I had mixed feelings prior to the opening of the LOKAL Hotel in Yogyakarta, Central Java, on March 27. Though the attached pictures of the property on the email invitation looked tempting and nicely designed, I kept my expectations low due to it being a new, local brand - as suggested by its rather plain name - owned by someone making their first attempt to create an affordable option with a boutique twist. I couldn't have been more wrong. When I arrived at Jl. Jembatan Merah No. 104C, I was immediately awed by the hotel's gorgeously decorated restaurant. The simple yet attractive wood and rattan furniture, open kitchen, green plants and splashes of color with the word “Jogjakarta” written on one of the walls made the white-painted space look stylish and homey. "We decided to open the restaurant ahead of the hotel in early February, starting from 6.30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and to 1 a.m. on weekends. The response has been great, with guests ranging from students to foreign tourists," said 29-year-old Gempa Tri Muryono, one of the hotel's three brand owners. Gempa is responsible for the property's awesome appearance. The hotel's design, furniture productions and interior fixtures are developed by his Yogyakarta-based design house MISC Indonesia, which utilized workshops that hired local people and used environmentally friendly materials. The teakwood, for example, was obtained from old houses and the ruins of old buildings. "We picked the name 'lokal', or 'local' in English, because it's easy to understand. To us, it means broad-minded thinking while continuously preserving our roots, its values, cultures and traditions," said Gempa. To support these values, almost all things available in the LOKAL Hotel are made in Yogyakarta. "We always try as hard as possible to use local goods. Except for our old-time enamel dinnerware, in which we asked Kandura Keramik [a Bandung-based ceramic artists group] to exclusively made them for us," said Gempa. He added that the word “K” in 'LOKAL' reflected the vision, openness, humbleness and liberality of their services. "It matters because the hospitality industry relies on its services. We can offer great designs, but there will always be others who can create better ones. That is why the personalized service is very important for us," said Gempa. This is where the second brand owner, Ari Respati, came in. With plenty of experience in hospitality industry, Ari is the brain behind LOKAL's hotel management. "Finding the best ways to maintain our guests is a top priority for us because, in the end, it is the journey and experience that they will bring home. Many hotels provide a good service at the beginning but then not so much after a year of operation. So making sure all our employees are trained well is very important," said Ari. This is also why only 12 rooms are available in LOKAL, with a starting price of Rp 550,000 (US$48.4) to Rp 1,200,000, to ensure its small number of qualified employees will be able to maintain good services to all the guests. "With our boutique concept, we want to provide homey accommodation to our guests, but without disturbing their privacy. For example, if they want to go somewhere, we will happily take them using the company car. Or we can provide the famous gudeg in town for breakfast instead of our regular menu so they can give it a try. We call it a 'limitless customer-based service'," said Ari. While lazily lingering in my gorgeous mezzanine room with a pool-view balcony, which is the most expensive of the three types of rooms available, I found LOKAL's concept to be quite simple yet rare, even in the capital Jakarta. Fortunately they do have plans, though not immediate, to expand their business outside Yogyakarta. "Yes, we do want to expand outside this city. But our next project, a villa concept with a dazzling river view, will be in Palagan, Yogyakarta," said LOKAL's third brand owner Hadi Wijaya, 30, who also owns the Papua-based cocoa plantation company Purni Jaya. "We want to show the world that Indonesia's young people really do have the talent to create something amazing. We’re preparing other spots in other cities as well. You just wait and see," added Hadi.