$20 million hotel development on standby
More than ten years after the spades first hit the ground for $20 million tourism investment spanning 240 acres in Fagaiofu Bay, the Samoa Premier Suites and Bungalows in Falelatai has yet to officially open to the public.
Plans to open up at the end of 2019 were postponed until late 2020.
But the global COVID-10 pandemic now has that on hold too.
Owner, Asi Dave Haleck, says they are prepared to launch the resort as soon as borders open, allowing his Fijian and Thai management staff to enter Samoa, hire staff locally and dive into action.
“We have to look forward and we have to be positive,” Asi told the Samoa Observer.
“I think if we are too negative it’s not going to get better but if we have a positive outlook, we have to look forward to the future.”
The resort is based on a site previously used to film a season of the television series Survivor, and was the original name for the resort which was meant to open in August 2018.
Asi has named the restaurant after the show too, which seats 250 people and is right on the water’s edge.
His family has owned the freehold site since 2009, and leased it twice to Survivor U.S.A. for filming, before beginning resort developments in 2011.
He said that Falelatai village are anticipating the resort to employ locals from the area and some are on standby for jobs.
“We hope this virus will come to an end with a vaccine being developed soon. We all have to be optimistic and look ahead.”
Asked whether he can open for the local market even before borders open, Asi said with his key management and chef team based in Fiji and Thailand, he can’t get them over to launch operations.
“We have to take it month by month and see where that goes," he said.
“It’s up to the Government when they will reopen the borders and then we can look at that. If the borders don’t open up until early next year we just have to go along with that.
“That is where we are at now, everything is pretty much on hold and we continue to do the little work we can to prepare for opening.”
So far just one group of guests have tested the facilities: Asi’s family, who hosted a reunion on site as part of a soft opening in 2019.