November 15, 2019

Further East
3 -min. read

AWAKEN, the Further East un-conference, was an epic start to Further East 2019 – and hosts Potato Head Beach Club provided the perfect backdrop to an afternoon packed with innovation, interactive workshops and the most exciting names in Asian luxury travel and beyond. 

AWAKEN focuses on the future, so you can solve tomorrow’s problems today. We’re rounding up the insights that will shape your work in the next five years (and beyond): according to some of the world’s leading hospitality gurus; innovative problem-solvers; and creative thinkers.


“Most hotel bedrooms are essentially boxes. So how do we go beyond the box and bring the human element into hotel design? Humans aren’t made of right angles, we’re made of curves, so how can we enjoy them in hospitality?”

Elora Hardy

Founder, IBUKU

Elora is a bamboo futurist known for her otherworldly creations that truly defy gravity – and conventional design principles. In her keynote talk at AWAKEN, she challenged a packed house to bring back the ‘human element’ into their hotels’ designs by looking to the natural world. Posing the question “what kind of spaces can we create that make us feel like we truly belong on earth?”we heard how today’s increasingly fragmented world has left humans desperate to find a connection with the earth. By creating outdoor showers; natural air-conditioning with shade; and sourcing new building materials from nature (such as bamboo – her projects, like the Spa at Permata Ayung Estate, speak to its versatility and incredible beauty). 


“When we talk about female leadership, we’re talking about nurturing and collaborative leadership – transformative leadership.”

Doris Goh, Anchalika Kijkanakorn and Seda Domaniç spoke to the transformative impact that a more equal (and diverse) leadership team can have on your culture and bottom line, encouraging guests to challenge their own preconceptions and biases to achieve parity. In Asia, as in the majority of the business world, women often grow up being taught to be submissive, so education (and funding of girls’ education) is a critically important cause for hospitality brands to support if they are to benefit from the next generation of skilled female leaders. 


“Glasses can be beer bottles; beer mats can come from flip flops; food can be transformed from fish scales.”

Rushi Krishna

Director of Creative Centre, Potato Head

Sustainability may be the buzzword on every hotelier’s lips, but it’s those who are truly going beyond – like the Potato Head Family in the most unexpected ways – that we want to hear from. The future of sustainability is undoubtedly creativity – sourcing new ideas, and embedding them into every facet of your operational strategy. 


“Wherever you are in the world, encourage your guests to discover what’s your local community. It will make their experience so much richer.”

James McBride

Partner & CEO, Nihi Sumba

James McBride isn’t a fan of the word ‘ecotourism’ – overused and overtired, he called the phrase “a cop out – too many people are calling themselves ‘eco’ by simply not changing guests’ linens daily. It should be about the responsibility you have in your heart, to your people (employees) and to those around you in your community.” Authentic community interactions – where guests are part of the solution to issues such as endemic poverty and plastic pollution, rather than contributing to the problem – benefita both guests and locals. McBride’s Nihi Sumba boasts an incredible 60% repeat rate of guests, proving that community integration is a truly transformational way to grow your business. 


“To solve your customers’ problems, you need to come up with a solution that solves it emotionally and rationally. Then leave it. If it’s still keeping you up at night, you know it’s your problem to solve.”

Tony Fadell

Founder of Nest, iPod Inventor and iPhone Co-Inventor

No one can solve everything – which is why the incredible Tony Fadell schooled a rapt AWAKEN audience on the importance of carefully selecting the problems you choose to approach. But if it’s keeping you up at night – like Bali’s sustainability concerns did Fadell – then you know it’s yours to face head on. Currently investing in the first Tesla-class electric bikes to come to Bali, he is passionate about bringing the island’s roads up to par with its other progressive cultural experiences.