Indonesia

Desa Potato Head in Bali offers a heavenly getaway

Desa Potato Head in Bali offers a heavenly getaway


By day, Bali’s meticulously designed Desa Potato Head is your space for healing meditations, refreshing swims, hearty Indonesian cuisine and lounging on a daybed. At night, it’s filled with heart-pounding techno music and people talking loudly over tiki cocktails. Every hour prioritizes protecting the planet with sustainable tableware and furniture made from recycled materials. This regenerative form of rest and recreation has caught the attention of travelers and environmental enthusiasts across the globe. Here’s what it’s like to spend four days at a luxury hotel in Seminyak.

During the 11-hour journey from Bangalore to Denpasar International Airport, I completed a typical Indonesian itinerary. This was fueled by eager conversation among fellow passengers, which included words like Babi Guling (suckling pork), rice fields, volcanoes, waterfalls, surf, Kuta bars and arak. Taking this template up a notch gave me a taste of regenerative travel on my first visit to the island nation. This includes throwing away the plastic bottle of water I picked up on the plane and digging into my third bowl of porridge with bamboo cutlery. What’s at the heart of all this? The popular desa potato head in Bali.

With the motto “Good Times Do Good”, this sprawling space is one of the most unique spaces in Seminyak. Here, you’ll have access to a five-star hotel, beach club, music recording studio, cultural library, co-working center, streaming station and six restaurants (including the ever-popular Beach Club). In charge is Ronald Akili, who opened the hotel in 2010 and blazed a path to carbon neutrality. To this end, he has eliminated all single-use plastics from the venue, while promoting the use of waste from art projects, construction, and the day-to-day operations of the venue. This allows guests to enjoy a luxurious holiday while leaving the island feeling better than when they first discovered it.

Place

Desa Potato Head is located at Petitenget St No.51B, Seminyak, Kuta Utara, Badung Regency, Bali. It is about a 45-minute drive from the airport and costs INR 475,000 (approximately INR 2644), depending on traffic.

on the map

Desa Potato Head Bali Pictures

room

The hotel has 226 rooms spread over two buildings. Among them, Potato Head Studios is considered the “cultural heartbeat” with 168 imaginative rooms designed in collaboration with architecture firm OMA. My home for the next few days is a beachside studio. Fitted with local sustainable materials, the room features a bathtub, walk-in wardrobe, study space and tea station. Here, local Dayak-made beach sets, hand-woven rugs, hand-picked teak furniture and naturally dyed linens are complemented by biodegradable bamboo slippers and candles made from waste oil from restaurants.

The bar serves local spirits, natural syrups, bitters, fresh fruit, ice and bartending tools, adjoining expansive French windows that open onto private balconies with hammocks and breathtaking ocean views. Stepping out, you have access to a fully equipped gym and a spa offering the best of traditional and modern treatments. There is also direct access to the beach. All you need to do is put on your flip-flops and turn a corner from the long line of sunbeds to get there.

Surroundings

Futura2000’s River Samurai

Every nook and cranny of this property is meant to be sustainable. “In 2017, 50% of our waste went to landfills. Last month, we had about 3%. We’re working hard to get to zero,” said Maria Garcia Del Cerro, Desa Communications Director. Entrance by graffiti artist FUTURA2000 This effort is exemplified by the creation of the towering Pointman – River Warrior, a sculpture made from waste materials collected from Bali’s waterways. To the side is a light and lively informal reception space. Here, you can sip a glass of the turmeric-based concoction before being guided into a circular room to pick up a tote and water bottle (both upcycled) during your stay. A quick look around reveals woven ceilings made by locals from recycled plastic, terrazzo made from discarded concrete, and furniture that was once Styrofoam. Brutalist architecture meets verdant corners, giving the space a unique vibrancy and charm.

Activity

Morning Meditation in Sunset Park

By browsing Potato Head’s ‘Headlines’ online or in-room, you can gain insight into the hotel’s array of expert-led events, workshops and community engagement programs. These include yoga, oracle cards, indigenous medicine, sound healing, vision therapy, ice bath therapy, and more — promising to keep people focused throughout the day. My first morning was an overcast sky and drizzle, with the rustle of the waves setting the tone for a calming meditation session. In the late afternoon, I visited the waste lab and watched as faded hotel sheets were turned into tote bags and Styrofoam was melted into soap dispensers.

“The Lost Soles” by Lena Krauss

“We always say that waste is waste until it goes to the landfill,” Del Cerro shared with me, pointing to the myriad recycling bins and wine and beer bottles turned into candles and glasses, respectively. She then leads the way to a space where the plastic is washed before being shredded and pressed into massive machines for designing various facilities. Along the way, I watch guests ponder their everyday choices and learn facts and figures about pollution. Many people, like me, stopped by a gigantic beach-slipper installation called “The Lost Soles,” with flip-flops hailing from the shores of Bali’s west coast.

Waste Lab, Potato Head

The next day, a bus fueled by desa kitchen oil took me to the archipelago’s lush mangroves. According to reports, conservation efforts led by the Indonesian government began in 1992 to save coastal vegetation from extinction. That said, marine waste — including plastic bags, bottles, straws, fast food wrappers — often floats in waters, polluting spaces. Armed with a net and life jacket, I spent three hours with the locals picking them up while admiring the beauty of the forest. Later that night, lounging on my hotel sunbed, I gazed out at the clear blue waters of Bali, knowing that I had helped (albeit in small ways) to keep it pristine.

food and catering

Ijen

Breakfast is served from 7:00 am to 11:00 am and includes local seasonal fruit, coconut cream, porridge, smoothies and coffee. If you like eggs in the morning, serve them with vegetables and potatoes. The portions are generous and the flavors are delightful. My lunch at Ijen, a sustainable seafood restaurant, gave me some of the freshest produce in Bali. Reportedly the first zero-waste restaurant on the island – the ambience features long community tables and chairs with motorcycle oil caps and a terrazzo floor with repurposed broken plates and broken glass. Despite a filling breakfast, I couldn’t resist eating their seaweed butter bread for a few seconds. Sip on a refreshing cocktail—the Spicy Margarita with Tequila and Chili Tequila, the Indigo with Lemongrass Gin and Lychee Liqueur.

sunset park

Apricot sunsets are Bali’s gift to travelers – best witnessed at the bustling Sunset Park. Located on the rooftop, the space features an airy bar and several seating areas. There, I sampled a Negroni and a unique strawberry-infused Old Fashioned—the perfect accompaniment for the transition into dusk.

plant

My most unique dining experience, however, was at Tanaman, the planetarium-like botanical restaurant. Helmed by Chef Don Hammond, the multi-course menu here is fun and exciting – using every part of every ingredient. In addition to perfectly marinated fruits and vegetables that tasted as good as they looked, I happily savored spinach leaves in a crunchy spiced batter, comfort roasts with sea salt, and chewy skewered mushrooms. Dumplings of tempeh, pumpkin and chili oil – perfectly steamed with complementary flavors – were a revelation.

Contest

At Kaum, I continue to explore Indonesian flavours, condensed into a compact menu. Known for its authentic creations, the restaurant uses recipes from all over the country that have been passed down from generation to generation, such as Sate Babi Kecap, Nasi Goreng, Gohu Tuna, Gulai Gurita (Gulai Gurita) and Tongseng Ayam both had my taste buds singing. The only thing that really elevates the experience is their sambal symphonies – spicy and delicious – and I pile them on top of my rice, meat and veggies, regardless of portion control.

academia

On my last evening, I fulfilled a long-held desire to become a bartender at the award-winning Akademi Bar. Tasting locally-infused spirits—citrus husk vodka, black grape arak, pineapple arak, spiced rum—I gained insight into the country’s drinking habits and the process followed by the space’s bartenders. I then experimented with local fruits, juices, and sweeteners to create a luscious, refreshing passionfruit-lemon concoction that had me pumped for hours to come.

Potato Head Beach Club

No matter where my dinner is, a night in Desa always brings a cocktail followed by a quick dip in the infinity pool at the Potato Head Beach Club. The space is one of Seminyak’s most popular party destinations, offering sun beds, delicious bar snacks and the most eclectic cocktails. Here, the party goes on into the night, the sound of the waves blending with the loud chatter of friends on vacation, business people relaxing after a long day at work, and young couples in love. On more than one occasion, I found myself sipping a tiki concoction of tropical fruit and rum while rocking to the DJ’s tunes. the best part? While the whole of Bali had to avoid traffic jams to get there, I only had to walk a few steps from my room. The exciting atmosphere combined with the façade made of redesigned louvres – the club truly reflects my experiences on the island – is an intoxicating, inspiring mix of relaxation and rejuvenation. Here’s a toast to the beauty of both worlds, cheers!

stay

A beachfront studio is priced around INR 28,868. (IDR 5,200,000) per night (all inclusive, breakfast and taxes). All rooms are non-smoking. For quick suction, look for a designated area. Check-in time is 3:00 pm and check-out time is 12:00 noon, subject to change based on availability. Alcohol, drones and celebratory decorations are not permitted. Neither are pets, unless they are certified service partners. Guests staying in the studio have access to the Beach Club swimming pool. The doctor on call can come to the ward at any time if you feel unwell. The space is wheelchair accessible with ramps in most areas and ATMs are located at the beach club and Escalier store. the best part? Free and unlimited internet access is available throughout Desa Potato Head.

For reservations, go to the official website, here.

All images: Courtesy of Kevin Mak/Desa Potato Head, Bali

This story first appeared here

Related: TL Awareness List: 9 Sustainable Hotels Around the World



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