Sun, 03 Sep 2000

Hotel puts regional culture on the stage

JAKARTA (JP): Putting local culture on show seems a natural tie-in for Jakarta hotels to bring in foreign guests. After all, there is so much to choose from, with each of the country's 29 provinces offering something unique in dance and cuisine.

Such events were commonplace in several hotels, including the Borobudur in Central Jakarta, before the economic crisis struck and foreign tourists stayed away from Indonesia in droves. With economic fortunes stirring a little, some hotels have revived their special food and cultural presentations.

One of the local hotels putting Indonesian culture back at center stage is Kempinski Hotel Plaza, which holds its Indonesia Mysteriously Beautiful night every Thursday in its Jimbaran Gardens on the lobby level.

"The idea of introducing such a program derives from the fact that many business travelers only stay in Jakarta for a few days with very little time to explore the many beautiful cultures and variety of cuisine of Indonesia," said the hotel's public relations director, Uraini Umarjadi.

For the time being, the one-month-old program is concentrating on Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, East Java, and provinces in Sumatra and Sulawesi. The evening buffet features the particular dishes from the selected province, plus fare from other areas.

"This gives the guests a better insight into the dishes available and enables them to have a taste of other specialities," Uraini said. "We have received good feedback from both in-house guests and outside visitors."

West Sumatra was featured on Aug. 22, including dances and music from the land of the Minangkabau. They proved excellent diversions as diners sampled the delicious spread of food -- curries, salads, satay and traditional desserts.

The dynamic dances from West Sumatra, including the twirling plate dance, were a delight to several western guests.

"I think these are good, but Japanese prefer dances which are slower, where the movements are more defined," said a Japanese visitor. "They would probably like dances from Central Java and Bali more."

The night costs Rp 105,000 ++, which includes a complimentary welcome cocktail. For family groups, one child accompanied by two adults receives a complimentary meal, with any additional children receiving a 50 percent discount.

There is a cultural performance at 6:30 p.m., the buffet begins at 7 p.m. and dances are held from 8 p.m. It closes at 10:30 p.m. (Bruce Emond)