process of constant refinement. He says a mix of animated discussion and tender care went into its creation. For me, the combination of a whole generously portioned lobster tail (removed from its shell with expert precision), a beautifully balanced laksa seafood broth and udon noodles elevates the dish to another level.
Up on the hotel’s 20th floor, fine diner Alto will open in November capping off Jakarta’s burgeoning reputation as a global dining destination with Marco Riva’s take on authentic Italian cuisine.
By night the hotel’s in-house bar, Nautilus, serves up innovative and original cocktails using Indonesian spices for inspiration. The dark, plush interior is ideal for entertaining friends and clients – the ambience is warm and the well-heeled crowd is a mix of guests and locals.
Well worth putting some time aside for is a signature treatment in the hotel’s spa next to the pool. The hot poultice massage applies heat and traditional herbs to the body’s major muscles, easing away the day’s stress, which is a rather fine antidote to a day filled with taxis and meetings or a long-haul flight. Afterwards, relax in one of the spa’s Sci-fi-like four senses loungers to experience a sensory relaxation treatment of soft coloured light, natural sounds and therapeutic vibrations.
The new Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta, and the concept it embodies, will undoubtedly play well with business travellers and deserves a warm reception.