Team Building in Indonesia – an inspection report

Team Building inspection report
I travelled to Indonesia from 22nd November to 25th November 2014 for one of our client to inspect team building venues, accommodation and suppliers for their yearly South-East Asian staff outing and conference. The team building conference will be held in Bogor in January 2015 for 74 people from Thailand, Malaysia, Europe and Indonesia.

Team Building in Jakarta
I left Bangkok by Air Asia on 22nd November 2014. The flight was comfortable with friendly flight attendants and the flights departed and arrived on time. All meals on board must be purchased in cash. The flight arrived in Jakarta terminal 3, a rather provincial looking terminal (Thai airways arrives on terminal 2). 15 kg luggage is standard at Air Asia.

44-seater Big Bird Coach

44-seater Big Bird Coach

Team Building with Big Bird charter bus
Big bird  is Indonesia’s second largest bus company; also operator of 30% of Jakarta’s taxis. The bus depot is located in Mampang Prapatan Raya, Jakarta and is clean and well maintained. There are five category of busses available:
1) 10+1-seater mini vans
2) 12+1-seater luxury vans
3) 26-seater mini-coach
4) 44-seater coach
5) 54-seater monster-coach

12+1-seater luxury van

12+1-seater luxury van

The vehicles are all Mercedes Benz and, modern, well-maintained and in excellent condition (the ones that have been shown to us). The 12+1 luxury van is a real jewel; spacious leather seats, wooden interior and meticulously clean. This type of van is strongly recommended for our group as airport transfer.
Reserving a vehicle with a certain number plate cannot be done in advance and the exact vehicle will be allocated only a few hours before pick up time.\

Big bird coach supplier

Big bird coach supplier

Mesa Grand Kemang Hotel
The Mesa Grand Kemang located in Kebayoran Baru (South-Jakarta) is a business hotel popular with foreigners close to a lively nightlife district. There are three room categories, Deluxe, Grand Deluxe and Junior Suites. I stayed in a Grand Deluxe rooms, one of only four corner rooms (no. 222). The room is spacious with all modern amenities. The safety deposit box is modern with a four-key digit, the bathroom well maintained with hot water running quick and steadily.

Mesa Grand Kemang, room 222

Mesa Grand Kemang, room 222

The atmosphere, especially in the lobby and dining room is very pleasant, with sofas and a large selection of breakfast food items. The quality of breakfast is excellent, especially the French Baguettes as well as the large selection of cheese. Staff is friendly and efficient and speaks English well.

Grand Kemang Breakfast Restaurant

Grand Kemang Breakfast Restaurant

The hotel offers a slightly better exchange rate from Baht into Rupiah (1 Baht = 330 Rupiah) than the airport exchange counter (300).

The view from the room was not breathtaking (to a roof) and there is a rather small variety of TV channels. The safety deposit box is hidden in a small cabinet which is inside a larger cabinet and could only be located after calling reception.
The carpet in the old wing (I stayed in the new wing) looks a bit worn out.
The swimming pool quite spacious however a run-down stage in the center of the outdoor environment looks a bit strange and does not match with the ambience.

Grand Kemang Swimming Pool

Grand Kemang Swimming Pool

Positives:
+ Spacious rooms
+ Room facilities
+ General atmosphere
+ Selection and quality of breakfast buffet
+ Friendly staff & good English
+ Better exchange rate than the airport
Negatives:
– View from the room
– Outdoor ambience / swimming pool
– Carpet in old wing
– TV channels

Ikan Bakar Cianjur Restaurant
Ikan Bakar Cianjur  is one of the most famous restaurants in Jakarta and popular among locals and tourists alike. The lower floor a bit crowded with noisy and hot atmosphere (there were two air-conditioner units but unable to cool down the large room).

Ikan Bakar Cianjur Restaurant

Ikan Bakar Cianjur Restaurant

We ordered Hlapia Fish Soup (Nila Soup), Grilled Chicken (Ayam Bakar), Grilled Carp Fish (Gurame Bakar), Sauteed Pumkinn Leaves (Tum’s puncnk Labe) & West Java Rice (Nasi Liwet). The dinner was a full success. All dishes were excellent. The chicken well roasted and mouth-watering. The fish perfectly fresh and boneless. The Sauteed Pumkin Leaves absolutely amazing and the Nila Soup a tasty delight (slightly sour and perhaps not for everybody’s taste).

Team Building in Jakarta

The upstairs area is split into three, a closed (air-conditioned part), a non-air-conditioned larger indoor part with open walls towards the terrace and the terrace. The terrace could be used as a standing cocktail while sit-down dinner is best arranged indoors. The upper floor’s indoor capacity (except the terrace) is approx.. 80 guests.

Although our first dinner will be held at the Jakarta office, perhaps Ikan Bakar Cianjur Restaurant could be a back-up plan or used for lunch on day four for the delegates departing Jakarta late afternoon.

Ikan Bakar Cianjur Restaurant

Ikan Bakar Cianjur Restaurant

Positives
+ Quality and quantity of food
+ 1st floor privacy and ambience
Negatives
+ Located between Atlas Copco office and Grand Kemang Hotel
– Ground floor crowded, a bit noisy and hot

Eagle Hill – team building outbound camp
Eagle Hill  is a hill station designed for hosting team building activities and events. The ride from Grand Kemang to Eagle Hill took approx. 3 hours, and traffic at some parts was quite heavy. On week-ends and on rush-hours, both lanes of the narrow two-lane road are reserved for vehicles to drive up-hill for 3 hours, then both lanes are reserved for vehicles to drive down-hill for three hours. The schedule is changing frequently and can be looked up on the internet (only available in Indonesian language).

Eagle Hill Team Building venue

Eagle Hill Team Building venue

Large 54-seater monster-coaches are capable to drive up the serpentine road until the police station where there is a large parking area to park coaches. From there, passengers are asked to change vehicles and are transferred up the hill to Eagle Hill (approx.. 15 minutes) with small 7-seater vans, which are not in great condition.

The eagle hill outbound camp is designed for holding team building events, and particularly the view over the hilly rain forest is breathtaking.
There are six team building camps in total, each with their own private lawn area for activities. In addition, the team building camp consist of one closed conference room (without air con) and one open meeting space.

Meeting room at Eagle Hill team building venue

Meeting room at Eagle Hill team building venue

Each station is designed for team building events for 20 to 60 people. Facilities, such as toilets are poorly maintained and shared among camps. There is only one sitting-toilet facility (in camp no. 4) and the rest are standing toilet facilities.

Distance between camps are easily reached on foot within 5-minutes except reaching camp no. 1 which is 30-min hike down the hill. Camp no. 1 is located next to a roaring river.

Mouse trap team building activity

Mouse trap team building activity

The equipment includes 3 flying foxes, one mouse trap and two more activities without a name.
The mouse trap seems like an excellent team building game, funny and exciting. One person, the instructor is sitting on a chair with a bucket of water hanging above his/her head. The rest of the team is blindfolded. The instructor must give instructions to the team where to go. The team must cross a parkour of hurdles and if a hurdle is touched with any part of the body, the bucket of water will topple and the instructor will receive a splash of cold water over his/her head.

One of the know-name team building activities (I call it “Spider Net”) is designed to get your entire team through a net with large holes, while no two people can go through the same hole. Some holes are lager and some are smaller, yet every hole is large enough for a person to be carried through without touching the rope.

The third team building activity (also no-name) consisted of a large water basin and a rope stretched approx.. half meter above water. I would imagine it’s a kind of balancing game crossing the basin perhaps with the help of bamboo sticks with the entire body balancing on the rope.

Toilets at eagle hill team building venue

Toilets at eagle hill team building venue

The management speaks only Indonesian and is not professionally organized. We asked whether we could use several camps for our team and they said in theory not, only one camp could be used for one group. After asking again, they said it depended on whether other stations were booked or not on that particular day. That means we would only know on that particular day which is probably unfeasible for our group.
Management wanted to assign our group of 74 people on a station we believed was too small and not suitable.

Positives:
+ Plenty of space and lawns for team building (if more than one camp could be used).
+ Tremendous view over rainforest and tea plantations
+ Cool air due to high altitude.
+ Equipment available such as cable rides.

Rain forest at Eagle Hill team building venue

Rain forest at Eagle Hill team building venue

Negatives:
-Unorganized and not professional organization and management
– Cleanliness of bathroom facilities
– Badly maintained facilities, meeting rooms, offices, lawns, bathroom facilities.
-Judging from the maintenance of other facilities I could not recommend for any groups using the flying fox due to safety concerns (Incomparable with Beyond Limits in Pattaya –
– No back-up plan in case of rain.

Novotel Bogor
The moment I stepped food into Novotel, I could feel the atmosphere. It was pleasant, calm, soothing and relaxing. The Novotel, with its exquisite décor, lush, tropical garden, impeccably well maintained lawns and myriads of exotic plants is indeed a place of extreme beauty and grace.

Novotel Bogor lawn for team building

Novotel Bogor lawn for team building

The more upset I was of the unprofessional handling of our group inquiry. The sales manager, although good in English was a bit stiff and dry. And obviously not a decision maker. Speaking to a decision maker was apparently not possible, neither on Sunday nor on Monday. Every answer to a question had to be checked with a superior. I was offered the same rate of accommodation (only) for my inspection as the package rate for my clients that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Hard to imagine that this is a four-star international Hotel chain. To be fair, I must give the sales manager credit for coming to work on her day-off (Sunday) on quite short notice.

Bed rooms at Novotel Bogor

Bed rooms at Novotel Bogor

Charging a hefty price of approx.. 250 Baht / person for using the lawn for team building activities would have been justified if the beautiful lawns would have been available. Unfortunately not. We were asked to use a lawn that was not well maintained and quite far away of the banquet rooms (it’s probably been over used by team building activities). There was one more option of lawn outside the hotel compound that was even worse. A lovely part of lawn just in front of the entrance to the hotel and approx.. 60 m from the conference rooms was available. A bit small but doable for our group of 74 people.

Terrace at Novotel Bogor

Terrace at Novotel Bogor

The guest rooms are a bit small and appeared worn out but perhaps the lovely terrace makes up for it.
The meeting room offered to us was spacious, unfortunately, a bit far away to the team building venue and without a carpet. The echo is too apparent and unfortunately we are unable to recommend the room for our seminars or even meetings. There were, apparently no other meeting facilities available.

Meeting room at Novotel Bogor

Meeting room at Novotel Bogor

Positives
+ Ambiance / character
+ Public garden / plants / lawns
+ Lawn for team building for small groups (20-40 pax)
+ Spacious foyer
Negatives
– Organization / management
– Lawn for team building for large groups (60 pax up)
– No carpet in conference room resulting in an echo.
– Distance between banquet room and team building venue
– Using the lawn for activities is over prized.
– Sales staff not hungry to make the sale.
– Overpriced rate for inspection / accommodation
– Rooms are small and a bit worn out

Spacious foyer at Novotel Bogor

Spacious foyer at Novotel Bogor

Aston Bogor
The Aston Bogor  is located on the other side of town, split in two by a giant rivers and with a breathtaking view to Mt. Salak . Aston Bogor consist of 223 rooms, suites and cottages. It consists of two large swimming pools, 17 meeting rooms for 20-300 people, a coffee shop, a lunge & bar and a business center and wi-fi Internet access. Wi-fi internet was surprisingly fast with a steady connection.

The hotel is modern (similar to Amari Hua Hin), with warm and friendly staff. First we were shown banquet room Nirvana 1, 2 & 3, which are three separate rooms with connecting door located in wing B underneath the lobby. Pompous escalators are leading down from the lobby making it look like a convention center. Nirvana 1 & 2 together are perfect in shape for our group of 74 participants on round tables (16.4 x 18 m) for the team building seminar and Nirvana 1 (8.4 m x 18 m) should be reserved for back-up indoor team event in case of rain.

Nirwana 1&2 meeting room at Aston Bogor

Nirwana 1&2 meeting room at Aston Bogor

Nirvana is modern equipped with a fluffy carpet and state of the art lighting and audio-visual equipment. In front of Nirvana, the entire rectangular foyer is facing the outdoor terrace with adjacent lawn; absolutely perfect for some of our team building activities.

Lawn in front of Nirwana conference room

Lawn in front of Nirwana conference room

Conference room “Andrasenta” (also consisting of three rooms with connecting door), in wing G, a bit of a walk from the lobby and the room. The best thing about wing G (Andrasentra) is the access to the spacious and well-maintained lawn (which is more than 4 times the size than the lawn in wing B) as well as the privacy with an own restaurant in the upper floor. Unfortunately, each room is only 8 m x 8 m large and the three rooms connected are a bit narrow and long and not ideal for 74 people on round tables (24 m x 8 m). In addition, the foyer is a bit narrow making it look crammed.

We were offered three room types at Aston Bogor, Superior rooms, Deluxe rooms and Condotel one bedroom. We were offered only one room to inspect, the Condotel one bedroom, the other rooms were fully booked. The rooms is well maintained, with a small balcony overlooking Mt. Salak on the front side of the building or the swimming pool on the back side. The room consist of one bedroom and one living room and the bedroom is suitable for single occupancy, however seems rather small with twin beds for double occupancy.

Lobby of Aston Bogor

Lobby of Aston Bogor

The other two rooms types are 32 sqm and better for double occupancy.
The breakfast selection was enormous with independent food stalls scattered around the breakfast restaurant on the terrace. The food quality, I had breakfast just before buffet was removed, was perhaps mediocre. The bread, fruit and cereal selection was ok, and so was the noodle soup, yet the fried beef and lentil soup was a bit too sweet for my taste (I’ve later asked and they assured me that the Indonesians like it rather sweet). There was a small selection of cold cut but no cheese available for breakfast. The bacon was left in the dishes for too long and was rather fluffy.
Positives:
+ Modern and well maintained
+ Nirvana 1, 2 & 3 is perfect for the group
+ Large lawn, good shape and well maintained
+ Convenient access to lawn from conference room
+ Friendly staff and hungry for sale
+ Two large swimming pools.
+ 14 rooms are two-bedroom condotel suites & view to Mt. Salak
+ Flexibility of using two lawns (only one group at a time are allowed to do team building with the choice of using both lawns).

Breakfast buffet at Novotel Bogor

Breakfast buffet at Novotel Bogor

Negatives:
– Lawn in front of nirvana a bit small, some activities will be set up in building G.
–  Bedroom in condotel suite a bit narrow for twin beds (double occupancy)
– Hotel type similar to Amari Hua Hin yet slightly lower standard (1/4 star)
– Quality of food at breakfast buffet.

Team Building at Bogor Botanical garden
On Monday early morning before breakfast we took off for Bogor Botanical garden Although not far in distance, the ride took about 40 minutes through Bogor rush hour.

The gardens cover more than 80 hectares and is one of the largest in South-East Asia. It contains more than 15,000 species of trees and plants. There are 400 types of exceptional palms along lawns and avenues. The Gardens are a refuge for more than 50 different varieties of birds and for groups of bats roosting high in the trees. The orchid houses contain some 3,000 varieties.

Bogor Botanical Garden

Bogor Botanical Garden

Vehicles are allowed to enter the garden for a fee of about 100 Baht / vehicle. About half way through the park, there is a forest clearing with Bird of Paradise flowers along the road. Slightly elevated, there is the Grand Garden Café and Resto. The view over the flat lawn to the fountain is breathtaking. This is the perfect start and finish place for the Amazing Chase or Cultural Treasure Hunt.

The Cultural Treasure Hunt would go throughout the Botanical Garden, discovering amazing places of beauty and peace. There are signs along the roads describing plants, animals and historic events. They can be turned into clues and questions.

View from Grand Garden Café and Resto

View from Grand Garden Café and Resto

We are currently checking if 80 bicycles can be rented and taken into the Botanical garden. Answer is still pending.

We also asked the manager of Grand Garden Café and Resto if we could use the venue for a private buffet gala dinner. Answer is still pending.

In rhythm motivational drumming could be arranged on the terrace or in the garden with delegates sitting on mats in a giant U-shape.
We returned to Aston Bogor for breakfast just in time and by using a short cut, the length of the trip was reduced to 20 minutes.

View from pond and fountain to Grand Garden Café and Resto

View from pond and fountain to Grand Garden Café and Resto

Positives:
+ Venue of extreme beauty
+ Outdoor / fresh air / trees and healthy environment
+ Reasonable entry fees
+ Easy to get there.
+ Bicycles would add value for the treasure hunt.
Negatives:
– Uncertainties of which venues can be used for team building (will be clarified).
– January is rainy season and need to think of back up plans.
– Driving would be too quick and walking too slow for the treasure hunt. Need to get the bicycles.

Meetings / Interviews
Back in Jakarta, I visited the client’s office and met with one of their representatives. I informed them about the inspection trip and which hotels and team building venues I would recommend and he warned me about the rainy season and advised to have a back-up plan ready. He thought the cultural treasure hunt through botanical garden by bicycle was an excellent idea.

Then, I proceeded with the interviews:
First, I interviewed James Yohan the producer of Studio 47 He showed some sample video clips and they were excellent and probably of higher quality than the vdo delivered at our last year’s outing. The question remains if we can get him and his crew at our current budget. The answer is still pending.
After this I interviewed a tour guide who was probably not suitable for the job. I will continue interviewing tour guides through skype in the coming days.
I have also spoken with Inrhythm and we agreed on payment conditions.

Conclusion
Through out the entire inspection trip I was accompanied by Christovel and Hadi our Indonesian partners. Without their support and excellent organization, this trip would not have been so successful.
We have carefully studied suppliers, bus operators, team building venues, hotels and restaurants and we conclude to use the following suppliers and services:

• Inrhythm to organize the motivational drumming team building activity.
• Christovel and Hadi as our Indonesian partners for ground handling.
• Big bird charter bus for transportation.
• Aston Bogor for accommodation, conference and team building venue
• Bogor botanical garden as the team building venue for cultural treasure hunt.
• Potentially use grand Garden Café and Resto or Aston Bogor for theme night party.
• Secure Nirvana 1,2 & 3 for team building.

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