Traders make the most of Soeharto's condition

Blontank Poer and Slamet Susanto, The Jakarta Post, Surakarta

Former president Soeharto's fluctuating condition has seen a number of florists in Surakarta inundated with orders and hotel operators making hundreds of advanced bookings.

But unlike many businesses in the area the Lorin Hotel limits any stay to one night.

"We wish Pak Harto a speedy recovery, but we are also anticipating the worst-case scenario, so guests from the Cendana family are able to stay here," hotel public relations manager Ira Oktarini told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

Ira said her hotel had set specific procedures around receiving new guests, including a mandatory check-in after 3 pm.

"They must immediately check out by noon the next day and if they wish to extend their stay, they could check in again after 3 p.m.," she said.

Of its 112 available rooms, 40 have been booked by Garuda Indonesia crew serving haj pilgrims.

The rest are available to guests after they set aside a number of rooms for Soeharto's family members.

Ira declined to mention the number of rooms reserved for the Soeharto's potential service.

Unlike the Lorin, the management of the Sunan Hotel does not limit overnight stays.

"We do not reserve rooms for the purpose. If we're fully booked, we'll turn down new guests," said hotel general manager Dicky.

Dicky said his hotel had not reserved rooms for the Presidential Palace, as per Surakarta municipal secretary Supriadi Kertamenawi's report to the Post a week ago.

"We have never received room bookings from the palace," he said, "Our rooms are fully booked for the Persija soccer team which will play in Surakarta, as well as television crews and a number of other companies."

A florist on Jl. Slamet Riyadi, Surakarta, has prepared around 300 wreaths for the Dalem Kalitan household, along with a number of state agencies, officials and businesspeople.

Dwi Haryani, operator of Pawirejo florist, said had purchase orders 10 times greater than normal.

She said she has ordered fresh flowers from a number of farmers in Ambarawa to support her business.

"We have ordered a variety of flowers from there," she said.

Surakarta car rental operator Didik said leases from journalists and television news crew had increased since Soeharto was admitted to hospital more than a week ago.

Didik said he has combined available vehicles with other car rental businesses due to his limited fleet.

National news teams gathering at the Astana Giribangun burial site has been a positive boost for local residents and their businesses.

Visitors in private cars must pay residents between Rp 50,000 to Rp 150,000 per day for a 15-square meter plot of land.

And many vendors have set up near Astana, looking for new business.

Sri Lestari, 37, said she has made a good business selling bottled water, as well as hot tea and coffee to visitors and journalists staying in the area.


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