The recent APEC CEO Summit held in Bali has led to unprecedented growth and development for the island, and how the government and service providers leverage existing opportunities will determine its MICE performance post-APEC.
By SAMANTHA COOMBER
In the months and even years leading to Bali’s hosting of APEC CEO Summit 2013 (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) early October at high-security beach resort Nusa Dua, this high-profile global event – and its anticipated aftermath of boosted large-scale events and visitor numbers – has been a catalyst for the island’s upgrading of infrastructure and MICE facilities, and unprecedented hotel development.
Major infrastructure upgrades in 2013, steered by the Balinese Government to facilitate the APEC Summit, are also part of ongoing efforts to solve the island’s urgent “challenges”.
Ngurah Rai International Airport (NRIA) is just completing a massive US$277 million redevelopment project, taking its annual passenger handling capacity from seven to 25 million, accommodating larger planes and providing a new transit Novotel Hotel. Opening in time for APEC, these new terminals will also help accommodate Bali’s anticipated high visitor numbers.
Now operational, Simpang Siur Underpass has already reduced traffic bottlenecks at the Dewa Ruci junction near Kuta, connecting south Bali’s major tourist areas, while the new toll road, elevated over coastal waters connecting Benoa Harbour, Sanur, Nusa Dua and NRIA, opened in September; built, again, to solve chronic traffic congestion and drastically reduce journey times.
As the official venue for October’s APEC 2013 and better primed for post-APEC international demands such as WTO’s Ministerial Conference in December, Bali Nusa Dua Convention Centre (BNDCC) completed its Phase Two development this August, tripling its convention and meeting spaces to 75,000 square metres (sqm), with new facilities such as a convention hall and a five-star hotel complex. BNDCC is now Indonesia’s largest convention centre, accommodating up to 12,000 delegates.
In response to increased demand for world-class venues and VIP events in Bali, 368-room AYANA Resort and Spa launched new technologically-advanced meeting and conference facilities. As one of the APEC Summit’s hosts, it features a secure new garden complex with a separate check-in area, six contemporary-designed breakout rooms including a 150-seat auditorium and a 22-seat VIP boardroom, and a ballroom extended by 45 per cent to accommodate up to 900 attendees.
These upgrades strategically coincided with the September launch of RIMBA, a 297-room resort within AYANA’s grounds. Created both as a self-sufficient facility and additional back-up accommodation and meetings support for AYANA, RIMBA offers a 300-sqm ballroom, three versatile conference rooms with latest conferencing technology, and a rooftop function area.
“Along with Bali’s upgraded infrastructure, these new five-star facilities support Bali’s continued growth as a destination for international conferences and meetings,” states public relations/marketing communications manager, Frederic Heydemans.
An official APEC Summit venue and host to the Miss World 2013 pageant in September, Bali International Convention Centre (BICC) integrated with Westin Resort Nusa Dua (both Starwood-managed) completed a US$4 million facelift in August. Featuring upgrades to public spaces, external landscaping and meeting rooms, they resulted in a more contemporary look and modernised IT and audio/visual capabilities. Highlights include 26 revitalised function rooms, VIP holding rooms, a 506-seat auditorium with a built-in stage renamed as Mangupura Hall accommodating 2500 delegates, a multi-functional exhibition hall (1363 sqm) and a new lounge. Westin Resort’s own revitalisation programme includes a new 94-room accommodation wing near BICC.
“These upgrades elevate BICC to a world-class meeting venue,” states director of marketing communications, Dewi Anggraini. “Key target markets are Asia MICE, government meetings and events and domestic.”
Also in Nusa Dua, Nikko Bali rebranded in July to Grand Nikko Bali, introducing new facilities such as an 11,840-sqm Multi Purpose Event Facility Function venue (MPF) with a pillar-less 1008-sqm ballroom and avant garde design and technology throughout.
“Grand Nikko is a designated APEC resort and will be involved in meetings for embassies and high-level political delegations before, during and after APEC,” states general manager Jean-Charles Le Coz.
Notable properties opening 2013 include a 415-room Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua, partially opened September in readiness for APEC, with a grand ballroom (662 sqm), five meeting rooms and a multi-function beachfront grand room (573 sqm). The five-star property closes after APEC for construction completion, re-opening Q1, 2014.
Starwood further entrenched its MICE player status with two new five-star properties; prime examples of alternative, diverse facilities in destinations removed from MICE epicentre, Nusa Dua.
Offering Kuta’s largest MICE facilities is Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort. Opened December 2012, it features nine event spaces totalling 1600 sqm.
Jimbaran Bay also gets new MICE upgrades with the May launch of 118-room Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran; 645 sqm of ultra-modern multi-functional events space includes the glass-encased Celebration Pavilion (144 sqm) and Bale Banjar Ballroom (155 sqm) on the resort rooftop. Additionally, Westin Ubud Resort & Spa, rescheduled to open 2014, promises sophisticated new MICE facilities in unchartered MICE territory, Ubud.
Launched June, Regent Bali Sanur is Sanur’s first international beachfront property in four decades and this luxurious, 94-suite Regent flagship offers high-end, small-group upscale alternatives: a sea-facing lounge terrace caters for cocktail parties and dinner settings, while the Library works for intimate, high-level meetings.
“Sanur isn’t regarded as a destination for MICE or high-end clients, but this may change with Regent Bali’s arrival and the new toll road – the airport and Nusa Dua now just 20 minutes away,” states PR manager Ria Leimena.
Post-apec fall out?
Bali’s MICE business has been increasing year-on-year and its potential as a MICE destination has now shot up markedly. The destination is now primed better to compete on the world stage – attracting larger events and building more destination awareness beyond traditional markets in Southeast Asia.
“The expansion of Bali’s infrastructure and capabilities of hosting global forums will add that much exposure to what already is an international destination,” confirms Sheraton Bali Kuta general manager, Dario Orsini.
“Bali is definitely ready for post-APEC. Most of the issues related with traffic have been dealt with pre-APEC and along with the airport, should keep Bali in reasonably good stead for the next 24 months, plus security overall is well-maintained. The next big issues will be water supplies and waste management,” states Grand Nikko’s Mr Le Coz, who also represents Bali Hotels Association.
The Balinese government seeks to tap the promotional opportunities gained from 2013’s large-scale conferences, developing the island as a prime MICE destination. Bali needs to build upon this momentum and specifically promote the island as a conventions destination to secure major events; if not, there may be fresh challenges filling the new MICE venues and room oversupply.