I normally write marketing articles and do Q&A with industry movers and shakers in this blog, but I would like to deviate from that and instead, write about the hospitality industry.
My start-up company in Jakarta started selling Waters Bio Mineral Pot for homes in the 4th quarter of 2014. To accelerate our sales, I began to visit my company, PT Noah Health Indonesia, two to three times a month. On a visit last March 23, 2015, I booked myself in a guest house instead of a hotel. It was my first time in a guest house and it was quite the experience.
I have been to over 10 hotels in Jakarta (from Ritz Carlton, Pullman Central Park, Pullman Thamrin, Crown Plaza, Grove Suite, Century Park, Sultan, Aryaduta, Alila to hotels in south Jakarta like Grand Mahakam, Neo, Amaroosa and Mercure Simatupang) as I like to familiarize myself with the city by traveling from different perspectives.
I chanced upon Pesona Guest House when I was looking for a hotel in booking.com and Agoda. I noticed their higher satisfaction rating than most 5-star hotels and the frequent ‘fully booked’ status and then my curiosity got the better of me. It also made sense that it was near our office (taxi from Pesona to PT Noah Health Indonesia was roughly 36,000 rupiah or less than US$3). Since access was available, I decided to try this out, hoping for the best but expecting an inferior experience versus star hotels.
A person by the name of Nana, the general manager, emailed me for reconfirmation and answered my queries (I asked if they provided toiletries because the price was already a steal).
I reached the Pesona guest house at about 4pm. On the way there, I noticed that most guest houses in the area didn’t have any signage, and Pesona was no exception. The driver got lost and had to stop twice before getting it right via a side street. Good thing I was using Bluebird, the most trusted taxi brand in Indonesia. I have always insisted on using Bluebird or Silverbird, their upscale transport sister brand.
Upon entering the house, I was expecting them to ask for my credit card, passport and online reservation form, but instead of the usual check-in procedure of a hotel, I was called by my name and escorted to my second floor bedroom immediately.
I was somehow expecting motel like rows of rooms in a guest house, but instead, it turned out to be a beautiful house with 7 bedrooms.
The staff politely asked me if I wanted a drink and maybe rest a bit but I was in a hurry to visit PT Noah Health, since the taxi was waiting for me.
I returned to Pesona at about 10pm, my typical time to return to my hotel as I try to avoid the dreaded Jakarta traffic nightmare by having dinner in a nearby mall and then watching a movie (confession: I am a movie lover!). Mel Breau, a six-footer Canadian retiree with white hair and white beard, opened the gate. I was slightly embarrassed that it wasn’t a staff who opened but one of the owners and I even wondered if I had woken them up. This was after all a house, not a hotel. His Indonesian wife Nana greeted me inside and asked my preferred breakfast as well as time the next day. I was also asked if they needed to reserve a ride for me.
Flat screen TV, cable connection and DVD player were inside my room. It had alphabetical listing of over a hundred DVDs generously displayed all to myself, the sheer quantity would have put Singapore Airline’s movie offering to shame. I have never had DVDs in any of the 5-star hotels I have ever stayed in.
The house had wonderful modern ambience and surprisingly, I slept well unlike most first nights where I would struggle to sleep. I felt at home immediately.
For breakfast, I opted for Asian Nasi Goreng with egg rather than a Western breakfast. It came with a colorful fruit platter as an appetizer. I ate at the family dining table but I also saw a table in the swimming pool area which could also serve as alternative place to dine.
Nana was very friendly unlike the usual formal hotel staff who are trained to use the word ‘certainly’ almost always. Makes you sometimes wonder if there was any sincerity in what they say.
I learned from Nana that she grew up in a big family. She eventually missed the big family atmosphere, thus, decided to allow guests two years ago. From the facial reaction of Mel, I gathered that he reluctantly agreed.
Only three rooms were being used by guests and are almost always full. Rooms used to be occupied by mostly Dutch visitors but have lately been a mixture of different cultures. Nana tries to remember the nationality of her guests.
‘Mel designed this house’ says Nana, who spent 8 years living in Canada. She kept on giving credit to her husband, in the way a lot of Asian women typically behave. She has superb people skill and I wondered if it were really true that she only has a high school education.
At about Rp 500,000 a night (less than US$40) with home-cooked breakfast, DVDs all-you-want, Jakarta post, so many magazines and superb host, this is excellent value for money. I know that when I return to Jakarta, I will have difficulty getting satisfaction after Pesona.
Pesona Guest House is located at Jalan MPR III Dalam, Nomor 3, Cilandak Barat (near Cipete Raya), Jakarta Selatan 12430, Indonesia. Email Nana at firstname.lastname@example.org for reservation.