31 January, 2011     

Queen Elizabeth coming to Samoa

One of the world's newest ocean liners is due in Apia next month bringing 2000 passengers to the capital.

The Queen Elizabeth left Los Angeles on its maiden voyage and is due at the Port of Apia on February 9.  From the US, the 90,900-tonne liner will sail to Hawaii, Samoa, American Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand.  The ship is expected to arrive at 8:00am and remain in port until 6:00pm.

Stretching 294 metres in length, the four-month old Queen Elizabeth was launched in Britain by The Queen in October last year.  Queen Elizabeth pays homage to Cunard's original Queen Elizabeth.

On arrival, the ship's passengers and crew will be treated to a meet and greet ceremony featuring traditional Samoan entertainment.  A retail area will be set-up on the wharf to showcase and sell local handicrafts.  Guests are expected to take in the sights and sounds of Upolu through private and organised tours during Queen Elizabeth's 10-hour stop.

Guests can enjoy more than 700 private balcony cabins, more than 10 restaurants and cafes and a games deck including paddle tennis, croquet and bowls.
 
Queen Elizabeth also offers a two-storey library complete with leaded glass ceiling and a globe from the original Queen Elizabeth.
 
Source: The Dominion Post   31 January, 2011     

The Precious Land

A HEAVENLY RETREAT FOR ALL THE FAMILY. TOM POUNTNEY DISCOVERS PARADISE IN THE PACIFIC ON THE ISLANDS OF SAMOA

“Come to my house for dinner!” booms Elisapeta, barely ten minutes after meeting us. “You must visit my home and family and eat from my plantation,” she proclaims with pride.

The 62 year-old stall owner at Savalalo Flea Market barely looks a day over 30, and certainly doesn’t act it as she charms locals and tourists alike with abundant charisma and kindness. A discussion on the small matter of 36 grandchildren proves that her  declaration of age is not just another good-spirited fabrication. She elaborates on a life that went to Miami and back, has witnessed great heartache and great joy, exuding a boundless energy and passion for everything in her Samoan way – it is just fascinating.

To this point, on the final day of a fleeting week long trip to the Pacific Island of Samoa, precursory fragments have been difficult to collate. Tourism, in the traditional sense is a strange phenomenon for the locals. They hold so dear every thread of their own land that for them to comprehend those from afar is almost overwhelming. But with great spirit and natural inquisitiveness, they become perfectly mannered, hospitable hosts of the highest order. This is tourism Fa’a Samoa – ‘the Samoan way’.

We arrive at the airport following a hefty, but comfortable flight to five middle-aged men with traditional ‘Pe’a’ (male body tattoos) dancing in Lavalava (skirts) to a customary Samoan beat at 5.30am local time before a fresh ring of flowers are ceremoniously presented to us. In simply stepping into Faleolo International Airport, we are tied to people and their precious land.

The two main islands, Upolu and Savaii lie just over an hour boat trip apart sharing many similarities whilst enjoying a unique identity. Upolu is the more commercial of the two with the port-town of Apia bringing trade in the form of tourism, fishing and an eclectic mix of small business ventures. The holiday island of Savaii is rich, authentic and draped in utopic beauty.

Natural features are the order of the day on Upolu with Papaseea Sliding rocks providing hours of entertainment, the picture-perfect cave pools at Piula and Sua Trench and Togitogiga Waterfall, a magic inland treasure.

These phenomenons are the very reason Robert Louis Stevenson migrated to Samoa.  The sick Scotsman found remedy in the air and inspiration from the island – it was here he wrote ‘The Beach of Falesa’, ‘Catriona’, ‘The Ebb-Tide’, and the ‘Vailima Letters’. The Stevenson residence is now a grand museum at the foot of Mount Vaea where he is buried. A 30-minute tour gives a fascinating insight into why he found his peace on Samoa.

Wednesday night is Fiafia night at Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalows, which means traditional dancing, a huge buffet selection of Samoan delicacies, a few of the local brew, Vailima. The Samoan Haka followed by a flame infused war dance has the audience enthralled – pride in performance is unbounded as this is the opportunity for a very modest group of people to beat their drum long into the night before returning to serve breakfast in the morning. Aggie Grey Jnr is now the life and soul of the complex that her grandmother first established in 1933 as a burger bar. Now, 92 standard rooms, 36 luxury rooms and 26 Fales (traditionally styled huts) make this one of the most popular resorts on Samoa. With disabled access, highchairs and cots available, plus a 24-hour gym alongside a great poolside bar and restaurant, the Resort has everything. Amongst many illustrious names to have graced Aggie Grey’s is Marlon Brando and the Japanese International rugby team who were competing in the Pacific Nations Cup at the time.

Rugby is a way of life for the Samoans – it it is a way of defending rights and testing resolve. The game holds one key to understanding the culture of these people, and in turn, much of the inspired All Black ethos is revealed. During our stay, Samoa lost to Japan and the nation’s mood reflected it as if disaster had struck. A week later, they won their first ever Pacific Nations Cup with a huge victory over neigbouring Fiji.

Celebrations like this are essential to a nation that has experienced more than a fair share of natural disaster. The physical scars of cyclones and tsunamis remain prominent but people continue to smile in the face of adversity and accept that every now and again, they will fall victim to Mother Nature.

While there has been no eruption on Samoa for almost a century, the island, slightly the east of the international date line, is in a highly active techtonic area and there are 450 visible volcanoes. You can visit the lava fields from the last eruption that finished in 1911 on the north coast of Savaii with Australian geologist Warren Jopling who will guide you to Afio Mai, Saleufa Village where the lava ran through a church but – as local legend would have – parted around ‘The Virgin’s Grave’ behind. He will also help you climb Tafua-Savaii, the second largest volcano on the island, from where you watch flying foxes (the world’s largest flying bat) frequent the cavernous and incredibly fertile crater.

Nearby is the wonderfully relaxing retreat Stevenson’s at Manase, offering a wide range of traditional accommodation from the rustic Fales to the top end of the deluxe beach suites and villas. A very warm welcome, followed by lobster and cocktails, (‘Stevenson’s Special’ recommended) is incredibly well received after a long, hot climb with Warren. Metres from the doorstep of the luxurious suites, you can enjoy earth’s last sunset of the day from the pillow soft white sandy beaches or the shallow, warm crystal clear waters.

Sunday is a day of worship and here lies another key to Samoan culture. Teeming trucks ferry the island’s population to their nearest church, one of 52 Christian denominations on the island, where the services celebrate in song and readings (ensure you have a minimum of two Tala – around 60p – to make a contribution).

But not before the first meal of the day – a  melee of fresh fruit with pastries but of course all of the Western options are available. The continental breakfast at Sinalei Reef Resort & Spa (www.sinalei.com) is nothing short of exceptional with bircha muesli taking centre stage on a glorious buffet set out on a stunning peer on the south coast of Savaii. The resort is a wonderful place to retreat and indulge in the delicacies of Samoan life. There is an 18-hole golf course, an ocean-side spa  and bar-side pool shallow enough for young ones to enjoy safely while adults enjoy a drink. Le Manumea Hotel in Apia offers a similarly tranquil retreat on Upolu. Food is fresh from the boats supplying Samoa’s markets.

Samoa – believed by many to be the most authentic and best value for money – is a magical holiday destination for children. As ex-All Black John Kirwan explains, “It’s an important life lesson for children to learn. To go into villages and see that it’s not all about Playstations. The kids are smart, they learn from young about how to live off the land.”

A great time to visit is for the Teulia (national flower) Festival in mid-September at the end of the dry season.

Source: FQ Magazine (UK)
  25 January, 2011     

Surf's up in Samoa

With funding from Australia, specialist trainers from Surf Life Saving Tasmania travelled to Samoa this month to run the country’s first ever bronze medallion surf life saving course.

More than 45 Samoans, including 25 local villagers, members of Samoa’s newly formed AusAID funded Volunteer Emergency Response Team (VERTS), Fire and Emergency Services and maritime police took part in the week-long course. The bronze medallion training followed the successful Australian initiated ‘first responder’ and water awareness training run last year along Samoa’s tsunami affected south coast.

Surf life Saving Tasmania General Manager, Tony van den Enden, who ran last year’s training, returned to Samoa with two trainers to stage the bronze medallion course. He said the additional training is crucial for local villagers as they are generally the first responders when visitors and family members get into trouble in the water.

“Despite Samoa’s postcard perfect beaches, with water comes danger. What Samoa and the Pacific is lesser known for is the unacceptably high incidence of drowning among both locals and tourists, either through one or a combination of misadventure, ignorance of the dangerous currents, and unpatrolled beaches and waterways,” said Tony.

“The surf life saving training covered first aid, rescue techniques, team work and surf awareness, and we hope that by giving Samoans essential surf life saving skills, it will help prevent drownings and keep the beaches safe.”

Course participant Otele Samuele has already put his initial first responder training to good use.

“Over the Christmas holidays, my friend Mika and I saved two tourists who got into trouble while swimming and were carried out to sea by the strong current. They couldn’t make it back to the beach, but we used the skills we learnt last year to rescue the swimmers and bring them safely back to shore. The extra training through the bronze medallion course has taught me a lot more, especially ways to handle an emergency situation and I’m pretty confident that I can rescue anyone that gets into trouble in the water,” said Otele.

Local volunteer Folau Swerling is now keen to pursue a career in surf life saving after the week long training.

“I see a big need for it in Samoa especially since our beaches are our main attraction. I think it will make tourists feel safer knowing there is an experienced life saver on hand in case of an emergency,” Folau said.

Australia’s High Commissioner to Samoa, Matt Anderson, said AusAID is supporting the surf life saving training through the VERTS.

“Following the 2009 tsunami, AusAID provided A$700,000 to the Samoan Government to establish the VERTS to better respond to natural disasters and emergencies,” said Matt.

“Under the initiative, there is a strong focus on water safety. In April this year, two Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development will arrive in Samoa to expand surf life saving in the country. If we can save just one life from this training, it will have been worth it.”

More information
AusAID in Samoa
Launch of VERTS   11 January, 2011     

Kiwi celebrities tweet summer holiday stories

We have been watching Twitter over the past few weeks to see exactly what our favourite Kiwi celebrities have been doing with their summer holidays.

Many of the country's television, radio, music and sporting stars did what the rest of us do during the warmer months - take to the road to see a little more of the countryside.

Singer Hollie Smith took her guitar the length of the country, playing a number of popular festivals along the way.

Tweet: "Ak, Wellington, Paraparaumu, Gisborne, Martinborough, Queenstown, Wanaka, Cooks Beach, Tairua, Whangamata, Opoutere. oh and SAMOA tomorrow. good times".

While television and radio personality Marcus Lush spent his holidays in Bluff.

Tweet: "Oh yes woken by two earthquakes in Bluff last night".

The Edge Morning Mad-house DJ J.J Feeney explored the north.
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Tweet: "I'm such a jetsetter! Whangamata, Whitianga and now Taupo. It's so, so gorgeous here".

While New Zealand's Next Top model judge Colin Mathura-Jeffree visited the east, tweeting "I'm off to see the wizard the wonderful wizard in Kawerau".

The central North Island is where comedian Dai Henwood spent his festive season.

Tweet: "En route to Tauranga. God I love the kiwi road trip mission".

MTV host Amber Peebles was one of the many Kiwi celebs to indulge in water-based fun.

"Learnt how to wakeboard at the heke today. Pancake sea, perfect for faceplants," she said.

Water sports proved to be a popular activity with Chiefs rugby player Liam Messam spending his time diving.

"I'm gonna go for a dive and try and get us a feed," he tweeted.

Shortland Street actress Kimberley Crossman would not have been alone in her summertime water activities.

"Time for chips and dip and a swim," she said.

Former All Black Ali Williams' girlfriend Casey Green also made the most of the hot weather and cool sea tweeting: "Paddle board then beach run I'm sooo sleepy. BBQ now then sleep."

While many stayed in Godzone, Boy director Taika Waititi chose to take his travels a little further afield.

"Things to do in Orlando, Florida. If you aren't with a family? Things not involving City Walk or Bob Marley cafe please," he tweeted.

Brooke Fraser also spent her time abroad.

"Spent New Years Day with besties under the shade of a tree in NSW wine country, picnicking while kangaroo hopped by. Life is reduck."

Some celebs chose to mix work with pleasure.

Actress Robyn Malcolm did not appear to take a break from campaigning for the environment, the self proclaimed 'greenie' joined Labour leader Phil Goff and Amazing Race presenter Phil Koeghan at the Save New Chums Beach event in the Coromandel on January 3.

And it was a case of all work and no play for some of our sporting celebrities.

All Black Corey Jayne tweeted about his busy schedule: "8am start 2moro and have speed, weights, fitness, then have to meet my agent, and last I'm back to the dentist to see if anything else needs work."

Friends of comedian Rhys Darby were treated to New Year's Eve celebrations at his place.

"Various friends arriving to join me in the quest to see in the new year. Better make some cheese and pineapple hedgehogs," he tweeted.

While Suzanne Paul spent the New Year soaking up the sun and the snapper.

Tweet: "Sitting in the sunshine reading 'The Power' while the husband cooks up a feed of snapper. what a smashing New Year".

A real family holiday was on cards for Newsreader Kate Hawkesby .

"Small holiday thrills, 5 little pairs of hands making us a surprise breakfast in bed and then jumping in with us to help eat it," she said.

Holidaying was the last thing on weatherman Tamati Coffey's mind, he had bigger plans.

"I need a lawyer. Someone that can help me buy houses for my empire, like on Monopoly...but real life. Anyone know anyone," he tweeted.

Possibly the only Kiwi keen to get back to work after his holiday, radio host Dave Fane .

Tweet: "Last day of holiday. Totally over it, wanna have work fun now," he said.

And some decided that supporting a lost cause was the best way to waste away their summer days.

Newsreader Hilary Barry tweeted: "Had a ball at Eden Park t20. Slightly better result. Still love the Black Caps though".

Published: 2:38PM Tuesday January 11, 2011 Source: ONE News
  08 January, 2011     

The Samoan way

By CATHERINE WATSON, Special to the Star Tribune

Travelers to the Samoan islands will come across many locals whose lives are centered around family and church, a legacy of the Protestant missionaries who arrived in 1830.

A trip inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson turns up a culture as vibrant as the buses that ply the roads, as traditional as the island home built by the writer.

Even in darkness, on the way from the airport, Samoa didn't look like anywhere else I'd been in Polynesia -- not like Rarotonga or Fiji, not like Tahiti or Easter Island.

Open pavilions dotted the roadsides, almost as frequent as the small houses. Some were more brightly lighted: Shaped like ovals and sometimes squares, their thatched roofs supported by pillars, they glowed like cages in the hot tropical night.

In some small ones, families were watching TV, as if the pavilions were open-air living rooms. In the largest ones, men were sitting as still as cross-legged statues, one at the base of each pillar. A church service, perhaps? But we were passing dozens of churches. A ceremony, then?

The pavilions were the first things I asked about on a visit to the Samoas last winter, though they weren't the reason I'd come, and my reason wasn't all that typical to start with.

Most tourists come to the Samoas in search of the picture-perfect South Seas paradise: green mountains sloping to white beaches, coconut palms framing deep-blue ocean and friendly people with flowers in their hair. And all that is here.

But I had come for a house -- an old house and a long-dead hero. I wanted to see Vailima, the carefully restored Victorian villa that was Robert Louis Stevenson's last home.

Drawn by fragile health and a wandering soul, the prolific author began building Vailima with his extended family in 1890 in the hills above Apia, independent Samoa's small capital. He died there four years later, about as far from his native Scotland as he could get.

I could identify with that. I was a Minnesotan trying to escape the cold. Besides, I'd once dreamed of plying the Pacific in a white schooner, as Stevenson did.

Now I rode wildly colored Samoan buses, made a sweaty climb up a small mountain to pay homage at Stevenson's grave, toured Villa Vailima a couple of times and lingered there one afternoon to read Stevenson's poetry in the breezy shade of its verandas.

The rest of the time, I asked locals about ancient customs and modern contrasts, everything from those mysterious pavilions to the incongruous presence of McDonald's, rush-hour traffic in downtown Apia, even coconut biodiesel, an attempt to reduce Samoa's dependence on imported oil. Its time is surely coming, given that the potential fuel literally grows on trees here, free for the gathering.

Family and God. 

Just about every conversation led back to Fa'a Samoa -- the Samoan Way -- a tradition that still shapes the society of this small, mid-Pacific nation and its closest relative, American Samoa, a half-hour's flight to the east.

Fa'a Samoa centers on two things, "the family and God,'' said Dwayne Bentley, marketing manager for the Samoa Tourist Authority in Apia. "And 'family' almost always means your extended family, everybody from the nuclear family out to your aunties and uncles and second and third cousins.''

The pavilions are part of it, too. The small ones are traditional-style family dwellings.

The big pavilions function as meeting halls, each the purview of a chief, or matai, as the leader of an extended family is known. The matai's job, people told me, is to keep peace and harmony within the family and with other families and to make sure that everyone is behaving properly.

"In Samoa, law and order don't come from here,'' one woman said, indicating the big white parliament building on Apia's Beach Road. "Law and order come from the village itself.''

Matais are ranked low to high, from family to village to national government.

"Every leader, every member of Parliament, has to have a matai title,'' said Savea Sano Malifa, editor of the Samoan Observer newspaper in Apia and himself a matai. But the system is not hereditary: "Everyone in Samoa is entitled to become a matai," he said.

The tenets of the matai system explained why I saw office workers crouch down when they spoke to a boss, keeping their heads well below his.

It was why people didn't stand in the aisles on buses, even when they were crowded. "You sit down!'' I heard one bus driver admonish a young French backpacker. "You don't stand over people! They'll make room for you!''

It was also why so many women wore modest ankle-length skirts and why men wore knee-length ones -- the traditional garments called lavalava -- and why tourists weren't supposed to wear shorts and swimsuits anywhere off the beach. In villages, as one dignified older lady explained, "you cover yourself up.''

"They say we are very churchy people,'' she added, smiling at her own understatement.

Protestant missionaries arrived in 1830, and Samoans swiftly converted, which accounts for the multitude of white churches. Church fit right in: The matais were responsible for proper moral and religious behavior, too.

So government offices, most businesses and sometimes whole villages shut down at noon on Saturday and don't reopen till Monday morning; really traditional villages still have a "prayer curfew" every evening.

You don't have to pray then, the same dignified lady advised me gently, but you do have to be quiet and stay inside. "They say it is tapu to move,'' she said, using the Polynesian word that became "taboo'' in English.

Two nations, shared history.

From what I'd read, Robert Louis Stevenson was a sort of freelance matai who got involved in Samoan politics and is still deeply admired for it.

"He's the one fighting strongly for freedom, in those days,'' my guide at Vailima said as we stood among the antiques in its redwood-paneled Great Hall. "He gives good advice for our people.''

The islands must have been easier to explain in Stevenson's day than they are now. There was only one Samoa back then, though three world powers were arguing over the archipelago when he arrived.

Great Britain eventually dropped out; the United States took possession of Tutuila Island and the littler islands in the east, creating American Samoa, and Germany claimed Western Samoa, the islands of Upolu, Savai'i and their smaller neighbors. New Zealand became Western Samoa's trustee during World War I and granted it independence in 1962.

Thirteen years ago, Western Samoa officially dropped the adjective from its name. American Samoans protested -- in vain -- on grounds that the change diminished their own cultural identity.

But people on both sides of the international border are still connected by language, tradition and kinship. A year ago, their bonds were further tightened by shared tragedy.

Early on Sept. 29, 2009, undersea earthquakes triggered a tsunami, sending huge waves smashing into the southern coasts of Samoa and American Samoa and the northern coast of nearby Tonga.

Nearly 200 people died; 5,700 were displaced and many more moved permanently to higher ground, breaking their age-old ties to the sea.

The biggest loss of life was around Lalomanu, on the southeast coast of Upolu, independent Samoa's main island. One day I had a taxi take me there from Apia. Even five months afterward, the damage was shocking.

Cliffs rise steeply behind what used to be a picture-perfect beach, but the churches, pavilions and houses that stood there had been smashed and broken. Even the sand had been scoured away.

"There was no place to run,'' said Samoan writer Lani Wendt-Young, author of "Galu Afi -- Wave of Fire,'' a new book that was commissioned for the first anniversary of the disaster. No time to run, either, she said: People had dashed out of their houses when they felt the earthquake, and the tsunami struck while they were still in shock.

The first response was pure fa'a Samoa: "When relief workers came in, they wondered where the refugee camps were,'' Wendt-Young said. But there weren't any. The people who'd lost their homes had all been taken in by the rest of their aiga, their extended families.

Beauty of American Samoa

Despite sizable populations now -- 220,000 in independent Samoa, 65,000 in American Samoa -- they still look like paradise, and they aren't overrun with tourists.

True, Apia has modern grocery stores, traffic jams and the occasional giant cruise ship in port, but it didn't feel particularly busy when I was there. Next door in American Samoa, Pago Pago was so low-key that it made Apia feel like Manhattan.

I spent an astonishingly quiet Sunday there, driving the twisting coastal road on 20-mile-long Tutuila, taking side trips across its steep spine and through the spectacular scenery of the National Park of American Samoa.

I stopped often, but I never encountered another tourist. The only people I saw were locals on their way to church, or in church, or coming back from church, or getting ready for family dinners after church.

It was the closest I've come to what may be every tourist's secret dream: having some exotic place all to oneself. But with a catch. There was almost nowhere to stay.

From Pago Pago eastward, until the paved road ended at the village of Oneona, the only accommodations I found were a bar-restaurant with a few rooms; an occasional beach that permitted camping but had no campers, and a pair of pretty fales on a pristine strip of sand in front of a village called Avaio.

The fales were sheltered from the gentle surf by a motu, a tiny islet that looked like a volcanic cupcake, black lava mounded with tropical greenery. There were no guests there, either, just a group of children playing with a litter of puppies. I asked what the place was called.

"Two Dollar Beach,'' one of the girls said. "You pay two dollars, and you can stay.''

Robert Louis Stevenson probably would have. I imagined his white schooner tied off at that motu and was envious. But I didn't have a sleeping pad or a mosquito net. Or time. That was the real problem.

I used to think that 19th-century travel was harder than ours. Now I think it just took more patience. Stevenson couldn't drop in on another culture the way I had dropped from the sky to see Vailima, nor could he zip back out on a night flight.

But he didn't have to base his travels on nonrefundable airline tickets, either. Right then, on Two Dollar Beach, a slow white schooner had a lot more appeal.

Catherine Watson is a former travel editor of the Star Tribune and the author of two collections of travel essays, "Roads Less Traveled" and "Home on the Road."

IF YOU GO
For information on Independent Samoa, go to www.samoa.travel, run by the Samoa Tourism Authority.
  07 January, 2011     

Treasure this tropical home

Samoa is the place to take it easy, writes Cassandra Murniek.

Arriving at Samoan hotel Le Manumea, the owner, Luna, rolls out the welcome mat and takes me in as one of her own.

From the continental breakfast to the barbecue dinners, Le Manumea feels like home.

The hotel is a short distance from downtown Apia, with views of the Pacific and Mt Vaea.

I'm not the first to have fallen for this place.

Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson and his family sailed to Samoa and made it their home in 1889.

Stevenson liked the warm climate and lived here for four years before his death.

He was buried at the foot of Mt Vaea, to be joined by his wife in 1914.

The Stevensons bought 127ha of land below Mt Vaea and named the property Vailima ("Five Waters") in honour of the streams on their land.

The large house was opulent. Most of the furniture came from England and pieces remain today.

Leaders and society elite were entertained in the grand mansion, and it is still used by the government.

It was damaged by a hurricane in 1990 but restored to its original state by an American and now acts as a museum.

The house is simply stunning.

For a small entry fee you can wander around the house or take a tour.

The latter is recommended, as it provides a real insight into the life of Robert Louis Stevenson.

The library houses first editions of Stevenson's books and his writing desk. Take the nearby track to Stevenson's grave and a pool which was once the main water supply.

It doesn't take long to work up an appetite in Samoa. I head to the Fugalei Food Market, through surrounding streets chaotic with buses, taxis and cars all jostling for somewhere to park.

A coconut costs about 60 cents, served up just like a barman would with a cocktail.

Local fresh fruit and vegies are lined up for sale, as are bouquets of island flowers.

Taro and barbecued banana, staples of the Samoan diet, are available from stalls.

The Savalalo Flea Market is close by and a good stop for gifts, including handmade jewellery, clothes and bags.

Sunday is a day of rest in Samoa. With at least one church in each village, religion plays a big part in their lives.

I wake on the Sunday morning and, looking towards Apia, spot smoke billowing in all directions: Sunday is about church and barbecues.

My temporary family at Le Manumea invite me to lunch. A fresh-caught fish takes pride of place on the table alongside salads and barbecued taro.

The day is spent eating, lazing by the pool and sleeping.

The best way to see Samoa is by car, but there are plenty of buses, and travelling on them is quite an experience.

A brightly coloured Queen Poto bus draws to a stop.

We are heading to the south side of Apia, through mountainside that reminds me of Jurassic Park.

The blue and green hued ocean laps the creamy white sand; palm trees rustle in the breeze and families frolic in the water.

From about $30 a night, this is paradise without the price tag.

Source: Herald Sun,  January 07 2011   03 January, 2011     

Samoa among places where Australia's favourite celebrities want to holiday in 2011

From Switzerland to Samoa and the Maldives to the Mediterranean, Australian celebrities reveal where they plan to holiday in 2011 and where they would go if they could.

Here's what Andrew 'Reidy' Reid of Bondi Rescue had to say:

Where do you want to holiday in 2011?
Samoa.

Why?
I hear the waves are great, people are friendly and weather is hot. Sounds perfect to me.

Where would you go if money was no object?
I'd hire the biggest campervan I could, fill it with a couple of mates and our girlfriends, surfboards, prawns and Coronas and travel all the way around Australia.

Source: Angela Surine, The Australian
  01 January, 2011     

Former Miss Samoa a Finalist for PATA 2011 Face of the Future

Following an online vote by members, PATA has announced the five finalists for the 2011 Face of the Future competition.  Among the successful individuals is Miss Samoa 2010, Tavalea Nilon.

Each year Face of the Future spotlights an individual, 35 years old or younger, who has worked to change or advance travel and tourism in Asia Pacific. Nominations for the 2011 competition were of a particularly high standard and the online vote – the first year PATA has asked its members to participate in the judging process – led to a closely-fought first round.

As part of the the next stage of the competition, Tavalea Nilon has submitted a video in which she talks about ideas concerning the future. In this video presentation, Ms Nilon outlines three challenges she believes she may face as a travel and tourism leader in the future, and how she would plan to prepare for, or manage these challenges.

The winner and two runners-up will be announced by March 1, 2011, after a vote by PATA Executive Board Members in February. The winner of the Face of the Future 2011 will be honoured at a special awards ceremony at the 60th Anniversary and Conference, April 9-12 in Beijing. They will also have the opportunity to participate in a plenary session alongside luminaries such as senior government officials and industry leaders from across the spectrum of PATA membership.

The other finalists are Mr Deepak Tamang, Managing Director, Raven Tours and Treks, Bhutan; Mr D K Singh, Founder and President of Heritage Group of Institutions, India; Ms Hsu Htet Hlaing, Managing Director of Unique Asia Travels & Tours Co., Ltd, Myanmar; Mr Sitpasu Thongsuk, Owner of Fair House Villas and Spa, Thailand.

For further information visit www.pata60.org or email PATA60@pata.org.