Sinalei Resort changes strategy amid downturn

A private slice of paradise in Siumu is now on offer for three months at a time after the Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa announced new short-term stay specials. 

Sinalei was earlier this year forced to close its doors in response to the crash in the tourism market caused by the closure of national borders. But last week they announced a change of business strategy, confirming they were making 23 villas available for short-term rental at special rates for three month blocks. 

So far, 10 villas have been rented out. 

“[It’s] going well thank you. We needed to try something different and feedback from past guests whom we tested the concept on appeared positive so we decided to give it a try,” a spokesperson for Sinalei told the Samoa Observer. 

“We still have a few villas left for rent. We have 13 left.”

The announcement comes during a testing time for Samoa's tourism industry.

Manager Sose Annandale told the Samoa Observer at the time that she was heartbroken but determined to stay optimistic about the 24-year-old resort’s future.

“It’s heart-breaking really, especially when you see the number of livelihoods impacted. Already we are down to the last 16 of the 106 staff we had," the Manager said. 

“You put your blood, sweat, and tears into a business, you put your heart and soul into and you hope you will never encounter these situations but we are dealing with it as best we can.

“We are hoping and praying that at the end of it we will come out safely and that we can continue being of service to this community.”

Throughout 2020, the resort management had fought to keep Sinalei’s doors open. From 106 staff to just 16 part timers, Ms. Annandale said that watching the impact of the pandemic on her community’s livelihoods was difficult.

In mid-March, Annandale spoke to the Samoa Observer on the Government's tourism sector focus within the long-term Samoa 2040 plan, and said achieving Government projections would require a serious injection of capital. 

She was not optimistic about the industry's future.

“To be honest, I believe our industry is on the brink of collapse, if not already collapsed.”

Ms. Annandale said the sector has been fragmented for so long that every part of the industry would need to pull together to make it work. 

The Samoa Hotels Association (S.H.A.) has started being a more inclusive, tourism-wide association but there is more work to do, Ms. Annandale said, with residual apprehension and mistrust remaining between sectors.

“There is a move through the hotel association to unite all the various players in the industry and that is still in the making.

“Certainly I think there needs to be a collaborative effort going into not only making sure the plan moves forward but also in terms of actioning the plan and to keep it streamlined and focused I think it will be very helpful to have some kind of steering committee or task force to be able to bring that together,” she said.

“In this instance I think the private sector really needs to be the driver of this because it’s their businesses that are involved here. It’s very important that they’re the ones steering the ship.”

Sinalei is secluded by lush palm jungle and its villas capture the essence of true island paradise the resort states on Facebook. 

“Nestled amongst garden, ocean view or beautiful beachfront settings, your home away from home is perfectly designed to capture the ambience of our landscape,” says Sinalei. 

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