High-profile hotelier Ben May is “stunned” at the reporting of claims he and partners are battling authorities over construction of their massive new venue in Bali.

May, who owns the popular Manly Wharf Hotel, is also co-owner of Double Bay’s Mrs Sippy bar, with partners Andrew Stanway, Kate Stanway and Angus Abrahams.

The group followed an opportunity to open a sister venue in the tropics, and the subsequent development of Mrs Sippy Bali has seen its fair share of challenges attempting construction in under-developed locations.

But to May’s surprise, the Sydney Morning Herald chose to run an inflammatory article claiming police had halted construction, and Andrew Stanway was being “threatened with criminal charges” and faced allegations of forging land documents.

Speaking with PubTIC from Bali, where he is currently overseeing the ongoing construction of the project for a few weeks, May expressed his amazement.

Construction of the main bar. Image: Ben May
Construction of the main bar. Image: Ben May

“Construction never stopped. It’s all nonsense,” he stated.

“I can’t believe they ran that story. I told them ‘You’re going to look stupid if you do’.”

The story is, the group investigated and purchased a 7,000 m² parcel of land near Denpasar through an association with [name withheld], who lived in a small dwelling on the lot. Paid a finder’s fee, the individual was obliged to move out.

Instead, he arranged to purchase the hut where he was living, and used an employee to front as the ‘rightful owner’ – with whom May and associates supposedly had “no record of hand over or sale”.

He then reportedly paid for a story along these lines to be run in local paper Denpost, and ‘persuaded’ authorities to cause trouble with building and access to the site.

SMH got hold of the scandal, and called May for comment.

“I don’t have any comment because they [the allegations] are all completely pathetic,” the paper said May said.

It went on to say that the situation had been worsening, with local media reporting police hearing of “construction material falling onto neighbouring houses” from the 7,000m² site, regulation breaches, and the publishing of a decade-old passport photo of Stanway as some kind of evidence of culpability.

Allegations appeared to peak with lawyer Joseph Remi claiming the “land ownership documents had been forged” in Semeton News.

“We know there is no issue, this is all complete fabrication,” May told PubTIC.

“Here you lodge the equivalent of a DA, and as soon as you lodge you can start building. It’s true we don’t have a building permit – no-one does.

“I just can’t believe they would publish this story based on the word of this guy.”

The conversation turned to questions around the mental stability of an individual, but much of the language was not fit for publication.

“We’ll be opening in September, as planned all along,” May confirmed.

Mrs Sippy Bali_swimming pool under construction

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