In the centre of the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, you hear the delightful shrieks and hollers of child tourists, which is unusual for the simple reason that school holidays in some parts of the world are over.
Curious, Dear Tourist investigated this a little further and sat down with Kiwi mum, Margot Ah-Sam, who is watching over her kiddies from her sun chair as they take turns to do dive bombs in to the pool.
Margot explains that her and her kids are here because her husband is doing some field research in collaboration with the National University of Samoa.
For several reasons, they thought it was important to tag along - for one, her husband would miss them too much and secondly, it was an opportunity for her kids to continue learning in a much bigger classroom that is Samoa.
“They absolutely love it here,” says Margot who is a native Kiwi bringing up part Samoan children.
“… and they know that they are part Samoan. My four year old daughter always says when we come that ‘its good to be home’.
“She says to everyone that she’s born here in Samoa, but actually, she was born in Wellington, New Zealand. Her soul is here even though she’s only four - it’s so funny!”
While her husband is at work, she sees no reason why the children can’t do some field work as well, saying that they have spent some time at the S.T.A Cultural Village.
“We love going to the Cultural Village and it’s so good there. We are trying to give our kids more of a sense of how their Dad grew up. You know there are just so many beautiful things about the Samoan Culture that I have learnt as a palagi coming here, like sharing and not being so individualistic all the time.
“I’ve been challenged and grown a lot coming here. So I want my kids to get that it’s not all about them”
Samoans abroad make up a lot of tourists in Samoa. Margot thinks this is an important part of the tourism strategy in Samoa.
“People are searching for identity and belonging globally, so I imagine that’s how it works with people coming back to search for their roots in a globally diverse world.
“We’re always looking for new things here each time we come back, but we also try to go a bit deeper. Overall it’s such a beautiful place because of the climate and the people are so nice.”
Margot is having a wonderful time relaxing and enjoying seeing how much her kids love it here. Tanoa Tusitala Hotel has been great, just like the first time they stayed, and Margot tells us why they have chosen it again.
“I have stayed at the Tanoa before and I gotta (sic) say, we like the setting and it’s very convenient if you have children.
“In terms of the layout, it’s quite safe for kids. Like, we could be eating lunch and we can see the kids by the pool, so it gives us a sense of having family time without the stress of looking for them, wondering if they’re drowning.
“It’s nice and flat here, they have adjoining rooms; it’s just so practical and easy for us, especially with the location. We really like it.”
Asked whether they would return again, Margot looks a little bit worried at first. “I would like to, but I probably should put these kids in school,” she laughs. She just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring them for a cultural experience though, which in her mind is just as important as school work.
“The kids did come here with school work from their teachers so they are doing some work - I’m not such a bad mum! But it’s been wonderful, so great. And we just want to come back as often as we can.”