Well gosh, with traffic already gridlocked and infrastructure overloaded, it’s hard to feel warm and fuzzy about this new 5.2 hectare mega-development in Kuta spread along 250 meters of beach. That said, the long-disused site where Kuta Beachwalk will be built has been like the missing front tooth of Kuta’s smile for over a decade. An eyesore, in other words, soon to be replaced with this diamond-studded 24K false tooth, or should we call it an implant?
The complex will include a 200-room Sheraton hotel, and another large mid-market chain hotel, plus a plaza of over 200 retail and dining outlets called Kuta Beachwalk. Just what we need. More hotels and more shops. The Bali Update outlines what we’re in for here. And the Beachwalk shopping, dining and entertainment element of the development has its own website here. The Beachwalk PR’s say the place is “designed to honor Bali’s cultural and artistic heritage,” but the images they offer on the site say otherwise. Oh, and they’re making a two-level underground carpark for 1000 cars as “an effort to alleviate traffic congestion.” This begs the question, “How are those 1000 cars going to squeeze through the already clogged roads to get to that parking lot in the first place?”
The websites of this developments’ partners are loaded with buzzwords and well-crafted lipservice, painting a very pretty, softly greenwashed picture. Talk however is cheap, as we know. Development isn’t. This is a $70 million dollar project. Although that sounds like a lotta dosh, given the scope of the project and its site plans and renderings, there is no way they will be able to afford “luxuries” like environmental and social responsibility. Or the “luxury” of quality. The budget amounts to less than $100,000 per unit of hotel room/retail/resto/entertainment, and the developers are still boasting about providing parking, public plazas with fountains and ponds and performances and pedestrian pathways and plantings. The numbers don’t quite add up.
Something else that doesn’t add up: The announcement of this development, slated for completion in 2012, comes at a time when the Governor and other leaders on the island are making public statements about overcrowding, overpopulation, overdevelopment and oversupply of hotel rooms in Bali. They are also crowing about a long-overdue moratorium on new hotel rooms, and about enforcing a law that requires that disused land be given over to the public as greenspace or for agriculture if the owner-speculators don’t do something with it. And they just announced that there are dozens and dozens of hectares of disused land in the Kuta area, some of it beachfront, and big. Furthermore, the Governor just stood firm on a 1000% increase on tax for commercial use of groundwater, which means hotels will be paying dearly for their lawns and gardens and pools and laundry. In response to complaints from elements of the hospitality industry, he said, “Raise your room rates!” And meanwhile, thousands of new rooms are being added to the already oversupplied hospitality sector in Bali? It’s all just too bizarre and convoluted to get one’s head around.