We recently chatted with Tatiana Herrera, a Swiss national living in Lombok for the past three years. Like many people here in Lombok, Tatiana visited as a tourist, fell in love with the island and found a way to make the move full-time. Now as an experienced on the ground villa manager, Tatiana shares her tips and advice on how to successfully manage a rental property in Lombok.
- Tell us a little about yourself
My name is Tatiana Herrera, I am 33 and I like everything related to the ocean or outdoor activities. I have been a teacher and a tennis coach for the past decade in Switzerland and moved to Indonesia almost 3 years ago, where I started managing Villa Sorgas and later, Villa Strata.
- What drew you to Lombok and what made you set up life here?
My passion for Surfing brought me here initially and I instantly fell in love with the children of a fishing village named Gerupuk. Later I had the opportunity to set up the courses for a Foundation that was running educational programs in that same village and so I decided to come to Lombok for a year. Slowly getting to know the culture better, the language and the people in the area opened up an opportunity to manage Luxury Villas in the area. Everything came naturally so I could make a living here and keep doing the things I loved at a pace I was enjoying.
- What does a typical day as a Villa manager look like?
It is very diverse as there are very different aspects to the job. Updating and coordinating the daily operations with the guests, the bookings, the accounting, the staff, the villa maintenance, but also collaborating with the marketing sector are part of my daily activities. I would say half a day office work mixed up with guest relations and reacting to situations, as Indonesia can be quite unpredictable!
- What are some of the challenges you’ve faced managing Luxury Villas in Lombok?
The different work ethic and mindset. This is both a challenge and an incentive to work in such a different environment, where you are required to maintain a luxury standard, while dealing and respecting the local traditions and culture. Logistics of course can also be a struggle due to the fact that some areas of Lombok are still remote from services. Three years ago you have to imagine there was no 3G yet in Gerupuk, and you had to drive an hour and a half to get olive oil. Finding private drivers, bikes or a good spa was not an easy task at the time. However, this is now changing rapidly with more amenities now available for tourist and expats in South Lombok. Everything gets more accessible, the standards are higher and the number of services are increasing.
- A lot of people want to build a villa in Lombok but they don’t always think about how they’re going to manage the villa, what advice do you have for people looking to build a Luxury rental villa?
First, make sure you do everything legally. Then anticipate how you would want your villa to be run, and this depends mostly on how much time you are going to spend in Indonesia yourself. There are a few options; full or partial management, through an external company or with your own full time local / western management. You can also purchase a villa within a managed estate.
If you are managing the villa yourself or with your own staff a maintenance plan is important as most villas are open to the tropical elements! You also need to have a clear idea on what kind of services you will offer to guests, and how many staff you will employ. And if you do decide to have a team on-site, please don’t forget to build an area and amenities for them!
- What is the best part of a property managers job?
The fact that I don’t have a set schedule. As long as the systems are in place and they work, there is usually a window of time for me to enjoy the ocean, which is essential when you live here. Also, I get to work with the most inspiring team – both local team and owners, that care and do their best to offer a top experience to our guests. Finally, I meet a lot of people from around the world and I get to share the beauty of this island with them.