A post by an Indonesian blogger complaining of the unequal treatment between bule and lokal guests at a posh Bali beach club is quickly going viral on the net.
Potato Head is known as one of Bali’s hottest beach clubs, nestled in the hip Petitenget area. But Surabaya-based blogger, Ade Kumalasari, who created travel blog ‘The Travel Precils’ is saying the club’s not all it’s cracked up to be for locals.
In nearly 2,000 words, the post, published on March 25, 2016, recounts Ade and her family’s awkward trip to Potato Head from start to finish. It all started with the family going through security and not being allowed to take in their tripod (so no sunset pictures, joked Ade) and concluded with their group being “kicked out” (as Ade put it).
So what’s all the fuss about? The blog post zeroes in on a particular waiter’s treatment of the group—they identify him as David, but are not totally sure if his name is written as Dafid, or Daveed.
In a nutshell, Ade identifies three main things that she says were poorly-handled by Potato Head, spearheaded by David:
- Essentially blocking the group from sitting in the “international area.” (Ade writes that they were given the choice of going to either the international area which serves Western food or the area serving Indonesian food. Her family opted for the international area since her kids prefer Western food, only to be refused entry and told the area was full. So why offer the international area in the first place, Ade wondered in her blog.)
- Giving inaccurate information about the set menu (Ade writes that David said they could only be confined to one type of set menu and couldn’t pick more than one kind, while another wait staff apparently told them differently.)
- Putting a time cap on their seats, telling the group they had to leave because the table had already been pre-booked by another group, while on top of that, failing to mention any time limit in the beginning (Ade writes that this was them getting kicked out and it wouldn’t have been so horrible had they been told beforehand that they could only have the seats until a certain time.)
Referring to her kids on her blog as ‘Big A’ and ‘Little A’, Ade marveled at the experience, chalking it up to elitist racism: “My husband lectures in Australia. Little A was born in Sydney. Big A speaks more fluent English than Indonesian. These children are more fond of bread and cheese (and vegemite!) instead of rice. Ironic, huh? The point is, we failed to blend in as bule, hahaha. There’s no way you’ll be treated like a bule if your skin is brown, your hair black.”
Ade wrapped up her blog post saying she had received an email from the manager of Potato Head that apologized for the incident and inviting her family back. How did she react to that? Basically “thanks, but no thanks.”
With the extremely expensive prices for food and drinks and the place’s reputed high standard of service, there should be no distinction between local and international guests, she concluded.
Here’s the Facebook update linking to the full-length blog post, written in bahasa:
UPDATE: Since this article was first published, Ade has updated her blog and Potato Head has contacted Coconuts Bali with the following official statement:
We are an Indonesian company that is operated by Indonesians and we welcome and value all guests equally. We pride ourselves on always maintaining excellent customer service and treating all our patrons as if they were guests in our own home.
We have spoken directly to the guest who has written about her experience on her blog, and we deeply apologised to her and her family for the miscommunication that occurred, the unpleasant experience and for the service that did not live up to our high standard. We thank her very much for her input as it helps us to greatly improve the training of all our staff, and ultimately improve our overall service.