White-sand Tanjung Aan Beach in Mandalika, Lombok, Indonesia

Mandalika. Even the name sounds exotic. 

Until recently it was just another destination in Lombok, an island known for adventure activities and stunning beaches.  

Then the Government selected it as the site for the MotoGP World Championship, and the idyllic spot in the sun was transformed into a venue where racers and enthusiasts from all over the world converged.

Not a close follower of this sport before, I didn’t know what to expect but at Maverick, the place where I work we had a Gratitude Day that coincided with the event. Gratitude Day is a day off for all of us employees as a token of the management’s gratitude to us for working through the pandemic and enduring work-from-home stresses. In this instance the day allowed me to travel and expand my horizons.

My first impression when I got there was that the organizers had done a great job with the infrastructure. Lombok’s newly expanded airport was bustling with international and domestic travelers when we, some friends and I, arrived.

Newly renovated Lombok International Airport

The harbor, when we visited it later, was also teeming with arrivals for the MotorGP, one of the most high-profile events held in Indonesia, especially over the past two years when travel was hampered by the pandemic.

Accommodation was plentiful and varied from budget hostels to five-star luxury hotels. The town was also full of quaint and stylish restaurants that were built in the runup to this occasion.

Beachfront hotel in Senggigi area

Mandalika is located about 75 km from Mataram and around 45 minutes from Lombok International Airport. That’s some distance but the roads in Lombok were also new and made commuting a breeze. There were also plenty of shuttle buses–600 we learned that were shipped in from Bali and Java – to take spectators to the event.

When you get to the Mandalika International Circuit you are greeted by stunning views as hills and pristine beaches formed a backdrop to the specially designed race track.

Mandalika International Street Circuit entrance

The experience of being a spectator for the races, however, fell short of the expectations built up by the infrastructure and stunning views. The ticket redemption system was confusing as there was too much information spreading around regarding the redemption process. We almost trapped ourselves in a very long queue in Mataram a day before the event when it was near empty when we redeemed our tickets on the spot.

Top: Ticket redemption counter in Mataram. Bottom: Ticket redemption in Mandalika.

Then there was the access road to the circuit from the main road. It was still uncompleted and turned muddy when it rained. Spectators had to brave this around a kilometer stretch just to get to the circuit.

Upon arriving at the circuit, some areas were still left unfinished making our shoes dirty of the mud. We were wrong when we thought that it was the only obstacle we had to face. Getting out of the circuit was another hell ride. Hours of delay of shuttle service and long queue at the shelter, it was actually too tiring getting through that day.

General admission area that was still under construction

All these shortcomings were a pity because the circuit itself was sited in a stunning area with hills and pristine beaches forming the backdrop, hinting of the great potential of developing Lombok as the destination for an international event and drawing in hordes of international and domestic spectators and fans.

But for Mandalika to fulfill its potential the Government and organizers need to pay attention to the details that can make or break the customer experience of the spectators. In this age where word-of-mouth, assisted by social media, can draw crowds or keep them away any serious attempt at making Mandalika a world attraction has to be matched by world-class planning and attention to details.

Written by Ramadhan, Account Coordinator