Sun, 06 Aug 2000

MPR session brings mixed luck to hotels

JAKARTA (JP): The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Annual Session, which is slated for Aug. 7 through Aug. 18, will bring mixed luck to hotel operators in the capital.

Interviewed separately, hotel operators gave varied answers and expectations over their hotels' occupancy rate during the 12- day session.

The Assembly secretariat has set aside nearly half of the session's budget for members' accommodation, Rp 10.6 billion (US$1.17 million), about 42 percent of the total Rp 25.7 billion budget.

Two hotels near the MPR compound -- Jakarta Hilton International Hotel and Mulia Senayan Hotel -- have been booked to accommodate 695 Assembly members.

Lugiman, a concierge at Hilton Hotel said his hotel was almost fully booked, with 90 percent of its 600 rooms booked for Assembly members who will come from all over the country.

"So far, 60 percent of them have checked in at our hotel. We expect more to check in over the next few days," he said.

"It's a sharp increase compared to our usual occupancy rates for June and July, which reach about 35 percent," he said.

He said that the hotel was also accommodating another large group of participants, of the Asia Pacific Consultative Finance Meeting, organized by Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

"The conference is ongoing," he said.

"We'll also host the Asian Parliament Union meeting in September. It must be our harvest time."

Meanwhile, Mulia Hotel was still busy recording its guests.

"I'm sorry sir, I can't give the number of our visitors nor our occupancy rate now, because we are still working on our records," a female staffer said.

Other hotels, however, are not enjoying the boom, stating various occupancy rates.

Kempinski Hotel's public relations director, Uraini Umarjadi, said her hotel's occupancy rate was slightly lower due to the session.

"The average occupancy rate in town was above 40 percent for the past few months. But I think it will drop to 30 to 35 percent during the MPR session," she said.

"There are fewer reservations during the annual session. But there are more reservations after the session, starting from the end of August. We have a good figure until the end of the year," added Uraini, while refusing to state the exact figure.

She hinted that there would be an international conference here during the MPR session.

"This shows guests believe that our country is actually quite safe," she said.

Uraini said hotels also used another benchmark to assess their performance, especially due to the economic crisis.

"We've been using room night sales instead of percentages to assess our performance. And our room night sales are better than other hotels in town for the last four months," she said.

She said the Kempinski, which is located on Jl. Sudirman, also operated 241 apartments.

"But the apartments are leased on a long-term basis so the occupancy rate is not affected by the session," she said.

Similar expectations were aired by Henny Puspitasari, public relations manager of Sheraton Media Hotel on Jl. Gunung Sahari, Central Jakarta.

"We only expect a maximum 35 percent occupancy rate during the annual session.

"It's lower than our average of 46 percent in July, which coincided with school vacation," she said, adding that guests to the hotel's restaurants were decreasing at the end of July.

Henny said most of the guests came from Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and European countries.

"Most of them are in automotive and garment businesses, which are sensitive to security issues," she said.

"A recent bombing incident also added pressure to our hotel's occupancy rates," she added.

Henny, however, expected that the condition would be better after the annual session.

The 586-room Hotel Indonesia (HI), located at the tip of Jl. Sudirman, Central Jakarta, boasted a stable occupancy rate of 50 percent to 60 percent despite the political uncertainty.

A Hotel Indonesia public relation officer, Kosim, said, "Our occupancy rate is not affected at all by the annual session. Perhaps because most of our guests are local residents. Only 20 percent are foreigners."

"The guests aren't afraid of student demonstrations in front of the HI traffic circle. They even consider it as an attraction to Indonesian democracy fiesta," he added.

Kosim also said that the students did not pose any threat to the hotel.

"I'm sure the students understand that the hotel has a historical background, as it was president Sukarno who commissioned its construction," he said.

Similarly, assistant front-office manager of Sahid Jaya Hotel on Jl. Sudirman, Heryadi, said the hotel had an increase in occupancy over the past three months.

"I can't give you the exact figure as I don't have it. I have to check it first," he said. (nvn)