The arrival of the cheap Tune Hotels chain in Kuta and Legian has Bali hoteliers upset.
When I was a wee skinny teenager I wandered the highways of Europe and was happy to use the youth hostel network, a clean, safe series of places to sleep and eat and meet all manner of equally gauche young travellers from all over the world.
I've seen several signs in Indonesia outside losmen purporting to be members of the IYHA, or Hostelling International, as it has since renamed itself. I suspect, however, that these are not the real thing, but haven't had time to investigate.
It was therefore with some pleasure that I heard that Air Asia plans to open cheap, clean hotels in Bali. There are of course many such, around Legian, cheap that is, but cleanliness is not always included.
Bali in Budget Beds Battle
Hotel owners in Bali are crying foul over the latest arrival in Indonesia’s premier tourist destination.
They claim that Tune Hotels, the Malaysian budget accommodation chain owned by Air Asia founder Tony Fernandes, will "damage" the island’s image by offering spartan rooms for as little as 98,000 rupiah ($10.50) a night. Perry Markus, secretary general of the Bali Hotels and Restaurant Association, said that other low-cost hotels were unhappy with the arrival of Tune in Kuta and Legian.
With such a low tariff, it is damaging to Bali’s image, which is to uphold quality tourism
Perry declined to name the unhappy hotels but warned that if Tune does not increase its tariffs, they may report the company to the Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) for unhealthy business practices.
This refusal to name the aggrieved hotels is alas all too typical here, exemplified by high-ups blaming 'certain groups' for wicked subversive plans, but declining to identify them.
We don’t want them to screw up the current situation, which we have been trying very hard to maintain. It’s been very difficult to increase hotel rates since the Bali bombings
How on earth can serious competition hurt the existing hotels, which often charge too much for young travellers to afford their basic beds?
Using a similar model to Air Asia and other budget airlines, Tune Hotels eschew the usual frills such as swimming pools, spas and room service, but offer cut-price rates for basic, clean rooms with just a bed, hot shower and ceiling fan. Guests must pay extra for every additional service from towels to air-conditioning.
Surely the more alternatives, the better?
We in Jakarta, if visitors drop by from overseas and we don't have enough space to put them up, are faced with choices of outrageously priced international hotels, or certain grisly joints, a la Jalan Jaksa, which are okay for the purposes they are often devoted to, but not for today's equivalent of Mrs. Mckay's Wee Boy who just wants a kecoa-free, secure place to leave his luggage while inspecting the sights of the Big Durian.
(PS -I know there are a couple of decent hotels on Jaksa, but outside of those, economical accommodation is thin on the ground!)