It’s been six weeks since the last guests left the resort and we had to shut down because of Indonesia closing its borders to foreign travellers and tourist activities being prohibited. Physically, we are all doing fine, and the virus fortunately hasn’t reached the island yet. At the beginning of the crisis, some of my friends asked if I considered returning to Switzerland, but that was never really an option for me. I naturally thought my place was here with the team. And since my job is mainly making sure potential guests don’t forget us and keep dreaming about a holiday with us, I am still fairly busy, trying to communicate the beauty of Raja Ampat to the world.
Despite the financial uncertainty threatening our resort, many of us enjoy the quiet times and the fact that we have more free time than during normal resort operation. But it’s not always easy to motivate yourself if there are no deadlines. Especially, if the main purpose of a resort cannot be fulfilled: to provide a relaxing, pleasant and unforgettable holiday experience to our guests!
With renovations, cleaning and finally doing the things we’ve always wanted to do but never had the time, there is plenty of work for all the remaining employees on the island to fill their days. And we still have a clear schedule with a little shorter, yet strict work hours. Just like people around the world working at home, we also had to keep up the structure and the daily routine.
And yet, the prospect of another few months without guests on the island, is not particularly motivating. I sense a certain laxity among everyone, including myself. Not that we don’t want to do a good job, but we are slower, extending the breaks by a few minutes here and there, finishing a few minutes earlier in the evening, etc. We feel it doesn’t matter, because there are no guests waiting.
It’s not about the missing minutes of work or the physical presence. But the energy is missing too, and that bothers me. Anybody who’s met me knows that I am usually a very energetic person. I need a certain speed – even though now adapted to the island rhythm – and deadlines to be productive.
How do we motivate ourselves? Some of us do more sports - jogging, working out, Zumba sessions, etc. Others go snorkelling on the house reef or take a kayak to explore the mangrove lagoons around the island. And we keep up certain routines that we also have with the guests, such as our ‘Happy Sunset’ once a week: we meet at 7pm at the bar to have a drink while watching the sunset and listening to the Pef band play their island tunes. Afterwards, we all have dinner outside from a little buffet prepared by our kitchen team. We enjoy feeling like guests for one evening, sitting at the bar and sipping a cocktail mixed by the boss personally.
It helps to have events like this one and to continue spending time together with the entire (remaining) team here. On normal evenings, it now takes roughly 15 minutes for everybody to eat their dinner and disappear to their rooms immediately after, where they often stay and make phone calls or watch videos. That’s why we also organize a movie night once a week for everybody and various games on Saturday afternoons which are organized by a different department every week.
I’m sure these little events will help us keep up our motivation and strengthen the team spirit. But there’s one thing we can only do ourselves - we have to believe that Raja4Divers will survive as a resort and that someday soon we will be standing at our jetty again with a coconut drink in our hands, welcoming our guests to Pulau Pef.
I never even dreamt of working on a remote island in Indonesia, but life has a way of taking care of itself…