Posted in People on 1 May, 2024

Following Banyan Tree’s celebrated debut in Dubai, Dharmali Kusumadi discusses his role as Senior Vice President – Design and Development and shares the brands ambitions for the future.

Hailing from Semarang, Central Java, Dharmali Kusumadi honed his craft studying architecture in Bandung, Indonesia. Fueled by an unwavering passion, his journey has led him from design-build contracting to shaping Banyan Tree’s hospitality offerings. Joining the group in1991, Kusumadi has been an integral part of the Banyan Group. Now serving as Senior Vice President at the Singapore headquarters, he oversees the design and technical advisory services as he spearheads project and business development.

What was your first introduction to Banyan Tree and what was the company’s original draw?I joined Banyan Tree back in 1991 as Assistant Project Manager for the Bintan project. I was immediately drawn to the company’s commitment to integrating luxury with a deep respect for local culture and the environment – and I have stayed ever since!

Buahan, a Banyan Tree Escape

How would you say Banyan Tree has evolved as a brand over the past 33 years?
Banyan Tree has undergone a remarkable evolution, transforming into a globally recognized brand synonymous with sustainable luxury. This journey has been characterised by a
seamless integration of traditional charm with modern elegance.

What began as a singular brand has expanded into the Banyan Group, establishing itself as an independent hospitality group with a diverse and influential multi-brand presence in the global market. The brand’s growth signifies not only a remarkable journey but also a testament to its enduring commitment to delivering exceptional and environmentally conscious experiences.

Angsana Riads Collection

As SVP what are you responsible for and what is your main area of focus at the moment?
My role starts with Business Development and involves overseeing the design aspects of Banyan Tree’s projects worldwide. Currently, my main focus is ensuring that our designs align with trends that are evolving within the industry, while maintaining the brand’s essence. I am also involved in Banyan Group’s global projects where I focus on finding the right partners to our hotels and resorts during the business development process.

As a group, we are in the business of discovery – delivered through our leading hospitality, lifestyle, and Wellbeing brands. From the world’s foremost resorts to innovative sustainable solutions, the experiences we offer encourage our guests to expand their perspectives through journeys that provoke a deeper awareness of ourselves and our place in the world.

How would you describe your leadership style?
I lead with a collaborative and adaptive approach, recognising the diverse talents within the design team and fostering an environment that encourages creativity.

2023 saw the launch of Banyan Tree in Dubai. Could you share a little about that journey?
The debut of Banyan Tree in Dubai represented a momentous milestone in our expansion journey. The property acquisition in Dubai was carefully executed with a primary focus on upholding the intrinsic values that define the Banyan Tree brand, all while seamlessly incorporating the opulence synonymous with the vibrant city.

The hotel’s architectural framework, a crucial aspect of our brand identity, was already harmonized with our vision. For Banyan Tree Dubai, the Design Architect was WS Atkins, Dubai office, with the Architect and Engineer of Record being ATK from Dubai. The original interior design was crafted by KCA International from London, and for the conversion to Banyan Tree, the interior design was masterfully executed by BLINK from Bangkok. This collaborative effort ensured that the essence of Banyan Tree was intricately woven into the fabric of the property, creating a unique and luxurious experience for our guests in the heart of Dubai.

Buahan, a Banyan Tree Escape

Banyan Tree is synonymous with simplicity and understated luxury. How does this align with the excessive exuberance of Dubai?
Banyan Tree Dubai is a unique property, a true Urban Resort, where you enter through the metropolis and escape through a beach resort. Rather than competing with the opulence that characterises the city, Banyan Tree’s commitment to refined elegance offers a distinctive and complementary contrast. In this juxtaposition, our brand philosophy thrives, providing a sanctuary of senses and sophisticated comfort amidst the vibrant and extravagant backdrop of Dubai. The common thread weaving through all Banyan Tree properties, regardless of location, is a commitment to infusing interiors with the timeless elegance and luxury synonymous with our brand.

Why was a presence in Dubai so important to Banyan Tree?
We recognised the importance of establishing a presence in Dubai as a strategic move to embrace a global audience.

What does Banyan Tree look for in a potential location?
Banyan Tree seeks locations rich in history, diverse landscapes, and vibrant cultures. Our chosen sites serve as canvases, allowing us to create immersive and authentic experiences that resonate with the local essence. The convergence of history, landscape, and culture forms the foundation for our distinctive and memorable destinations.

What can we look forward to in 2024 and beyond?
In 2024, Banyan Tree anticipates 19 hotel, resort, and residence openings, including the commencement of the Laguna Lakelands project in Phuket and the recently opened Banyan Tree Dongguan in China. Notable openings also include Banyan Tree Higashiyama Kyoto in Japan, Banyan Tree Veya Valle de Guadalupe in Mexico, Garrya Mu Chang Chai in Vietnam, and Cassia Sokcho in South Korea, to name a few. Our expansion plans underscore a commitment to sustainability, introducing more people to the beauty of our destinations through thoughtfully curated and adaptable projects.

And finally – when it all gets too much- where do you go to regain your sense of self?
My work is mostly located in the exotic destinations or the metropolis. So, my getaway places of choice are mostly in remote locations, that are still rich in nature and wildlife. Recently these have included Antarctica, Patagonia, North Hokkaido, Alaska and a safari Africa. Other times, I like to visit places rich in architecture, culture and history like Italy, Peru, Japan.

Banyan Tree Dubai


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