Creative spaces, cutting edge design, art, music and a futurist vision make Desa Potato Head a resort that is as stylish as it is committed to a better future.
By Sarah Dougherty
From a design perspective, Desa Potato Head is an aesthetic dream; from the seaside location to the smooth lines and pops of quirky colour. From a sustainability perspective, the energy here speaks of community, the future and a dedication to conservation.
From check-in at the jamu bar, which serves as reception, a higher purpose is tangible. Bamboo lounge chairs in the vast outdoor lobby, surrounded by a sea of hand-made bricks, is where your experience begins. You soon discover the library, the sunset gallery, the Sanctuary and spa; each space is self-defined yet part of a holistic master plan.
A beach Club, a Hotel and the Sexiest Suites
Desa Potato Head, as it is now named, encompasses Potato Head Beach Club, the Beach Hotel and the luxurious Potato Head Suites, in the former boutique hotel Katamama. There are two types of rooms, the ocean-front suites with views across the ocean and down the coast, and the studio-style rooms which are compact and almost Japanese in their clever use of space and repurposed elements.
A lot of what you see is recycled or repurposed. You receive a tote bag, created from 30 plastic bottles, and a reusable water bottle at check-in. In your studio, a zero-waste kit includes a bamboo cutlery set and re-usable sunscreen, insect spray, aloe vera after sun and sanitiser. Coffee and tea are locally sourced and all the drinking water is created from desalinated seawater, as is all the water used throughout the Desa.
Check-in and do the Desa thing
Desa means village in Indonesian and once you’ve settled in, it’s time to explore; head to the library and peruse the stunning collection of books or join the digital nomads and get some work done; Head to the Beach Club for some sun and rays, drinks and sounds; check out the rooftop bar (Sunset Park) where sunsets are incredible, a DJ is on deck and a small, ever-changing grill menu provides the bar snacks; or peruse the incredible wellness menu at Sanctuary and indulge the senses.
The rooftop bar, Sunset Park, is, without doubt, one of Bali’s sexiest rooftop/sunset bars. The sleek 22-metre bar races along the terrace deck, with a second bar and lounge chairs for those who want privacy, but the bar beckons in the most luscious way and the views are among Bali’s best. Drinks focus on sustainability with the Desa creating many of the bases, the ‘tepache’, by fermenting the peel and rind of pineapples. Arak is a local spirit made from fermented coconut sap, the emphasis on local means you’ll discover a new way of drinking that is firstly delicious and secondly encompasses the ‘slow food’ movement.
In your room, you’ll also find locally produced and fermented spirits and mixers and you simply dial a bartender to create a cocktail in your room for you.
Nurture your inner child at The Sanctuary
The Sanctuary calls to my inner child, longing to be nurtured with breathwork and ice bath sessions and an incredible sound healing program called Sistrim run in partnership with Ubud’s Pyramids of Chi, this is a must for me.
Be good to do good - sustainability at the Desa
Music, design, community, wellness and sustainability are at the heart of this beautiful resort, that at first appears a hedonistic paradise equipped with swimming pools, restaurants, bars and grazing areas. Once you start to explore, the details of what happens behind the scenes, the commitment to finding sustainable solutions to resort-scale problems is creative and impressive. Virtually everything is used, reused, recycled or repurposed. The Lab is what visitors rarely see but it is here that Potato Head is constantly working on new ways to reduce waste.
The Sweet Potato Lab - where waste becomes a thing of beauty
Communication Director, Maria Garcia del Cerro says the Beach Club formerly produced over a ton of waste daily. The problem was obvious, finding solutions involved engineering minds, creative heads and a partnership with Mantra Bali, environmental consultants who work with some of Bali’s biggest companies including Waterbom, one of the shining stars of sustainability on the island. Currently, that figure is reduced to just 10% of what it was, made up mostly of disposable diapers and sanitary pads and the scourge of today, masks! Even for this, they are trying to find solutions.
The Sweet Potato Head Lab artfully converts waste into furniture, room amenities, and so much more. In distinctive colours, they can be seen throughout Desa Potato head, useful and decorative objects sourced from waste collection. It’s brilliant to see and use the products created on site. With the research and technology that has created sustainable solutions to modern problems, the group is now reaching out to their neighbours to share what they’ve learned in the hopes of creating a sustainable community, to the point that they have offered to recycle waste on behalf of neighbouring resorts who reach out for help.
Everyone is welcome
Best of all, Desa Potato Head opens up its facilities and programs to non-guests as well – a host of digital nomads use the library, the beach club is open to one and all, and the restaurants are so diverse that you could spend a week exploring them all and rarely have to repeat an experience. The welcome is always warm, you’re included wherever you come from and almost whenever!
An amazing breakfast, part of my room package is followed by a far less worthy goal – to swim in all the pools, enjoy some personal time on a sun-soaked day bed and marvel at the stunning views. I feel better knowing that everything I see and experience is considered and purposeful, and that includes my personal frequency, which is currently firmly on chill!
Tip: Book your day bed the night before as they fill up fast. Desa Pool sunbeds are only open to hotel guests, but swimming at the pool is permitted and there’s plenty of seating around the pool. The more lively pool at Potato Head Beach Club is open all day.
Dining at Desa Potato Head
There are a host of dining options at Potato Head, from the beach club, where the main restaurant focuses on classic beach club favourites (always with flair and a twist), and a rooftop pizza restaurant is complimented by room service menus for the hotels, a number of great bars, and three outstanding restaurants that are worthy of a mention
Ijen – A brilliant zero-waste seafood restaurant that bases the menu on the daily catch. Located at the centre of the Potato Head Beach Club, Ijen cooks over fire to add flavour. Leftovers are a thing of the past as fish scales become crackers, offcuts add flavour to sauces and soups and a nose-to-tail approach highlights innovation and creativity. Think dishes like Desa croissant loaf, crumbed sardines, tartar sauce, dill, fish ravioli with turnip and prawn bisque and sides like Daikon skin pickle, baby potatoes, garlic aioli, fish scale furikake to accompany simple, flavourful grilled fish dishes.
Tanaman – Billed as a cosmic, plant-filled dining experience, Tanaman is a futuristic dining space offering an extraordinary dining experience rooted in a respect for plants that elevate them to the divine. With magical hands and a dazzling sense of creativity, Head Chef, Dominique Tulani Hammond, (@domtropical) honours each ingredient –root to fruit– and morphs Indonesia’s tropical flora into their full edible potential without wasting a single cell. Located within the Desa, Tanaman is a multi-sensory restaurant for the future where diners are invited on a cosmic plant-fueled trip through provocative plates and spirited drinks.
Kaum – Kaum sits above the Potato Head Beach Club and offers a rare taste of generational recipes from across the archipelago. Each dish is identified by where it comes from, plates are designed for sharing, family-style and each has been refined in the Kaum kitchen, retaining the authentic characteristics while elevating the dishes to restaurant standard. This is a great way to explore Indonesian food in a beautiful dining room where the staff are generous with their knowledge of local cuisine.
Sunset Park Rooftop Bar -For those who soak up sunsets, this is an incredible way to enjoy them. The rooftop of the Potato Head Hotel features a long bar and terraced seating overlooking the ocean and along the southern coast of Bali. The vibe is very cool, with a DJ playing smooth tunes, bartenders slinging a great menu of signature cocktails with premium spirits, frosty beers and wine by the glass, and a small bar menu that changes regularly and takes the edge off until dinner. Seating on the long bar is in high demand so call ahead if you’re planning for an occasion, otherwise it’s first come, first served.