Kevin Deisser, CEO of Invest Islands, believes that the Mandalika MotoGP event has led to an increase in tourists visiting Lombok. As a property development company, Invest Islands is also attempting to capitalize on this significant opportunity for the tourism industry in the area.
The increasing interest of tourists in visiting Lombok has supported the recovery of business and tourism sectors of the island. Kevin Deisser, Chief Executive Officer of Invest Islands, says that “the Mandalika MotoGP event in mid-March was a success in terms of raising the image of the West Nusa Tenggara region in the international tourism arena.”
Kevin and Jack Brown have developed luxury accommodation and real estate across Lombok through Invest Islands, a property development and brokerage firm they founded in 2015. The Gran Meliá Lombok Resort and Spa, which will open in 2025, has been built by Invest Islands in partnership with the Meliá Hotels International group and various other investors. This project is the first step for Invest Islands in attracting more real estate investment in Indonesia, according to Kevin.
Yohanes Paskalis, a former Marriott International marketing team member in Mallorca, Spain, is also actively establishing a foundation to assist local residents in Lombok's tourist area. Kevin spoke with Yohanes Paskalis of Tempo last week about his plans in Indonesia. The following is an excerpt from the interview:
What services does Invest Islands provide to the property sector?
In addition to property development, we assist investors in finding secure land at reasonable prices in Indonesia. We used to actively direct investors to civil infrastructure projects such as roads, water, and electricity. However, we later expanded the offer to provide a more complete object, such as real estate. We now also provide assets and properties.
How do you see the Indonesian property market, especially properties in tourist areas?
In general, the potential market in Indonesia is growing rapidly. I am relieved that we have selected Lombok as our commercial area. Lombok was not well known outside of Indonesia until around 7 or 8 years ago, but I believe it has great potential. Our dreams began to come true after the Mandalika MotoGP.
How is the Gran Meliá Lombok Resort and Spa project progressing?
We previously managed several plots of land in Lombok totaling approximately 10 hectares. This land is owned by ten of our client investors. If the locations of these lands are traced, it is evident that they are close together, so we propose that investors build a resort together. Otherwise, good land may only have a few private villas which are not connected to each other.
How will the Invest Islands team bring this proposal to life?
We must move to Hong Kong. Our clients come from all over the world, but the most of are based in Hong Kong. We explained the concept of a five-star resort that we designed with friends from Inspiral Architecture and Design Studios. As it turned out, all of the clients agreed, so we began this project.
Many people were surprised at first because we usually manage flat infrastructure, but now we're working on five-star accommodations. However, we are reasonably confident. We started work with the Meliá Group two years ago after finalizing the design and signed the contract for this project a year ago.
What exactly is the Gran Meliá Lombok project?
In Torok bay, south Lombok, we are focusing on two main areas. The project encompasses 16 hectares of ‘hill’ land and more than 2 hectares of coastal land. The two areas are incredibly close. We have prepared 25 luxury accommodation units on the beach, complete with a beach club that welcomes guests from outside the resort.
We have 60 private executive villas plotted across hilly areas. For large groups, such as families, these villas can be rented per unit to maximize occupancy. When it's quiet or low season, it can also be rented by the room. There is also a large clubhouse with three luxurious restaurants, a gym, a wedding reception area, a spa, waterfall recreation, and so on.
How much investment is required for the Gran Meliá Lombok project? Is the price in line with what Invest Islands clients expect?
The development of these two areas cost approximately $80 million. In a country as large as Indonesia, land prices differ considerably from one location to another. Lombok's landform is similar to that of Bali in terms of geography, with beaches, highlands, etc. However, land in Bali can be 20 times more expensive, probably due to its greater tourism appeal. Land in Lombok is still relatively affordable, not even comparable to cities in Europe. It has a lot of potential to grow over the next 10-15 years.
What is the complexity for Invest Islands in obtaining licenses for the Gran Meliá Lombok project?
Local governments, such as the regent, are incredibly supportive of developers like us. However, it could be difficult at times if there is a lack of coordination between officials, for example, those at the governor's level and those at the hamlet level. Hopefully, communication will optimize, and property investors' businesses will profit.
What do local authorities want?
They are pleased because we provide job opportunities. We do require experienced personnel to construct a five-star resort. We hired PT Tunas Jaya Sanur, who has worked on many hotels in Bali, but we can still hire local Lombok workers for small jobs like security and catering.
How do you see the competitive market in the Lombok luxury hotel business?
In Lombok, we see no competitors in the five-star lodging segment. Novotel, Pullman, and some new players in the Mandalika area are some of the closest players to us, but their segments are different. Most competitors provide hotels with multiple rooms, whereas we provide private lodging. There are similar products in the Senggigi area of Lombok, but they are not international brands that can compete with us, so we are optimistic that we can build our own market.
What is the Invest Islands marketing strategy? Would the real estate and tourism industries return to normal?
We have increased our project promotion through various marketing channels, including clients in Singapore and Hong Kong. We can market the project while waiting for the tourism industry to recover because it is still under construction. Consider how other hoteliers are struggling to renovate and repair their assets that have been vacuumed for the last two years as a result of the pandemic; some have even gone bankrupt. We were fortunate that the Gran Melia project did not begin leading up to or during the pandemic.
How will Invest Islands work, particularly in the occasion of a pandemic?
We developed a more adaptable promotion system. Prospective buyers in the property world typically need to see the land we sell firsthand, which is difficult to do during times of mobility restrictions. Finally, we invest in marketing technology, such as 360-degree virtual reality technology.
The size of investment products has also been reduced in order to make them more affordable to our customers. We must actively seek investors in order to survive. Invest Islands established a representative office in Bali to seek new investor opportunities. We also expect to open a branch in Jakarta due to the large number of potential investors in the capital city.
Invest Islands is developing social foundations in Lombok in addition to running a property business. What exactly is the main objective of this foundation?
The Invest Island Foundation has been around for four years, long before our real estate project. We build schools, provide jobs and income to local residents, particularly women, and initiate recycling programs through waste banks through the foundation. Another reason we work with the Meliá Group is that they care deeply about ecosystems and social issues. Mandala is also our new foundation for a tourist village on Lombok. There, we construct clinics, international schools, and other community projects.
What are Invest Islands' long-term goals?
After finishing the Gran Meliá Lombok, we plan to pursue a number of other exciting projects. We are looking into collaborating with a number of other lodging providers that I cannot name right now. We will, however, continue to grow this business in Lombok for the next 20 years. We prioritize projects that benefit local communities.