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Elephant Safari Park Lodge Opens in Taro, near Ubud, Bali.
Opened on March 10, 2008 the purpose-built 25 room Elephant Safari Park Lodge, set within a 3.5 hectare enclave of the award-winning Elephant Safari Park, opened its doors at the village of Taro, outside Bali's culture heartland of Ubud.
Home to 27 magnificent Sumatran Elephants, the Elephant Safari Park and its new Lodge are the inspiration of Nigel and Yanie Mason, the husband and wife team recognized as adventure tourism pioneers in Bali.
Guests at the Lodge are "shuttled" around the complex on the backs of mahout-chauffeured elephants, boarding via special high-as-an-elephant's-eye landing ramps that form a part of each room.
Conceived and operated to serve high-end clients with sophisticated tastes, the Lodge offer four levels of accommodation including the luxuriantly lavish 104 square meter Taro Suite served by its own butler and equipped with a 20 meter wrap-around terrace for outdoor dining and elephant watching.
All rooms are appointed with elephant-inspired details, in keeping with the neighbors and natural surroundings. Spacious rooms provide a resort-style haven among the peace and tranquillity of watching elephants enjoy their tropical parkland surroundings. The Lodge is also designed to cater for special events, weddings, honeymoons, meetings and incentives groups or sunset cocktails and private dinners.
Supporting facilities include swimming pool, bar, lounge, terrace, gym and spa.
"We built the Lodge for the type of guest, whether a family, couple or sole adventurer, looking for a one-of-a-kind experience. Our facilities, services and design reflect our natural forest location, botanical gardens, beautiful mountain environs and, of course, our 27 rescued and rehabilitated Sumatran elephants. Although we provide all the modern day luxury comforts, a stay at the Elephant Safari Park Lodge is more about the interactive elephant experience," says Park owner and Lodge creator Nigel Mason. "I guess I would say a stay at the Lodge is like a five-star luxury camping experience."
"Everything in our Lodge rooms from interior finishes; to the Lodges artworks and soft furnishings are custom made and elephant inspired. Hand-dyed regal blue and gold bed runners embroidered with elephant insignia, bedside lamps with elephant motifs, artworks created by the Parks own elephant artisans, even the legs of the beds are carved to resemble elephant feet." adds Nigel.
The Lodge's outdoor areas are also elephant-inspired touches, featuring stunning stone Ganesha statues and carvings. Master craftsman and stonemason Richard North Lewis was commissioned to design stone carving wall reliefs depicting elephant stories from Cambodia, Borobudur, Thailand and India to create an incredible open-air art gallery for guests strolling through the gardens and relaxation areas.
The Lodge's Mammoths Head Bar & Lounge, seating 50 guests, features an impressive 20,000 year old original Siberian Mammoth head that keeps a watchful eye over the well-stocked bar and wine cellar. Inside a rare collection of 40 hand-painted etchings form a permanent exhibition telling the story of 200 years of elephant history.
The Lodge also offers a Safari Wellness Spa accessed through an all glass atrium reception. The elegantly appointed separate male and female treatment rooms use cleverly-designed one-way glass windows to afford incredible views of the elephants while being pampered. A range of signature treatments using Wild Yam scented products reflecting the village name of Taro where the Park is located, offer an extensive selection of body treatments - waxing, facials and hand, foot and hair treatments.
An air-conditioned Fitness and Weights Room features state-of-the-art Matrix Equipment.
Another new addition to the Park is a resplendent granite and stone purpose-built Wedding Pavilion. The wedding pavilion features a white stone elephant altar and traditional antique four-post decorative Javanese ceremonial Joglo decorated with frangipani pillars, candles and a rose petal flower-laden aisle. Seating for up to 40 guests is available against the dramatic backdrop of the elephant park; a spectacular venue for a romantic commitment ceremony.
Shown on Balidiscovery.com are pictures of the Elephant Safari Park and the new Elephant Safari Park Lodge.
Australian Sail Armada Expected in Lovina and Serangan.
'Sail Indonesia' Grows with 200 Vessels Expected in Bali in September 2008.
200 sailing yachts from around the world are expected to pay brief port calls at Lovina in North Bali and Serangan Island in Bali's south during Sail Indonesia in September 2008.
The projection of sailing visitors was given to the press by Drs. I Putu Budiasa, the Chief of Tourism for the City of Denpasar.
The ships will begin their journey from Australia to Bali with stops along the way in East and West Nusa Tenggara.
The 200 yachts expected to visit Bali in September 2008 for Sail Indonesia is an increase from the 125 vessels who participated in 2006 and the 130 vessels who came to the Island in 2007. Tourism officials expect each vessel will carry 7-8 crew and spend between 5-14 days in Bali.
The primary destination for the ships in Bali is Lovina, on the north coast of the Island. Many vessels, however, are expected to pay a call at the yacht basin at Serangan Island in the south.
The majority of the Australian yacht armada visitng Bali are expected to continue their Indonesian odyssey with additional stops in Java and Sumatra.
Bali Tourism Investments Dominated by Hotels and Resorts
Provincial Investment Board Gives Green Light to New Hotels Despite Objections by Tourism Board and Governor.
Bisnis Bali estimates that the value of new investments in hotels and recreational facilities in Bali for the period January - November 2007 reached Rp. 1.4 trillion (US$152.2 million) comprised of 38 projects.
70% of the new investment in Bali is centered on the hotel and resort sector.
According to research conducted by the Surabaya branch of Bank Central Asia (BCI), most new hotel investments in Bali are located on elevated or beachside areas in Jimbaran, Pecatu, Ungasan, Payangan, Sanur, Legian and Kuta.
According to Aslakhul Umam, Research Coordinator at BCI in Surabaya, following the second Bali bombing in October 2005 the Island has undergone a significant increase in new resort and hotel investments, with most investors coming from areas outside of Bali, such as Jakarta and Surabaya. "In any case, the nature and views of Bali remain interesting for those seeking investments in the tourism sector," explained Umam.
Shown on Balidiscovery.com are some of the new hotel and tourism investments slated to open in 2008 in Bali.
Bisnis Bali reports that officials in the Badung and Denpasar regions of Bali remain receptive to new investment applications in the hotel sector, denying earlier reports that new hotels would be banned from commencing new projects.
The Chairman of the Coordinating Investment Board for Bali (BKPMD-Bali), Drs. Made Kandiyuana, stated: "The Provincial government of Bali has never said that Badung and Denpasar are closed to new hotel investments. What is correct is that we have been asked to be more selective. But, as long as new projects do not violate zoning rules and pass a review by our study team, they will approved."
The BKPMD Chief's green light for new investments is at seeming odds with an earlier pronouncements by Bali's Governor who once issued a memorandum freezing new hotel investments.
Kandiyuana also told the press that his office was moving towards the goal of providing a "one-door" service for the approval of new investment projects and improve their service to the public.
A Call for Greater Openness
In a related article in BisnisBali, the Bali Tourism Board (BTB) has called on the government to adopts a more open approach to the issuance of investment licenses and permits.
The Chairman of the BTB Ngurah Wijaya, complained that his organization has never received data on the number of hotel permits issued in Bali. This lack of openness, unfortunately, lends itself to suspicions of corruption and collusion in the license process.
Wijaya said that with more than 350,000 hotels rooms in Bali and the recent rapid increase in commercial villas suggest that new permits should be frozen for the time being.
Wijaya said that instead of new hotels the government should turn its attention to the management of tourism objects.
Bali's Rental Car Rates to Increase?
Customer Demand and Higher Car Prices Driving Increased Rates from Rental Operators.
Bali Post states that the Island's car rental operators are likely to increase their tariffs by approximately 10% for vehicles produced after 2007.
Quoting a Sanur-based car rental agency, the increase in price is a function of the higher prices paid for new cars and the growing demand for late models by customers visiting Bali. Car rentals involving vehicles built prior to 2007 are expected to undergo more modest price increases.
Second 'Home-Made Bomb' in 10 Days Exploded in Gatot Subroto Area of North Denpasar.
A low-explosive device exploded in north Denpasar shortly after 11:00 p.m. on Friday night, February 15, 2008, injuring two men.
Initially reported by some Bali media as a gunshot attack because of the many holes inflicted on the victims' vehicle, police have now linked the incident to the explosion of a crude bomb, similiar to device that exploded at the parking lot of a Bali travel agency in Denpasar on February 5, 2008. No injuries resulted from the first bombing.
In the latest attack and suffering hand and thigh injuries were the occupants of a Taft SUV; the manager of a local Karaoke Bar, Dewa Made Segining (39), and a driver-security guard from the bar, Komang Suparmadi (39).
According to Tempo Interaktif, Suparmadi has been treated and allowed to return home while Segining remains hospitalized at Bali's Sanglah Hospital, protected by an armed police guard.
Forensic officers inspecting the scene of the bombing have found a number of holes including a 9 centimeter deep and 24 centimeter wide hole in the rolling door entrance of shop near the scene of the crime. Police are still trying to determine the motive for the attack, with press speculation that the crime may be tied to revenge or a the work of a local extortion ring.
Press reports say that the attack occurred on Gang Duku, a side street off Jalan Kebo Iwa, not far from the major Denpasar thoroughfare of Jalan Gatot Subroto. When Suparmadi, who was driving the vehicle, became aware that they were being followed he diverted to quieter back streets. As the vehicle entered Gang Duku a motorcyclist threw an item at the vehicle that was followed by the explosion. The motorcyclist immediately fled the scene.
Ambitious Road Project Part of a Giant Aceh to Eastern Indonesia Trans National Highway Project.
The National Road Building Agency for Indonesia's 8th District will soon begin realizing the construction and upgrading of 3,000 kilometers of majors road stretching from Bali's western port of Gilimanuk to Atambua in West Timor.
The entire road project, scheduled to get underway in March 2008, will cost Rp. 730 billion (US$79.34 million), allocated to be paid from the 2008 State Budget.
The project is broken into three phases: 500 kilometers of major roads in Bali; 500 kilometers of roads in West Nusa Tenggara and 2,000 kilometers of roads in East Nusa Tenggara.
The Bali segment of the project will consume Rp. 130 billion (US$12 million) with special emphasis promised on "blackspots" - areas near Tabanan with high levels of accidents - and the widening of roads across the Island.
Phase II of the project will improve roads throughout Lombok and Sumbawa, costing an estimated Rp. 200 billion (US$21.8 million).
The third and final phase of the road project will address 2,000 kilometers on Flores, Lembata and Alor and will cost Rp. 400 billion (US$43.5 million).
Chief Purwoko: Tourism Operators Must Raise Their Game
Bali Police Chief Wants More Security Cooperation Among Hotel and Villa Operators.
The brutal murder of an Australian woman and a series of other recent attacks on tourists have caused Bali's Chief of Police, General Paulus Purwoko, to shine an unwanted spotlight on Bali's tourism associations, operators and the provincial tourism office.
According to Purwoko, tourism operators are reluctant to part with their hard-earned capital when it comes to security improvements. The Chief complained, "if it comes to spending money to add room there's no problem, but try to suggest that anyone build a coordinated security post and everyone becomes reluctant."
Bali's top policeman is concerned that if there are no improvements made soon in villa or café security, criminality and related robberies will only increase. Bemoaning the lack of security professionalism on the Island, Purwoko said the current inability to confront and oppose armed robbers is encouraging thieves to become bolder in their criminal acts.
Quoted in Bali Post, Chief Purwoko said: "I have raised this issue several months ago before a gathering of tourism stakeholder in Ubud, but until now there has been no significant change in security at local hotels and villas. As a result, that which I feared has been visited upon Australian Heidi Murphy in Canggu. Earlier, a robbery also made victims of a South Korean couple in Ubud."
Purwoko called for the establishment of coordinated security posts in all tourism areas with each villa donating the services of one security guard for shared patrol duties. The Chief said that if security duties were shared the morale of watchmen and security guards would be improved, bolstering each communities readiness to go toe-to-toe with robbers and extortionists.
At the same time Purwoko called on the Provincial Tourism Office to levy security requirements on new villas before granting them operating licenses.
Commenting on the recent murder of a young Australian woman in Canggu, Purwoko said that his team is still busy gathering evidence in the case.
Bagus Discovery Tour's Owner Says Lower Taxes Would Raise More Money for Island's Publc Coffers.
Commenting in a page-one article in BisnisBali, the Secretary General of the Bali Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI-Bali) and owner of Bagus Discovery Tours, Bagus Sudibya, has thrown his support behind a proposal to lower the current tax charged on hotel and restaurant bills from 10% to 5%.
Guest dining at Bali restaurants and hotels presently pay a 21% tax and service surcharge on all their purchases. The amount over and above the 10% tax is typically a service charge for the employees of the hotel and restaurants.
"As a member of the tourism industry, I very much support the reduction of the hotel & restaurant tax to 5%," said Sudibya. He went on to explain that the current 10% tax level is too high and places a heavy burden on the Island's hotels and restaurants, affecting both their price competitiveness and product quality.
A Mistaken Assumption: It Doesn't Really Matter
"Don't always think that the tax is a burden only borne by the customer," warned the PHRI official. He added that the high tax rate causes operators to trim their margins in order to remain competitive.
The PHRI officials feels that combined tax and service surcharge of 21% is both high and especially burdensome. Sudibya said that in other competing destinations, such as Singapore, the highest tax charged is only 13%. He hopes that the government will lower the current tax level and help promote healthy growth in the tourism sector. Sudibya insisted that if the tax were reduced, the savings and growth in business would allow product enhancements, more training of staff and more promotional activities.
What Would the Government Lose?
In response to those who fear that a 50% reduction in the Hotel & Restaurant tax would represent an unacceptable loss in state revenues, Sudibya said he is confident that total tax revenues would actually increase as sales would increase and entrepreneurs would be more inclined to be more honest and transparent in declaring their tax liabilities.
Sudibya acknowledged that the proposal to lower the hotel and restaurant tax remains at the "idea stage" and that a detailed study of the impact of lowering the tax has yet to be undertaken. The final decision to lower these taxes remains the exclusive purview of the provincial government.
In the edition of BisnisBali published the day following Sudibya's comments, both the Chief of Tourism for Badung and his counterpart for the Province of Bali dismissed Sudibya's suggestion, saying the current tax was set by the central government and was based on a thorough and careful formulation.
Go Figure: A Game of Political Ping Pong?
Protestations from Bali officials that the current tax rate of 10% is immutable and is, in any case, set by the Central Government in Jakarta mesh oddly with the fact that when former President Suharto tried to lower the Hotel and Restaurant tax charged in Bali in the late 1990s local officials on the Island stonewalled the President's decree, saying the decision lack an implementing regulation.
Bali Buffeted by High Winds
Bali's Shorelines Eroded and Kuta Beach Temporarily Closed by High Winds and Waves Expected to Continue through February 19th.
"Nicholas" - a tropical storm located south of the Nusa Tenggara islands and off the Western coast of Australia, produced strong winds, heavy rains and large waves for Bali and adjoining islands during the second week of February 2008.
On the neighboring island of Lombok, large trees in the capital of Mataram were uprooted while ferry services between the ports of Padang Bai (Bali) and Lembar (Lombok) were frequently suspended as waves of reached heights ranging from 3.5 to 6 meters and wind exceeded 35 kilometers per hour.
Although centered over Australia's coast, forecasters suggest that the Tropical Storm Nicholas will continue to affect Bali with strong winds and rains until approximately February 19th when the low pressure system is expected to dissipate.
On Thursday, February 14, 2008, large waves forced Bali's Beach Patrol to close the popular Kuta beach front while the same strong winds created sand dunes that stopped traffic along the Kuta beach front road that borders the public beach. Kuta's popular Ma Jolly restaurant suffered damage to their beach side dining pavilion when heavy waves eroded building foundations.
Erosive wave action also reported along Bali's eastern and western shorelines where coconut palms toppled and beachside dwellings were washed away.
Australian Woman Murdered in Canggu Villa
Police Set One Month Deadline to Solve the Murder of Expatriate Working in Bali's Garment Industry.
A 34 year-old Australian woman Heidi Murphy was found dead in a rented villa in the Tibubeneng area of Canggu on Sunday, February 10, 2008. Murphy, who worked in the Island's garment sector for the past three years, was found dead with 37 stab wounds by household laborers who told police they climbed the wall of the dwelling when Murphy did not respond to repeated calls from the dwelling's gate, despite the victims motorcycle being parked within the compound.
Murphy's body was discovered sprawled on the floor of the dwellings living room covered with a bedspread. Upon seeing the body, the workers, who had come to collect their wages, raised the alarm with neighbors and police.
The officer-in-charge at the crime scene told the Bali Post: "There were 11 (sic) knife wounds on the body of the victim. The motive is unclear and the case remains under investigation."
Neighbors who lived near Murphy's home told the Bali Post that the murder occurred several weeks after knife-wielding robbers reportedly tried to rob her on a road near the scene of the fatal attack. According to the neighbor, Murphy managed to successfully flee what appeared to be a road-side robbery attempt.
The neighbor also told the press that Murphy, who lived alone, would typically host gatherings for friends every Saturday night. It is not clear, however, if a party was held at the villa on the eve of Murphy's killing.
Bali police have interviewed friends and acquaintances of the dead Australian, including her estranged husband, Ben Sloane, an American national who also lives in Bali.
An investigative team comprised of police from North Kuta, Badung regency police and officers from Bali Police Headquarters have been joined by officers from the Australian Federal Police (AFP).
An Assistant Chief of the Bali Police has given his officers a deadline of one month to solve the violent murder.
Early indications point towards a crime of passion, a suspicion strengthen by the fact that a number of items of value were not missing from the crime scene.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that police are now trying to trace three phone calls made from Heidi Murphy's hand phone just hours before the presumed time of her death. Those calls, made to unregistered pre-paid phone card numebrs, are now being sourced by police to their vendors in an attempt to trace the people called on the victim's phone.
The Sydney press also reports that prior to her death Murphy was working under contract to Paramount Pictures, preparing 200 costumes for a Star Trek sequel.
Police Help Line
The Bali Police have set up special telephone lines for those who might have information that would assist police in solving this crime. ++62-(0)361-7476574 or ++62-(0)816736356.
Pastika's Political Platform for Bali's Future
PDI-P Candidate for Bali's Governor General Made Pastika Outlines His Vision for Bali's Future.
A recent article in the Bali Post provides insights into the hopes and ambitions held by the man who may become Bali's next chief executive.
Bali - Progressive, Safe, Peaceful & Prosperous
Pastika told the Bali Post that his vision and mission for Bali is to lead an island that is "progressive, safe, peaceful and prosperous." To achieve this, said Pastika, his administration would concentrate on communication and networking.
Pastika expressed his concern for the current condition of the Island; citing the mushrooming of "Kafes" that now includes locations in local village settings. (Editor's note: "Kafes" in Bali are small bars and restaurants, often serving as fronts for prostitution.) Chief Pastika also said poverty and unemployment must be a main concern of Bali's next governor.
Using the self-created acronym of "Mandara" = Maju, Aman, Damai & Sejahtera - Pastika said he seeks to create an island that is "progressive, safe, peaceful and prosperous."
In detailing his vision in more detail, Pastika explained:
- Progressive: Bali must keep pace with the development without losing touch with the unique character of Balinese culture.
- Safe: Bali must create a region imbued with safety, tranquility and security.
- Peaceful: An Island in which conflicts - both on a vertical and horizontal level - are minimized.
- Prosperous: Creating an island where the people's welfare is enhanced with adequate educational opportunities, public health, food sufficiency and housing opportunities.
Pastika also stressed that his plans call for reducing unemployment as a means to eliminate poverty in Bali's villages. He told the Bali Post that the Island possesses great potential, a precious asset to both Indonesia and the world.
To achieve the "Mandara" envisioned by Pastika, he sees as a minimum requirement the improvement of communications and networking on all levels. To this end, Pastika plans to hold "open house" events if he is elected Governor. Such events will facilitate the people's aspirations through open and transparent communication with the government.
Most importantly, the interests of the people must be given priority. Said Pastika: "I think the government can no longer be bureaucracy-oriented but must become people-oriented. People must be put first."
Former Garuda CEO Convicted of Conspiracy to Murder
Indra Setiawan Sentenced to 12 Months in Prison for Role in Death of Indonesian Activist Munir. Police Promise More Arrests Before June.
Indra Setiawan, the former CEO of Garuda Indonesia Airlines, has been sentenced to one year in prison for his complicity in the murder of Indonesian activist Munir Said Thalib in September 2004 on board a flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam.
The sentence handed down in the Jakarta courts was 6 months less than the 1 year and 6 months requested by Indonesian prosecutors.