IO – Count Nikolaus von und zu Sandizell celebrated his 60th birthday at Schloss Sandizell last month with a medieval fair lasting 4 days and an evening dinner party for over 90 personal friends. The Bavarian castle has been in his family for over 1000 years. The Count was not brought up at the Schloss of Sandizell where his step-grandmother lived while he was young and which he perhaps visited once a year. Count Sandizell lived the first 6 years of his life in New York where his father was working. Then he moved to Munich for a year and Dusseldorf another year. After that he was sent to several famous boarding schools such as Zuoz in Switzerland and Salem in southern Germany after which he obtained a degree in business and management in Dusseldorf. At the age of 22 he was working in Indonesia for M.A.N. Roland where as the youngest employee he sold the first rotary press machine for US $ 12 million.
He was soon promoted to regional representative for Southeast Asia but chose to remain stationed in Jakarta where he led a charmed life amongst the Jakarta elite who warmed to the young count and where he married his first wife, Cindy Dewijanty with whom he bore two sons, Tassilo (a traditional family name of the Sandizells) and Maximillian von und zu Sandizell.
Sandizell lived for 10 years in Indonesia which is 5 years longer than usually permitted by his company. M.A.N. Roland wanted him back in Europe and Niki was not happy because he had fallen in love with Asia, in particular Indonesia – but M.A.N. Roland insisted. They offered him any country in Europe and Sandizell chose Spain and Portugal. Then suddenly in around 1993 his mentor who had been like a father figure to him and also the president of the company passed away and the work became no longer fun for him. “I used to have a direct contact with the president of the company and we were very close. Under him, I twice broke the world record in sales of rotary presses but after he died the company merged with Ferrostaal and I no longer enjoyed the work,” recalled Sandizell.
Meanwhile, in Portugal a new law was passed regarding the recovery of shipwrecks in Portuguese waters and a friend of his started a company to explore underwater wrecks and recover their cargoes. He asked the Count who had built up a good reputation as a businessman to manage it. At first, Sandizell resisted but then his curiosity got the better of him and in 1993 he joined Arqueonautas. During 25 years the company has recovered and explored the cargoes of 150 ship wrecks and built two museums in Mozambique and Cape Verde (see https://independent.academia. edu/Arqueonautas for Arqueonautas publications) . Arqueonautas has always been very careful to follow international standards in recovering cargoes and Sandizell has always worked with archaeologists in doing so, the most famous being Dr Margret Rule who recovered Henry VIII’s ship the Mary Rose. Sandizell says, “Arqueonautas’ mission was to save underwater cultural heritage.”
Once he became involved in saving underwater cultural heritage, he used it as a stepping stone to return to Indonesia. In his work he followed the Portuguese trade routes from Cape Verde to Mozambique and then Indonesia ending with the Banda Islands. He returned to Indonesia in 2007 and helped the Ministry of Education and Culture to survey and map the location of ship wrecks in Indonesian waters. Arqueonautas biggest project was the Wanli (or the Subang as it is known in Indonesia) shipwreck. Based on their survey of the vessel and cargo as well as evidence gathered the Arqueonautas team was able to estimate the Wanli cargo at around seven hundred thousand ceramic artefacts.
However, while this was all going on in Indonesia, Sandizell found that a polemic had arisen about the selling of repetitive cargoes from shipwrecks with UNESCO insisting that none at all should be sold and that shipwrecks in general should be left untouched for future generations of archaeologists with perhaps more sophisticated technologies to study the wrecks and their cargoes. Most countries with large numbers of shipwrecks do not have the means to protect such wrecks and the result has been an enormous looting of wrecks worldwide with loss of underwater heritage and historical knowledge. Until today the Indonesian government has not approved a license to salvage the Wanli’s cargo and it is feared that the wreck has probably also been looted by illegal treasure hunters.
With the difficult situation worldwide Arqueonautas created a fashion brand based on the heritage of its past expeditions and focused on the fashion industry. For 5 years Kevin Costner was their brand ambassador and business partner. Meanwhile, during the course of the years Sandizell’s marriage with Cindy Dewijanti broke up. The Count continued to live in Portugal whereas his former wife moved to Italy.
One day Sandizell was interviewed by a Portuguese television journalist called Filipa Veiga. As he says he could not help falling in love with the intelligent and beautiful journalist whom he married in 2003. He now has 3 more daughters and a grandson.
Another important development was that when he turned forty Sandizell inherited Schloss Sandizell. At the time he knew very little about the history of his ancestors or their religion, for they had been very devout pillars and supporters of the Catholic Church for centuries.
The Count has now returned to Sandizell where he is managing a project which he hopes will provide a sustainable solution for maintaining the castle for future generations of his family. He has bought back some of the lands formerly sold by his grandfather where he will now develop apartments and a hotel. Niki feels that after travelling the world and never living in the area from where his family truly derives, he is now finally discovering his own roots and heritage and the responsibilities of preserving that family heritage.
So, who will be the future counts of Sandizell? In Germany there is no law of primogenitor so both his son Tassilo and Maximilian have the right to the title. They are part of the new breed of multicultural youth that has hit the world. Both are good looking Eurasian lads with a zest for travel and adventure; global nomads who feel comfortable anywhere. Just as their father is close to his own brother, the two Sandizell sons are also very close.
Sandizell’s older son Tassilo was born in Dusseldorf in 1985 where he lived for a year before moving to Indonesia for two years. Maximilian was born in Jakarta 1987 and after that he and his brother moved to Portugal with his parents where they lived for the next five years. It was at about this time that his parents separated and at first, the boys went to live in Italy with their mother. When Tassilo was 13 years old he and his brother moved to Portugal and stayed with their father to finish their schooling there.
Like most global nomads they moved around a great deal with their parents and stayed in many different types of hotels. In both boys it created an interest in hotels: their décor, their management, their staff, the food they served etc so that at the age of 21 Tassilo went to hotel management school for 4 years. Meanwhile, Maximilian earned a degree in business and administration in Barcelona and wrote his thesis on sustainable tourism in Indonesia. Both lads speak English to their parents which was also the language their parents used when speaking to each other as neither could speak the other’s mother tongue. The boys also speak Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and some rudimentary Indonesian and German.
Tassilo’s first job was managing a hotel project for a German entrepreneur in Lisbon. He was asked to take care of a small Portuguese manor house with 14 rooms and turn it into a boutique hotel. As the German’s Portuguese was not very good, he hired Tassilo to be in charging of the building renovations and garden and then to set up the management and catering of the hotel. “The Palacio Rama Ihete is an amazing, beautiful old palace and I organized its opening. I managed the hotel for about a year. Last year Madonna rented it for two years,” remarked Tassilo.
After that Tassilo went to Indonesia and met a friend of a friend at a musical festival. The man who was a Frenchman born and raised in Bali told him all about a wonderful property he had bought on the small island of Rote which is part of the Lesser Sunda Islands in the province of East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. He invited him to come visit. So off Tassilo went, but at that time it was very much off the beaten track and a bit difficult to reach. It took him 3 days from Bali to get there via boats and planes. “When I reached Rote it was love at first sight. Its remoteness, beauty, pristine beaches and amazing waves were a blessing to surfers – and I really like the Rotenese. They are so laid backed and they have a pureness of spirit. I built up a strong relationship with them,” said Tassilo who has been a surfer since the age of 13.
The following year Maximilian visited Rote where he was offered a piece of land at a very cheap price. The two boys bought the land in 2010 and opened a boutique hotel (mostly for surfers) called Boa Vida.
Tassilo remained in Rote running the hotel for 7 years. His biggest adventure was falling ill with dengue fever and trying to get to the hospital in Kupang, West Timor. It was very stormy weather and none of the regular boats or airlines were active. He met two French surfers who had hired a fishing boat to take them to Kupang and he hitched a ride with them. During the stormy weather the boat sank in the middle of the sea and they all had to swim for 6 hours in order to make it to West Timor. They were guided at times by a large family of dolphins. Miraculously, despite the dengue fever Tassilo survived and when he reached Kupang his fever was gone!
“The Boa Vida became the best rated hotel in Rote. Four years ago, we sold it. I then opened a restaurant in Nemberala, the busiest town for surf-tourism in Rote, called Indika. Last year I sold it for a good price and now I am developing my own villas in Rote,” explained Maximilian.
Last year the young adventurer who finds mountain climbing, surfing, sailing and diving deeply fulfilling, sailed a 40 foot catamaran from New Zealand to Indonesia stopping in New Caledonia which has the biggest lagoon in the world, crossing the Australian Barrier Reef and visiting Timor Leste which due to its Portuguese influence he was pleased to find, is a place one can get such Portuguese delights as cheese and wine. He also felt very comfortable in the mix of cultures in New Caledonia and Timor Leste. The voyage took 23 days and he is now based in Indonesia which he considers home.
These are the two men who will one day become Counts of Sandizell and inherit Schloss Sandizell. They have travelled all over the world and are familiar with many cultures. They speak many languages but do not speak well either the mother tongue of their father or their mother. They have a rich heritage in Germany that they will one day inherit but feel more comfortable in Indonesia and Portugal.
In the beginning of article I of this series, Clemens Prinz von Croy expressed his concern about the decline of spirituality in Europe but it is not only spirituality that he is concerned with. Globalization and the creation of multi-cultural societies have opened the cultural wealth of many societies to the peoples of the world but the Prince says, as with all things, multi-culturalism has also brought challenges and problems that need to be solved.
In the evolution of cultures and peoples it will be interesting to witness how Nikolaus, Count of Sandizell and his sons Tassilo and Maximilian future Counts of Sandizell will address these challenges of culture and globalization. Maximilian says, “Its easy to adapt wherever I go and I would love to have the opportunity to learn more about my German heritage and hopefully to pass it on to future generations of Sandizells.”
Tassilo when asked the same question concerning how he would later deal with his German heritage when the time came gave a very Indonesian response, “I shall cross that bridge when I come to it and I shall manage it with all my brothers and sisters and cousins. One day it will be my task to learn about it and manage it for I have the greatest respect for Sandizell but I will do it together with all my family… (Tamalia Alisjahbana)
To read Part I of this article please go to: https://observerid.com/indonesian-goings-on-at-schloss-sandizell-part-i-count-nikolaus-of-sandizell/