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I’ve experienced the future of hospitality, it's radical, regenerative and growing on a not so quiet part of Bali. Well known for its buzzing beach club, Desa Potato Head in Bali has been quietly reimagining the role of hospitality and its impact on an island renowned for over tourism.


How a place makes you feel can often be somewhat intangible. But the good hotels, the ones that really get it, understand the power of combining sight, scent and sound to the guest experience and the unimaginable effects it has on evoking a sense of place. A lot has been written about the spiritual and healing effects of Bali, so it’s no surprise that there’s an unequivocal feeling to Potato Head. 


Yes, you have the time honoured daily offerings and sweet smell of burning incense adorning the entrance, but it’s the experiential programming that focuses on the mind and body that truly evokes the senses. I opted for a ‘Sound Healing’ session, hosted in the hotel's ‘Sanctuary’ room. Weaving together a tapestry of sound, which sent me off into a deep state of relaxation as I enjoyed a quiet couple of hours from my kids. It’s not something I’d typically do, but it resonated deeply on so many levels. 



Potato Head is so clear in its ethos and values, that weaves it across each and every touchpoint across the guest journey. It’s a holistic, multi-disciplinary approach to design that sees all layers of the brand from interiors to communication, service style to experiential programming combine harmoniously. It means, you won’t find any hotel jargon, overzealous branding or hotel clichés but a design language, that flows effortlessly. This is ‘Desa’s Dance’, in tune with the islands melody. From the consciously crafted terracotta bricks, handcrafted by local artisans in the village of Darmasaba to the verdant landscaping growing and draping itself on and around the open public plaza, to the texture brought by local crafts and textiles found across the resort. The rich materiality and colour bringing an almost rhythmic quality that brings each space alive and deeply roots it in place. 

So while the broader industry continue to talk about reusing bath towels and the move away from the use of plastic straws, Potato Head are running a masterclass in regenerative hospitality. Leading with a purpose, values led philosophy and diffusing it across all layers of the brand. It sets a new benchmark that many could learn from and are bound to follow as the next generation of hospitality evolves. 


As we begrudgingly checked-out from the property we were presented with a beautiful bracelet, crafted into colourful beads from plastic waste. An act of generosity to carry with us and one that’s become symbolic of our stay. It reminds me daily of the responsibility and opportunity, to help shape hotel brands that not only celebrate, but give back to their surrounds. 

Words by James Huntly, Founder & Creative Director | AboundStudio. 

It’s just and timely, given the commercial dependency and spiritual connection locals have to the land. For if tourism, which makes up 80% of the island’s economy is to be sustainable, it will need to find a better balance with nature, considered sacred to locals and arguably the island’s biggest draw card to visitors. For Desa, It’s a mindset that’s shaped a living, breathing eco-system at one with its surrounds. Where a consciously crafted hotel, sits alongside a thriving cultural village where a “good times, do good” ethos lives through every aspect of this bold and beautiful brand. Its goes far beyond the facade, in this case made from 5,000 salvaged flip-flops collected from the island’s shores and titled ‘lost soles’’. It lives with purpose and intention, through radically rethinking operational behaviours and business models, ensuring each and every move, not only enriches the guest experience, but ultimately the land. 



It’s seen the brand work towards a zero waste commitment. 50% of waste was originally sent to landfill and only 3% makes it to landfill today. It won’t be long before we reach zero!” Our host tells us proudly, as she guides us through the somewhat unconventional, but no less wondrous back-of house waste tour. Here you see and smell the unglamorous end of things, but this is also where the magic happens. Candles are crafted from waste cooking oil and repurposed wine bottles. Old polystyrene is blended with leftover oyster shells from the restaurant, to create stylish soap dispensers. And plastic waste is shredded and formed into multicoloured sheets, before being laser cut into a collection of designled resort furniture. 



Not only is this ‘do good’ ethos evident through upcycled rubbish, but in nurturing the local arts and music scene. It means ‘good times’ prevail, not just exclusively for guests but locals too. This culture of reciprocity forms the foundation to the brand and in-turn each stay. Both in terms of the property’s relationship with people and place, but vice versa. It manifests itself in a thriving cultural playground, where music festivals, design workshops and artistic activations, celebrate the island’s rich community. As creativity and culture is exchanged, you can feel an energy exchange, a concept befitting of an island known to be one of the world’s most spiritual destinations. 



Potato Head don’t do breakfast buffets. It’s a refreshing move against the backdrop of local resorts accustomed to serving hungry eyes with big breakfasts that more often than not go to waste. Instead you’ll find exotic fruits, perfect pastries, dreamy dishes and crafty coffee’s served on wooden trays by happy hosts directly to your poolside lounger. Eat as much as you want, with the only caveat that you must clear your plate! An array of dining options serve up a wholesome ‘feast’ philosophy made from responsibly sourced ingredients. Tanaman, is the resort’s plant-based restaurant ‘honouring the whole plant - from root to fruit’. It’s experiential, imaginative and social, both in design and experience. But if a plant based diet isn’t for you, the beach club and authentic Indonesian Kaum, serve an all day menu of familiar favourites and local flavours, that went above and beyond our expectations. 

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