Is exclusivity really key? This OMA-designed hotel in Bali emphasizes community instead

Bali – Early this year, a local news publication reported that Bali’s tourism-related businesses contributed over 50 per cent of the Indonesian island’s revenue. The statistic makes clear the substantial economic dependency that the local and national community has on foreigners flocking to the island, and the repercussions if, for any external reason, they should not. But, in an attempt to shift narratives of local-tourist dependency, OMA has designed Potato Head Studios, a public-accessible hotel that emphasizes community over exclusivity.

The hospitality concept behind the new resort building is particularly pertinent now, when sector stakeholders are strategizing how to address consumers’ desires to truly tune into local communities when they travel. No longer is it sensible to think that Instagrammable rooms, well-considered food-and-drink and top service are the only elements to consider when designing a five-star stay – a culture-led offering is a must.

Desa Potato Head (desa is the Indonesian translation of village), comprised of a beach club and two hotels of which Potato Head Studios is one, is definitively an outlier in its surroundings. Seminyak, an area at the southern end of Bali where the resort is located, has become a popular destination for tourists due to its upscale hotels, spas and restaurants. The influx of hospitality businesses entering Seminyak has resulted in a nearly entirely occupied beachfront; Potato Head Studios is situated on one of the last available sites. In standard resort-hotel form, the stay offers private guestrooms and facilities, but its communal spaces – an exhibition area, bar, cultural platform and rooftop – are all open to the locale.

A floating ring set atop piloti supports the guestrooms, exhibition space and large sunset bar. The configuration makes way for the ground plane, which is dedicated to the cultural platform – a stage for events and activities that celebrate Balinese culture. This area leads to directly to the beach.

‘While the essence of Bali lies in interaction between different cultures,’ explains a spokesperson for OMA, ‘The ubiquitous resort typology currently in Bali and other tropical destinations paradoxically emphasizes hotel guests’ exclusive enjoyment, detached from the life of the local community.’

Location Jl. Petitenget No.51B, Seminyak, Kec. Kuta Utara, Kabupaten Badung, Bali 80361, Indonesia

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