Fiji strong

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, Fiji

Last week I found myself in Fiji for the annual Fijian Tourism Expo (FTE) where suppliers from all over the island, and buyers and media from around the world were scheduled to come to Fiji for the week to experience the best the islands have to offer. I arrived a few days early to check out one of InterContinental Hotel Group’s (IHG) finest, the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, to decompress and enjoy the breathtaking Coral Coast for the weekend before venturing on to Denarau for the conference.

Little did I know, a large tropical weather system was brewing offshore and by the close of the weekend would have a name (Cyclone Keni) and a Category threat (3), halting all flights in and out of the country, shutting down roads nationwide and prompting the unprecedented cancellation of the entire FTE event. Despite Tourism Fiji’s timely, humble and extremely professional cyclone alerts to attendees (as well as the generous offer to assist with any accommodation or ticket changes or cancellations), I decided to ride it out and found myself absolutely blown away by what followed (excuse the pun).

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, Fiji

To start, the InterContinental Fiji was nothing short of phenomenal. They kept guests well informed of the situation and cyclone procedures for several days, calmed any unsettled nerves and carefully made preparations for the storms. Since rising rivers amid a cyclone can often lead to road closures, many of the staff stayed overnight for several days to make sure there was adequate coverage of all resort services and facilities. Despite the obvious, customer service was still served with a five-star smile and despite a bit of extra rain and wind, it was business as usual at the InterContinental Fiji.

When the heavier rains started to come down around us and the main road to Nadi was eventually closed, the guests made the most of it, attending the popular Kokoda cooking demonstration, indulging in a hot tub soak and massage treatment at the spa, and watching the Fiji rugby team charge to their fourth annual victory at the Hong Kong 7s. When we did finally lose power, the generator system was up and running in minutes and I didn’t notice so much as a hiccup in the WiFi connection. You could even still order room service all the way throughout the cyclone – crab curry and coconut rice anyone?!

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, Fiji

As the cyclone picked up strength and speed (and was slowly upgraded from a Category 1 to a Category 3 storm), the General Manager came over the resort loudspeaker throughout the day to calmly update guests. We were assured that this was just another day in the life in the tropics and while they were well accustomed to cyclones, we would be following all safety preparations and procedures as a matter of protocol. This included moving furniture, securing loose items and placing sandbags against the doors as well as returning to our rooms later in the day to close the hurricane shutters and comfortably bunker down for the afternoon. He suggested passing the time with a movie marathon, a good book or perhaps a relaxing coconut bubble bath. I swear, this is the man I want in the delivery room the next time I go into labour!

InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa, Fiji

Sure enough, as promised Cyclone Keni came and went with minimal fanfare and stayed far enough off to sea that it didn’t cause any major damage around the country. The next day, the sun was shining and I returned to Denarau to continue my meetings in the sunshine with the other Fiji tourism suppliers. While I heard many visitors back on Denarau praise how well all the Fiji resorts handled the cyclone, I can’t imagine anywhere else I would have wanted to be for that storm than the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa.

A wise man once told me, “You really get to know a place when you see how it responds at its very worst”. If that was Fiji’s worst, I can’t wait to see her on a good day.

Thank you InterContinental Fiji and Bula Vinaka Fiji, until we meet again.

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