Winston Aldworth finds himself under the influence at Potato Head Beach Club, in Seminyak, Bali
Katamama Suites at Desa Potato Head, Jl. Petitenget No.51B, Seminyak, Bali
The location: This kind-of-famous spot is beachside in Seminyak. We were a 10-minute taxi ride from the Bookabach villa in which we were staying and had wandered straight in from the sand.
The view: There were two stunning displays on show. Seminyak's west-facing beaches are renowned for glorious sunsets, the amber orb dipping out of sight through a tropical haze.
The other epic display was constant, horrifying and hilarious: A sprawling clique of influencers taking photos of themselves, the sunset, the infinity pool, themselves in the infinity pool looking at the sunset, and the reflection of themselves in the infinity pool with the sunset behind them... but mostly just themselves. In seven years as the Herald's travel editor, I've seen a lot of people taking photos of themselves, but never as many as this in as concentrated a space. It was a spectacular show worthy of David Attenborough narration.
The vibe: Really cool. Everyone was upbeat and happy — it's Bali, you're on holiday. I loved the place.
The service: No sooner had we washed the sand off our feet than a helpful staffer, Roque, had us in a beach-facing day bed. They're designed for three adults max, he said, but he'd turn a blind eye for our family of four. Soon he was back with beers, lemonades and hot chips. To occupy the day bed we had to commit to a spend of $150. We ummed and ahhed briefly, but by the time I was draining a white Russian almost five hours later, our spend was sniffing around the edges of $300. For the entertainment, I consider it good value — but watch out for that rising spend, folks.
Phenomenal. Three cabanas down was an Italian dude with a GoPro strapped to his chest — you know, like you do when you're skydiving, heliskiing or running with the bulls. Possibly not so much for lying on a day bed in Bali. At one point — without a word of a lie — he took a photo of his friend (possibly around sunset) and held the camera down so the camera's perspective could be seen in his GoPro. Tres meta, non? There weren't as many Australian accents as I'd expected, though the presence of Kookaburra on the "Classics Cocktails" list hinted at a loyal customer base. One Aussie woman appeared to be interested in a different kind of influence: "How old are YEEEW?" she asked my 7-year-old son, leaning in with pupils the size of 50c pieces. Not sure which of them found the encounter more bewildering. In the daybed next to us, an older Norwegian couple were enjoying the show before flying back to Oslo for the winter. "There will be a lot of snow," he told me.
The joint: Beautifully done by some European architect you've never heard of. The whole place is open to the sea and the sunset, with the rear exterior wrapped by a cocoon of old colonial-era shutters gathered from throughout Indonesia. Well played, some European architect you've never heard of. Outside there's a vast artwork made out of lost jandals.
We knocked off good, tidy burgers (about $19 a pop), zucchini and ricotta ravioli ($17), fresh, fab calamari ($13) and a steady stream of bowls of chips.
The drinks: Cocktails rattled in at about $13-$17 — mostly at the cheaper end of the scale. For fans of quaffably forgettable beer, there's sadly no Bintang. Instead I tried the Stark range and can report that the 1945 pils (made with Balinese rice) is delicious and gently complex, like one of those breezy Japanese lagers. They also do a lychee ale that's frankly demented and a mango ale that thinks it's a lassi.
The verdict: Gorgeous sunset, friendly people and comedy all round. A great way to cool off on a Balinese break.