Sun, 25 Nov 2001

Hotels gear up for year-end parties

I. Christianto, Contributor, Jakarta

It will be a very interesting couple of weeks in late December. Life will brighten up across Indonesia, particularly in the capital. People will hopefully forget the political turmoil and economic woes as they celebrate Idul Fitri, Christmas and the New Year.

Idul Fitri, which will fall on Dec. 16 and Dec. 17, could well be considered the most important holiday in the country when Muslims celebrate the end of their fasting month.

Although the capital is usually deserted during Idul Fitri -- as a great majority of the city's residents go to their hometowns to celebrate the important occasion --- entertainment places and hotels still offer special attractions.

The same thing will happen over Christmas. Hotels have arranged special lunch and dinner menus. In celebrating the New Year, recreation centers and hotels alike all will have their own unique parties.

As usual, National Monument (Monas) square will be the center of the New Year celebrations in the capital. Ancol Dreamland and Taman Mini Indonesia Indah will also hold live musical performances to celebrate the arrival of the New Year.

For many people, the year-end is usually a time to relax that's why most hotels in the capital have prepared many activities to celebrate the New Year.

"We are preparing various selections during Ramadhan as well as for the Idul Fitri, Christmas and New Year," said Uraini Umarjadi of Kempinski Hotel Plaza in Jakarta.

She said Kempinski had prepared several buka puasa (breaking of the fast) menus at its restaurants and lobby lounge during Ramadhan and would serve an Indonesian buffet dinner at its Java restaurant during Idul Fitri.

"The restaurant will also serve an extensive buffet of international Christmas gourmet delights and seasonal specialties on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. For those seeking entertainment on New Year's Eve, Kempinski will provide entertainment in the restaurants, lobby lounge and Bacchus cafe," she said.

She said in spite of the current domestic economic and political situation, people still needed to celebrate.

"New Year's Eve has always been a festive celebration and we certainly hope it will be this year too. People still feel the need and want to celebrate in one way or the other. Some people may have to cancel their holiday travel plans due to security concerns. It is one of our responsibilities to provide facilities and create an atmosphere that will be enjoyed by all," she said.

The September tragedy in the U.S. has somehow forced people to think again about taking a long haul flight. Therefore, it is understandable that many people may prefer to stay home instead of traveling abroad.

Uraini admitted the September tragedy in the U.S. had affected all business sectors including the hospitality industry.

"Jakarta has never been a tourist city. Even if they do stop over it is usually only in transit for a couple of nights only. The Kempinski Hotel Plaza, like other hotels in Jakarta is a business hotel and although business has been affected, the impact is not as great as most of the hotel guests are from Asia," she said.

She said that her hotel normally catered to the international business traveler.

"For the year-end activities -- as most expatriates return to their home country for the holiday season -- activities are more directed toward the Indonesian market, business executives and so on," she said.

Year-end activities are also prepared by other hotels in the capital and its surrounding area including Hilton, Ciputra, Borobudur, Ibis Mangga Dua, J.W. Marriott, Santika and Novotel.

The price? A buffet dinner at Kempinski's Java restaurant costs about Rp 105,000 (approximately US$10) during Idul Fitri, or Rp 250,000 (approximately $25) to enjoy an Asian international buffet at Hilton's Peacock restaurant on Dec. 16 and Dec. 17.

Ciputra will offer a special Lebaran lunch on Dec. 16 and Dec. 17 at Rp 45,000 per person, and a special dinner for Rp 57,000 per person on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. The hotel will have a New Year's Eve program for children, which includes dinner and a puzzle and drawing competition.

The Grand Hyatt Jakarta will also offer a special lunch and dinner menu for about Rp 300,000 per person during Christmas.

At the Grand Hyatt on New Year's Eve, an Australian musical troupe will play a crescendo throughout the night starting with specially picked songs from the 1960s to the present.

It's the end of the year. The party won't last long and it will be time to start over again and to do everything right.

Well, it's a time for fun and to spend big. Those who want to join the party should have a thick wallet.

But who really cares about money -- it's the festive season.