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Jakarta hotels face new security challenges

18 Jul 2009

If security measures adopted by Jakarta hotels were among the most stringent in the region before today’s bombing of the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels, expect them to become even more so in the days ahead.

While three hotels – Hotel Mulia Senayan, Shangri-La and Grand Hyatt – interviewed by Business Traveller Asia-Pacific , declined to go into details, their spokespersons were unanimous in saying they had responded to this latest crisis swiftly and decisively.

“Security has always been high, but we are still stepping up our alertness,” said Rully Rachman, director of sales and marketing of Hotel Mulia Senayan. “Procedures are now tighter, not only for guests but also for staff.”

Back in January, R Applebaum, general manager of Hotel Mulia, told Business Traveller Asia-Pacific: “We’ve even trained our guestroom attendants to be alert when making up rooms, to be aware of guest corridor movements which seem unusual. But we have to tread the fine line and educate our employees to be vigilant without being intrusive.”

“Even before this morning’s bombing happened, we were already checking bags and cars before entry,” said Ratna Sjamsiar, director of communications at the Shangri-La Hotel Jakarta. Erika Anggreini, marketing communications manager at Grand Hyatt Jakarta, echoed this sentiment of constant watchfulness and preparedness.

Ever since the first terrorist attack on the JW Marriott in 2003, followed by the Australian embassy in 2004, many hotels in the city were forced to redesign their traffic flow management. They enforced rigid examination of vehicles, usually at the street level before allowing them to approach the porte coche. They also set up metal detector units located before the lobby entrance to scan visitors and their personal belongings.

Alan Orlob, vice-president, Corporate Security and Loss Prevention of Marriott (who was in his room at the JW Marriott and getting ready to go down for a breakfast meeting when he heard the explosion), added that the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton had always scanned guest luggage, a procedure common to a majority of hotels in the city. The victimised hotels had not been lacking in their security measures, he emphasised.

But now with evidence emerging that the perpetrators of the attack were actually customers checked in at the JW Marriott, reportedly staying at room 1808, hotels face a new set of challenges. Orlob said: “As terrorist tactics evolve, we will have to evolve with them.”

Margie T Logarta and Joshua Tan

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