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Best Western Kuta Changes its Name & Fights Back

Best Western Kuta Bali Owner Changes Hotel's Name and Commences Legal Battle to Remain in Operation.

Bali News: Bali, Indonesia, Best Wetern Kuta, Sapta Petala, Wayan Wijana. Ketut Mertha, Gusti Ngurah Artana
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Moves to forcibly close down the Best Western Hotel Kuta by the Badung Regency Enforcement Team on Friday, May 13, 2011, failed when the owner of the hotel formally refused the formal closure letter issued by Regent A.A. Gde Agung.

Antara Bali reports that the head of the enforcement agency (Satpol Pamong Praja), I Ketut Martha, and his team of uniformed officers were turned away from the 111-room property when they came to vacate the premises. The lawyer of hotel's owner refused the closure by announcing that an opposing legal action was being filed against the Regency of Badung.

Martha told the press, "We see the refusal of the closure as an act of insubordination." Martha explained that his team had come to the site to close the hotel because the owner had ignored efforts to seal the hotel and its operations commencing from a closure order issued in late April.

The sealing and closure was undertaken because the hotel was built without the required building permit in an area of Kuta in which multi-resident accommodation is specifically forbidden. In addition, the hotel held none of the licenses for a tourism accommodation normally issued by the regency's tourism office.

Wayan Wijana is the owner of the hotel. His attorney, I Gusti Ngurah Artana, commented to the press that the Regent's letter closing the hotel was incorrect. Pointing to a legal technicality, Artana said the closure letter was addressed to the Hotel Best Western while the hotel's name, according to the failed applications for operating permits, is the Sapta Petala.

In spite of  the protests and name change announced by Wijana's lawyer, a check of the international Best Western Website on Saturday, May 14, shows that the Best Western Kuta continues to be featured with bookings still accepted despite the official closing order.

The lawyer claims the "incorrect" name on the closure order disqualifies the order, also opening the way for a legal action against the Regency via the Administrative Court (PTUN). While not going into detail on the planned legal action against the Regency, Artana said, "We will soon register our suit, at the latest on Monday, May 16th.

Artana said the Regent's letter was misdirected and, on the basis, his client was right in refusing the order to vacate the property which is operated under a management contract between Best Western and the property's owner.

The scene at the hotel on Friday, May 13th saw around 30 officers of the Satpol Pamong Praja on hand to forcibly vacate the hotel, backed up with one platoon of uniformed police officers from the Badung police resort and more than 10 additional officers from the Kuta Police precinct.

In a separate Bali Post report, another reason presented as the basis for refusing the order to vacate the premises was the hotel's monthly payment of Rp. 80 million (US$9,000) in taxes.

Bali Post says enforcement chief Ketut Martha was angry at the resistance to the closure and vacate order. Following a tense meeting with the owners, Martha reacted to claims of misaddressed legal documents, saying: "I listened and read the hotel's claims; we came today to close the operation. But the owner and general manager have handed the matter to their lawyer who will make an action in the Badung Administrative Court. What's more, the Best Western has suddenly changed its name to its former name of Sapta Petala. In fact, the legal process we have undertaken from the beginning has been against the Best Western.

In reply, the hotel's owner, Wayan Wijana, said the former name of the Best Western was the Sapta Petala. The Sapta Petala was a small guest hours licensed as such in the 1970s. Efforts to obtain permits to build the multi-storied structure were refused by the Badung government due to non-conformance with zoning rules. Wijana also depicted it as peculiar that his unlicensed hotel was still permitted to pay around Rp. 80 million per month in taxes.

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