Ali’i ta’ilo Terry,
Having just read your brilliant and sensitive piece about the Grey Family and the opening of the new Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Hotel on Beach Road stopped me in my tracks.
I realize, with some sadness, that there are more of us admirers’ and fans of Aggies who would wish we could be with the Grey family today than there are who will be. Think of the many live that have been touched by the Aggies Experience.
The charm and magic of the Grey Family hospitality legacy has no equal in the hotel business; and, it all began with Aggie herself. Coincidentally, my wife and I are deeply into the re-reading of Fay Ala’ilima’s comprehensive biography of Aggie herself.
In addition to Fay’s well documented family saga, Aggie emerges with her signature indomitable spirit, infectious smile, and as the ‘street’ smart/savvy iron lady we all came to love and admire. She was a tough, gentle giant whose love of her family, country and culture provided the underpinnings for the deliberate evolution of her empire.
Most everyone I’ve ever met who knew Aggie personally felt that THEY were special in Aggies eyes. I certainly did, especially when she sought me out in 1957 to see if I could persuade the L.D.S. Church to buy the Hotel property so she could retire and relax. Fortunately for the future of Alan, Marina, Aggie Jr, Tania and Fred it was not an option; but, I’ve often wondered what the outcome would have been if the ‘deal’ had been consummated.
The vivid descriptions and accounts of your personal relationships with the family are as special to you as our encounters and personal relationships are to the rest of us. Rex Maughan and I are very blessed to be able to have the family fuss over us and punch our meal tickets as our relationship with SAMOA continues to evolve. Likewise, many close associates like Rob Shaffer and others have the same blessed opportunity. We’ve all been treated like ‘family.’
The Sheraton folks will really be under the microscope and our ‘kind’ will be their most severe critics as the Aggie’s brand moves to its next phase. Unfortunately, they will be missing the key elements that made it in the first place – Aggie herself (God rest her soul!), Alan’s steady hand and sure-footed commitment to quality, Marina’s beautiful blue-eyes and her engaging personality, Aggie Jr., as she supports and contributes from afar, Tania’s attention to details that no one else wants to say grace over, and Fred, whose expensive and prestigious education is paying off as he takes the Aggies brand beyond Samoa’s shores.
With the highest form of Samoan fa’aaloalo I can muster AND with the most sincere expressions of Samoan ALOFA possible to express by palagis mai I fafo, I join with you and the myriad of others to declare our fondest congratulations and best wishes to the GREY FAMILY and SAMOA for this historic moment in time – and a very meaningful addition to the family legacy.
Jim Winegar (Simi)