Ketut’s Place: The Lonely Planet Effect

Posted on Wednesday, 17th September 2008

Throughout the years, I have always used the Lonely Planet travel guides. My loyalty had developed in part probably due to my familiarity with the format of the books and knowing exactly where to locate the information I needed. Not having used other guides, I can’t compare Lonely Planet to any others, but for my purposes they have served me just fine.

However there is this phenomenon I called the Lonely Planet effect. Whenever a restaurant (or a hotel) scores an entry in Lonely Planet, it obviously increases the exposure of that particular institution, and as a consequence usually increases tourist traffic. All things being equal, this sometimes has the effect of pushing prices up and possibly altering the dynamics of both the service offered and some of the original reasons the restaurant (or hotel) may have warranted a mention in Lonely Planet in the first place.

Take for instance Ketut’s Place, mentioned in Lonely Planet for its Balinese buffet which is served on select nights of the week. Last night being one of those nights, I went along to take a look at Ketut’s Place. Ketut, the owner, greeted all the diners with a speech which was wonderfully welcoming and informative. He talked of the typical layout of a Balinese home and of certain Balinese customs. Ketut’s command of English was excellent, and as he was a wonderfully charismatic and charming man one would be hard pushed not to have felt welcomed by him. However, in the end I declined to take the buffet.

Don’t get me wrong, the food at Ketut’s Place looked delicious and there appeared to be a reasonable selection including sates, duck and vegetarian dishes. The restaurant was also homey and inviting – it was housed in Ketut’s home after all. No, in the end it was the price that had dissuaded me, which I was told was 135,000 Rupiah (about £8), even though the Ketut’s Place website said 100,000 Rupiah, up 35,000 Rupiah from the price published in the 2007 edition of Lonely Planet Indonesia. By no stretch of a Western imagination was £8 for a meal particularly expensive, but having already been in Indonesia for about three weeks, and Bali being one of those weeks, I felt I had a particularly good sense of what things should cost, and 135,000 Rupiah by Balinese standards was expensive. Furthermore, having already eaten at Rumah Roda, which also served a typical Balinese buffet for only 30,000 Rupiah, my frugal mind just simply couldn’t justify the price differential.

Rumah Roda wasn’t mentioned in Lonely Planet at the time of my visit. Let’s just hope it stays that way.

Ketut’s Place at:
Jalan Sweta #40
Ubud, Bali,
Indonesia, 80571
Tel: +62 36197 5304

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