Saturday, March 2, 2024

Party at Desa Potato Head while the world burns

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Welcome to a resort you may never want to leave. Desa Potato Head.

The flight between Singapore and Bali is nearly three hours long, and I’m already imagining the scenario of what would happen if the plane started to malfunction. The oxygen mask will fall like a hanged man. The steel shack we’re in may come closer and turn into a collective metal coffin. I don’t usually start a travel piece with an image of a crashed plane, but when you’re traveling with a child who’s never been on a plane before, the mind tends to wander into dark territory.

It’s not like I didn’t plan ahead. We’ve created a checklist of possible outcomes your child may encounter while flying, as well as those that are preventable. Ear stuffiness (lollipop or something sweet to suck). Loud engine sounds (headphones connected to laptop with programs for children). Hungry (packet of trail mix). But to paraphrase a Yiddish proverb: “Make a plan, God is laughing.” Our child, small but surprisingly inventive, found ways to thwart us. After an hour of coloring, he gets fidgety and doesn’t want to stay in his seat, much less be tied to it.

Distractions lose their power and all we are left with are quiet threats and calls to dissuade this emotional terrorist. My mind wanders. I imagine our plane crashing into the side of a mountain.


Desa Potato Head is unlike any resort I have ever seen or stayed at.

It was supposed to happen like this vacation. A weekend where you can greedily enjoy some of the free time you get from your busy schedule. It will be spent at Desa Potato Head, a sprawling 226-room hotel located on Petitenget Beach in Seminyak. My wife and I visited the place (then Potato Head Bali) before we got married. I remember spending time relaxing on the daybed at the beach club. Since we had kids joining us, we decided that staying at a resort would be an experience.

A lot has changed since my wife and I were last here. The hotel has rebranded from Potato Head Bali to Desa Potato Head. “Desa”, which means “village” in Indonesian, is the line on which this place operates. This is a creative village where art, music, design, good food and wellness coexist.

“5000 Lost Soles” by Leena Krauss.

This place already stood out for its eye-catching aesthetics – the work of Leena Kraus 5,000 lost soles (2016) is an installation made from flip-flops salvaged from Bali beaches and the exterior of a beach club made from wooden window shutters. If you think the hotel’s Brutalist architecture against a tropical backdrop looks whimsical, you’ll be charmed by the intrusion of new artwork. Take Nano Uhero’s “The Womb” for example. This bamboo sculpture must be passed through by visitors entering through the entrance. Future2000’s iconic point man Potato Head stands like a sentinel in the courtyard of his studio. Made from recycled waste collected from Bali’s waterways, Pointman is a testament to Balinese philosophy of duality: picking up trash and turning it into works of art.

Futura2000’s “Point Man – River Warrior”.

Excited by the appearance of the point man, the child rushed towards the leg, at first trying to climb out, but finally settling on hiding behind the leg. His voice, in a higher pitch than usual, calls us to look at the sculpture.

After registering, guests will be directed to the Circle Store where upcycled amenities and goods will be sold. We were gifted a zero waste kit consisting of an RPET tote bag and a sustainable beverage bottle. You can ask the Desa Potato Head staff to fill your bottle with water. There are no extra costs or waste.

We offer eco-friendly amenities.

During our stay, we will be sequestered in an oceanfront studio in the Potato Head Studio building. The room is larger than expected. It faces the ocean and has tasteful furniture by Max Lamb, a recycled plastic desk chair. Volcanic glassware and pottery. A drinks cabinet is hidden in the coffee table. You can hear music from the beach club. Even with the windows closed, you can still hear the sound of the cloth being wrapped around you. When your child is jumping up and down on the bed, their feet make a thud on the floor. The sky seems to be clear. Time to hit the beachfront pool.


there’s a lot to do At Desa Potato Head. There is live music at the Potato Head Beach Club and amphitheater. But if you’re looking for a more intimate activity, there’s a headphone bar. There, you can curate the site’s record collection and conduct a listening session.

The Library (Studio Exotica), located on the second floor of Potato Head Studio, is a tranquil place to browse a wide selection of carefully selected reading materials. In a rare moment for me, I polished off all of Peter Beste’s battle jacket photo books.

There is a spa and gym next door. Above it is Sunset Park, a rooftop bar overlooking the Indian Ocean. Later that evening, we dined at Thananam, a casual restaurant serving plant-based cuisine. Chef Dom Hammond uses locally sourced ingredients and offers creative dishes without alienating omnivores like my family.

We started with roti (lightly salted with eastern Bali sea salt). Now that we had taken the kids to explore the rest of the restaurant, it was time for the broccoli (broccoli with coconut and chive oil sauce) dish. The space is filled with a purple glow emanating from indoor garden lights. There is nothing more natural and familiar than this dish, yet it feels otherworldly, as if you are in another climate.

Later that night, the child fought sleep for an hour before succumbing to it. My poor wife thought something was down and she took two Panadol.

Party at the beach club.

I have tickets for Sbtrkt’s concert tonight at the Beach Club. I’ve been wanting to watch him since he stopped making music in 2014. But better judgment took over and we fell asleep to an electronic lullaby.


DESA potato head uses There is also a program for young children called Sweet Potato Kids. These sessions keep children busy with sustainability lessons and exercises like this morning’s training. The kids and I are at the playground in Desa. A trainer will begin with some light stretching and then lead the group on a leisurely jog around the grounds.

Children of Sweet Potato Kids.

Climb the stairs all the way to Sunset Park. It was still early so the staff cleaned the place without bothering us. The sky is overcast, there is already a sheen of sweat on my skin, and the sea breeze feels cool. When the trainer said, “It’s time to go home,” the child made a sound like “It’s enough.” Hey, you. We stopped and headed down the stairs, but the child’s energy showed no signs of slowing down.

Since my wife was still recuperating, I took my kids to Ijen for lunch. We primarily serve fresh seafood caught responsibly from these local waters, including sardines (crushed sardines served on desa croissant bread, topped with tartare and fermented hot sauce) and roasted cauliflower (kerwek tahini). We were particular about the steamed ones. We have a chocolate dessert and of course he messes it up, but that’s what kids do. He doesn’t have the athletic ability of an adult. His spill looked like an atoll, so I wiped it up. It was a small nuisance, but it quickly went away when he bared his chocolate-stained teeth. Look at daddy.look at mehe says.

I took a spoonful of dessert, showed him the browned champer, and we both laughed.


Ronald Akili just wanted A better future for his children.

In 2016, the Desa Potato Head founder went surfing on the coast of Bali with his eldest son. They found themselves surrounded by ocean plastic. Akiri said in an interview that that moment made him determined to minimize the environmental damage caused by Desa Potato Head. “I want to pass on a better world to future generations. I think this is innate in all of us.”

One of the workers making beads made of plastic.

Under the guidance of Bali-based environmental engineering consultancy Eco Mantra, Desa Potato Head’s commitment to its zero waste to landfill goal has reached 5 percent. Achieving that level of sustainability takes a lot of work, says Desa Potato Head chief operating officer Simon Pestridge. As a former vice president of Nike, Pestridge takes a “never compromise” approach. “With so many people creating so much waste, the tourism industry needs to take a serious look,” he says. “One of the keys to getting as close to zero waste as possible is ensuring that waste is separated at the source. As the team separates the different types of organic material that go to the pig farm and compost, the cycle The lower you go, the easier it is. Management is held accountable every week. Sometimes it’s 3%, sometimes it’s 5%, and they come back to see why that happened. .”

As of this writing, Desa Potato Head has 950 staff members who adhere to a disciplined process of weighing waste daily, understanding how it is disposed of, and tracking it. Suppliers cannot ship items in plastic. Plastic wrap is prohibited in the kitchen. Desa Potato Head glasses are made from cut beer bottles.

Use recycled plastic to make coasters and tissue boxes.

Desa Potato Head’s Sustainability Assistant Manager Dewa Legawa will lead tours for guests interested in the site’s sustainability programs. We sneaked into the back of the house and saw how they manage waste all the way to the production line. Legawa scoops out a pile of shredded HDPE plastic. These items are turned into chairs, toiletries, etc. He pointed out that the water bottle caps we were given were made from them. In the waste lab, you can watch used plastics being formed into planks before being molded.

This is the “do good” part of Desa Potato Head’s credo, “Good Times, Do Good.” Cultivating a sustainability community in the hospitality sector is a long-term vision of giving back to the planet we have all greedily taken from. But given that hospitality is still the main purpose of resorts, how can you keep the good times going even when the world is on fire?

“I think everyone still wants to have a good time,” Pestridge says. “Even though the world is on fire, I think people have an even greater desire to have a good time. We just want to leave as little of a footprint as possible. That’s why we go to work every day feeling good. Anyone who wants to learn from us, or we can go to them, and we can teach them what we have learned. Zero waste is a competitive advantage. This is a journey that all of us must undertake to ensure that Bali and the places that tourists go to thrive.”

Chair designed by Max Lamb.

The fastidious resort has eschewed any kind of “to do it or not to do it” approach, determined to put its money where its mouth is and lead by example. “If we can inspire change through action, we can put the world on a better trajectory,” Pestridge added, acknowledging that what they are doing is a drop in the ocean. ing. But over time, many people make small changes over and over again…that’s what makes the difference.


Imagine a building with obstacles. inside their heads. Just the reckless idea of ​​achieving waste reduction levels. I imagine the man hours, the steep learning curve, and the mistakes I made along the way. But they managed to do something that all these big hospitality establishments have struggled with.

The same goes for nurturing people. My parents did everything they could to raise me, but I wanted to see if I could do better when it came to my children. Actually, although it was tiring at times, there were also many fun moments. I hope he remembers the good parts of the vacation. Or, at the very least, you’ll be broadened by experiences that will shape your future self.

Ronald Akili, founder of Desa Potato Head

One last memory. On the last day, I lay in a hammock outside on the balcony, listening to the tropical music of Irama Pantai Selatan. The Indonesian band is performing at the Beach Club’s Live Sunset Sunday Session, with a crowd gathering around them. The wife is resting in the room, but the child is tired and passed out on the bed.

I have a front row seat to the blazing sky. The dazzling glow brought about by the sun slowly sinking into the sea. If I didn’t know any better, it’s a picture perfect apocalypse. My mind wanders.

At the end of the world, there is no better place to be than with your family.



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