A Ramadan like no other: Sari Pacific Jakarta steps up to keep tradition alive in Indonesia

A Ramadan like no other: Sari Pacific Jakarta steps up to keep tradition alive in Indonesia

—— And smiles while it does it.

Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, is different this year, with mosques—as with other places of worship—closed in many parts of the world and gatherings temporarily banned.

In the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country of Indonesia, the warnings against congregating for prayer for the start of Ramadan have been strong, and the millions that would usually take to the roads and trains for ‘Mudik’, the annual exodus to home villages across the archipelago, have been urged to stay home.

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia and home to some 34 million people, has naturally been forced to act cautiously, the normal buzz of the city temporarily hushed. And for hotels, this has meant a dramatic reduction in bookings, sprawling empty event spaces and closures.

But for some, like the Sari Pacific in central Thamrin Street, there has been a realisation that through COVID-19 and Ramadan, they have a vital part to play in keeping tradition alive.

A new role in the midst of a crisis

Sari Pacific Jakarta is one of many hotels that have leveraged their quality food and beverage offering. While the property’s restaurant is closed to public dining, it has ramped up its food delivery capabilities, which are playing a crucial role for those taking part in Ramadan and has been very successful for the hotel so far.

Throughout Ramadan, Muslims taking part do not eat or drink anything during daylight hours. Rather they consume one meal, the ‘Suhoor’, just before dawn and another, the ‘Iftar’, after sunset, which means a tailored food and beverage offering is required.

“For the morning delivery, the guests call us to place the order. We then take the food to their room before sunrise, and in the evening, after dark, we do a special home delivery as well,” says Niko Wicaksono, Director of Marketing Communications at Sari Pacific Jakarta.

In what is a very difficult time for Muslims so accustomed to connecting as a group during Ramadan, the hotel is happy to be helping keep this key tradition alive.

Upholding a positive outlook for the months ahead

With the strictest of precautions in place, the Sari Pacific in Central Jakarta has remained open to provide a sanctuary for locals in a time unparalleled.

As well as offering reduced rates for seven and 14-night stays for those seeking to isolate, Sari Pacific Jakarta is also actively encouraging local professionals not able to work easily or effectively from home the opportunity to book in for the day at a reduced rate.

To be confident in this approach, the lengths that the four-star hotel is going to is extensive. As Niko explains, “The safety of our guests at this time is the most important thing to us, so it’s been crucial to implement a strict policy around health and hygiene. This includes measuring everyone’s temperature on arrival, providing them with access to disinfectant, and then every hour throughout the day cleaning all of the high touch surfaces, like lift buttons and door handles.”

At the time of writing, there are approximately 7,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 635 deaths in Indonesia, however there are fears the true number is much higher. While as many as 80,000 in every one million people have been tested in places such as the UAE, only 219 in every one million people have been tested in Indonesia, where the population exceeds 270 million.

Discussing the situation, and when asked about the return to normalcy at the Sari Pacific, Niko conceded he was hoping it would happen soon.

“We don’t know when the recovery will come, but hopefully it will be at the soonest and we are optimistic that once it is clear, we will see the horizon rise up and we will be ready to welcome travellers back, led by the domestic market first.”

For now, the hotel has started a ‘smiles’ campaign as a reminder it is available for guests, today and in the future. Each evening until the end of May, the property will be lighting up rooms in the shape of a smile to convey the message that the hotel is still open for business and that, in the fullness of time, everything is going to be just fine.