Yozua Makes tells the story of Plataran Group, from its inception to how it became a prominent player in Indonesia’s eco-tourism sector.
The founder of Plataran Group, Yozua Makes, started his career as a corporate finance lawyer. After graduating from the University of Indonesia he pursued further education at several international colleges, and eventually founded his own law firm, Makes & Partners Law Firm, in 1993. The story of his hospitality company – The Plataran Group – began after a conversation between Makes and his wife, supported by his commitment to start his own legacy in Indonesia. Fast forward to today, and Plataran has become one of the leading players in Indonesia’ tourism industry, particularly in eco-tourism.
Plataran Group has a number of properties spread all over the country. Ranging from a forest retreat to a luxury resort set amidst a lush paddy field, the group’s offerings provide unforgettable vacation experiences for those longing to be serenaded by Mother Nature.
Below are excerpts from an exclusive interview.
Can you tell us the story behind the founding of Plataran Group?
My wife and I are both professional educators and have always been passionate about our homeland. I recall a conversation between my wife, I asked her “Where would you like to die?” simply because I need to know where to settle and broaden my business investments. And when she answered here – in Indonesia, I made a commitment to start my legacy here. Through a combination of our riveting passion for the country and education, Plataran Indonesia was born. I believe that the best way to educate people is through tourism. Plataran’s vision is “For Indonesia and Indonesians.” The ideology is based on the fact that Indonesians have so much passion for its country and always want to educate our fellow Indonesians.
What were the first challenges you faced in the early years of Plataran Group?
Establishing proper values, culture and building the brand. Ensuring the core of the company is rock solid.
On the official website of Plataran Group, there’s a section that mentions the three “X” factors lying at the heart of the group’s philosophy: eXoticism, eXperience, and eXcellence. Could you elaborate on these three key factors?
Our heartfelt philosophy is based on the three X factors – eXoticism, eXperience, and eXcellence – which are embodied in our character and operations, from the architecture and interior design of our properties, to our exquisite culinary offerings, unique destination experiences, and warm personalised service. Excellence and the beautiful spirit of Indonesia reside in every detail, thoughtfully crafted to deliver a completely authentic and enriching guest experience. As a true Indonesian brand, we are also committed to giving back through programmes focused on preserving Indonesian culture and improving the skills and livelihoods of our team and local communities. Furthermore, nowhere does our passion run deeper than in the conservation of Indonesia’s land and sea environments, championed through our efforts in eco-tourism development.
All in all, how would you describe the ecotourism scene in Indonesia?
Indonesia has natural potential, biodiversity, and a strong traditional and historical heritage – all of which are significant resources and capital for tourism development and improvement. Blessed with many world-class ecotourism sites, it must be used optimally for the implementation of tourism, which generally aims to increase national income and improve the welfare of the people.
What are the main challenges faced by Plataran Group and the hospitality industry as a whole in Indonesia’s ecotourism landscape?
The level of awareness and education for the market. Ecotourism is a high level of tourism. It’s not just merely about enjoying a holiday to your preferred destination, but kindly travelling with a purpose. There’s an incredibly great feeling in knowing that you are also contributing positively to the aspects that are involved.
What are the most important aspects or elements of Indonesia’s ecotourism that needs the most attention?
The crucial need for awareness to conservation, preservation and environmental care.
As a leading player in the ecotourism segment, what would you say the factors that distinguish Plataran Group from other, similar companies?
As pioneers in the industry, many are inspired to follow in the footsteps Plataran has created; some even trying to emulate or imitate us exactly. In an effort to contribute to increasing the honour of the tourism, hospitality and F&B industry that upholds integrity, Plataran Group supports the creation of an industrial atmosphere as well as fair and lawful competition. Plataran is proud of its originality, authenticity, creativity, pioneering ideals, endless drive improvement, and its iconic identity – and we also invite other business actors to be part of the growth of this respectable industry. Integrity is an important foundation in building an industry that upholds professionalism. Plataran is happy to inspire, but at the same time is ready to take a firm stand against unfair competition.
What are some of the programs Plataran Group has implemented in terms of sustainability and nature conservation?
“Plataran for the Earth” is our campaign that caters to this. One of our programs is that each time a guest stays at any of our properties or dines at any of our venues or restaurants, a tree will be planted in our preservation area at Plataran Menjangan. A total of 7,137 trees were planted in April at the West Bali National Park. We can ensure that plenty more are to come.
Has there been any formal partnership or collaboration between Plataran Group and the government in sustainability or conversation efforts?
Along the course of the years, we have eagerly collaborated through formal partnerships, institutions, and government programs in sustainability and conservation initiatives. Together with the Plataran UMKM Ecosystem, we recently held a weekend flower market event that was launched in order to welcome the rise of MSMEs in the post-pandemic era. We cooperated with producers, artists, craftsmen, and all sorts of MSMEs in Jakarta. In time we hope to further similar programs in different sectors.
Besides ecology, Plataran Group is known to also focus on cultural preservation. Can you tell us about some of the projects or programs the group has implemented in this field?
Following up on our commitments in preserving Indonesian culture as part of the “Plataran for the Heritage” program, we support the government in efforts to maintain and preserve heritage sites. This is also our constant form of responsibility and participation in the preservation of Indonesian and world heritage sites.
We’ve also heard about “Plataran for the People.” Can you give us an introduction to this campaign and its goals?
“Plataran for the People” is one of our ongoing campaigns with giving back to the community as its initial goal. Not only did we aim to collaborative initiatives with various cultural groups, but we also sought to strengthen ecosystems that occur between Plataran Indonesia and micro, small, and medium-scale business enterprises, including the supply chain that’s involved around our properties. We pursue collaborations with successful platforms to bring awareness and informative education for residents around Plataran. A recent example is a workshop about start-ups at Plataran Bromo held together with Traveloka. Our goal is to keep these workshop activities sustainable in every one of our outlets and we welcome successful future collaborations with potential partners.
More and more hotels are back in business and are welcoming back guests and travellers. How is Plataran Group handling this new situation?
Health and safety protocols are definitely enforced in each of our locations. Not only for our guests and fellow travellers, we take immense responsibility for our employees, and to that end, we still conduct regular testing for COVID-19. With the international travel ban lifted, we have been busier than ever to welcome back our guests to experience our excellent services. We have hosted great calibre events in our venues in our first semester. Just to name a few we hosted the Art Jakarta Gardens in Plataran Hutan Kota, side events for G20 including hospitality dinners, the Miss Universe 2022 farewell dinner, the SEA Games victory bicycle parade, and, recently, the state reception welcoming H.E. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of the Federal Republic of Germany.
On a more personal note, what aspects or characteristics do you think have helped you become a successful lawyer early on, and then a businessperson and an educator?
Continuous improvement. I am never easily satisfied and I look forward to face new challenges that I hope to conquer through the journeys and experiences I have endured.
What’s next for Plataran Group?
We are constantly improving our quality, our properties, our programs, and our menus to keep our title as a true Indonesian icon. Through our Circle of Friends Plataran App, we are also excited to have the digital world partake in our establishments. We want both our loyal guests and future guests to be able to easily navigate and have easy access to our programs and promotions. Another exciting news is that we are expanding our business with an iconic project in West Java that includes a resort and dining destination designed with the authentic Plataran’s trademark.
Last but not least, what is your biggest hope for Plataran Group and Indonesia’s tourism in the future?
My biggest hope for Plataran is that it can represent how a successful Indonesian company can be and also become a good role model. And my hope for Indonesia’s tourism is that the industry can recover quickly. Above all, we will strive to follow our vision of “For Indonesia and Indonesians.”