Yozua Makes: A True Indonesian Icon

 

Yozua Makes, one of the region’s top lawyers and the entrepreneur behind the Plataran hotel group, explains how he is helping to boost Indonesia’s profile as an international destination.

Interview by Andre Syahreza, photography by Toto Santiko Budi

 

This year, the name ‘Yozua Makes’ appears in the recipients list for the Lifetime Achievement Award from the prestigious Marquis Who’s Who, joining an elite group of influencers from various parts of the world. In Indonesia, Dr. Yozua Makes SH, LLM, MM is a unique figure.One of Asia’s leading lawyers, Yozua’s international and domestic portfolio is certainly impressive. He is adjunct lecturer in the law faculties of the University of Indonesia (UI), his alma mater, and Pelita Harapan University, and he has previously studied at various leading universities in Asia and the United States. Known for his expertise in forging transnational transactions, he has handled a considerable number of large clients, including Lippo Group, Djarum Group, UOB Bank, CVC International and KKR, through his law firm Makes & Partners.Yozua’s career has not been confined to the legal realm, however. He is also an entrepreneur in the hotel and restaurant business and is currently growing his brand, Plataran Group, which celebrates its tenth birthday this year. Plataran hotels are spread across various exotic Indonesian destinations, from Borobudur in Central Java, Bali’s Ubud and Labuan Bajo in Flores, to the newest addition at Bromo in East Java. Why did this celebrated lawyer decide to take on the additional responsibility of being CEO to a hotel group?

“I entered the tourism business unintentionally,” says Yozua in his down-to-earth manner. “My wife, also a teacher at UI, and I are lovers of Indonesian culture and cultural destinations, so we decided to turn our private villa in Canggu [on Bali’s south coast] into the first Plataran hotel. From there, it developed. We never expected it to develop into a whole group of hotels and restaurants. Our aspirations were simple: to participate in the advancement of Indonesia and Indonesian people, and that continues to be our firm principle,” explains the Balinese- Javanese businessman, who is also an avid antique collector.

A sense of Indonesia’s rich cultural identity is the distinctive characteristic of Plataran. This applies to every resort and restaurant, including a restaurant in Tokyo, where Indonesian flavour is found not only in the interior décor but also in the friendliness of the waiting staff. It’s a concept that brings almost every aspect of the business to life, from marketing to landscaping.

Every Plataran hotel is developed with consideration for the surrounding environment and culture of local communities. Each resort has been designed to blend in with the natural environment, often with beautiful land contours at high elevations that are tiered to make the most of 360˚ views. Guests not only enjoy the luxuries of a five-star hotel, but also have the opportunity for direct contact with nature and local people.

Hospitality with impact

“In my opinion, as a sustainable business concept, the tourism business cannot be separated from surrounding social elements. Staying at a hotel that has no interaction with the surrounding nature and the community feels like staying at a cold, pretentious lighthouse. At Plataran, we always involve the local community, including local SMEs, and local culture as a way to attract tourists,” says Yozua.

His concern for nature is reflected in Plataran L’Harmonie, a flora and fauna conservation forest in western Bali where guests can see animals living freely, a place Yozua refers to as ‘God’s Secret Courtyard’. In 2016 and 2017, Plataran L’Harmonie was listed as one of the world’s Top 100 Sustainable Destinations by Green Destinations, and in 2018 it received the Luxury Forest Resort award from World Luxury Hotel Awards.

This year, the Plataran CEO is in full swing with his ‘hospitality with impact’ campaign, an appeal for the tourism industry to consider the social and natural impacts of every tourist activity. For Yozua, this is not merely a hashtag, but an approach that permeates his business philosophy, tested over a decade of experience expanding Plataran.

“Business and social impact are like the chicken and the egg. For me, business comes first, so that afterwards it can have a social impact. This has been my principle for 10 years building Plataran and this will continue to be our business philosophy in the future,” says Yozua, who chose the phrase ‘A True Indonesian Icon’ as the Plataran tagline.

The entrepreneur is still thinking big: he aims to further popularise Indonesia as an international destination through its iconic tourism sites, while ensuring visitors enjoy an authentic and timeless Indonesian experience. Ultimately, he wants his projects to be remembered as a home-grown effort that has a positive impact on Indonesian communities.

As his campaign gathers pace, we can only watch and wait to see what this intriguing Indonesian trailblazer does next.