Spirit of generosity fuels Return to Paradise's battle for survival

The coronavirus might have knocked the wind out of Return to Paradise Resort and most hotels in Samoa but it has only fuelled the spirit of love and compassion at the Matautu Lefaga property.

While 120 employees from 150 have been laid off work due to the financial implications of COVID19 border shut down, they have not been forgotten.

Resort Site Manager, Lemalu Ofisa Lalogafau, said since the lockdown, they have made an effort to provide the families of the employees with food parcels to help them get by.

 “We just feel that we at least should help them in this time of a national or global loss for families especially for our employees which we have had to temporarily lay off,” Lemalu said.

So every Thursday, Lemalu and a team of workers drive around to the families of the laid off employees to supply them with food parcels. The food parcels vary from week to week – based on what the resort can get. The basics include flour, rice, sugar, chicken, sausages, noodles, cooking oil, biscuits and tinned fish.

 “Out of all the things we do, we love this the most,” said General Manager, Ramona Su’a Pale.

“It keeps us in touch with everyone. We believe this is what we do best – as the villages of Lefaga, we must come together especially during these challenging times.”

Among the grateful recipients is Leofo Faafetai from Matautu Lefaga. He had been working at the resort for 4 years.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer over the phone, Leofo is grateful for the support.

 “It’s true we need financial support all the time especially for our children and their education but at least we can survive on the food supplies provided by these people,” he said. “We’re just so grateful.”

To ensure his children are kept in school, Leofo is turning to the plantation for money while he waits for what is ahead.

Lemalu Atuli is equally grateful.

 “Our village has benefited enormously from having Return to Paradise Resort here,” he said. “e are so proud that this resort is led by our own families in these tough times, we are all working together closer than ever to look after our resort and our village.”

During their Thursday visits, Lemalu and his team also look for cases where people need medication and need to see doctors.

Back at the resort itself, 40 staff members remain to care for their local customers. Without guests from outside Samoa, they are taking bookings from locals and are encouraging people to visit them at Matautu.

For international guests who have already made books, the Resort is happy for them to reschedule instead of cancellations. Bookings can be postponed for up to two years without penalty due to the uncertain nature of COVID19.

“In these difficult times it is more important than ever that we are kind to each other, and we know there is so much good happening in our country by so many,” Mrs. Pale said.

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