Looking back at 2019

Thalassa by nightfall

Although the end of the year constitutes nothing more than the physical position of our planet in orbit around the sun, for human beings it means closure. We all want a “better” new year, a “happy” or a “healthy” new year, getting rid of the “bad spirits” with fireworks to herald the new year. Out with the old, in with the new. So today we are looking back at 2019, going over a few highlights of the year…

Freediving and Archery

Early 2019 Stanley Sradaputta and Gisele Gao came to our resort to collaborate with us and start a freediving facility. Stanley is the Indonesian National Record Holder for freediving in the Constant Weight category, with an outstanding depth of 81 meters.

Archery at Thalassa
Stanley taking aim

Another passion of Stanley is archery, so we decided to make room for an archery range at Thalassa Manado. This way, our guests can channel their inner William Tell.

A veggie garden

For a while we had a little garden near our lounge at Thalassa Manado. This served its purpose well for our chefs: they would walk around the tiny plot of land and use whatever spices were growing there.

The veggie garden at Thalassa Manado
Arnol & Jendra tending to the greens

This changed when, together with our resort manager Arnol, we decided to dedicate two large plots to a fully featured vegetable garden. Arnol loves doing projects like this, so together with his team they set about planting, watering and tending to all kinds of fresh goods. As of today, the garden supplies more than 60% of all of our fresh ingredients to the kitchen, and it’s 100% organic and 100% delicious.

George & family

A lot of our staff members are considered friends by our repeating guests. This is especially true for George and his family, who loves coming back to our resort. Being one of the sponsors of our school in Tongkaina, George and his family always like to help out during their holiday. This is why they organized a day full of activities for all the kids from our school.

George’s son is studying to become a sport instructor, so he made a plan and together with our staff we set up an active field day.

There was football, tae-bo, carrying bamboo sticks as a team, and a lot more. We topped off the day with a game of killerball in the swimming pool.

Killerball with the kids at Thalassa
Killerball. The rules? We don’t know either.

In Class with Steven Weinberg

Another of our repeating guests visiting this year is author, marine biologist and world-traveler Steven Weinberg. He has written a number of books on a variety of subjects. Besides marine biology, history and travel are two of his other passions, prolifically writing a number of books on these subjects.. nd whenever he visits us, he is happy to give lectures on all sorts of marine life.

Especially his talks on the humble sea squirt is captivating. Steven will be returning to us in March 2020 and we are looking forward to another great lecture or two.

Marketing photography

In July, photographer Wahrmut Sobainsky came to Thalassa. He is a ridiculously talented photographer, and together with his wife Puck, (a graphic designer), they photographed our resorts as well as the underwater world.

We never really had “proper” photos of our rooms, with the exception of a handful of quality photos done by willing volunteers. But now we have a catalog of shots that fully capture the spirit of our resorts.

Thalassa Lembeh Bungalow
Bungalow interior at Lembeh, as shot by Wahrmut

We are visually oriented, and we make our purchasing decisions based on evocative images. That’s why it’s important that Wahrmut’s photography will entice people to book a stay with us. I think you will agree that Wahrmut did an incredible job. Most importantly, we are super happy with the results that you can find all over our website. Thank you Wahrmut!

Flight woes and worries

You might have heard this already, but Singapore Airlines decided last year to reconsolidate their flight portfolio. This means that the good old SilkAir direct flight from Singapore to Manado will be serviced by Scoot Air (also owned by Singapore Airlines) starting in May 2020.

This would be fine if it weren’t for the incredibly mismanaged transition of the flights to Scoot. Basically, Scoot tickets aren’t available after May 2020, so guests are forced to fly with Garuda with 2 layovers at Jakarta and Singapore. As a result, many people don’t want to bother with this and book their holidays elsewhere.

For us and our colleague resorts, it simply means this: no bookings. Some resorts were even forced to lay off a lot of their staff!

The good news is that the transition seems to be in its final stages, but tickets still aren’t available. We are pulling Scoot’s coattails to encourage opening sale of the tickets as soon as possible. Join the fight and demand they sell tickets today!

Updates to the website

Being properly represented online is more important than ever. This is why I took a good look at our old web design and page structure. I dove into a rabbit hole on SEO, web design and UX, discovering different ways to optimize our content.

A lot of resort and hotel websites want to sell you an “experience”. They often do this through a fantastically rich design that looks very professional. However, I decided against designing for looks only, so I made a plan for the a “robust” website.

Part of my goals was to create a site that answers potential guests’ questions. This is important to keep visitors engaged with the website. This is why many distinct services now have their own separate pages, whereas before they were just a short paragraph.

Being easy to use was another important goal. This is why I removed anything unnecessary, and put the content front & center in combination with some of Wahrmut’s awesome photography. I was trying to design it so that it doesn’t look designed, if that makes any sense.

Screenshot of our new website
A clean-looking home…

Finally, I restructured the pages so that they fall into a logical hierarchy. For example: home/diving/courses/beginners is a simple but effective structure that is logical and clear. Google’s search algorithms seem to favor sites built with this hierarchy.

Into 2020

We hope that, with the dive show season starting, and Scoot Airlines finally committing to selling tickets in March this year (fingers crossed), 2020 will once again be a year full of highlights and things to remember.

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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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