Aga Reef Resort global social media finalists
Aga Reef Resort has been named one of four finalists for the world's “Most Instagrammable" resort - upsetting its rivals and after an Australian competitor was disqualified for unfair play.
The "Luxury Travel Advisor" publication described Aga Reef’s battle to the top included a “mild upset” when it beat out the South African wellness retreat Bushman’s Kloof, and on Friday voting opens for the top two.
The Lalomanu resort will be up against one of two European resorts: the Hyatt’s Hotel Martinez in France or Laqua Charme & Boutique in Italy.
Manager Leonyra Namulo said she applied to enter the resort in the competition on a whim with no expectations, and was thrilled to find her family business making headlines.
“As long as we can get Samoa and the Pacific out there on this world stage, I just want to shine a light on the small islands and generate interest from Europe, the Americas and Asia,” she said.
She said traffic on the resort’s social media has grown significantly since the competition began, and influential users have been sharing the voting links and generating attention, with the former and current Miss Samoa getting on board too.
Aga Reef has come to represent the entire Pacific, Ms. Namulo said, not only Samoa or the resort itself.
It’s a welcome bit of fun after an extremely hard year, where the 16-room resort has had to basically close until it gets group bookings.
But each public holiday brings a full house paying half the full prices, which is enough to keep 20 staff employed.
It’s the staff who are the resort’s biggest priority, Ms. Namulo said. Her grandfather, elder statesman and drafter of the Constitution, Lauofo Meti Meredith, build the resort in honour of his wife Lupe, and to provide employment for her village.
“My grandfather built this property for my grandmother to support her local village, so it was to create employment; it’s his way of thanking her for all her support during his career.
“So we’ve continued that within the family, that is the main priority for the resort, it’s our local village. So as long as we can pay the staff, utilities can take a back seat.”
Lauofo, who passed away in 2008, wrote a book about the Constitution called “The Making of the Constitution” which he published in 2002.
“What we learned early on from the lockdown was it was not viable for us to keep the resort open every weekend, or keep it open throughout,” Ms. Namulo said.
Today they accept bookings with a minimum of six people, and it has been just enough business to keep their reduced staff group on site to continue maintaining the property.
“During the week, we also turn to making doughnuts,” she said with a laugh. “We basically do catering for the Lalomanu area and we go into Apia every Thursday and that’s when we do our free Apia deliveries of glazed doughnuts.
“Our New Zealand and Australia followers love the fact that they can pay online via PayPal and we deliver it to their families in Samoa, so we have a constant flow of orders and we’ve come to know the regular families here with kids overseas.”
To vote for Aga Reef when it is matched up against a European resort on Friday visit their Instagram page or Luxury Travel Advisor’s website.