Anna Rohm: The Wanderlust Hotelier

In the hospitality business, a globe-trotting upbringing and polyglot skills are deal-sealing asset. Well, such is the life of Anna Rohm, and along with it, come a numbert of great culinary experiences.

In the hospitality business, a globe-trotting upbringing and polyglot skills are deal-sealing asset. Well, such is the life of Anna Rohm, and along with it, come a numbert of great culinary experiences.

NEARING THE END of my interview with the tall and lovely Anna Rohm, the new Resident Manager of JW Marriott Jakarta, I couldn’t help but ask her about Jakarta’s notorious traffic, to which she responds by giving me a sharp look. “Don’t be boring,” she reprimands me. Well, apparently ever since she relocated to the capital almost everyone has been asking her that.

For a free-spirit wanderlust such as her I understand how my question would be considered “boring”: she seems to enjoy life too much to revel in such a minor hassle such as the traffic. “You just have to know your way and your time in getting through the city, and of course you cannot get away from it and all you have to do when you’re stuck in the middle of it is find a distraction,” she finally provides a follow up.

Anyway, obviously we’re not meeting up to discuss the traffic. Nope, we’re here at the Marriott’s Japanese restaurant, Asuka, to discuss the important things in life. I personally am intrigued by her continental upbringing: though her parent hail from Germany but thanks to her hippie father’s occupation as a musician her childhood was spent wandering around Europe to South American countries like Uruguay to Asian countries such as Thailand. “I was eight years old when we moved to Thailand, which is probably why I love Thai food more, especially their green bean salad or green chicken curry.”

This peripatetic lifestyle has also infused her with a sense of worldly independence, and when her family finally stopped traveling and settled in Austria (which by that time the brood had already grown to an astounding nine, in which Anna was the oldest), she was the one who moved out to blazed her own path. In terms of preparing a meal, Anna started to learn how to cook at the tender age of 13. “I remember there was this old lady in Venice—where I lived once for four years—who refused her son to move in with me until I learned how to cook this Venetian dish called Sarde in Sour,” she says with a laugh.


The Perfect Coupling
Anna admits that her exposure to the world from a relatively young age in a way has inspired her to get into the hospitality business, and her polyglot ability (she speaks German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and a bit of Thai) certainly has helped her greatly in the business. “I just love meeting and interacting with people and doing it with such warmth and welcoming way. And I like that it’s full of diversity and no day is quite the same.” Soon she found herself working in reputable enterprises such as the Le Meridien in Abu Dhabi, Nile Hilton in Cairo, Egypt, and Moevenpic Dead Sea Resort in Jordan, and the Mandarin Oriental Group in Hong Kong. But currently she feels she couldn’t find a better coupling than the company that she’s working for now.

“I appreciate the luxury aspects of JW Marriott and they have such a widely successful portfolio and I am happy that I can be a part of it. You know, it’s a challenge being in the hospitality business because on the other hand there’s the competition and with a small company it can be hard to grow. Marriott definitely invests a lot in their people, in their task force so to speak, and we also go to other countries to see what they are doing best.”

At Marriott she loves going to Asuka with her 8-year-old son who happens to love freshly prepared Japanese food. “And I also love Sailendra for their variety of Indonesian food,” she adds. Since Thai food is not a stranger to her palate naturally she’s not resistant to spicy food such as sambal or rendang.

Food-wise, call her lucky to be engaged to an executive chef, Bart Cywinski, who’s currently working at JAAN restaurant in Singapore. “Due to the nature of my job that requires me to travel around I’ve always thought that I will stay single, but I feel very fortunate to have an understanding partner,” says the self-confessed owner of “itchy feet”. Now she’s content in simply going out to eat (she lists the exotic Lara Djonggrang as her favorite restaurant) or cooking in with her beau where last Christmas they had roasted ribs on the bone and spätzle, a noodle dish from Germany of dumplings, layers of cheese, onions, black pepper, and tomato sauce.

And she reveals to me that every Sunday she and her son would go to Peppenero to have their lunch and afterwards take a brisk walk to Thamrin area. Which is her way of telling me: See, there’s always a way to beat the traffic…

Written by Sahiri Loing Photographs by Dennie Ramon July 26, 2016.