August 27, 2021 | By Graeme Kemlo

From a logistics and guest experience perspective, the Howard Springs quarantine facility outside Darwin gets a big tick from experienced business events practitioner, Suzanne Hart who flew home on a government-arranged flight from Bali with 185 others last week.

Hart, who owns SHE (Suzanne Hart Events) in Melbourne, has been working on events in Bali for the past five years until she retired in late 2019.  She opted to return to Australia to see her family, but also because she felt “very unnerved” by the rapidly spreading virus which was killing some frontline doctors and nurses in Indonesia, despite having been vaccinated with the Chinese Sinovac. Hart also received Sinovac.

Speaking from Howard Springs, Hart reflected on the recent “emotional roller coaster” of the repatriation flight experience, saying she was initially wait-listed and did not expect a seat on the flight, but had to return two negative COVID tests within 48 hours before she was told with less than 24 hours’ notice to pack one suitcase and go to Bali airport.

Suzanne said it was a very emotional experience. “There was a big cheer on the plane when we landed and tears in many eyes”.

Like 2,000 others at the Howard Springs facility, Hart can sit on her balcony outside a self-contained bedroom with a shower. There’s a red line on the balcony she cannot cross, but she is philosophical.

“There’s a lot to be grateful for here and I don’t mean to sound like an old-age hippie, but there’s not a day goes by that I don’t just stop and count my little blessings.”

Full of praise for the facility she says, “I have never experienced anything like this in the way that they have set it up, the attention to detail with the systems and the processes.

“I am fairly interested in it coming from an event background. Detail is what we all do in the business events industry and that detail in making sure that every single thing is covered and every step of the way there is somebody there to tell you where to go next.”

Among the positives she’s experienced at Howard Springs were the attitude of staff, anti-virus precautions, 24×7 telephone monitoring of physical and mental health, food quality, with options to order extras (no alcohol) online plus infrastructure such as WiFi.

“The systems and processes were so comforting that there’s a sense of confidence that you feel when you arrive and you are a little bit overwhelmed.”

After 14 days, Hart will fly to Perth next week where she expects to return to work in business events.

Suzanne Hart will be documenting her experience at Howard Springs personally for micenet in the next few weeks