Keeping busy during downtime

An empty swimming pool…

It’s been more than 6 months since we haven’t been able to welcome you to our resorts. But we are not sitting idly while time is passing by during this relative downtime. We do the opposite: working hard. So in this post I want to share how we keep ourselves busy in our empty resorts…

First of all, we just can’t sit still. Personally I believe that the more energy you put into something, the more you will get out of it. Maybe it sounds a bit “esoteric”, but I find a comforting truth in that statement.

It was and will always be teamwork

We refuse to simply send people home to fend for themselves until better times return. No, instead we keep them within our family and keep them around our place. Of course we pay them every last rupiah we can share, and in return people help keeping our resorts neat. Some will do maintenance or simply hang out to share some food and music. Of course socially distant and with hygenic concerns top of mind.

Sometimes, team members will drop by our resorts without expecting anything. Some people get bored with staying at home, and are looking for a distraction. So dive guides pick up a broom or housekeeping staff take care of our gardens, for example. This happens in both of our resorts – Manado and Lembeh.

And you know, it’s just nice to be in a place that is alive with activity. It makes it much easier to keep moving and to forget the pandemic and its global stranglehold. It’s a welcoming diversion!

Keeping busy with PADI Courses

Our PADI Course Director Simone (always the teacher) is busy with organizing a PADI Rescue course with some of our school kids.

Satoka is also teaching, she’s running a PADI Divemaster course with another group of our students.

Proud students…

For both of these courses, we are not generating any income. However, we can’t accept our school students (who worked as dive guides all over Indonesia before the pandemic) to just sit at home. As you know, supporting our communities has always been one of our priorities, so we continue to teach them. The money will come later.

In addition, Simone is teaching an Instructor Development Course with two guests from South Africa. This couple have been with us since March and are unable to fly back, so they figured now is as good a time as any to follow this challenging course.
Again, it’s great to have so much to do.

Pizza Thalassa

Running two resorts is costly, so we are forced to look for additional sources of income. That’s why we recently opened our pizza delivery service.

If you’ve ever had a pizza during your stay here, you already know how delicious they are. So now we are sharing our pizzas with the Manadonese as well. Thus far, the reviews have been nothing but positive.

We also open our resort to local guests every weekend for dining, swimming or even staying for a night in one of our spacious bungalows. Our construction team has started expanding our pizza bar, so that our staff have more space to work. This makes it easier to cook everything in one place.

The pizzabar expansion under construction

We market to the Manadonese primarily using Instagram (which is quite popular here) and so far we are getting a decent number of inquiries and orders for delivery. It’s not enough yet to pay our staff a regular salary, but it does help keep the lights on.

Local diving club

The Bunaken Marine Park is officially still closed, but as soon as it’s reopened we plan to have divers back in the water. Therefore we’re starting a local scuba diving club for Manadonese. The great thing about this is that our dive guides can get busy again, because nothing’s better than being in the water.

Online marketing

Keeping you up to date via our social media is of course another way to stay busy. Our newsletter, Facebook and Instagram pages are the tools we depend on to deliver you anything from updates to videos.

Streaming live

We started our first Facebook Live broadcast back in May, with more than 20 hours of streaming done by the time of writing.

We’ve had help from “expert-guests” such as Graham, Steven, Mark, Brendon and many others who shared insights into their fields of expertise. From underwater photographers to marine biologists, they provided us with hours of interesting and entertaining content.

And in case we can’t secure a guest-speaker, we come up with our own subjects, and the prep work for each “show” is also enough to keep us busy. More importantly though, it’s just fun to do.

For example: last week we took our viewers under water, exploring the Molas Shipwreck right on our doorstep. The response was great and people loved to be underwater with us, even if only virtually.

The decision to broadcast live is probably one of the brightest ideas we had during this heart-breaking pandemic. This is because we gained a loyal following of viewers who are (almsot) always there “with us”, and it’s great to see everyone participate with so much enthusiasm.

Lots of ideas

So you see, we’re always busy. And that’s good, because just passively waiting for the coronavirus to pass doesn’t do a lot of good either.

And let’s be clear about one thing, we would much rather not do all of the things listed above. We’d rather take you diving, teach you an Open Water course, or drive you through the Minahasa highlands, just to name a few examples.

At the end of the day, this situation is tough for everyone, but at least we preserve a sense of “purpose” during these crazy times. We can’t wait to welcome you again, so it’s important you and us keep our wits about us, use common sense and take care of each other.

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Picture of Arjen Bokhoven

Arjen Bokhoven

I'm a PADI Advanced Open Water diver, I do guest relations and resort management at Thalassa Dive Resorts Indonesia. Whether I'm diving the walls of Bunaken to spot schools of fish & turtles, or explore the sandy flats of Lembeh with its fascinating underwater creatures- I love all of it.

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