Monday, February 19, 2007


One stop shopping for weddings and funerals in Indonesia, courtesy of the Lippo Group:

Here on the outskirts of Jakarta, an Indonesian developer is taking a very American idea in real estate -- the exclusive, upscale cemetery -- and adding a twist: a country club, complete with swimming pools, a boating lake and a big Italian restaurant.

San Diego Hills, which is based on the renowned Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, Calif., is billed by its developers, Indonesia's Lippo Group, as the world's first cemetery with recreational facilities.

....The Lippo Group, run by 77-year-old banking tycoon Mochtar Riady, saw Indonesia's middle class balking at putting loved ones to rest in overcrowded government-managed cemeteries, and sensed a business opportunity.

....The inspiration for Indonesia's first memorial park came from Mr. Riady's son, James, a U.S.-educated pal of the Clinton administration, who paid the largest political fine in American history in 2001 for illegally reimbursing campaign contributions to the Democratic Party.

.... James Riady hit on the idea of expanding to include recreational facilities.....

In the U.S., some cemeteries offer flower shops, cafes and areas for children to play. Hollywood Forever Cemetery, where old-time stars including Jayne Mansfield and Rudolph Valentino are buried, has developed touch screens telling the life stories of people interred on the grounds.

The Lippo Group decided to take San Diego Hills further. There's "Lake Angeles" for boating, swimming pools and a basketball court, in addition to an Italianate convention center and boutiques. There are plans to open a 200-seat luxury Italian restaurant (among the proposed names: Monte di Dio, or God's Mountain).

The chapel will conduct wedding ceremonies as well as funeral services. Eager to attract Islamic clients (Indonesia is 90% Muslim), Lippo has also built an imposing mosque on the site.

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