The people behind the Wakatobi experience
To establish a resort in an unpredictable and remote location such as Wakatobi, and to then consistently deliver a top notch guest experience, takes a huge and ongoing team effort. See below just some of the people in the enthusiastic team who bring you the Wakatobi experience.
Valentin Mäder - Executive Director
Valentin is Swiss and an entrepreneur, founder and shareholder of companies successful in the fields of international real estate investment advisory, software applications, mobile phone applications and resort development. He was first exposed to Indonesia when he built a business advising MNC's in direct investments in Asia. Valentin holds an MBA.
Valentin is actively contributing to lead Wakatobi from his position as an Executive Director.
Valentin says: "While my original motivation in investing effort and money into Wakatobi was to help my brother, Lorenz, to succeed with this venture, my views have evolved over the years. I now think that Wakatobi is a sound 21st century venture that provides a rare opportunity to align value creation with the protection of endangered marine resources. Probably that is the reason why Wakatobi seems to attract a great breed of people among its investors and supporters."
Alexander Mucha - Director
Alexander is a founder of Curious Consultants based in Singapore and has been in the design industry for more than 30 years. He is involved in strategy development, branding and communication projects for clients across Asia. Alexander has worked with some of the leading high-end hotel groups in the world and he has been a great help to the conceptual development of the Wakatobi brand and client communication.
Lorenz Mäder - Founder
Lorenz studied biology before he went into the diving industry. With over 14,000 dives (CMAS, TDI, PADI) he is one of the most experienced divers around and has contributed to building up several professional dive operations before embarking on building Wakatobi in 1995.
He discovered, explored and named all dive sites around the Wakatobi Resort and still goes regularly where no one has been before, using nowadays mostly a closed circuit "Evolution" rebreather.
Soft spoken, patient yet very determined with a genuine respect for the local culture, Lorenz has built a solid foundation for Wakatobi by establishing excellent relations with local communities. Mutual trust and alignment of interest are fundamental to him in achieving his goals on the ground in Indonesia.
Lorenz says, "I believe that alignment of interests - and that includes long term financial interests - with local communities can do much more to protect the valuable reef resources in Indonesia than a rigid system of grants and education attempts by environmental organizations ever could.
The wheel of time cannot be turned back out there - no matter how much talking is done by well meaning scientists and dignitaries. Destructive fishing methods are the economic equivalent of slaughtering the goose that lays golden eggs. You have to beat that urge on the ground with something better to start with. So in a way, sustainable, high value added dive tourism is the only way out for both the reefs and the local communities in this environment. Diving can create a much better revenue stream out of a 'top reef estate' than fishing in a relatively short time. That is the cold economic logic that aligns local powers behind us in fending off foreign fishing vessels, dynamite and cyanide fishing that have wrecked havoc with most of the tropical reefs on the planet.
But of course there is much more to build a successful business than protecting some of the finest reefs on the planet. We have to deliver a world class experience to the most discerning divers that starts the minute they set their minds on coming to Wakatobi and extends to the times they fondly relate it to their diving buddies back home..."
Beside the technical diving Lorenz initiates and overseas the conservation initiatives, manages construction projects and government relations.
Background: At the early age of four Lorenz learned to skin dive (apnoe) from his father. A compulsive reader, Lorenz devoured scientific books and developed an early interest in marine biology.
Jacques Cousteau became his inspiration. At the age of fifteen Lorenz learned to scuba dive. After working several years in different professions he set out to work as a Dive Instructor in the Maldives and Dive Exploration Cruise Director in the Red Sea. The more he dived the more his passion and fascination for marine life developed.
Fluent in Swiss, German, English and French and conversational Indonesian his language skills served him well in the dive tourism industry. Disappointed by the excesses of mass tourism in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, Lorenz set out on his own to pursue his dream to set a better example in a virgin territory unspoiled by overcrowding and pollution.
Henrik Rosén - EVP/CMO
Having joined very early on to assist with setting up the physical plant at the resort Henrik spent over a decade bringing Wakatobi from an unknown entity into one of the world's most well-known dive resorts.
With a background in construction engineering Henrik initially worked on infrastructure projects such as the construction of transfer and dive boats to establishing the resort's powerplant and the airport (he was instrumental in getting the operational permit through negotiations with the Indonesian Ministry of Aviation). Henrik then devoted himself to making the -until then completely unknown - destination called Wakatobi a world-renowned brand. Henrik has exhibited Wakatobi at over one hundred trade shows on five continents and is a frequent speaker at trade events due to his humorous and engaging presentations.
An avid sportsman and adventurer Henrik enjoys time sailing, kiteboarding, hiking, trail riding in remote locations experiencing the beauty of nature. He is a frequent speaker on destination marketing and environmental issues.
After many years in Asia and the USA he's now splitting his time between... well, all the nations of the world.
Having dived since 1990 in as diverse waters as the Baltic Sea, all over Southeast Asia, Galapagos, California and the US east coast he nowadays finds the most pleasure while diving with a high definition video camera in hand. Henrik is comfortable speaking Swedish and English as well as conversational Indonesian, German and French.
"What is most satisfactory about what we have accomplished with Wakatobi is the way we have shown that businesses can accomplish great things not only for their customers but also for the environment. At Wakatobi I feel that we are in a 'for-everyone's-profit' business".
Gede Kawit - Hotel Manager
Gede Kawit was born in April 1970 in a small village near Singaraja, Bali. He studied at a Business Administration College from 1995 to 2000 and joined the Wakatobi team in February 2007 as Hotel Manager.
Before taking the position at Wakatobi, Kawit was assistant general manager at the Aston Nardini Hotel in Ubud, Bali.
Kawit was motivated to take the position with Wakatobi by his interest in marine life and was drawn to Wakatobi's remoteness as an opportunity to see new, exotic critters. Kawit is an avid snorkeler and is really looking to begin scuba diving. Another appealing factor that came with this was the opportunity to become involved with a true participant in eco-tourism. "I am very happy I could join Wakatobi Dive Resort because I believe they are running the resort the right way."
Kawit believes that diving is obviously the most important aspect of the Wakatobi experience but takes it upon himself to ensure superb land-based facilities for his guests.
Guest Experience Consultants
Paula Butler - California, USA
Paula describes herself as an escapee from the mortgage banking industry. A resident of Northern California, her first-ever trip to the southern hemisphere was to Wakatobi, which she calls "indescribably beautiful." In addition to diving, she has a strong interest in conservation and the protection of coral reefs, values that fit well with Wakatobi's industry-leading social and conservation programs. "While at the resort I spent up to five hours a day underwater, and still wanted more." she says.
"I can't wait to return time and time again."
Robert Parrington - United Kingdom
Robert has had a passion for diving for many years and continues to assist in training divers in the UK.
"For me the thrill is about sharing diving with all sorts of people and joining in their journey of wonder and excitement as we discover the amazing world under the sea".Having dived in many places around the world I have been lucky to have met some incredible individuals and now, with Wakatobi, I am able to continue to share that love of diving with what I consider to be the very best of dive operations.Robert has also been involved with UNESCO Associated Schools and is thrilled that Wakatobi Dive Resort is leading the way in sustainability and educational and scientific study around reef management. "Understanding how we as humans interact with our environment will be crucial to all our futures. Showing what can be achieved in collaboration with local villages is fantastic 'research in action' at Wakatobi".
Randal Sanders - Louisiana, USA
Randal began his diving career in 1975, and spent the next ten years plunging into Caribbean, Bahamas, and Gulf of Mexico waters. His first tropical Pacific trip forever changed his interests, and he became an Indo-Pacific trip promoter. He learned of Wakatobi from friends who returned with rave reviews, he began investigating, and the more he looked, the clearer it became. With a background in engineering, he marvels at the utopia Wakatobi's founders established on a tiny, remote, island on the Indonesian frontier. "After cruises on a number of premier live-aboards, I never thought I'd enjoy a land-based Indo-Pacific trip," he says.
"My diving experience at Wakatobi was superior to anything on a live-aboard, and I've decided there's no need to dive anywhere else."
Karin van de Wouw - Holland, Germany, EU
Karin is an avid diver and underwater photographer who submerges frequently in her native Holland, and travels widely in pursuit of underwater imagery. She first learned about Wakatobi when she met her English colleague, Stuart Jones, at a Dutch trade show several years ago.
"He showed me some photos and I was convinced I really needed to go. I appreciate all kinds of life in the sea: the big, the small, the pretty and the ugly, but I lost my diving heart to Wakatobi, because of the abundance of colors, beautiful creatures and healthy reefs." Karin says.
Frank Owens - USA, Canada
Frank began diving in 1993, and soon after landed a job with a major scuba equipment manufacturer. In 2006 he became an independent sales rep and developed deeper relationships with local dive shops. An avid underwater photographer, he selected his personal dive vacations based on the quality of underwater photo opportunities. "It disappointed me to see the degradation of reefs and lack of synergy within a destination," Frank says.
"I was initially attracted to Wakatobi for the world-renowned diving, amenities and service, but soon realized that Wakatobi was not just a destination, but a journey in the preservation of our underwater environment."
Steven Miller - Ohio, USA
Steve became a Scuba Instructor in 1980, and has worked in the Diving Industry ever since. Underwater Photography has always been one of his passions, and he has led a number of trips to exotic locations over the years. "Now that I've found Wakatobi, my search is over." he says.
"Covering the Great Lakes Region allows me to do what I love: teaching underwater photography and telling groups about my all time favorite destination: Wakatobi."
Juliette Myers - Sydney, Australia
Juliette learned to dive in 1982 on the Saudi side of the Red Sea, and has been a keen dive traveler ever since. A year spent in the Solomon Islands introducer her to underwater photography, and she has since won a number of awards. She has worked in the tourism trade, promoting Australian zoos and aquariums, and leading the Australian sales team for Disneyland and Walt Disney World. "Now, my dream really has come true." she says.
"I have found my purpose and I am proud to be promoting Wakatobi’s unparalleled reef health, diversity, incredible customer service and unique philosophy."
Stefanie Voigt - Germany, EU
Stefanie turned her lifelong passion for the underwater world into a career as an instructor, underwater camera operator and marine film production coordinator. An avid diver since 1982, she has produced documentaries, commercials and other productions with mainly marine-related themes. As a sales and marketing representative for Wakatobi, she now enjoys the opportunity to utilize her creative and communications skills to enhancing the resort's presence within the German-speaking markets and beyond. "I am looking forward to be a valuable asset and working with such a professional team." she says.
"Even though we may be located thousands of miles apart, we join forces for one precious spot that is Wakatobi."
Michelle Winkel - Texas, USA
Michelle's first love is the ocean, and she enjoys sharing her passion with others as a PADI, MSDT and DAN instructor. She combines a 15-plus year career in sales and marketing for Continental and United Airlines with her interests in the industry, where she has been involved in a variety of online marketing and video production projects. In addition to diving, she enjoys photography and cycling. "My love for the ocean and scuba diving brought me to Wakatobi, and as luck would have it I was given the opportunity to represent my favorite dive destination as a guest experience representative," she says.
"I love working with such a great team of professionals - from the staff in Bali to those throughout the UK and Europe, Australia, Asia and the USA, it is truly a pleasure."
Kaori Robinson - Japan
Every fiber of this petite Japanese lady speaks refinement, passion and competence. From small, Kaori was drawn to hospitality and diving. She embodies the spirit of Wakatobi with her desire to do whatever can be done to convey the best possible holiday experience to her guests. Starting her career in one of the leading hotels in Tokyo, she soon followed her heart and worked as a dive instructor in Japan, Guam, PNG, Vanuatu, Australia and top resorts in Fiji before finding her home in Wakatobi.
Kaori intuitively grasps what her guests like and appreciate, communicates very smoothly in Japanese and English and has a tremendous understanding of marine life. She loves to share her passion for the underwater world and her infectious laughter is hard to forget.
Little wonder then, that whoever had the pleasure to share the joy of diving in Wakatobi with Kaori, will miss her wherever they are going to dive next.
Rai S Regawa
Ketut Dharma Kasuma P
Ida Bagus Rai Cahyadi
Brigitte - German
Dive Center Manager
"A lucky opportunity led me away from Germany, where I was trained as a photographer, and later moved into hospitality. Egypt is where I started my diving career as a cruise director and Instructor on a live aboard. At this time I was already a keen diver and had a great interest in marine life, and I wanted discover more from the fascinating world under the surface.
There is no doubt that I can’t live without diving anymore. After Egypt I went to a little island within the Maldives, where I spent 4 years as a Diving Instructor.So, my incredible passion for diving led me to Wakatobi.
I like to meet people from around the world, and I am interested in other cultures.To submerge here is my real paradise, it is overwhelming! I am diving since 15 years now and I never saw this richness in corals somewhere else; it makes me happy to share this experience and the natural wonder with other people. I enjoy every day I can spend here with the Wakatobi family."
Paula Danti - Spanish
PADI Dive Instructor
Paula was originally doing her career in Biology, and working with plankton samples in a biology lab.
She started diving in Brazil in1998. After she tries diving for the first time, she realizes that this was her lifetime profession, and she has been teaching, guiding and working with diving since then.
She has dived in the South Atlantic, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Andaman Sea, Banda Sea, and some others.
She loves the underwater creatures, their unique behaviours and the enormous diversity that lies under the sea.
Paula can speak Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and English.
Quote: “We are very privileged to be divers. We can see things that most of the people never will see, and we have lifetime experiences that most of the people don’t have. I love to teach diving, to share this with others. I love to dive and have all this wonders around me. I found in Wakatobi an extraordinary example of sustainable underwater tourism, that has the vision to preserve all the magic on the reefs”
Judith Clements - France
PADI Dive Instructor
I grew up watching the Commandant Cousteau documentaries, always being fascinated by the underwater world. As soon as I learnt to swim, my grand-father bought me my first mask, snorkel and fins and told me to go to see what was under the sea (the truth being that, at that time I had just seen “Jaws” and was terrified in the sea, but then, with the snorkelling equipment, I realised I had nothing to fear and soon, it was impossible to remove me from the water…)
I started to scuba dive in 1998, and as soon as I got the “virus” I wanted to be a diving instructor! I built my skills in the Mediterranean Sea and in New-Zealand, and took the professional step in 2009, starting my career in the Red Sea.
My steps led me to Thailand, then to Djibouti, Malaysia and the Maldives (North and South Ari Atoll, Laamu Atoll).
Indonesia had always been on my “to dive list”; Wakatobi and its reputation for its incredible dives and reef protection program is very attractive for anybody who has a passion for the ocean.
Being able to work there is an incredible opportunity. It is challenging and very rewarding to be able to dive such healthy reefs and to encounter that many creatures.
I love the feeling of being away from other dive operations, having the impression that the dive sites are our “secret spots” and to be able to share that with others.
Gregor Seaton - Scotland
PADI Dive Instructor
Greg comes originally from Scotland. He worked in the hospitality industry for some time, before joining the British Army.
In 2010, on a trip to Thailand he started scuba diving. He was hooked. He returned to England and helped to set up a small diving club inside the army base he was on.
Eventually, he realized that he wanted to make of diving his full tme job, he moved to Bali and started his Instructor Course and initiated himself in Underwater Photography.
Quote: “I’m always trying to improve my underwater photography skills, and Wakatobi is the perfect place for that!”
Ismail - Indonesian
Ismail was born in Manado, North Sulawesi.
He grow up by the sea, and is fascinated by it. He make hisa degree on Underwater Ecoturism and moved to Bali to start his diving career.
He has a very gentle personality, an extraordinary sense of humor and an easy smile.
"I came to Wakatobi and instantaneously fell in love with it. Here, there is all any diver could ever want. Life is good at Wakatobi."
Mariza - Indonesian
PADI Dive Instructor
Mariza is from Batam Island, west of Indonesia. After finishing her studies in Architecture, she started working in the Architecture field, but the underwater world always fascinated her and she couldn’t stay away from diving. Finally, she decided to switch her career into diving.
She has since been working in Bali, Lembongan Island, Komodo National park, Brunei and finally in Wakatobi.
"I love watching the behaviors of the critters living in the underwater world. The corals, the topography, the varieties are just amazing. Every day is a good day of diving here in Wakatobi."
Nico - Indonesian
PADI Dive Instructor
Nico comes originally from East Java.
He started diving in Bali in 2007. He loved the quiet atmosphere and the peacefullness underwater.
He became a Divemaster in 2003 and a couple of years later he completed his Instructor Course. He started to work full time with diving in Komodo and never stopped ever since!
"I came to Wakatobi because I heard is the best diving in the world. It did not disappoint me! The reefs are unique to this area of the world and I enjoy to dive with small exclusive groups.”
Mohamad Yusuf - Indonesian
Yusuf was born in East Java, in the southern city of Banyuwangi. His interest in diving started when he saw a TV program about the beauty of the underwater world.
He decided to move to Bali and try diving. From the moment he dived for the first time, he felt that diving was already part of his life and he could not let go.
"Im very proud to have these healthy reefs and diversity in my country. Working for a company that has the vision to protect and preserve the underwater world became a dream for me. I am so happy that I have found a home here at Wakatobi Dive Resort."
Kaz Kazzuaeni - Indonesian
PADI Dive Instructor
Born in East Lombok, Kaz started a diving Career in earnest in the year 2000. Working previously as a PADI Instructor in some of Indonesia's most luxurious Resorts, Kaz developed his skills to provide the maximum quality of personalised service possible, both in and out of the water. He then took this knowledge to the livesboards of Komodo, Tak Bonerate and Bauda.
Kaz is dedicated to continually sharing and increasing his knowledge and the service he can provide to his guests. Keen for new experiences and an avid traveller to countries such as Switzerland, France, Italy and Dubai, he has visited guests, who have become some of his closest friends.
"I joined Wakatobi Dive Resort because of the remoteness, and the beauty both on land, and underwater. I am always interested in working somewhere that is consistently pushing to improve their level of service. I'm proud to be part of such a unique operation."
Quietly spoken, and with excellent English, Kaz is committed to applying himself fully, to provide his guests with the best experience possible.
Ketut Suardika - Indonesian
PADI IDC Staff Instructor
Ketut has been diving since 1995. With over 4,000 dives, he now enjoys passing on his knowledge and experience of Indonesia's underwater world to others. Also a PADI Instructor, Ketut enjoys teaching many different courses, including Nitrox specialties.
With a passion for Photography both underwater and above, Ketut enjoys finding and photographing the challenging, hard to find creatures, and helping others do the same.
"The thing I love most about diving around Wakatobi is getting away from the crowds. I can enjoy these pristine reefs everyday, sharing only with a few others."
Ketut is friendly and enthusiastic, he speaks fluent Indonesian (mother tongue) and competent English.
Harvey Edwards - New Zealand
PADI Dive Instructor
Harvey started diving as a teenager in his native New Zealand- mainly hunting and gathering. It wasn’t until he went to the Philippines that he fully understood the beauty of the underwater world. It was there where he trained to become an instructor before moving back to NZ to continue in the tourism industry and then abroad as a full-time scuba diver since 2005.
After working and diving in several different countries and conditions, Harvey came to Wakatobi to explore the most vibrant reef systems of his life.
“I’ve never experienced a place like Wakatobi- the reefs, resort and team are simply unique. I feel at peace underwater and love the freedom of movement that diving can offer”.
Demma Muji - Indonesian
Dive Experience Manager
Growing up in South Sulawesi, naturally Muji was drawn to the sea at an early age. It's hard for him to remember whether he learned to swim first, or to walk first!
Muji worked for many years in Java and Bali in the hospitality and tourism industry, during which time he would take every opportunity he could to snorkel and dive.
He found a home in Wakatobi and has been a long-standing member of the team for over 6 years, working in the F&B department, front office and managing a team as Head Butler. Hearing constantly about the macro critters that live on the Wakatobi reefs, he could wait no longer and, instead of spending all his free time diving, decided to make diving his career instead.
"Since my first dive in Wakatobi, I could not help but dream about being part of the dive team – finally I changed career path and I could never look back. Even after diving in other areas of my country, I was very impressed with the impact of Wakatobi’s conservation program on the quality of the reefs here. This is somewhere that we can actually make a difference."
His experience in hospitality and his love of the ocean make Muji very attentive to his guests needs. He may look shy when you first meet him, but he is always harmonious, with a ready smile and happy to spend time with people.
Sutiyono - Indonesian
PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor
Sutiyono - or Yono as he’s known by his friends - was born in Central Java, where he spent his early years developing a love for being underwater by swimming in Java’s beautiful rivers. After finishing his studies, he moved to Bali, where he subsequently started working in travel and tourism with a Bali-based travel agency.
It was after moving to Bali that Yono did his first dive. It changed his world. He was amazed by the feeling of being ‘weightless’ underwater and being so very close to nature. It didn't take long afterwards before he committed to becoming a full-fledged PADI professional, following which he worked in Bali for many years, introducing divers from all over the world to this special realm he had grown to love.
Yono decided to join the Wakatobi team because his friends mentioned the incredibly healthy, beautiful reefs and the enjoyable working conditions for staff from all walks of life. "I am not disappointed at all, the reefs in Wakatobi are the most pristine reefs I have ever seen, but more importantly, I am proud to tell my children that I am part of a great team that works in a unique place; that educates, contributes and protects our country's environment for our future generations"
Yono loves the rich walls at Wakatobi and its many fans like Cornucopia or Fan38. He enjoys the challenge of finding the name of a fish or critter he didn't know before and simply watching, learning from observation and sharing his knowledge about fish behavior.
He is a very gentle family man, a committed team player, calm, kind, with an easy smile, an open heart and someone who is always ready to help his guests. His passions in life are his family, diving and sharing the marine world with others. When he is not underwater, he enjoys walking and observing the nature and wildlife around him.
Steve Chenoweth - from USA
PADI MSDT, IANTD Trimix Blender, TDI Advanced N2/Deco, USCG 50 ton Captain
Steve grew up in the mountains of West Virginia. After completing his education in the 90’s, he migrated towards the shores of the Southeastern USA, where he took up recreational diving. Following a 20-year vocational error in the grocery business, he left corporate anxiety behind and headed off to the Caribbean with stops in the Virgin Islands, Aruba, and the Cayman Islands. He instructed scuba diving and captained dive boats for the next six years.
Eventually landing on the shores of Wakatobi, Steve has found what he sees as “the best diving in the world. “I look forward to each and every dive as though it were my first, in a wonderful world of new and interesting creatures and amazing behavior that I can’t wait to share with others.”
Shelly Chenoweth - from USA
PADI MSDT, TDI Advance N2/Deco, USCG 50 ton Captain, EFR instructor
Shelly is from Bay City, Michigan. She completed her education in Business before moving to the Southern shores of the USA, where her path to diving took many turns. From sales and marketing to the service and retail industry, after years of recreational diving in the Caribbean, she finally gave up the corporate world and took the plunge to Instructor. After enjoying teaching in the Caribbean for several years, Shelly broadened her horizons and sought out the remote shores of Wakatobi.
"Any day diving is a good day here. I love everything about it, the coral, the creatures, the topography and I even get to share this passion with others!".
Shoko Miike - Japanese
PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer
Shoko started diving in Japan in 1995, moving to Australia to complete her instructor course and work for a while, following which she moved to a tiny island in the Maldives, where she remained, working in diving for 8 years. Now diving every day in Wakatobi, she never ceases to find joy in even the smallest and rarest creatures which are so abundant in this area.
"I find the reefs in Wakatobi to be the healthiest I’ve ever dived. The colors are so bright and vivid and the search for all the rare creatures which are not found elsewhere is always an adventure. The entire dive team is great and I just can’t wait to get up in the mornings and go diving!"
Shoko speaks Japanese and English. In her spare times she can be found underwater on the house reef taking macro shots, her hobby and her passion.
Marco Fierli - Italian
PADI Master Instructor
Marco started diving in Thailand in 2002, continued his training in Holland and soon moved on to warmer climates in Egypt to work full time in the diving industry. After Egypt, he worked professionally in the Maldives, Mexico and Thailand before finally, Wakatobi became his new home.
"I have loved the reefs and underwater life everywhere I’ve been, but Wakatobi just offers more. The pristine reefs, the countless species and the variety of underwater features, all this while ‘breathing’ an atmosphere of professional enthusiasm. I’m home."
Marco speaks Italian, English, some Dutch and Spanish. If not underwater, you will find him around the island practicing his other true passion; landscape photography.