Bali has a better name and image than the Caribbean: Bvlgari
Alvin D. Soedarjo, The Jakarta Post, Uluwatu, Bali
The Bvlgari brand has come a long way since its inception in 1884. Founded by Greek emigrant Sotirio Bvlgari as a jewelry business, the company, which is based in Rome, Italy, has expanded into the design and hospitality business.
The company launched its second resort in Uluwatu, Bali, on Sept. 23, following the success of its boutique hotel in Milan, Italy.
Below are the excerpts of an interview with Nicola Bvlgari
, vice chairman of Bvlgari. Why did you take Bvlgari into hotels and resorts?
The mission is to have something that represents and emphasizes the importance of our brand throughout the world. The brand is a very big brand.
We already have a place in Milan, which is what everybody is talking about. The hotel is a personal hotel. It's runs alone from the pack. The resort in Bali is our second statement.
This is a kind of resort that stands alone. The message is 'sure we are great jeweler, we have a great luxury brand but we also want people to know that we can venture into this business.'
Now, other luxury brands are trying to copy us. We are number one still. Other are copying us but they are just copying. Why Bali?
We all know about Bali. It's one of the great resorts in the world. Bali has a name and image, more than the Caribbean.
It's a mythical place. We don't want to do ordinary things like anybody else. The cliff here in Uluwatu is perfect for our location.
Our company respects fully the meaning of the (cultural) background in Bali. There is so much history in Bali so we built our project incorporating indigenous elements from the area.
The design a good blend between western and Balinese styles. We use lava stone from the area for our bungalows and coral stone for the walls. The trees are also local. How was the transition going from jewelry to the resort business?
Jewelry sells by itself. We also made improvements by consolidating the business.
Our business is all over the world. We are developing a Bvlgari building in Ginza, Tokyo, which will stand out. The building will give us prestige.
JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton (hotels) are going to assist us in this business. Both have been existed for quite a long time and have a good reputation in the industry.
Plus, we are marketing the resort throughout our stores worldwide, such as in Malaysia, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Australia. Bvlgari has a potential huge market in Japan. We have 33 stores in Japan. What has been the hardest challenge for Bvlgari in the hotels and resorts business?
Location is important. In Milan we have a key location that nobody else has. The hotel is located near a garden in the heart of Milan. It's in the middle of the city.
We are looking for other places in the world like this, Paris, London, New York, Rome, Tokyo. But it's not going to be easy. It could take years before we find the right location. We are not in a hurry.
We prefer to select, think and rethink many times before we make such an important decision. It should be a star location that would attract people automatically.
The rest we do it carefully to make it unique. It's either perfect or nothing. Where is your next hotel going to be located?
We project that it might be in Paris, France or Tuscany, Italy. But it's a premature estimate -- we don't know yet. How do you maintain the family business, which has been passed down from generation to generation?
The company has been through two world wars. The CEO of Bvlgari is my nephew, a fourth generation member. He has done many great things for the company.
The third generation are just me and my brother Paolo, the president of the company.
Family businesses are common in Italy. But probably there are more in Indonesia.
Every country has generations of family businesses. There are certainly pros and cons for running these kind of operations. For me, I can't complain. One thing I can say is that we love what we do. We put a lot of energy there, a lot of passion and enthusiasm.
As for the designers of our jewelry, we have a team that consists of 12 people. It's a beautiful team. Can you tell a little bit of your background?
I live in Rome, Italy. I have three grown-up daughters who live in New York.
I have two sons-in-law and a grandson there so I have an excuse to visit the city often, not only for business but for family. I feel at home in New York, better than Rome in many ways. It's my favorite city in the world.
I also have a new wife and nine year-old daughter who live in Rome. As a family we travel a great deal.
I'm passionate about music, which the company appreciates. I love listening to classical and jazz. I like Beethoven, Bach, Brahms, Mozart and Wagner.
I also organize concert and try to help young artists in Italy. Mostly pianists, cellists, violinists.
This gives us prestige while also developing my passion. Things that nobody else does, we do. What do you think of Indonesia?
When I come back next time, I want to visit more of Indonesia. I was in Jakarta many times.
Many years ago somebody took me with a chopper to a resort on an island near Jakarta, I can't remember its name, but it was an incredible place.
I am a curious animal, I want to know a lot of things. The world is a big place and I don't like to travel like a suitcase and see nothing.