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Elite Talk with Head of Events Rara Suprastini

in Destinations/People/Weddings by

Rara Suprastini has been in the events and weddings business for over a decade. As Elite Havens’ Head of Events Indonesia, she oversees villa arrangements and other details for important occasions. Dealing with clients directly, she knows in-depth what they want and need.  We sat down with her to find out what its like organising and managing multiple assignments. (She makes it looks easy!)

Elite Havens: Hi, Rara. Can you tell us a little bit about your role?

Rara Suprastini: My team and I take care of booking events. More often than not, these are weddings, but we also do quite a lot of retreats and a few birthdays. We are here to help wedding couples or any guest looking for a special celebration in Bali.

EH: Say, for example, a couple is looking for a villa for their upcoming wedding. Should they come to you, because it’s a special event?

RS: Yes. That’s right.

EH: And then you will help them choose the villa? Set up the event?

RS: Absolutely. I was a wedding organizer here in Bali, before I started working with Elite Havens. So I know what brides are looking for. First things first – a fabulous venue. A bride usually knows exactly what she wants, ‘I want a beautiful villa on the cliffside. I want the sunset as the backdrop.’ They already have a dream, a perfect wedding that perhaps they’ve been thinking about since they were kids. The ideal venue is the first thing on their checklist.  And of course, the venue affects the budget as well. We try to lead them to the villa most suited to what they have always imagined.

EH: Do they visit the villa?

RS: Usually, yes. After seeing the villa in person, they are usually a hundred percent sure that it’s the villa they’re looking for. We are quite different from other villa companies – we take our time with this. Our approach is more hands-on and personal, because we assist them in their search for the ideal luxury villa.

EH: What’s the next step?

RS: One thing we always propose to our clients, is to connect with a reliable wedding coordinator.

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Influencer of the Day: Nikita Willy

in Culture/Destinations/People by

One of Indonesia’s biggest stars, Nikita Purnawa Willy was born in 1994, in the Minangkabau region of West Sumatra. The renowned actress, singer and model has 6.1 million followers on Instagram and is a national icon. Her rise to fame began when she was only 8 years old, as a TV commercial model. Nikita recently became a vegetarian and aims to be more environment-friendly. This desire extends to her beauty businesses as well – she is the owner of Dreamy Skincare and Dreamy Clinic. We chatted with Nikita during her stay at one of our elite havens, Villa Windu Sari.  

Elite Havens:  How was Ramadan? Any unforgettable memory this year to share with us?

Nikita Willy: This year, Ramadan was quite hard for me. I was mostly shooting on location, under hot weather conditions, while fasting at the same time. There was scene where I needed to cry while delivering a romantic line. That was perhaps the hardest one to do while I was fasting.

 EH: What special tradition do you have in your family for Eid ul Fitr?

NW: I always stay home with my family at least for 3 days during the Eid ul Fitr holiday. Eating Eid food and spending time with close ones. Every person in the family who is not married yet, gets special treats from older family members, presents or some cash.

But this year is very special for another reason. For the first time, I’ve indulged myself by flying with family to Bali on the first day of Eid ul Fitr, and staying at an Elite Havens villa. I am so excited to be in the villa, and to spend my Eid ul Fitr holiday with friends and family.

EH: What is your favorite Eid ul Fitr food? Does your mom cook that for you?

NW: I belong to Padang, West Sumatra. The traditional food from my place is ‘Bebek Gulai Hijau’. My mom doesn’t cook this dish because it is quite hard to make in Jakarta. So instead, we ask our family in Padang every year to send it to Jakarta.

EH: This is your second time staying with Elite Havens,

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Elite Talk with CEO Jon Stonham

in People by
Jon Stonham, CEO Elite Havens

20-year travel veteran, fearless sailor and serial entrepreneur, Elite Havens Group CEO Jon Stonham rarely stands still. How did this British engineer come to be Asia’s luxury villa company maven? What is he up to now?

During the course of his early career, Jon Stonham clocked up many hotel nights – and admits to some disastrous personal hotel choices in Asia along the way; reliable reviews were thin on the ground at that time and local travel agents provided a flawed, under-informed service. Realising he was by no means alone in seeking accurate opinions to guide his choice of hotel led him to start asiahotels.com. Remember, this was in the mid-1990s, when internet marketing was in its infancy. The pioneering website quickly became one of the most popular Asian hotel portals, attracting some 30,000 unique visitors a day; it was the first website to introduce customer reviews in the region, and the first to employ staff specifically to inspect hotels and provide honest independent feedback for potential customers. It also spawned best-selling guides, such as Asia’s Best Hotels & Resorts.

Elite Havens: Tell us, how did an engineer end up owning a villa company?

Jon Stonham:  Frustration. There is a saying, “When you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life.” Well, that’s possible a little drastic, but I was in London and knew I wanted a change. So 25 years ago I moved to Asia and haven’t looked back since. Initially – and I’m talking about a time when the Internet was at its infancy and people barely had email addresses – I was working at Hong Kong Telekom. I made some disastrous hotel choices in those early years and that’s why I started asiahotels.com. As it turns out, my pioneering move into the travel industry was a big success. We sold the company in 2005 and started focusing on villas. Our goal was the same: to help every guest find their perfect holiday villa. Here we are more than 10 years later with over 250 fabulous villas welcoming more than 60,000 guests a year. It’s been an interesting journey!

Jon Stonham with Elite Havens staff

EH: You took time out between ventures, to do what?

JS: Well, it’s only a four-hour flight from Hong Kong to Singapore [where I’m now based], but my trip took considerably longer – I went on a two-year/12,000-mile sailing trip around Asia.

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Through The Keyhole: Villa Pangi Gita’s Villa Manager

in Destinations/People by
Bali villa staff

A beautiful traditional Balinese resort in the middle of CangguVilla Pangi Gita is a feast for the eyes. A large garden winds through each spacious ironw00d-shingled hut which are reminiscent of traditional Balinese huts. One feels enveloped in local culture with traditional Indonesian decor and a private, jungle-like refuge by the pool. Best of all are the wonderful staff and delightful food, all adding to 24-hours of pure professional service and absolute getaway bliss.

We interviewed the villa manager, Wayan Gede Adinata, to find out what else makes Villa Pangi Gita so special.

Elite Havens: Wonderful day, Gede! What do you think makes Villa Pangi Gita unique?

Gede Adinata: The style, architecture and the atmosphere. We even have a client, a retreat group, that comes back twice a year, such is the pull of the villa. 

Villa staff

EH: Can you tell us about the spirit tree and its significance? 

GA: The huge banyan tree in front of Villa Pangi Gita is the owners’ favourite tree. They call it ‘The King Tree’. Balinese Hindu believe that the banyan tree is most sacred tree of all. We believe that the tree is the place where God manifests. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says, “Of all the trees, I am the Banyan Tree.” The tree is also the reflection of the spiritual world. You will find one dressed in chequered cloth, in most temples in Bali. At Villa Pangi Gita, we trim it once a year to keep it looking tidy – the owners call the treatment ‘an annual hair cut’.

EH: What should guests expect when they stay here – outside the norm of other villa experiences?

GA: A quiet and comfortable place, very close to the heartline of Canggu and Batu Bolong. The best food on the island is right here at Villa Pangi Gita.

Warm welcome

EH: What can you tell me about your team here?  What makes them special?

GA: We are a family, they work together and enjoy each other’s company.

Woman wearing traditional costume

EH: Gede, what’s your philosophy in life? 

GA: As a Balinese, my philosophy in life is Tri Hita Karana– this means three causes of prosperity, which is Pawongan (relationship among people), Palemahan (relationship of person with nature or environment) and Parahayangan (relationship of person with God).

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Niseko Calling: Andrew and Annie Craig Enjoy the Powder

in Destinations/People/Recreation by

As we move into a new era (and new season) for Niseko Boutiques and Niseko Gourmet, let us tell you a bit more about Andrew and Annie Craig, and how they will be making your next Niseko stay more than A-okay.

Andrew Craig

Having worked with luxury yachts and properties in Southeast Asia over the past 20 years, this Australian hospitality specialist knows what it takes to provide high-quality experiences to discerning guests.

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