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Strong Influx of Russian Holidaymakers Expected in Bali over the New Year Period.
Assisted by regular flight service from Moscow to Bali on Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines and visas-on-arrival, Russian arrivals to Bali are booming - up +64.56% year-to-date January-November 2007.
.The December - January period if high season ex Russia with travel operators organizing charter flights to Southeast Asia to handle the added demand.
Big spenders, often traveling with limited English, evidence of the growing importance of Russian tourists in Bali are the hotels offering Russian language menus and directories of services and a large number of shops posting Russian signs in their windows.
The heaviest influx of Russian charter flights can be expected between December 28 and January 14 over the January 5 Epiphany celebrations on January 5th. The date on which Russians traditionally celebrate Christmas, many hotels have organized special entertainments and dinners on January 5 for the expected influx of Russian guests.
Russian travelers, together with Indian and Mainland Chinese, rank as three important new emerging markets for Bali tourism.
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Wayan Supandi Joins Beverly Hills Bali
Leaves General Manager Post at Ubud's Pertiwi Resort to Lead New Villa Property in South Bali.
Experienced local hotelier Wayan Supandi has been appointed General Manager of The Beverly Hills Bali effective December 7, 2007. The Beverly Hills Bali is a newly opened complex of 25 luxury private villas on the Ungasan peninsula overlooking Jimbaran Bay. [The Beverly Hills Bali]
Born in Bali in 1967, Supandi is a 1987 graduate of Bali's BPLP tourism institute where he majored in accommodation.
Prior to his most recent appointment, Supandi served as General Manager of the Pertiwi Resort & Spa Ubud, a role he came to after working in a sales & marketing job with Aerowisata's Hotel Sanur Beach from 1999-2003. Earlier professional assignments include working as Sales Manager of the Holiday Inn Resort Lombok and the front office of the Senggigi Beach Hotel.
Supandi has traveled widely promoting his properties at international trade shows and has contributed to the industry in a number of volunteer capacities, including serving as Vice-Chairman of the Ubud Hotel Association.
The Wrap on the Bali Climate Change Conference
Through Drama, Emotions, Boos And Ovations: Bali Road Map Adopted. Indonesian President Plays Crucial Role in Breaking Deadlock.
Wuryastuti Sunario of the authoritative Indonesian Digest provides the following overview of the just completed United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Bali December 3-14, 2006:
Friday, 14 December 2007 past midnight, and the plenary session of UN Climate Change COP-13 (Conference of Parties) in Bali which was to have adjourned at noon that day was still ongoing. But consensus was nowhere in sight. Delegates definitely looked beat, so Chairman Rachmat Witoelar decided to call it a day and adjourned the meeting to the next morning. The two weeks COP-13 meetings at Nusa Dua Bali, which opened on 3 December now had to be extended with another, - anticipated - exhausting day. At that moment the Bali Road Map was feared to be on the verge of collapse.
COP-13 Chairman, Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar, the Ad Hoc Working Group and the Indonesian delegation were far from thinking of going to sleep as they continued to thrash out the following morning's agenda. At two in the morning, President Yudhoyono suddenly walked in unannounced to hold a private meeting with the Chairman.
Saturday morning, 15 December, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, whose plane was on a refueling transit stop in Bali after a visit to Timor Leste, was seen in unexpected private discussions with President Yudhoyono.
Breaking through a Stalemate
Kompas daily reports that at 13.10 hrs. Central Indonesia Time, both leaders entered the Plenary Session to give unscheduled speeches to weary world delegates from 190 countries who had gathered in Bali with the purpose to decide the fate of planet Earth.
Both leaders reminded delegates on the political agreement reached at the Climate Change Conference at the UN in New York last September, when the strong mandate was given to this meeting in Bali to reach a breakthrough. "This was our common political agreement. For this reason, here and now we must produce the Bali Road Map that will guide us all with concrete steps towards a strong and effective agreement in Copenhagen", said President Yudhoyono to a standing ovation from the floor.
UN Secretary General on his side reminded delegates not to betray their children and life on Planet Earth. Now is no longer the time to discuss concepts, now is the time to take decisions, and "I am certain that you will decide wisely", said Ban Ki-moon.
After more heated debates came that historic moment when the delegate from Papua New Guinea, releasing the conference's pent-up collective frustration challenged the United States: "We ask for your leadership and we seek your leadership. If you are not willing to lead, please get out of the way".
After last-minute consultations with Washington, American negotiator, Paula Dobriansky announced the dramatic US turn-around decision, backing down on its previous hard line stand, wrote the UPI.
"We want to be part of the road map... and let me say to you that we will go forward and join the consensus," U.S. head of delegation Paula Dobriansky said to cheers and a standing ovation from delegates representing some 190 countries, reported the Jakarta Post. And thus, the Bali Road Map was adopted.
With that, the Bali conference succeeded to strike an accord that according to many, achieved more than what could have been expected, wrotes UPI.
"The magic moment came after both President Yudhoyono and the UN Secretary-General delivered their incredible speeches, which changed the mood of the conference," UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Yvo de Boer said.
"This is a real breakthrough, a real opportunity for the international community to successfully fight climate change."
"Parties have recognized the urgency of action on climate change and have now provided the political response to what scientists have been telling us is needed", said de Boer.
No Specified Targets, But Agreement On Collective Action By Developed-Developing Countries
The crux of the conflict that came into the open during the second week of meetings of the COP-13 in Bali concerned the explicit and quantifiable emissions reduction targets for developed nations and what sort of obligations poor and emerging economies should take on in the future.
In this conflict, the United States, backed by Canada and Japan faced EU members who insisted on a minimum reduction of between 25%-40% of emissions by industrial countries by 2020, that would ensure that global warming would not rise above a critical 2 degrees Celcius. The U.S., on the other hand, persisted that quantifiable and measurable emissions reductions should not be demanded from established industrial countries alone, but should also be demanded from emerging countries (with special mention to China and India).
On the other side, developing countries within the G-77 led by China opposed mandatory emissions on emerging nations since these countries are still suffering from centuries of poverty and are only now trying to extricate millions of their own population from dire poverty through industrialization. In addition, climate change that was mainly caused by pollution from industrialized countries are already negatively impacting on poor countries, exacerbating their sufferings. Moreover, for small island-nations, climate change consequences are already a reality today, as isles are flooded and are fast disappearing.
In this context, to compare data, Bisnis Indonesia said that according to Carma/CGD, country-wise, highest polluters are: 1. The United States of America (2,790 million tons),
2. China (2,680 million tons), 3. Russia (661 million tons), 4. India (583 million tons), 5. Japan (400 million tons), and 6. Germany (356 million tons), while Indonesia emitted 92.9 million tons, caused chiefly by forest fires.
However, per capita-wise, Australians are world's highest polluters at 10.7 tons per person, followed by the U.S.A. at 9.3 tons, South Africa and Russia at 4.6 tons and China at an average 2.0 tons per person. Indonesians, on the other hand, produce a low 0.4 tons per capita.
Most Salient Decisions in the Bali Road Map
The Bali Road Map charts the course for a new negotiating process to be concluded by 2009 that will ultimately lead to a post-2012 Kyoto Protocol international agreement on climate change. Ground-breaking decisions were taken which form core elements of the roadmap. They include the launch of the Adaptation Fund as well as decisions on technology transfer and on reducing emissions from deforestation. These decisions represent various tracks that are essential to achieving a secure climate future.
Core items in the Bali Road Map, as reported by the Indonesian language Kompas daily, include among others:
1. An unanimous agreed response to the findings of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, that warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and that delay in reducing emissions significantly constrains opportunities to achieve lower stabilization levels and increases the risk of more severe climate change impacts.
2. Delegates recognized that deep cuts in global emissions will be required to achieve the ultimate objective, and emphasize the urgency to address climate change.
3. The meeting further decided to launch a comprehensive process to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the UN Convention Framework through long-term cooperative action, up to and beyond 2012.
4. The Bali roadmap is based on a shared vision for long-term cooperative action, including a long-term global goal for emissions reductions, to achieve the ultimate objective of the Convention, in particular the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, taking into account social and economic conditions and other relevant factors.
5. Enhanced national/international action on mitigation of climate change including, inter alia, consideration of:
(i) Measurable, reportable and verifiable nationally appropriate mitigation commitments or actions, including quantified emission limitation and reduction objectives by all developed countries.
(ii) Nationally appropriate mitigation action by developing countries in the context of sustainable development, supported and enabled by technology, financing and capacity-building in a measurable, reportable and verifiable manner.
(iii) Policy approaches and positive incentives on issues relating to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries; and the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries. (text quoted from UNFCC website)
Other decisions included:
. An Adaptation Fund put under the administration of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) of the World Bank. The seed funds from the developed countries are expected to come to between $18.6 million to US$37.2 million-(sums which are, however, deemed severely inadequate to support the emergency efforts to address the ongoing ravages of climate change in the small island states and others on the "frontlines" of climate change. Oxfam estimates that a minimum of US$50 billion a year will be needed to assist all developing countries adapt to climate change.)
. A "strategic program" for technology development and transfer was also approved, (again with troubling compromises). The developing countries had initially held out for the mechanism to be designated a "facility" but finally had to agree to the watered-down characterization of the initiative as a "program" on account of U.S. intransigence. Moreover, the program was also placed under the GEF with no firm levels of funding stated for an enterprise that is expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars.)
. The REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) initiative pushed by host Indonesia and several other developing countries with large forests that are being cut down rapidly was adopted. The idea is to get the developed world to channel money to these countries, via aid or market mechanisms, to maintain these forests as carbon sinks. (However, many climate activists fear that indigenous communities will be victimized by predatory private interests that will position themselves to become the main recipients of the funds raised.)
More Than Expected, Less Than Needed
Whatever controversial opinions remain, one thing holds true, and that is that the significance of the Bali COP-13 Conference lies in the fact that it has succeeded to bring everyone on board, most importantly the United States, the only country, and highest polluter, that has until then decided to stay apart from negotiations related to the Kyoto Protocol.
British Environment Secretary Hilary Benn hailed the agreement as "an historic breakthrough". "For the first time ever all the world's nations have agreed to negotiate on a deal to tackle dangerous climate change concluding in 2009. What we have achieved here has never been done."
The British environment secretary also said: "We came here saying we wanted a roadmap that included every country and covered emission reductions from developed countries and fair and equitable contributions from developing countries. We leave here with all of this and more, a groundbreaking agreement on deforestation and others on adaptation and technology", writes Yusof Sulaiman for e-turboNews Asia/Pacific
Indonesia may be congratulated for successfully hosting this most crucial Conference, and for having taken an active role towards its outcome, including in taking the initiative to host sideline parallel meetings of international Trade Ministers and Finance Ministers.
Indonesia's President Yudhoyono himself expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting that had given birth to the Bali Road Map that will guide the world from Bali (2007) to Copenhagen (2009).
(Sources: Kompas, Jakarta Post, UPI, UNFCC web, Bisnis Indonesia)
Indonesian Airlines Urged to Avoid Purchasing or Chartering European Aircraft.
The Indonesian Department of Transportation is urging national airlines to purchase and charter aircraft from non-European sources as a response to the continuing "blacklisting" of Indonesia airlines by the EU.
Quoted in Bisnis Indonesia, the Director General of Civil Aviation, Budhi Muliawan Suyitno, said this suggestion has been forwarded to local airlines, reminding Indonesian air operators that the cost of securing European aircraft will increase following the withdrawal of Indonesian airworthiness inspectors from the EU.
That withdrawal, a retaliatory step by the Indonesian government to the EU ban, means that flight approval for European aircraft (e.g. Airbus and ATR) chartered or purchased by Indonesian airlines must now be carried out in Indonesia at an estimated additional cost of US$200,000 per aircraft.
While the withdrawal of Indonesian aviation inspectors from Europe will not cause a loss to the Indonesian government, it will be potentially expensive for Indonesian airlines flying European aircraft. Budhi suggested that such losses can be minimized by Indonesian airlines seeking aircraft in other markets. While this may prove complicated for Indonesian carriers who have purchased EU aircraft, Budhi contends that lease contracts are more easily terminated.
While Indonesia continues its massive efforts to improve aviation safety, the next aviation audit team from the EU is expected in Indonesia on January 20, 2008. On the agenda for that meeting is a review of Indonesian aircraft operations and talks to achieve a shared perception on safety standards.
As part of its tougher stance towards EU aviation policy, Indonesia is now placing greater safety scrutiny on EU carriers, such an KLM and Lufthansa, who fly to Indonesia.
Mandala Facing Higher Costs
Mandala Airline told Bisnis Indonesia that the change in inspection rules necessitate expensive "double" registration and inspections of their new Airbus aircraft. The aircraft must now be delivered with European registration upon hand-over at the Airbus factory in Toulouse, France and then flown to Indonesia for re-registration and an additional inspection process.
Despite current difficulties surrounding securing European aircraft, Mandala's CEO Warwick Brady told the Jakarta Post that down payments have been made and his airline was compelled to proceed with its purchase of 30 Airbus A320 aircraft.
Brady said: "We support the government in that they need to find a resolution... However, we cannot cancel the purchase agreement, or we will suffer losses on our down payment."
There is a practical aspect to the current imbroglio tied to the EU "blacklisting" of Indonesian registered aircraft, not entirely attributable to any degree of umbrage felt by the Indonesian towards any officials EU rulings. The current ban does not allow Indonesian registered aircraft to fly within European airspace. Thus, if an Indonesian company purchases an Airbus and, as they have in the past, provided the aircraft with an Indonesian registry at "point of purchase" then that aircraft would not be legally able to fly out of European airspace for eventual delivery to Indonesia.
In a similar vein, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has vowed not to undertake a visit to Europe until the current blacklisting of Indonesian aircraft is lifted. While special exemptions would likely be granted to the Garuda Indonesia aircraft that would fly the Indonesian President to Europe, the President is taking a principled stand and refusing to fly to Europe in the current situation in which Indoesian registered aircraft are "blacklisted" in European air space.
A Lucrative Climate for Bali Tourism
Minister Wacik Proud of Foreign Exchange Earnings and Publicity Windfall Generated by UN Climate Change Conference.
Tempo Interaktif reports that the United Nations Framework Conference on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Bali December 3-1, 2007 garnered at least Rp. 500 billion (US$52.6 million) in accommodation and meeting facilities revenues for the Island.
That figure has been suggested by Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, who said, "assume that the room rent alone for 10,000 delegates for only one week can generate Rp. 300 billion (US$31.6 million)."
Minister Wacik also pointed out to the press that perhaps the biggest profit generated by the UNFCCC was not in the revenues the conference generated but the publicity produced for Bali by the event. Said Wacik: "Every day the name of Bali was mentioned by the international media. This kind of promotion can't be bought."
The Power of Positive Thinking
The Indonesian Minister charged with tourism affairs and famous for urging that the tourism sector adopt a more optimistic attitude, said he is confident the Visit Indonesia Year 2008 (VIY 2008) will successfully recruit 7 million foreign tourists in 2008, despite a modest increase of only Rp. 50 billion (US$5.3 million) over the Rp. 150 billion (US$15.8 million) allocated for tourism promotion in 2007.
Despite limited promotional funds, Wacik said VIY 2008 targets can be reached if the security and safety situation in Bali remains undisturbed.
The Minister also discounted the impact of the continuing UE blacklisting of Indonesian aviation. Wacik said the impact of the ban was minimal due to the large number of foreign air carriers flying to Indonesia.
Indonesian Economy Being Short Changed by Failed Tourism Targets
Lawmaker Says Tourism Targets for Visitors and Earnings Unrealistic.
An Indonesian parliamentarian has judged that government targets of US$6 billion in foreign exchange earning from tourism during Visit Indonesia Year 2008 (VIY 2008) are optimistically unrealistic. As reported by the National news agency Antara, a member of Commission X of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR), Heri Akhmadi, complained that foreign tourism is dominated by backpackers with extended stays and relatively low spending levels. Moreover, according to Akhmadi, the government has fallen far short of the 7 million tourist target urged by Vice President Jusuf Kalla for 2007.
VP Kalla bullishly insisted early in 2007 that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism revise its stated target of 5.5 million for the year to 7 million visitors. With 2007 now drawing to a close it now appears that Indonesia may fall shy of even the original 5.5 million visitors.
Beyond basic questions of limitations in the inherent growth potential in Indonesian tourism as a whole, tourism growth has been negatively impacted in 2007 by a number of factors including the "blacklisting" of Indonesia aviation by the European Union; lagging performance in domestic aviation; and numerous natural disasters that have befallen the Nation over the past year.
National arrival statistics through the end of October 2007 had only managed to achieve 3.7 million tourists, making it unlikely that the year will achieve its original 5.5 million target, let alone the 7 million number championed by Vice President Kalla.
Meanwhile, the Department of Culture and Tourism had projected foreign exchange tourism earnings for 2007 of between US$3.7 billion and US$5.46 billion, covering forecasted expectations labeled "pessimistic" to "optimistic."
Akhmadi expressed his strong doubts that the government will manage to achieve 5.4 million tourists in 2007 automatically meaning that foreign exchange earnings will also come up short. This failure, according to the lawmaker, will hurt many sectors of the economy ranging from hotels, restaurants to small-scale workers in the handicraft industry.
Bali tourism, meanwhile, has managed to buck the trend of mediocre tourism performance nationally. Bali arrivals will set new records for the year 2007, expected to end the year with foreign tourism arrival totals nearing 1.7 million.
What's New Pussycat? Dining with Lions in Bali
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner? African Lions if Your Dining at Bali Safari Park's New Tsavao Lion Restaurant.
What is almost certainly Bali's - and perhaps Asia's most unique dining venue has opened with the inauguration of the Tsavoa Lion Restaurant at the Bali Safari & Marine Park, located just 20 minutes east of Denpasar on the new Jalan Bypass Professor Ida Bagus Mantra highway.
Set within the 40 hectare site of the newly opened Bali Safari & Marine Park, the Tsavao Lion Restaurant is built in a style reminiscent of a Kenyan Lodge. A circular outer wall constructed of thick tempered glass separates diners from a large pride of magnificent African lions who, during the course of our visit, had a tendency to keep a close watch over our dinner with their noses pressed against the glass window next to our table.
Drinks prior to dinner were served on an open patio where eagles, owls and hornbills sat perched on railings, seemingly listening in on the guests' conversations. On one sides of the patio the lions sat proudly on a stone outcrop, while on the other a herd of zebras, wildebeest and a solitary rhino enjoyed their evening meal. At the entrance to the patio a group of 5 Sumatran elephants acted as a welcoming committee for the privileged guests attending the Dining with Lions evening.
A well-stocked bar, a sumptuous buffet and music provided by an African drum band and lady dancers rounded out a memorable evening.
Bali Safari & Marine Park
Opened in early October 2007. The Bali Safari & Marine Park offers a full range of fun-filled family activities including rides on a Safari Exploration Trams that travel into and through a variety of wild habitats; elephant conservation education show and elephant treks; camel rides; animal education shows; cultural shows; shopping markets; restaurants; a theme park with thrill rides for both children and adults; and a white tiger exhibit presented in a fortress replica of the ancient Indian fortress of Ranthambore.
Bali by the Numbers: 1.52 million Foreign Visitors for January-November 2007 Sets New Record with One Month's Arrivals Still to be Counted.
With 1,517,650 foreign tourist arrivals for the period of January-November 2007, Bali has already achieved a new record for arrivals in a single year with one month's arrivals (December) still to be counted.
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The previous best entire year for foreign arrivals to Bali is 2004 when 1,458,309 arrivals were recorded. On a year-to-date basis, arrivals are +33.4% ahead of 2006 (1,138,069). Balidiscovery.com remains confident that total arrivals for 2007 will fall within close striking distance of the 1.7 million visitors in Bali arrivals we projected earlier in the year.
To achieve the projected 1.7 million visitors Bali would need to improve December arrivals by 49% over the 2006 total, a not unrealistic expectation given the boom in arrivals just provided by the UN Climate Change Conference December 3-14, 2007 and the strong finish for the rest of the month projected by local hoteliers.
Japan - Japan arrivals YTD through the end of November 2007 totaled 327,301, an increase of +40.1% over 2006. The current year's performance is only -3.3% behind 2000 when 338,590 Japanese visited during the first 11 months of the year.
Australia - Demonstrating a strong recovery, Australian arrivals January-November 2007 (182,301) are +54.5% ahead of the same period in 2006. Nonetheless, Australian arrivals are still -26.6% behind the heyday for OZ arrivals in 2004 when 218,380 holidaymakers from down under came to Bali in the first 11 months of the year.
Taiwan - At 132,165 arrivals YTD from Taiwan current totals are virtually on a par with the same period in 2006 (132,171). Taiwanese arrivals were, however, substantially stronger in 2004 with 2007 totals lagging -23.13% behind the comparable period in that year.
ASEAN - ASEAN arrivals continue to be aided by the advent of low cost regional airlines. 2007 arrivals for January-November are at an all time high (147,870) +33.07% ahead of the same period in 2006.
Europe - European arrivals to Bali are demonstrating near full recovery. Arrivals from Europe improved +21.28% for January-November 2007 as compared to just one year before. These totals are only -4.0% behind the previous best year on record for European arrivals when in 2000 some 100,392 visitors came to Bali from that market.
The Americas - Demonstrating strong recovery, arrivals from North and South American increased +19.9% for January-November 2007 as compared to 2006. This is good news, no doubt, but arrivals from this lucrative source market are still down -26.06% from their stellar performance turned in during 2000 when 100,392 visitors came to Bali from the America's in the January-November period.
People's Republic of China - Worthy of note is the strong performance of visitors from Mainland China which hit 77,592 for January-November 2007. This figure now exceed total visitors from The Americas, demonstrating remarkable growth from just 7 years ago when visitors from the PRC were virtually non-existent to Bali.
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Bali a Bargain Destination for Japanese Travelers
Japanese Travelers Filling Ubud Hotels for the Christmas - New Year Period.
Republika on Line reports that Japanese tourists consider the cost of a Bali holiday as relatively inexpensive, costing only Rp. 5 million (US$526) for a three day holiday including accommodation at a star-rated hotel.
Quoting a Ubud-based travel agent, Ni Wayan Kawiani, the low cost of a Bali holiday has made the island a repeat destination for many Japanese travelers. Popular with both young Japanese and older office workers, the Japanese, according to Kawiani, see Bali largely as a safe and secure destination.
Tjokorda Agung, an Ubud Hotelier and Chairman of the Bali Chapter of the Indonesian Hotel & Restaurant Association (PHRI), told Republik on Line that most of his business comes from Japanese travelers, with few visitors from Taiwan, Europe and the U.S.A.. Accordingly, all of his rooms have been booked by Japanese travelers over the coming New Year's holiday.
January-November 2007 arrival figure for Japanese visitors to Bali totaled 327,301 an increase of +40.1% over the same period in 2006.
Japanese visitors continue to hold their traditional position as the largest source of foreign visitors to Bali, representing 21.57% of all foreign visitors to the Island. Australian visitors hold the second ranking at 12.01% of all visitors, followed by Taiwan (8.71%) and South Korea (8.03%).
Bali - An Island of Outstanding Dining
The 'Wrap" on Bali Restaurants for 2007. Balieats.com Names it Choices of Bali Beat Eateries.
Bali's "mystery diner," who writes balieats.com under the nome de plume of Gerry Williams has generously shared his year end wrap on the Island's dining scene:
Bali is going through an amazing culinary journey. Not that many years ago the food offerings in Bali were mostly devoid of taste and value, both locals and foreigners operating "restaurants" that they believed presented cuisines of the world. Only one thing was missing, and that was the professional knowledge that can only come by experience, having been trained at the highest level.
The Bali of today boasts of many top-flight chefs. As many as can often be found in cities four times Bali's size. Most, of course, work in the ever-increasing number of 5 star and boutique hotels and luxury villa complexes that seem to be opening almost monthly, all over the island. Others are finding their own style of peace in Bali, opening restaurants of their own, at both ends of the scale, classic dining down to great value mid-range dining. As important is the ever-increasing number of experienced restaurateurs who are arriving to drive the revolution!
The BaliEats.com web site now lists restaurants representing some 54 different cuisines, the majority of which present high quality food at an amazingly low cost. During 2007 another 85 new restaurants opened in Bali that were of sufficient interest and quality to feature in my regular column in The Bali Advertiser. The following is a summary of the best of them.
Nusa Dua & Tanjung Benoa
Because of the high concentration of large 5 star hotels in the Nusa Dua and Tandjung Benoa area, there has always been a lack of outside credible options. Needless to say many of the hotels have 5 or 6 outlets offering a variety of cuisines in order to keep their guests on the premises. The old city used to offer a range of moderately priced options, to tempt guests outside of the comfort of their hotels. This area suffered most from the Bali calamities, earlier in the decade, and only now shows signs of new life, but their entrance from the Nusa Dua hotel complex had currently been sealed off.
The Bali Collection replaced the Nusa Dua Gallery but has not been over-endowed with custom. One of its better restaurants, Tepi Laut, has moved recently to a more prominent position close to the main entrance, changed its name to Gedong Café and presents great value high quality cuisine. Their Giant Seafood Grill is one of their most popular offerings. In the old village the new Laguna Garden is typical of most, offering many different cuisines, what we call a tourist menu. Originally all menus in this area were in 3-4 languages, now almost without exception a Russian translation has been added.
At one of the newest hotels, Nusa Dua Novotel, which borders the golf course, is The Square, which considering the name is a strangely oval space with quite a range of modern and innovative cuisine at very reasonable prices for a hotel, Pomegranate-glazed Quail as an example. Down in Tandjung Benoa is Lucky Duck, which, not surprisingly, features duck on the menu, done many different ways. Whilst the Duck Burger and the Duck Pizza are most unusual, Roast Duck, Confit of Duck and a Grilled Duck with an orange glaze are far more traditional. There is also their version of Ubud's Crispy Duck.
Tuban saw the arrival of old Kuta stalwart, Mini. Almost as big as the still functioning original but modern, clean and sparkling, this Mini has the same menu mix of live seafood, grilled or pan-fried, a myriad of accompanying dipping sauces, and a full menu of Indonesian Chinese favorites, all at reasonable prices. Their Mixed Seafood Special of Prawns, Fish, Crab, Squid, Clams and Lobster meat at Rp. 94,000++ is a showstopper!
Ifiori opened on the site of the ill-fated Wet, in Jalan Kartika Plaza, in front of Waterbom Park. It is a two level restaurant offering good value Italian food, and under the same management as Pappa's in Legian. Further along at the Ramayana complex is Gabah, which was initially under the direction of Patrick Chauchereau [ex Lola].
At Kuta all of the restaurants that opened were out on the new Bypass, Sunset Road, although many of those who originally opened there have already closed. The later ones are more grand and with more experience behind them. Sushi Tei is a branch of Japan's largest Sushi franchise which includes the first "sushi train" in Bali. The a la carte selection is enormous, some traditional and others modern with unusual combinations. The Grill House is Korean and features Bulgogi, marinated beef that you cook at the table, or you can grill Modemgui [Japanese style Shasliks], Sweet Beef or Pork Ribs [Doeji Galbi] on the grill in the centre of your table.
Harmony looks like a Chinese restaurant and it is, except that all the meat [beef, pork, duck and chicken] and seafood [fish, prawns and squid] dishes are vegetarian versions thereof. They are all made from soya bean but presented as the real thing, and in many cases with the authentic sauces and flavoring they almost deceive. There is Beijing Smoked Duck, Babi Panggang [roasted pork], Cumi Tong Yam [squid with a tangy Cantonese sauce], and even imitation sardines, Ikan Sardencis with chilli and tomato, which happens to be just about their most popular dish.
The Seminyak-Kerobokan area had its usual rush of new restaurants, some totally new, but most replacing previously failed ones. The Chat Café, under the guiding hands of Marinos [ex Mykonos Tavernas, led the way with a café/lounge bar that worked from the first week. Apart from cheap, tasty food they also offer free internet, as do an ever-increasing number of cafes and small restaurants in Bali, though so far mostly in the Seminyak and Ubud areas. Just down the road is Café Marzano, totally Italian, featuring wood-fired pizzas, pastas galore and many Italians.
Nirvana opened on the site of the old Spy Bar, a stylish bar at the front and French restaurant in the rear garden courtyard. Across the road was the immediately successful San Marco Osteria, which closed prematurely due the tragic sudden death of Mr. Sin.
On the main road the old Afghan restaurant re-opened as Kholifar with similar offerings of Middle Eastern cuisine such as entrees of Lahem Bilajeen [three crisp fried pastry shells stuffed with a spicy lamb mince], mains of Chicken or Mutton Vegetable Korma [with onions, potatoes, green chilies, garlic and ginger, all slowly cooked] or a high-fiber vegetarian dish, Chole Maslah [chickpeas, tomato, onion and garlic]. All to be enjoyed whilst seated amongst Arabian and Persian carpets. The Swedish Veranda became the Brazilian Rio [under Finnish management] offering a full Brazilian Churrasco [5 salad starters followed by 7 different meats all cut from the giant skewer, after being cooked in the flames. Includes pork in Marsala and perfect Australian tenderloin, as well as an interesting selection of a la carte items.
Kerobokan hosted its usual rash of new restaurants, many of which have already closed. Those remaining include Med with a Pecan-crusted Chicken with a honey orange cream sauce or Moroccan Prawns with a tabouleh couscous and a spicy harisa, and Sasa offering entrees such as Sepplioline ala Griglia con Patate e Insalata [grilled baby squids served with a warm potato salad] or a home-made pasta such as Fettuccine con Gamberi [with king prawns with wine and herbs]. Café Bali opened in colonial style premises next to big brother, Khaima, offering entrees from around the world.
Others on Eat Street included Fresh, a sushi bar operated by the ex-manager of the very popular trendy Wasabi of a few years back [extraordinary California Rolls wrapped around Foie Gras, duck liver and mango with hazelnuts, as well as other options including Spicy Butterfish or Salmon, Scallop and Cream Cheese]. Mezzo became only the 2nd on the street to offer cool air-conditioned premises as well as the first with a rear garden courtyard. It has simple food well presented, including very cheap full breakfasts, and special coffee blends, including Ethiopian, making it a place to constantly return to.
Grocer & Grind provided something very different with its very Australian bistro style and accompanying deli. Normal egg breakfasts; Benedict, Florentine or just Eggs with choice of bacon, lamb sausage, mushrooms or rosti. For lunch: snacks, salads or a perfect Panini on Ciabattini. Dinner is all change with casual bistro dining such as their Prawn Cherviche, juicy prawns tossed with sliced mango in coriander, meaty Lamb Sausages or large very tender Lamb Shanks.
In the Sentosa Villas was Blossom, something so new for Bali! from the designers of Australia's trendy Longrain Restaurants; there are similarities but this one has style and class! It began with wonderful Thai food from Will Meyrick and quickly established itself as one of Asia's finest! Within a few short months Blossom achieved what many others fail to do at all, yet a management decision saw the departure of their chef. A ready replacement was fortunately available. Chris Patzold, well known to Bali's diners after being the original chef at Ku de Ta [back when the food was both great and cheap] and subsequently at Axiom. The most popular Thai offerings have been retained but now with the addition of the Patzold signature dishes. Best of both worlds!
On the Petitenget side was Eropa Warung with French food at warung prices and Da Margherita with classical Italian dishes, also very reasonably priced. Dahana, still a secret to most in Bali, was the surprise of this area. It is a private house and gallery that hosts a family-style Japanese restaurant in a garden setting. Almost hidden behind a white wall and private entrance.
Around the back of the Kerobokan Jail a totally authentic Hungarian restaurant to be found, Bistro Budapest, featuring Gulyasleves [Goulash] in every form. The famous soup combines beef, carrots and potato in a rich paprika broth, but there are also many forms with stewed meat; Sertesporkoct [pork], Paprikascsirke [chicken], Marhaporkoct [beef], and for the vegetarians, Gombaporkoct with mushrooms.
Denpasar & Sanur
Renon, Denpasar, saw the opening of Kowloon, quickly changing its name to Feyloon. Genuine Cantonese food, specializing in seafood from the many live tanks around the walls.
Sanur continued its revival. New restaurants such as the Russian Slavyanka offer a new variety in fine dining [Shaved Frozen Venison with a pinch of salt, Caviar of every type, Chicken Livers with apple and onion and the Ukranian Borsh [a hearty soup of pork, potatoes cabbage, onion, carrot and beetroot]. SixPoint opened with a very International menu [they are an offshoot of Papa's] that included Grilled Turkey Breast. Coriander has a range of Thai cuisine, Red and Green Curries, Tod Mun Pla [fish cakes], Yum Neau[seared marinated beef strips with cooling cucumber], among its International offerings. Piccadilly replaced the long gone Mykonos, more of a pub than restaurant. The Porch Café offers wonderful sandwiches, salads and small daily specials.
The revolution in Ubud slowed to a walk. No wonder with so many new places opening over the past 5 years. In Sanggingan is Man Maru, mainly Japanese [wonderful terryaki] with a few spicy Korean offerings [sliced lotus bulb]. Up on the hill at Penestanan was one of the finds of the year. Mendez, at Warung Mendez, longtime personal chef for Warwick Purser, opened his own small warung offering Goat Legs and Beef Ribs, using old Yogya recipes, simmering for hours then marinating in Javanese spice pastes. Sweet tender meat, wonderful value in simple surroundings. $10 for two, what value!
Candi Dasa continued to slowly get its act together. The revamped Rama Candi Dasa opened Garpu, under the direction of Patrick Chauchereau [ex Lola]. At that stage the food presented was quite exceptional, wonderful breads baked on the premises, pates en croute, etc. Now we wait with baited breath for the opening of Patrick's new bistro restaurant in Seminyak, Feb 2008! A quiet achiever in the northern part of Candi Dasa was Aquaria, a New Zealand operation with just a choice of two dishes, entrée, main and dessert, for lunch and dinner [one always a vegetarian option] at their pleasant small boutique hotel. Simple food and great value in a pleasant relaxed location.
Amed continued its opening and re-opening of small locally operated warungs. The successful Wayan's Warung opened a 2nd, Café C'est Bon, opposite Santai, TPC became Maharasti II, the rebuilt Vienna Beach now offers a smart restaurant with new immaculately clean kitchen, and some of the best beach views in the area. For something completely different, another New Zealand operation began at Sails [eventually to be a part of the Horizon Resort], on the headland between Lipah Beach and Lean. It has sensational ocean views. Some Western [Steaks and Ribs], some Indo-Chinese [Chicken Mandarin] but all cooked a little different from other local places, a cut above the rest!
Lovina saw the demise of a few and the arrival of a whole host of newbies: Amadeus has an Austrian influence, Wiener Schnitchels and Goulash on certain days. Down at the beach is a mall place with value, Tropis Bistro, with the chef and menu from the old Kwizien [Pate des Ardennes, Steak Rocquefort, etc.]. Surprising newcomer is Chonos, a BBQ restaurant with a difference! A tray of lava stones are inlaid into the top of smart wooden tables, seated above a gas ring. Order your meats and show what you can do. This place is going to become very popular! Congrats to people who dare to be different!
Once again, 2008 promises much. A new Thai restaurant, opposite Gado-Gado, and a French Bistro with one of Bali's greatest chefs, both in Seminyak. To cap it all off the return of the prodigal one more time, small select Thai, Vietnamese and Malay Indian menus at Will Meyricks new venture [site of the old Esmerada] in Jln Petitenget, Kerobokan.
Bali just keeps on getting better, and the great value remains the same!
Balieats.com Best New Restaurants of 2007
. Best Fine Dining - Blossom - Kerobokan. Sensational setting and food. Cuisine is a blend of Thai and Contemporary Australian [Mod OZ].
. Best RestaurantGrocer & Grind - Kerobokan. A Bistro & Deli, all the way from Australia. Breakfasts and snacks during the day, great dining at night!
. Best Value - Rio - Seminyak. Brazilian Churrasco, large slabs of marinated meat speared on a sword and cooked in the flames, all for $15.
. Best North Bali - Chonos - Lovina. Innovative Table BBQ upstairs in main restaurant, Many Dutch treats downstairs in garden pool-side café.
. Best Café - Chat Café - Seminyak. A lounge bar and a cool, clean café, all with free internet access. Snacks, meals and drinks all very cheap!
. Best Cheapie - Warung Mendez - Ubud. A chef from Solo, with recipes from Yogyakarta. Goat meat [and local beef] specially prepared... so tender, so tasty, so cheap!
Indonesia VP Jusuf Kalla Picks Bali for Christmas Holiday Break with his Family.
Indonesia's hard working President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla are using the Christmas holidays for some much needed rest and relaxation; recharging their batteries for the busy year to come.
President Yudhoyono will head for the Presidential palace at Cipanas, outside Bogor in West Java, for a few days of R&R. Meanwhile Indonesia's No. 2 will be booking into Bali's [The Samaya] where the VP and his family have reserved 7 of the 10 villas for the Christmas holidays. The remaining 3 villas have been reserved by English tourists holidaying on Bali.
In commenting on the Bali holidays for the Vice-President, Press Secretary Muchlis Hasyim told Kompas that this was the first time in three years since assuming office that Kalla will be able to relax with his family. In quoting the VP, Muchlis said, "Humans need balance with aspects that are relaxed and fresh to allow them to once again become productive and innovative."
Even when on holiday, both the President and Vice President travel with essential support staff in order to stay informed on developments and be in a position to respond to any sudden national developments.
The hotel chosen by the Vice President's party is located on Kerobokan Beach, near Bali's popular "Eats Street."
The VP's party checked into the Resort on Friday, December 21, 2007 and is expected to stay at the private villa property through December 24, 2007.
And Deliver Us from Amateurs...
Editorial: Is Someone Asleep at the Wheel When it Comes to Marketing Indonesian Tourism?
The Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced last week that the slogan "Visit Indonesia 2008 - Celebrating 100 Years of Nation's Awakening" is going to be quickly revamped. No doubt, this decision is accompanied by no small amount of panic as airplane fuselages must repainted, letterheads reprinted, brochures reformatted and republished, and television adverts re-edited before January 1, 2008 when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to officially inaugurate the Visit Indonesia Year 2008 (VIY 2008) promotion.
Meanwhile, the international press, together with many members of Indonesia's tourism industry, are openly wondering how Indonesia managed to find itself in such an embarrassing and potentially expensive position to begin with.
The current imbroglio of "bad advertising copy" traces back to a decision to link VIY 2008 with the 100th anniversary of Boedi Oetomo - a movement mistakenly seen by the program's innovators as the start of Indonesia's "national awakening."
While the sense of nationalism behind such a promotional program is laudable, the simple fact is that the creator's of the VIY 2008 tourism promotion logo are ill-informed and inexpert on matters both grammatical and historical.
Recalling that the Indonesian Republic was proclaimed on August 17, 1945, there was, as a matter of obvious fact, no nation to awaken prior to that date. Quickly announced plans by Thamrin Bachri, the Director Gewneral of Marketing for Indonesian tourism to change the sloppy slogan to "Celebrating 100 years of national awakening" is also wrought with danger, failing to address historical shortcomings in linking "national awakening" and the year 1908.
There is No Easy Fix
No less than Bachri's predecessor, the former Indonesian tourism Director General of Marketing, Wuryastuti Sunario, told Balidiscovery.com: "the term 'national awakening' is also wrong, because in 1908, the Boedi Oetomo movement was aimed at fighting for equal education for ethnic Indonesians as given to Dutch citizens. At that time there was no concept as yet to create the Indonesian nation...It was only in 1928 with the 'Sumpah Pemuda' that Indonesians envisaged the birth of the Indonesian 'nation' through the Youth pledge: 'Satu Nusa, Satu Bangsa, Satu Bahasa' : One Country, one nation, one language".
Given these historical and grammatical obstacles, it will be very interesting to see how the marketing experts fix the current VIY 2008 logo and how much of the notoriously under-funded tourism promotion budget will have to be spent to correct this problem. The most effective solution offered to date is to consider losing the by-line completely and going solely with "Visit Indonesia Year 2008."
The current fiasco surrounding this badly executed tourism marketing campaigns has drawn widespread criticism in the international and national media on how Indonesia promotes its tourism fortunes, including rebukes in the Financial Times (who broke the story), Associated Press, and International Herald Tribune.
Speaking to the Jakarta Press, Bachri defended the work of his team and advertising agency saying: "Our colleagues tried their best not to be reckless in creating the slogan, I'm sure. But we have been advised by several people to change the slogan."
Because the historical link between "national awakening" and the 1908 Boeedi Oetomo movement is, at very best, tenuous and that little fanfare or ceremony accompanies the commemoration of the movement's founding; the linking of VIY 2008 to what is largely a little celebrated and largely not understood historical date is surprising.
TV Commercials Questioned
This latest faux pas in promoting national tourism has also given the press pause to question the wisdom of the country's tourism TV marketing. The Financial Times said: "The accompanying television adverts are equally incomprehensible. They feature young men jumping over a stone altar on the island of Nias, horsemen riding through an unidentifiable quarry and a Papuan tribesman paddling down a jungle river at night: activities that 99 per cent of tourists are unlikely to experience."
Does Indonesia Tourism Need a New Ad Agency?
These latest embarrassing chapters in tourism promotion comes on the heals of a series of full page display advertisments from the Ministry which have been placed in the international media that contained grammatical discrepencies and poorly conceived selling messages.
One ad carried an emotive message showing a picture of the earthquake-damaged Central Javanese Hindu temple of Prambanan, proclaiming a national commitment to "someday" rebuild the monument. That message prompted one foreign travel agent to quip: "Give me a call when you are once again open for business."
Another full page advert in the Australian edition of Time Magazine tried to persuade surfers to come to Indonesia, saying surfers will encounter "the same wave everywhere," cryptically tossing in the grammatically suspect non sequitur, "all the islands that have coastlines facing in those directions(sic) get waves."
A more recent full-page advertisements used the device of asking rhetorical question, but somehow omitted the mandatory question mark.
All of which promts us to rhetorically ask: "Are we being too finicky?
In the private sector such glaring mistakes in product presentation, branding and campaign execution would almost certainly result in the advertising agency being shown the door. Given the fact that public funds and the nation's reputation are at stake in the current instance, should the standards appied by Minister Wacik be any less rigorous?
The business of Indonesian tourism is too vitally important to the national economy to be left in the hands of bumblers and amateurs. Hopefully, Minister Jero Wacik will exercise his mandate and get the national tourism marketing house quickly back in order.
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