Bali is synonymous for creativity and freedom, both of which are almost always married with a deep respect towards Mother Nature, as the island is enveloped in luscious greenery and blessed with aquamarine waters. In the epicentre of this island of paradise, sits Desa Potato Head, a revered name to most travellers who either know of, or have heard of this multifaceted haven crowned “Bali’s creative village.” Opened by Ronald Akili in 2010, Desa Potato Head is a place where creativity, balance and progress act as the core pillars that fuel connection, with the crux of a place being “Good Times, Do Good”.
The carbon-neutral campus comprises a five-star hotel, a beach club that has made the Potato Head name that of a revered one in the Bali scene locally and internationally, a music recording studio, gallery, spa, sustainability workshops, curated culture library, listening lounge, co-working centre, streaming station and six restaurants, including the Indonesian archipelago’s first restaurant that leaves no ingredient unused. Its mission? Radiate positive energy and inspire everyone to do more good to the planet.
Here are 10 reasons Desa Potato Head is champion of sustainability, wellness and community:
“Good Times, Do Good”, is the Desa Potato Head mantra, one that they truly believe in, and creatively instil into each aspect of their lifestyle brand – the materials that form the hotel structure and furniture, the art installations they curate, the programming that involves and supports the community, and their cuisine, some of which are more radical than others – all of which are closely tied to an aspect of social responsibility. The Desa firmly believes that the next generation of global citizens is dependent on them to set an example and to in turn, be inspired to pass on a positive ripple effect for the planet and the people.
The Hotel & Hospitality
Potato Head was a pioneer when they became the first hospitality company in Asia to go carbon neutral – not only do they provide all guests with zero-waste kits upon check in, but their tireless work to reduce their percentage of waste that goes to landfills has now come to zero. The 226-guest room hotel is known to be their guests’ home away from home, set on the sand and surf of Petitenget Beach in Seminyak, and overlooks the romantic Indian Ocean. Genuine smiles and acts of service that epitomise Balinese hospitality flood the Desa no matter where or whom you turn to.
Music amplifies every experience – be it meditation, a meal, or a marathon. It is what the Desa was known for from the very start – its Beach Club, so it comes to no surprise that this aspect has been vastly expanded over time. Ekostika is a sustainably designed studio that offers some of Indonesia’s rarest vinyls. It doubles as a digital streaming site where DJs, musicians and thinkers gravitate to broadcast their voices, stories and sounds on Headstream: a land of digital escapism for anyone around the world to find refuge in, at any time. The Desa also acts as a throne for contemporary art and experimental cultural performances that channel the island’s energy as the sun or moon come into view. And then there is Headonism, Potato Head’s monthly weekend of multi-sensory indulgence, where guests can expect experimental music sessions over sunset-to-sunrise libations.
Housing 6 food and beverage destinations within the Desa, the one unifying factor is each establishment’s commitment to using organic, sustainable ingredients that are farmed and sustainably sourced from around the archipelago. Tanaman, helmed by chef Dom Hammond honours each ingredient from root to fruit, where her daring sense of creativity transforms Indonesia’s lush, tropical flora and botanical into full edible potential without a single wasted cell.
Kaum, named after “clan” or “tribe” in Bahasa, is an authentic Indonesian restaurant that showcases recipes passed on for generations but were rarely recorded or shared outside the islands’ 600 tribal communities. Marking Potato Head Family’s commitment to place Indonesia’s rich culinary heritage at the centre of the world gastronomic map, Kaum celebrates and presents a taste of Indonesia’s culinary origins inspired by the Archipelago indigenous tribes to a wider global audience.
Ijen is the first restaurant in Indonesia dedicated to radical Earth-conscious practices with a “nothing left-over” approach – a masterclass in conscious sourcing and utilising every remaining morsel to be composted, used as animal feed or fertiliser or to be recycled. The terrazzo-style dining room floor itself is repurposed from broken plates and chipped glasses, whilst the furniture diners are seated on are sourced from Mersawa wood and plastic from motorcycle oil caps.
Sunset Park, an idyllic rooftop location where guests can immerse themselves in spectacular sunsets and local cuisine to a tranquil soundtrack and atmosphere. Situated on the roof of Desa Potato Head’s cultural hub, Potato Head Studios, the space enables guests to experience the transition from day to night in the most idyllic way possible – under the setting sun. Aligned with the hours of dusk, Sunset Park opens between 5 and 9pm, rendering the venue the most remarkable spot on the island to experience the evening fall.
Akademi, the open-aired cocktail bar, lab and training centre houses root-to-flower cocktails that shine a spotlight on native botanicals like arak and jamu. Cocktail magic that is unique to Potato Head is achieved with locally distilled spirits, native ingredients and juices that are all concocted in-house.
The Art Scene
Treated as an additional vehicle to raise awareness whilst celebrating local and global artists alike, Potato Head seeks prolific names in the art world across disciplines to shape interactive, interesting and holistic experiences. Majority of the art pieces are formulated from renewable materials, such as the recent collaboration with Futura2000 titled “Pointman – River Warrior”, a sculpture made from repurposed waste materials collected from the waterways in Bali as a social commentary on pollution.
Other design aspects of the hotel merge Brutalist architecture with its tropical setting – highlighting the luscious vegetation and hypnotic forms of nature that surround the Desa. Each detail is charged by the soul of its designer, whilst a great deal of Indonesian artisanal craftsmanship is showcased throughout the Potato Head Suites – down to the amenities offered in room such as beach sets woven by indigenous Dayak people, botanically tinted, hand-woven rugs, linens and tapestries from a natural-dye house Tarum and Jengki furniture which is custom made from handpicked teak.
Potato Head is also committed in supporting future change makers – especially grassroot communities that aim to restore natural ecosystems, create safe walking trails and connect carbon offsets to real projects. During the pandemic, the Sweet Potato Project was born around regenerative farming that could not only provide nutritious meals to local populations, but also create purpose, jobs and hope.
Actions speak louder than words – and at Potato Head, it’s what they do to create a beautiful, sustainable existence that counts. At Waste Lab, the open-air workshop where passion for the environment breeds creativity, anyone who passes through is welcome to explore and learn about waste management – how they give clothing a second life, or turn plastic and Styrofoam waste into furniture or objects of art to be admired once again. The lifestyle brand has cultivated an environment where eco-innovators co-exist, inspire and teach each other how to design a circular future. Through the activities at Sweet Potato Kids, the next generation is engaged in a sustainable manner where they draw and plant seeds, make boats out of coconut shells and adorn their arms with bracelets of recycled plastic beads.
Potato Head’s wellness service, MERASA which is Indonesian for ‘to feel’ is a tailor made approach to discovering resolutions for the body, mind and spirit. Honouring the philosophy of duality within Balinese culture which embraces life’s pleasures and challenges, the service is a guidance towards a natural inner balance while integrating both traditional and modern practices. Visitors can expect wellness consultation, talks, workshops from Potato Head’s mix of local and international wellness experts – covering everything from frequency meditations, yoga, qi gong, intention setting, oracle cards, nutrition basics, native medicine and gut health through the service. The gym is 24 hours too, and appropriate workouts are also designed with children in mind.
MERASA also offers Sanctuary, a wellness experience that offers alternative forms of wellness and spirituality such as vibroacoustic audio visual therapy, sound healing, breath work, ice bath therapy, energy medicine, somatic release, and awakenings 6-days per week. This temple of wellness connects its hosts with their flow state, in turn, heightening either their sense of concentration or state of relaxation, as they simultaneously awaken a higher level of consciousness.