Fiji's refurbished Grand Pacific Hotel opens its doors
Nostalgia to the fore as Fiji's refurbished Grand Pacific Hotel starts checking in guests.
Fiji's historic Grand Pacific Hotel has checked in its first paying guests after a multi million dollar refurbishment.
The 113 room hotel celebrated its one hundredth birthday last week but lay dilapidated after closing in 1992.
The hotel has undergone a two and a half year, 50 million US dollar restoration job, funded by the national pension funds of Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
The hotel's General Manager, Eugene Diethelm, told Sally Round thousands of local people have taken part in celebrations so far and there is much nostalgia associated with the building on Suva's waterfront.
EUGENE DIETHELM: We have hundreds of bookings. We have events booked throughout the year and over the next year and it seems to me that all the guests from all over the world have waited a long time.
SALLY ROUND: The hotel has a very glorious past and it's known as one of the old style colonial hotels of the region. Can you tell us about some of the renovation that's gone on?
ED: Indeed, it has a very glorious history and we did take that into consideration. The old building is remade in the same style. Left and right we added two wings, one wing is the room wing and on the other side the function rooms, the ballroom, different restaurants.
SR: Have you kept the same style? Is the building as it used to be?
ED: The old style is exactly like it was in 1914 (when it was) built. People say it looks even nicer. Left and right of course it is in a slightly modern style, and that was the way the architect wanted to do that; to bring these two different styles together and I think they made it very nice.
SR: Have you kept some of the old memorabilia from the past?
ED: Yes we have a lot of old items that we have kept here, restored and placed them beautifully in the hotel. But not only the building is nice, we also focus very much on high class service, really five star luxury service. For that of course you need a high number of staff. And we now have 220 staff plus 50 casuals.
SR: Are they mostly local, people from Suva?
ED: Yes we have staff from Suva and around Suva but also we have ten expats and those people are from all over the world. Myself, I'm Swiss. We had 3,000 applications. Out of 3,000 we selected 210 staff.
SR: What has the reaction been from local people, because of course this is celebrating Fiji's colonial past. What do people in modern day Fiji think of that?
ED: I think everyone loves the Grand Pacific Hotel, whether in colonial times or not. I think that is not so relevant. I think everybody knows the hotel. Of course many people have memories here, of the "good old days" when the Queen came here, two times to the hotel, in 1953 and '75. A large number of guests have already been here before, a large number have been children here and they come now back after thirty years, forty years and another group is tourists and another is the corporate segment.
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