Jakarta Hotel Security

Jan 8th, 2010, in Travel, by

Jakarta HotelSix months after the bombings, is it “business as usual” for Jakarta hotels’ security?


Fast Track logo

Fast Track, the travel show on satellite/cable TV channel BBC World News, featured Indonesia recently: one report covered tourism (especially diving) and reconstruction in Aceh five years after the tsunami, another about hotel security and terrorism.

I must admit that I watched with some trepidation. “Fast Track” seems fairly open-minded, but here was a travel show that seemed like it would once again reinforce stereotypes that a) Visitors to Indonesia were at great risk of attack and natural disasters, and b) Indonesia was full of terrorists.

Anti Terrorist
Move along, nothing to see here… Jakarta’s Anti-Terrorist Police on a training drill in Bali

The story about hotel security – watch it here – discussed how hotels in recent years have become attractive targets for terrorists trying to attack Western people and/or businesses.

Unfortunately, all the major 5-star hotels in Jakarta apparently declined to be interviewed, with only the relatively small and obscure Alila Hotel agreeing to discuss their security procedures.

Alila Hotel, Jakarta
Alila Hotel, Jakarta

So, let us be more helpful to prospective visitors to Jakarta and provide reviews of some of these hotels’ security arrangements. Please share your thoughts below about the following questions:

  1. Is hotel security is a major consideration for you when choosing a place to stay in Jakarta?
  2. (Where applicable) What Jakarta hotels have you stayed at since July 2009, and were their security arrangements sufficiently safe and professional?
  3. In your opinion, has the quality of Jakarta hotels’ security improved since July 2009, or is it the same like before?

N.B. These are not intended to be general hotel reviews as such. You can write them here – and it would be nice if you did – by following these instructions.


33 Comments on “Jakarta Hotel Security”

  1. berlian biru says:

    Good Heavens, is that an old Saracen armoured personnel carrier in the Bali picture? Those things were already obsolete when they were on the streets of Northern Ireland in the 1970’s, well I remember the distinctive whine of their engines as they accelerated into (or occasionally out of) some bit of “aggro” or other, ah memories memories.

    Anyway, as to the Jakarta hotel security, it is the same as airport security around the globe; it is purely for the optics, theatre if you like. It might catch out some stupid terrorist once in a blue moon but it’s main purpose is to give the impression that something is being done.

    We walk through the screening arch and the “beep” goes off, just as it always does, and the satpam waving his magic wand over your bag, smiles politely as he waves you through, just as he always does, and you’re supposed to believe that this somehow will deter a terrorist. It won’t and it doesn’t matter, you are more at risk of being knocked down by a Metro-Mini, so relax.

  2. Chris says:

    To get the ball rolling, here are my feelings:

    1. Is hotel security is a major consideration for you when choosing a place to stay in Jakarta?

    No, it’s not really a major concern for me. However, I do worry a little when I read stories like this one here:

    A five-star hotel manager in Surabaya told me he found his shiny new walk-through machine an embarrassment. It was working too efficiently and revealing the concealed handguns worn by many top business gents.

    The manager sought help from the police. His employees were loath to try to seize the weapons as a man will not willingly divorce his pistol. Even if they were successful, how could untrained staff handle and store guns?

    The police’s advice? Ignore the weapons, as most would be licensed. That made everyone feel much safer.

    2. (Where applicable) What Jakarta hotels have you stayed at since July 2009, and were their security arrangements sufficiently safe and professional?

    I have stayed at three Jakarta hotels recently: Crowne Plaza, Hotel Borobodur and Hotel Nikko.

    CP had the most obvious security presence, with six guys checking cars on arrival (although one time my taxi did get waved straight through), a sign in the lifts alerting guests to stricter security arrangements, and another in the restaurant asking patrons not to bring large bags or leave their belongings unattended.

    HB and HN had similar security arrangements. HB had a much greater proportion of local/Indonesian guests than the other two, which depending on your perspective could be bad (easier for a terrorist to blend in) or good (less likely target). HN had a very long and circuitous entry for vehicles, which also could be bad (annoying for everybody else) or good (discouraging for terrorists).

    3. In your opinion, has the quality of Jakarta hotels’ security improved since July 2009, or is it the same like before?

    Yes and no.

    I noticed that all three hotels now have airport-style x-ray machines to scan guests’ bags, not just the magic wand metal detector like before.

    However, I caused the walk-through metal detector to buzz a couple of times, yet never got examined further.

  3. David says:

    1. Is hotel security is a major consideration for you when choosing a place to stay in Jakarta?

    Not at all, although I might avoid the biggest names like Marriott for obvious reasons.

    2. (Where applicable) What Jakarta hotels have you stayed at since July 2009, and were their security arrangements sufficiently safe and professional?

    Stayed at Manhattan recently. You walk through the detector thing and then they wave the wand at you somewhat apologetically. They opened bags first time in, and if you brought a shopping bag or something in later they might search it, or not.

    3. In your opinion, has the quality of Jakarta hotels’ security improved since July 2009, or is it the same like before?

    I’d imagine they’ve beefed up the routines, wouldn’t really know.

    Incidentally, the shopping mall security has got to be the biggest joke….

  4. Ross says:

    I rarely stay in Jakarta’s posh hotels, but have had occasion to visit both the Marriott and the Four Seasons in recent months.
    Both appeared to be very security conscious and even checked my little desk-keys from my work, that I’d inadvertently carried in my pocket.

    Right, Patung! It’s the shopping centres that invite attack, with little or no security checks in some of them, notably Sarinah, which I have mentioned before and is still as lax as ever.

  5. David says:

    I hope it doesn’t come to this:

  6. eshape says:

    Is hotel security is a major consideration for you when choosing a place to stay in Jakarta?
    –> No

    (Where applicable) What Jakarta hotels have you stayed at since July 2009, and were their security arrangements sufficiently safe and professional?
    –> N/A

    In your opinion, has the quality of Jakarta hotels’ security improved since July 2009, or is it the same like before?
    –> same like before

  7. Burung Koel says:

    1. Is hotel security is a major consideration for you when choosing a place to stay in Jakarta?
    2. (Where applicable) What Jakarta hotels have you stayed at since July 2009, and were their security arrangements sufficiently safe and professional?
    3. In your opinion, has the quality of Jakarta hotels’ security improved since July 2009, or is it the same like before?

    1. It is when I have the choice. Then I will pick a mid range place on the basis of convenience and cost, which will no doubt be less vulnerable to any ‘terrorist’ attacks. However, the various companies, organisations and governments that I have worked for almost all insist on staying in one of the foreign-owned five star places, which are (counter intuitively) actually more dangerous.

    2. Sari Pan, Marriott, Four Seasons. Basically all they do is a cursory screening of guests and visitors, however it is now very difficult to get close in a vehicle, and vehicles tend to get a pretty solid going over (mirrors, boots etc).

    3. It hasn’t changed much since the Marriott bombing. I think a ‘terrorist’ is unlikely to undertake a front on assault through the main door anyway – it’s more likely to be a well planned inside job. I wonder how the hotels go about screening their staff and/or sub-contractors?

  8. Odinius says:

    If you are worried about terrorism, stay somewhere locally owned, as it’s unlikely to be targeted. But even if you stay somewhere foreign-owned, it’s not likely to be targeted while you stay there.

  9. intan pritasari says:

    hi.. i am intan.. i agree with odinius..
    here in jakarta, there are increasingly indicative occupancy for locally owned/guest house, semi apartment (with service apartmnetn standart), after last bomb..

    this property ussually located in center jakarta (strategic one).

    I know it, because i work for this industries for about 6 years.

  10. Purba Negoro says:

    Perhaps Australians should not send spies masquerading as businessmen to Indonesia.

    Then they won’t be legitimately targeted for funding secessionist movements.
    Australia pretended it could play hard ball- we showed them not only can we play- we play harder and for keeps.

    Notice how Australia is back on its correct place on its knees before Indonesia, post Marriott?
    Wonder why… Ask ASIS.

  11. Oigal says:

    Purba, you truely are an ignorant offensive idiot

  12. Oigal,

    Please keep to the topic and avoid personal insults.

    This post is about Jakarta hotel security. Most hotels in Jakarta don’t have to have screening machines, x rays and sniffer dogs: it’s only those frequented by foreigners. Of course, to some such hotels are off the radar screen as their main patrons are the brown man.

    Just FYI, at IM, (and in civilized company in general), criticisms have more credibility if they’re directed at the idea rather than the person.

    Purba is just a patriotic Indonesian, a cyber-version of the silat masters and pendekars who defended their kampungs against the Dutch. Perhaps that is really what offends you: a brown man talking back.

  13. David says:

    Purba is just a patriotic Indonesian

    No, he’s British.

  14. Mr. Purba,

    Any comment ?

  15. Oigal says:

    Assmad, Some of those killed were friends of mine and to have some ignorant pommy twit make such nonsense statements as

    spies masquerading as businessmen to Indonesia.

    in an effort to appear…who knows what the sad creature is thinking..is repugant and pretty much applies to you if you think people getting maimed and killed (both Indonesians and others) such things are fair game for trolling.

  16. realest says:

    Purba Negoro (PM) Says:
    Then they won’t be legitimately targeted for funding secessionist movements.
    Australia pretended it could play hard ball- we showed them not only can we play- we play harder and for keeps.

    Patung Says:
    April 16th, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Purba is just a patriotic Indonesian

    No, he’s British.

    Did the notion ‘we’ suffice to tell that Purba is an indonesian? Either that or i woke up this morning with Britain having annexed Indonesia overnight?

  17. Well, Oigal, sorry about your friends. That’s sad. But there are alot of injustices in the world and terrorism is just one of them.

  18. Oigal says:

    1. No your not,
    2. True enough but to make them those people the butt of your lame trolling is just pathetic even for you. I cannot tell you how much I look forward to discussing it with you in a more appropriate location one day.

    In the meantime… You don’t deserve any more effort

  19. Oigal,

    1. How would you know ?

    2. Next time, you might want to air personal sensitivities earlier. You know the kind of conversations that go on here.

  20. Odinius says:

    Sometimes I find the “characters” on here funny and interesting. This is not one of those moments.

  21. Purba Negoro says:

    Not British.
    Javanese.
    Try again Reales aka Adichandra aka Dragonwall

  22. David says:

    Right PB, I’ll throw some words and names at you and see if they ring any bells:

    Mary, Bath, Monash, PMS, Sean.

    If you come back and say no you don’t know what I’m talking about then I’ll feel free to link to the page I found those words, since, if it’s not you then it’s just some guy with no connection to the site so no harm in it.

  23. Oigal says:

    Right PB, I’ll throw some words and names at you

    Always a risk calling a bluff..this should be interesting..

  24. realest says:

    Who’s dragonwall? I was correcting Patung on your nationality, try to keep up next time.

  25. Odinius says:

    Speaking of IM’s stable of “characters,” whatever happened to Aluang? I remember someone called him out on not really being Indonesian and he disappeared. I’ve always wondered if he came back with a new character…

  26. venna says:

    People who change their online characters are not really big problem. They will remain the same, since the contents inside are the same whatever color or names they use. And even sometimes it is disturbing, it is still less annoying compared to the personal attacks.

  27. Swagman says:

    Sometimes I find the “characters” on here funny and interesting. This is not one of those moments.

    Agreed!

  28. Oigal says:

    Well at least I am consistently obnoxious, thats gotta count for something!

  29. Swagman says:

    @ Oigal

    I do not find you the least bit obnoxious. I cannot say the same for Purba Negoro … he is quite offensive and, if he is indeed Indonesian, I know he only speaks for a small minority of his countrymen/woman.

    I believe hotel security is as good as it can be given the resources this country can afford to such efforts. Unfortunately terrorists will always target the places they can reek the most havoc and gain the most publicity for their perverted cause.

    Purba Negoro wrote:

    “legitimately targeted for funding secessionist movements”
    “Australia is back on its correct place on its knees before Indonesia”

    Second thoughts, Purba cannot be an Indonesian as he is from another planet, a Martian perhaps.

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