"I am so pleased every time see Bali Discovery on the screen? I feel I still stay in touch, although it does not cure me of being so homesick for Java and Bali. It is an excellent and informative "newspaper"."
Ramanand Patel & Mukesh Desai Offer Classes in Yoga and Sound February 14 -20. 2006 at Uma Ubud Resort.
Uma Ubud will bring two great gurus to Bali for one week in February to explore yoga and sound. Daily practice classes will offer student the chance to enhance their yoga experience while exploring sound at a universal level.
Regarded as one of a leading yoga instructor in the world today, Ramanand began studying yoga with his Father when he was twelve years old. Later, in 1968, he commenced a course of serious study under Yogachrya Sri B.K.S. Iynengar, followed by work in Vedanta philosophy with H.H. Swami Dayananda Saraswati .
With a special interest in the effects of Sound on yoga practice he is renowned for his innovative use of props and working with student with special needs.
Because of his interest in sound he has formed a long and very rewarding teaching collaboration with Pandit Mukesh Desai.
Pandi Mekesh Desai
A disciple of Pandit Jasraj, Desai is a master vocalist and gifted teacher of North Indian classical music. He has helped many of his students discover and explore their "inner instrument."
February 14-20, 2006 at Uma Ubud Resort
This special retreat commence with a welcome dinner on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 and concluded the following Sunday with a 5-hour evening session of yoga, breathing and meditation. During each day of the Retreat Mukesh will teach subtle aspects of the power of sound as well as provide a backdrop to Ramanands careful instruction in asana, pranayama and philosophy classes.
Cost and Registration
Cost of the Retreat starts at US$1,465 (twin-sharing basis) and covers six nights accommodation in a terrace room at the luxurious Uma Ubud, 5 hours of yoga instructions, daily breakfast and juice breaks, welcome and farewell dinners, round trip airport transfers, and 21% tax and service. Rates for single occupancy and upgraded Garden rooms are available on request.
U.S. TSA Working with Ngurah Rai Airport
to Remedy Deficiencies Identified in Most Recent Safety Audit.
The U.S. Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) announced on December 23, 2005, that security standards at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport fell below minimum standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Responding urgently to the report, Airport Authorities are now working closely with TSA representatives to remedy the situation while extra security personnel have been deployed during the remedial period.
Until a formal re-review by TSA auditors can be carried out determining that the airport is in compliance with ICAO standards, U.S. laws mandates that individuals purchasing tickets from the United States to Bali must receive a formal notification of the airports non-compliance.
Safe Air Service to Bali Still Possible
In issuing the announcement the TSA said that it "believes that it is possible to safely conduct air service operations to and from Bandara Ngurah Rai International Airport" if proper precautions are carefully observed by both the air carriers and the airport.
Many of the international air carriers to operating to Bali have long-standing supplemental security personnel, equipment and protocols in place to complement those provided by the Airport Authority.
Main Areas of Concern
balidiscovery.com has learned that the main areas of concern to the TSA auditors addressed fencing around the airport boundaries, the close proximity of access roads to apron areas of the airport, and deficiencies in the delivery of services by security personnel on duty at Ngurah Rai.
In the days immediately following the issuance of the TSA announcement Bali's airport was visited by the Indonesian Minister of Transportation M. Hatta Rajasa, and the Minister for State-Owned Enterprises Sugiharto who convened urgent meetings with the Airport Authority's Management in order to rapidly bring facilities into complete compliance with ICAO standards and provide any additional bridging security support, as required, during the interim period.
Senior sources at the airport report that:
Prior to the issuance of the TAS warning, the majority of the perimeter fencing concerns have been addressed with barbed-wire topped fences of up to 4 meters in height now in place in selected areas. Any remaining areas with fencing deficiencies will be addressed within the coming weeks.
A new road that will shift traffic away from the cargo-catering aprons is nearing completion and will be opened shortly.
A "Crisis Center" coordinated by the Airport Authority Administrator and under the command of the Denpasar Chief of Police was formally launched on November 28, 2005, and has already conducted two separate emergency simulations drills as part of an overall program of enhanced preparedness.
All passenger, baggage and cargo screening equipment now undergo daily operational reviews with a staff now specially dedicated to maintenance and repair.
In response to the ICAO audit, a 190% increase in security personnel is underway and expected to be completed by February 2006. To provide additional security coverage during the interim period while additional staff are recruited and trained, supplementary support in security areas is being provided at the airport by the Indonesian military.
Safe to Fly to Bali?
As stated by the TSA in their report, it is still possible to "safely conduct air service operations to and from Bandara Ngurah Rai" if proper precautions are carefully observed by carriers and the airport. The intensive and well-coordinated response on both a national and local level to the TSA report including the imminent completion of the several physical modifications recommended in the TSA audit; the introduction of an active crisis management team conducting regular drills; the massive hiring and training program now underway for additional security personnel; and bridging support from a sizeable contingent from the Indonesian Armed Forces all suggest that the follow-up review expected to be carried out by the TSA in the coming months will once again see Bali's airport certified in compliance with ICAO standards.
Garuda's Gloomy Start to 2006
Financial Default, Privatization and Foreign Ownership All Looming on the Horizon for the National Carrier in 2006.
Once ranking as the largest air carrier in the Southern hemisphere, the fortunes of national air carrier Garuda Indonesia have been in a state of steady decline in recent years. Closing offices and routes to Europe and the United States, Garuda's international reach and fleet have shrunk while the airline's executives have watched its domination of Indonesia's domestic route network evaporate in the face of a whole league of low-cost domestic air competitors.
On the Verge of Financial Default?
Just when it appeared things could not be worse for the Airline, Reuters' New Service broke the story that Garuda will begin 2006 by defaulting on a US$55 million debt payment that fell due at the end of 2005.
As reported on balidiscovery.com in [ Garuda Delays Debt Repayments to Creditors], the US$55 million repayment is due to the European Credit Agencies (ECA) and forms part of an overall debt of US$150 million and Euro 800 million owed by the Airline to the ECA.
The Airline has been struggling in the face of declining revenues to restructure its debt and rationalize its operations. In an official statement from Garuda on December 29, 2005, Garuda said it "has made significant progress in developing the basis for presenting a restructuring plan" but "additional work is required to reconcile complex inter-creditor and governmental issues."
The decision to default on the debt repayment has been formally reported to the Government who have reportedly endorsed the decision to forgo principal repayments while continuing to pay interest on its loans.
Emirsyah Satar, the President Director of Garuda has blamed rising fuel costs, intense competition, security concerns, a declining Indonesian Rupiah and the October 1, 2005 bombing in Bali as all having an aggregate deleterious effect on his company's financial status.
Garuda For Sale?
Projected to post a loss for 2005 of US$70 million following a loss of US$81 million in 2004, Garuda's financial options appear to be few with the Minister for State Enterprises, Sugiharto, signaling that plans to take the state-owned airline public in 2009 may now have to be accelerated in order to save the carrier.
No Longer the National Flag Carrier?
Comments by Indonesia's Vice-President Jusuf Kalla suggest that Garuda may be losing its privileged position as the official national airline of Indonesia.
Kalla told the press that Garuda must be viewed as a business and its potential sale even to foreign interests can no longer be considered as somehow selling the nation to outsiders. Suggesting that such thinking is outdated, the Vice-President explained how many carriers - including KLM, Malaysia Airlines, New Zealand Airlines, and Qantas have large shares of foreign ownership and control.
Separately, a spokesman for the Ministry of State Owned Enterprises suggested that there were already three major foreign airlines who have expressed an interest in buying into Garuda. The Government is reportedly in negotiations with the three to determine which among the them is best suited to help Garuda return to profitability while regaining its international reputation and route network.
A Dissenting Voice
Meanwhile, a group, calling itself the People in Support of Indonesia's Commercial Aviation (PAUKI), is opposing plans to sell the Airline to foreign interests, labeling such a move as "selling the Country." An advisor to PAUKI and the former President Director of Garuda, Mohammad Soeparno, has criticized past moves that allowed foreign investors to buy shares in existing domestic carriers as contributing to Garuda's current financial woes. Soeparno called on the Government to give a fresh cash injection to Garuda allowing the Company to return to health and be ready to compete in the increasingly liberalized world of commercial aviation.
Soeparno told the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia that with proper attention from the Government and regulations to protect the State-owned carrier Garuda could return to its "glory days of 1984-1992."
We Get Mail
Many Choose to Close the Year by Dropping a Note to balidiscovery.com.
We close out 2005 by sharing some recent e-mails received from readers reacting to several articles carried in our weekly Bali Update.
Our article on a proposed bridge connecting Sanur and Tanjung Benoa [ Sanur to Nusa Dua in 5 Minutes?] provoked incredulous comments from several readers who questioned the projected dimensions of 40 meters long and 47 meters high for the span. Our presumption is that such construction would only be possible with long and very steeply inclined land ramps at each end of the proposed structure.
On the subject of the new bridge, Warren in Australia wrote to say:
"Another insensitive over-developed proposal. US$75m! What would be the toll? You can bet the usage numbers are fiction. Am I a cynic? A bridge vastly increases the value of the folly of Serangan Island's past development. The contractors building such a bridge make a fortune. Then, the holding company folds . . .has anyone asked the residents of Tanjung Benoa or Serangan if they want this bridge?"
Travel Warnings and Solidarity with Bali
Bali's current lack of business caused many to write with words of encouragement and offer positive suggestions.
Desleigh Barry of Australia wrote to express displeasure with Australian travel warnings:
"After three trips to Bali this year I am extremely upset that the (Australian) Government is warning people not to travel there. Bali has so much to offer. We tell all our friends to go over - it is not dangerous. In Bali you will meet the most spiritual, friendly people in the world. How about selling Bali to the world? How many people really realize it is a tropical paradise full of the most natural wonders in the world. Lombongan Island needs some serious marketing! Get it onto the Getaway Show (TV) in Australia, please. Bali to me is the best holiday anyone could want. Cheap, affordable, luxurious, relaxing and just too much to mention."
"The tourist marketing needs to be aggressive right now. Let's not see Bali go under because people are too scared to go there. You need the tourists and you have to capture them by marketing this wonderful island paradise. Suggest to those terrified of being blown up to travel up to Ubud, Lovina or stay at Sanur - out of the hustle and bustle. Bali has so much to offer and I want it back on the map. Get your government to start action on advertising. Unfortunately in Australia, if a tourist operator doesn't like a spot they won't promote it. Our own travel agent had cancelled his holiday to Bali and was shocked we were headed back for the third time in three months.... We need more people like me to keep going there and boost the economy."
Peter Sullivan, also from Australia, wrote to express his solidarity with the people of Bali:
"I plan to be in Bali in after attending my sons wedding in Bandung. (Java). Friends of mine in Bali have sent e-mails saying that numbers are down and that some of them are working on half-pay pay in Bali hotels. This is very sad after the 2002 bombing when Bali strived to recover and looked well on the way to achieve its goals. We didn't need another October. All my prayers and wishes are with you always. . . The only consistent thing that we can look forward to is the balidiscovery.com newsletter each week. Those of us who return each year keep selling the delights of Bali to all our friends."
Filo in Australia offered this representative reaction to the story:
"I could not agree more with the sentiments expressed in your lead story of Bali Update #484 - Tourism vs.. Agriculture. It is the tourists themselves who will destroy Bali as a tourist destination if they are allowed to. Tourism must not be seen to equate to cheap shopping, eating, accommodation, etc.. Any third world country can do that equally as well as Bali, and will, given a little incentive and the inevitable cost increases that Bali will experience as its population becomes more affluent and expects more from its labors."
"The country side and the people themselves are the things that will sustain tourism in Bali, not more shops, more hotels, more restaurants - full or empty. These are the precious things that must be maintained in a balance with incoming numbers. Balance and harmony should be things that the Balinese understand."
"Goodbye and good luck, Made Pastika . . . You have served us well and with authority that is recognized and has made a difference for the better. I am sure you are 'certain that Bali is left in "appropriate hands' when you leave. The problems of terrorism will not go away quickly and will (continue to) impact on the Balinese peoples' well-being in a dramatic fashion. It has come to a terrible decision in my life that I will not send clients to Bali over the Christmas period and at certain other times, because of the 'threats' to their well-being and safety . . . there are very few other major tourist centers around the world that I would have had this concern at this time. It is directly affecting me, my wife and six other family members who would also be there over Christmas but for the uncertainty of safety! They have all said 'not right now!' We will all go back later . . . Hey new guy!(Police Chief Sunarko) . . . be strong, be firm, be ruthless on those that transgress and make it safe and secure for those who wish visit and enjoy life with our Balinese friends.
Bali's I.B. Lolec of Pacific World's Nusantara Calls for United National Front Against Terrorism.
In comments published in the Indonesian-language Bali Post, veteran Bali travel professional Ida Bagus Surakusuma (Lolec), repeated the commonly reported theme that safety and security are the cornerstones to the recovery of Bali tourism, particular in the meetings, incentive, conference and exhibition sectors.
Lolec, the Managing Director of Pacific World Bali, said negative travel warnings and travel advisories discouraging travel to Indonesia called for a more outspoken and radical approach from the Central Government. "The President and the leaders of the various political parties must speak a common language and openly say that the nation is opposed to terrorism," Lolec explained.
Without such a unified expression from the government, according to Lolec, any information (we deliver) on the situation in Indonesia receives a chilly reception overseas. Moreover, he feels that over time there is the added risk that any representation of safety will be viewed with skepticism and negative presumptions.
While providing background on the lucrative incentive business, Lolec outlined that such programs are usually reserved for the most senior executives of any company, automatically necessitating that the highest security and safety standards be maintained in the chosen destination. Because of this, said Lolec, "for the short term, we can not begin to hope to attract such markets, particularly incentives."
Come Fly with Us
Luxury Private Aircraft & Jet Charter Now Available from Bali.
Bali Discovery Tours can now provide its guests with private, luxurious air charters to and from regional destination in Indonesia and beyond.
Utilizing two Jakarta-based aircraft operated by Premiair, travelers now have the option of being met and flown to Bali from airports across Indonesia and throughout Southeast Asia.
Normally, the F-100 aircraft is configured to carry more than 100 passengers, however Premiar's F-100 presents a more spacious and luxurious lay-out - carrying 11 VIP in a forward lounge and 24 business class passengers. This gem of an aircraft is the perfect solution for flights between Jakarta and Bali connecting to a whole host of regional destinations, including Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Vietnam and Australia's West Coast.
Premiair's turbo-prop Embraer 120 carries only 16 passengers, although this aircraft is normally configured to fly 28-30 people. The extra space is used to provide an ambient and seating arrangement more suited to busy business executives or discerning travelers wishing to explore Indonesia more than 17,000 islands at their own pace.
If required, the Embraer 120 can also be quickly converted into an ambulance flight.
Your in Good Hands
With flight crews trained to the highest international flight safety standards, passengers can sit back and relax while enjoying expertly presented food and beverage served by experienced service crews recruited from major international airlines and five-star hotels.
Tourism Promotion Budget Increased by 66% for 2006.
Indonesia's Department of Culture and Tourism have been allocated a promotional and marketing budget for 2006 of Rupiah 100 billion (approximately US$10 million).
With current projections suggesting that the total foreign direct arrivals to Indonesia for 2005 will come in at around 5 million a figure 6% below last year's totals, the new allocation for tourism promotion represents a 66% increase from the 2005 promotional budget of US$6 million and a de facto acknowledgement from the Government that current promotional efforts are inadequate.
Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, has identified safety and security as a central theme in the Government's drive to regain lost tourist flows. Speaking to the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, Wacik said: "One of the keys to promoting tourists to visit Indonesia will be guaranteeing the security and safety during their stay. Because of this, a budget of US$10 million or around Rp. 100 billion has been approved for promotion and marketing."
Is it Enough?
Although a significant increase from past years promotional allocations, the Indonesian expenditure remains relatively small in comparison to competing destinations, such as Malaysia (US$60 million) and Thailand (US$100 million).
The Minister, who had optimistically targeted 6 million foreign visitors for Indonesia early in 2005, now blames the under performing tourism sector on the lingering effects of the 2004 tsunami and the October 1, 2005 Bali bombing.
National Intelligence Agency Opens Bali Office
Spy Center to Boost Island's Security and Nation-Wide War on Terror.
In a low-key ceremony on Friday, December 30, 2005, closed to the press, the Chief of Indonesia's National Intelligence Agency (BIN), Syamsir Siregar, officially opened the Bali office that will serve as a base for at least 20 intelligence officers.
The Bali headquarters has been given the name "Bali Indah Nirwana" (perhaps not coincidentally resulting in the same acronym as "Badan Intelijens Nasional" BIN), is located directly behind the offical office of Bali's Governor.
Although the press were not allowed to tour the facility, Siregar, the retired general who now heads the spy agency, explained the decision to open a branch BIN office in Bali to the Jakarta Post saying, "the idea is that we will be faster in reporting and knowing the situation in each territory."
Local high-ranking officials who attended the opening ceremony for the Bali BIN offices refused comment to reporters seeking details of the internal facilities and high-tech equipment believed to now be in place at the new Bali intelligence center.
Grow Your Business While Supporting Bali
Leading Business Educators Holding Half-Day Seminar in Hong Kong, Friday, January 13, 2006 with Proceeds to Bali and NTT PATA Chapter.
Four of Australia's leading business educators are volunteering there services and conducting a half-day seminar on Strategies for Profitable Business Growth in 2006 on Friday, January 13, 2006 at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Hong Kong.
Admission to the event will cost HK$500 per person with all proceeds going to the Pacific Asia Travel Association Bali and Nusa Tenggara Chapter.
Outstanding Collection of Presenters
Kerry Larkan - a Consultant living and working in Hong Kong and specializing in the Talent War. He consults, speaks and writes on the issues surrounding the skills shortages and the growing war for talent in a global economy. Kerry is passionate about staff retention and the development of strategies to find, inspire and keep talented people and his topic will cover how you can grow your business by being a Talent Manager.
Steven Howard - a leading positioning specialist, marketing consultant, and author whose 24-year marketing and sales career in Asia Pacific has covered a wide variety of fields, ranging from consumer electronics to publishing and from a national airline to personal financial products. He will speak on strategies to improve customer retention.
Brad Tonini - CEO of Tonini Group Australasia, a niche consulting firm that specializes in improving business performance. His work takes him all over the Asian Region and Australia and New Zealand. Brad's focus is on High Performance Results, Developing a Champion Entrepreneur Mindset and Creating a Competitive Advantage. He has authored 3 books and more than 10 video and audio learning products. His talk will cover the 7 keys to time, happiness and success.
Tom Verghese - Founder and Director of Cultural Synergies, one of the leading intercultural management consultancies in the Asia Pacific region. He advises organizations on managing culturally diverse work environments to improve individual, team and organizational performance. Tom is Indian by ethnicity, grew up in Malaysia and lives in Australia. Tom will present ideas on how to benefit from diversity in the workplace.
Learning While Assisting Bali
Those in Hong Kong on January 13, 2006 are encouraged to join this unique event featuring four great conference speakers in one place, in one morning. All presented for a recommended minimum donation of HK$500 in support of Bali's tourism industry. Those who do attend will hear cutting edge profitable ideas on Business growth that you can implement in 2006.
Bookings can be made by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or telephoning Hong Kong at ++852-9035-1073.
Going Native in Bali
Travel Writer Sandra Scott Discovers that Studying Bali's Culture is Still the Best Way to Construct a Perfect Island Holiday.
Sandra Scott, contributing to travellady.com - a site dedicated to contributions from professional travel writers recently spent a holiday in Bali dedicated to immersing herself in the Island's dance, music, food and religious cycles.
During her visit she studied dance at Conrad Resort and Spa, Bali; received cooking lessons from Bali's Master Chef Heinz von Holzen at Bumbu Bali; learned the art of local flower arrangement; broadened her knowledge of the local language by speaking to hotel workers; and joined worshippers on a visit to Bali's sacred Pura Tanah Lot.
Enjoy Sandra's complete account of her travels via the link provided.
AsiaSpa Magazine Names Bali 'Asian Spa Capital of 2005.'
On November 11, 2005, AsiaSpa Magazine held it first ever Baccarat AsiaSpa Awards (BASA) in a lavish cocktail and spa cuisine evening at the InterContinental Hotel in Hong Kong.
With 16 categories and over 100 nominees, the BASA focused on excellence in several fields including overall spa expertise, atmosphere and professionalism. The awards also highlight quality innovation in the specific categories of events, academies, training, design, treatments, products, cuisine and marketing - earning the awards their rightful place as the most comprehensive awards of its kind in Asia's spa industry.
Over 120 spa owners and industry leaders were on hand in Hong Kong to learn the final decision of a panel of 18 Asia-based judges, consisting of experts who have covered and experienced Asias flourishing wellness industry. Carefully hand-picked by AsiaSpa Magazine, one of the region's leading luxury health, beauty and spa magazines, editor-in-chief Catharine Nicol explained, "All the spas we report on are worthy of one award or another, so our judges had a tough time choosing them. We are delighted that you have been recognized by some of the movers and shakers in the spa world to be among the best of the best."
Bali The Best Asian Spa Destination
The Island of Bali was signalled out by the judges, receiving the special recognition of Asian Spa Capital of the Year. Accepting the trophy on behalf of Bali was the Indonesian Consul to Hong Kong, Nugroho Aribhimo, Counsel for information at the Indonesia Consulate-General in Hong Kong.
Shown on balidiscovery.com is a picture of Bali Tourism Board (BTB) Chairman, Bagus Sudibya presenting the Baccarat AsiaSpa award to Mary Darling, representing the Bali Spa industry during a brief ceremony held in Bali on December 12, 2005.
Baccarat AsiaSpa Awards 2005
In-Spa Training of the Year Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts
Spa Academy of the Year - Frederique Academy, Hong Kong
Spa Marketing of the Year Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
Spa Treatment of the Year Watsu, Mandala Spa, Boracay, Philippines
Spa Cuisine of the Year I-Spa, InterContinental, Hong Kong
Medi-Spa of the Year The Farm at San Benito, Philippines
Spa Event of the Year Turning Point Spa Seminar, Singapore
Spa Association of the Year Spa Association of the Philippines
Asian Spa Capital of the Year Bali
Spa Products of the Year Pevonia
Spa Personality of the Year Ingo Schweder, Director of Spa, Mandarin Oriental
Spa Exterior of the Year Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, Chang Mai, Thailand
Spa Interior of the Year CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand
Retreat of the Year The Farm at San Benito, Philippines
Urban Spa of the Year CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand
Destination Spa of the Year Mandala Spa Boracay, Philippines
A Passage to India
Starwood's Stephen Ford Moves to Regional South Asia Role in New Delhi.
Bali-based Area Managing Director for Starwood Hotel & Resorts Indonesia, Stephen John Ford, will be leaving Indonesia early in 2006 to assume a new assignment as Vice-President, Area Managing Director, for Starwoods overseeing operations in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The New Delhi-based posting is effective from February 1, 2006.
During his two-years in Bali, Ford was responsible for operation of 10 Starwood properties in eight Indonesian cities, operating from a base in Bali. During his tenure the Sheraton Laguna Resort was voted Best in Class 2004 under the Starwood Engagement Index - marking the hotel as a very positive working environment by its staff. Conde Nast Travelers 18th Annual Readers' Choice Awards 2005 also saw the Resort named to the best 100 hotels in the world and the among the top give resorts in Asia.
Ford has more than 35 years experience in the hospitality industry, having worked throughout Asia, South Africa, USA and the UK. Prior to joining Starwood, he held a management position with Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts Group, Southern Sun and Zimbabwe Sun.
The links below provide access to the graphical version of the Bali Update.