Well, it’s official. Nothing can dampen Fiji’s spirits. Not even rain and storms on one of the country’s biggest night of nights.
We woke up excited that today was the official opening of Stage 3 of Wyndham Resort Denarau Island – the biggest project on the island in years.
But we also woke up to a damp and overcast Fiji. The light drizzle did nothing to ruin our plans: a tour of Nadi, including Vuda Lookout, Sri Sivasubramaniya Swami (Hindu) Temple and the Garden of the Sleeping Giant.
Seeing the absolutely beautiful Tivua Island on Saturday was one thing, but I feel we got a real feel for life in Fiji today. We toured a local village, visited the fruit and vegetable markets and browsed handicrafts made by local families.
The villages are still very traditional. Church is mandatory on a Sunday, hats or anything on your forehead is forbidden in the village and women cannot wear shorts or show their legs. A sarong was quickly whipped around my waist. Our village tour guide was a highly educated local with a wicked sense of humour, which was in contrast to the village we were walking through. But we were told later that this village was quite wealthy.
It was only a half day tour, which suited us perfectly as we had a couple’s facial booked at the resort spa before getting ready for the big event…after all the Prime Minister was going to be there.
We didn’t need to worry about dressing or acting fancy. We were really lucky to be at reception when the PM Commodore Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama arrived. Apart from a cheerful welcome from Wyndham staff, there wasn’t much fuss. It’s easy to see why the people love him as he strolled through waving and smiling in a summery short sleeved shirt and traditional “Sulu” skirt. We feel so lucky!
The opening ceremony then started with a bang in a big marquee on the beach. The clouds threatened, but even mother nature was on our side and the rain held off. The Prime Minister, Minister for Tourism, Wyndham CEO, Wyndham Vacation Ownership CEO and heaps of other officials (talk about being in the midst of royalty) were then welcomed with a full traditional welcoming ceremony. One of the locals told me it’s a sacred ceremony that they don’t see very often. Today was obviously very special.
Unfortunely we couldn’t see the ceremony that was conducted on the ground at the front of the marquee, but we could definitely hear it and that was heaps of fun in itself.
The owners who were all gathered around the pool had chosen the best time to visit! Brett and I felt pretty proud to be owners when the Prime Minister thanked Wyndham for investing in Fiji with the biggest project in Denarau Island in years – over $50 million and more than one million man hours, mostly by local companies.
Everyone then partied the night away with Fiji beer and wine provided by Wyndham for the whole resort. If we think we know how to party, we have nothing on Fiji. The dancing and celebrations of staff absolutely made my night and the grand finale of fire dancing and fireworks over the ocean would have been seen across the country.
We really don’t need the Fiji PM to tell us this place is pretty special. We’ve spent four days here and we haven’t felt bored or unwelcome for a minute…and we haven’t even tried out everything the resort has to offer yet (that Kava Adults Retreat pool bar is still calling us).
We just keep getting so many opportunities that we would never have had without our ownership. Thank you so much for letting us be a part of this historic day Wyndham and Worldmark SP. You’ve definitely given us something to brag about!