In 2015 Donald Trump licensed his name to the Nirwana Golf Resort in Bali. At the time, the hotel and resort was a 6-star designation and was coined as the business tycoon’s ‘dream project’. However, nearly ten years after the start of the project, the resort as a whole has been left to ruin.
While from a business perspective, the resort can be written off as a failed investment, for the local Balinese staff who worked there, the closing of the venture has had a much bigger impact on their lives.
Speaking to the media, a group of the Nirwana Golf Resort ex-staff have shared their stories about the permanent closure of their workplace. The impact on their lives, livelihoods, and the lives of their families is undeniable. As Donald Trump has announced his candidacy for the 2024 US Election, his laid-off staff are still trying to recover a sense of normalcy. The economic losses of the pandemic exacerbated the situation.
It is known that the hotel workers received some level of compensation for their redundancies. The same cannot be said for the golf caddies who were employed on temporary contracts. One caddie, 23-year-old Ditta Dwi, had to find work as a waitress after her contract was canceled with the Nirwana Golf Resort. She told reporters, “There was no clarity about our future. We heard that we would be re-recruited, but it has never happened…It was hard. The time I lost my job as a caddy was difficult. Many people were angry”.
As a caddie, she earned a basic salary of IDR 1.3 million (USD 83); however, her tips from rich golfers consistenly topped her up to a take-home earning of around IDR 15 million (USD 945). Now, as a waitress, her baseline salary is the same, but the tips are almost non-existent. She eventually concluded that she had to take her power back. She told reporters “I have just let it go. I am moving on”.
Pita Dewi worked at the hotel for 18 years in total and had relied on the work to support her family long before the Trump era began in 2015. She now managed her parent’s cafe. She told reporters how losing her job at the Nirwana Golf Resort left her anxious about what the rest of her life might hold.
She explained, “I got stressed thinking about how I would earn money because I have children…I was 48 years old, how could I get another job? We have to continue with our life. If we hated him, would that make him give us money?”.
It has now been five years since the golf course and resort closed its doors. The hotel, located just an 8-minute drive from the sacred Tanah lot Temple, is mostly demolished and the golf course is littered with beer bottles. A few security guards ride around on carts keeping trespassers out as best they can.
Speaking on behalf of the company Edwin Darmasetiawan, director of MNC Group’s property division, told reporters that the project is far from a flop. He explained to reporters, “I don’t see this project as a failure, but as postponed…We have another project in Lido. Now we are focusing on that”. The Lido Project is based in West Java.
It is another Trump golf course and holiday resort but true to form event, this project has stirred up tensions in Java. It is believed that construction teams have exhumed Islamic graves in the area without permission from local residents or religious leaders.
Despite suggesting that the Nirwana Golf Resort is a project that has been postponed, neither Darmasetiawan nor any other representatives from MNC Group have given any indication that the project will be re-started in the new future. As Donald Trump and his teams focus on the 2024 election and the sheer state of disrepair the site is currently in, it is hard to envisage any meaningful change happening in the foreseeable future.
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