Seabreeze wins world recognition amid downturn
Seabreeze Resort Samoa has won two international awards amidst the global pandemic that brought Samoan tourism lending its victories extra significance.
Owners Wendy and Chris Booth have won Samoa’s Leading Hotel for the eighth year in a row, and Oceania’s Most Romantic Resort for the second consecutive year at the World Travel Awards (W.T.A.).
Mrs. Booth told the Samoa Observer said she and her husband were very moved to have won both awards, and thanked their large guest community for voting for them.
“We contacted all our past guests and asked them to remember us: our pizzas, our dining, the intimacy and romance and special place that Seabreeze is, and we campaigned on that asking for votes," she said.
“We needed some good news, it’s been a tough year. Our staff, they really love this award, it means so much to them.”
The Samoan award had six other nominees: Le Lagoto Resort and Spa, Le Manumea Hotel, Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa, Taumeasina Island Resort, Sheraton Samoa Resort and Spa and Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel and Bungalows.
Seabreeze won Oceania’s Most Romantic Resort over six other hotels from Vanuatu, French Polynesia, Fiji and Tahiti.
In the early days of Samoa’s state of emergency, Seabreeze closed their doors, and have taken the opportunity to refurbish the pool, kitchen and restaurant as well as put a fresh coat of paint on much of the resort.
Mrs. Booth told the Samoa Observer that such renovations are usually too hard to do with guests around.
They have maintained 11 staff to manage and maintain the resort, while Mr and Mrs. Booth are in Queensland, Australia waiting to return to Samoa.
“Masseurs are doing gardening, waiters are doing maintenance, it’s been tough. They needed some good news,” Mrs. Booth said.
“Finding out we had won in both categories was absolutely fantastic and very humbling at this point in time.”
Seabreeze has weathered storms before, including the 2009 tsunami that destroyed the entire resort and nearly claimed the Booth’s lives.
The resort was opened in November 2005; it reopened in July 2011 after the tsunami.
Mrs. Booth said the voting campaign has stirred up memories of past visitors to Samoa. Past guests who have told the couple they can’t wait to get back to the resort and to the island.
Without being able to predict when Samoa's borders will open again, the Booths have held off on any advertising campaigns for their resort. But they are hoping that by June 2021 they will be able to start taking bookings again.
In the meantime, Mrs. Booth said they would rather focus on getting the resort ready for international tourism again, rather than subside on a trickle of local guests.
“Rather than fighting to keep alive, we put what money we had left into making sure we reopen with a sparkling new future ahead of us,: she said.
The World Travel Awards are decided by online votes, which, according to the W.T.A. reached record numbers this year.
Industry representatives or business owners get two votes; consumers have one.
“Winning a world travel award this year has become more important than ever before,” W.T.A. host Katie Jensen said in a video presentation of the 27th award ceremony.
Oceania’s other winners include: Millbrook Resort in New Zealand as Leading Hotel, Pacific Resort Aitutaki in Cook Islands as Leading Resort, and Ovolo Woolloomoolo as Leading Boutique Hotel .
“The World Travel Awards 2020 programme received a record number of votes cast by the public,” W.T.A. founder Graham Cooke said.
“This shows that the appetite for travel and tourism has never been stronger and bodes well for the industry’s future as the global recovery begins.
“Our winners represent the very best of Oceania’s travel and tourism sector and my congratulations to each of them.
“They have all demonstrated remarkable resilience in a year of unprecedented challenges.”