13 May, 2011     

Aggies Hotel Group to purchase Le Penina Golf Course

by Tupuola Terry Tavita

Le Penina Championship Golf Course and Aggie Grey’s Hotel Group have agreed on a purchase deal.

To be completed soon, the transaction – at an undisclosed price tag – will see Aggies take over the sprawling course.

And the deal makes a lot of sense as the  hotel company owns the Aggie Grey’s Resort and Spa next door to the golf course at Mulifanua.

Said Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, who is also chairman of golf’s governing body – Samoa Golf Incorporated; “Word has been received that the international championship golf course will be taken over by the world famous Aggies Hotel.  “This will prove to be a very convenient facility for tourists who enjoy a game of golf while on holiday. For Aggies especially now that the course is part of their Mulifanua property.

“The Le Penina Golf Course, the Prime Minister said, has been the venue for international tournaments hosted by SGI.

“The course is one of the most challenging in the world where not a single professional golf player has scored below-bar in the tournaments that have been held there.”

It is understood original owner American Bob Katzin of Le Penina Golf has agreed to restore the golf course to top condition before it is handed over to Aggies. It is also understood that Aggies Hotel will build a clubhouse for the course this year.  

Of the wider Mulifanua area, the Prime Minister said; “I see the expansive Mulifanua area as our tourism centre – if not one of – in the coming years. There will certainly be more hotels that will be built there in the near future. The area is known for its coconut plantations and greenery. It is also home to Samoan Artesian Water production, which, is beginning to catch on in the United States, European and Australasian markets.  “It recently gained tariff exemption for export to the vast Chinese market."

Source: Savali News
  09 May, 2011     

Samoa Natural High in Savaii

by Cassandra Murnieks

Most people head to Samoa for the white sandy beaches and crystal waters.  But if you’re willing to strap on your climbing boots you’ll find a surreal new world in a volcanic crater on Savaii.

The van spits and spatters as we make our way up the side of Mount Matavanu, before it groans and decides that it can’t go any further.  It’s time to continue on foot.

Mount Matavanu is situated on the picturesque island of Savaii in Samoa.  It now sits dormant, but from 1905 to 1911 it erupted for six years, spewing lava down the steep hills, causing locals to flee their villages and move to the main island of Upolu.  All that remains is a beautiful crater of great width and depth, and a reminder of nature’s volatile ways.  We strap on our backpacks and make our way up the steep hill. Sticking to the grass pathways, splendid shades of green leafy jungle sits on both sides with huge yam and taro plants scattered throughout.

A bloke walks onto the pathway and grins at us, introducing himself as ‘the world’s most famous crater man’. He was given the nickname by a Western Australian couple on a visit to the mountain.

Living in a small shack half way up the top, he’s looked after the area for the past ten years. While our group is wearing sturdy walking shoes, Crater Man makes the journey in a pair of thongs.

He walks with us, a journey that he’s no doubt done countless times. The cleared and mowed pathway makes the arduous walk a little easier. Crater Man proceeds to tell us that it takes about a week to mow the pathway, which starts at the foot of the mountain up to the mouth of the crater.

To make the walk go a little quicker (and to take any excuse for a breather), we look at wooden signs weaved sporadically along the path. The signs are made by Crater Man with notes of inspiration and words of encouragement. Bless.

As I start to puff and pant, Crater Man advises we aren’t far. Then he points to a track off his neatly mowed path into a wild mess of a jungle. Steep hills, muddy patches and thick, heavy tree roots make me think twice about this climb. As we straighten up on the track and feel the temperature dip, we climb up the last hill, both relieved and tired.  The crater is massive and filled with thousands of trees, like a carefully pieced puzzle. I call out and hear my voice vibrating across the valley.

Walking around the mouth of the crater, a sign sits near the edge: ‘Attention fall down, sorry no rescue’, which makes me acutely aware of my right foot, hanging over the edge. Continuing around the crater carefully, the track eventually comes to an end.

Being over 180m off the ground, we look out over Savaii — the ocean laps white sands and the grey road that runs around the outskirts of the island is shielded by thick green jungle. It’s eerily quiet up here — it’s just you and your thoughts and a surreal spot indeed.

We farewell Mount Matavanu and make our way down the hill where the heat steamrolls us. We decide to drive to a couple of nearby freshwater pools. The group splits into two with the males walking to the pool furthest away and us girls taking the rocky footpath into blinding cold water in the closer pool. It’s so cold; it’s like a shot of pure adrenalin. While we squeal, children from a nearby village have their daily bath.  A bar of soap is passed around with the children of various ages washing their bodies and their hair, dunking themselves into the cool water to rinse off afterwards. Once they’re done washing, they dive and jump into the water playfully.

That’s the thing about Samoa — everyone seems so free of drama and sincerely happy.

We climb back into the van and retreat back to Stevenson’s at Manase, which is nearby. The resort’s waterfront rooms and traditional fales offer some of the best views of the island.  And it just helps that the beach is at your doorstep.

From the kaleidoscope of blues in the ocean though to the corn yellow sunsets laced with orange, Samoa comes to life at happy hour; sunsets turn into a heavy kohl black — the best time to go for a swim. Expect to see local fisherman with torches wading through the water looking for a catch, and an unfathomable amount of stars above. And it’s also around then that I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

SOURCE: http://travel.ninemsn.com.au/holidaytype/adventure/8244202/samoa-natural-high-in-savaii
  07 May, 2011     

Black Pearl wins Game Fishing Tournament

by Charlina Tone

The Black Pearl team has been named champions of the 2011 Samoa International Game Fishing Tournament.

During the week-long competition, the team of five reeled in one masimasi and tagged and released three marlin.

Team member and Director of Westpac Bank Samoa, Craig Townsend says the tournament was fantastic and it was happy fishing for everybody who took part.

“Events such as this have a very positive impact on the tourism industry of Samoa especially with teams from other countries taking part,” says Mr Townsend.

He credits Black Pearl’s success to skipper Roy Lee.

“He is Samoa’s leading local skipper and his knowledge of the waters was a huge advantage for us.”

The other members of the team were Darren Moore, Craig Ingram and deckhand Fred.

Twenty-one boats took part in this year’s tournament with teams from New Zealand and American Samoa.

The tournament was blessed with sunny days, light winds, with low swells and while the fishing wasn't as “hot” as 2011, some tremendous catches were recorded.

Second place went to the crew on-board Lady Caroline, (April winners of the monthly tournament) and third place was won by the Tsunami team.

Samoa took out the Overall Country Winner award with New Zealand coming in at a close second and American Samoa trailing not too far behind.

This year is the 15th year the competition has been held.

SOURCE: Samoa Observer   06 May, 2011     

Best value destination of the South Pacific

Twenty of Australia's and New Zealand's top product managers and senior agents recently returned from the Fa'a Samoa Roadshow in Samoa.

Attendees received property updates, were introduced to new properties and accommodation options and met with property managers both on the islands of Upolu and Savai'i.   A total of 25 properties were on show, from waterfront resorts to the traditional Samoan fales dotted along the coast.

Samoa currently averages at just over 23,000 Australian visitors a year.  With new properties opening, a strong branding and trade program and having been recently voted as best value destination in the South Pacific STA hopes to increase that number to 28,000 this year.

Peter Sereno, from Samoa Tourism Authority Australia says that while Samoa has much to offer all markets, a focused approach on niches is the easiest way to get visitor numbers up in a short period of time.

"We wanted to empower our agents and product managers with the necessary tools to sell Samoa to the educated traveler - the active traveler seeking more than a 'flop and drop' offer.

"Our agents saw firsthand Samoa's conference venues for the MICE market, the state of the art sporting facilities ideal for rugby, football, cricket and swimming training and meets, experienced fishing and diving tours, inspected amenities for water sports, golf as well as picture perfect locations for weddings and honeymoons.

Source: e Travel Blackboard
  04 May, 2011     

Virgin Austrlia launched

Virgin has vowed to break the long running monopoly of Qantas as it relaunched the airline as Virgin Australia.

Speaking at the launch, Virgin Australia chief executive John Borghetti, revealed that Virgin’s three major brands, Virgin Blue, V Australia and Pacific Blue will sit under the one brand by the end of the year.  Virgin will operate under the Virgin Australia name as of today, with V Australia and Pacific Blue rebranding by December.

Following concerns the company’s four existing brands – Polynesian Blue is the fourth - were too convoluted and lacked cohesion, Borghetti said he expects the consolidation will reposition Virgin as a “low-cost, quality airline that is attractive and affordable to passengers.”

Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson says the launch will enable the Virgin group to build one brand that is recognised globally.

Borghetti added “Polynesian Blue is just one aircraft at this point, and we are yet to have this dialogue with the Samoan government to determine what will suit both parties,” he said.

Polynesian Blue is the joint-venture airline between the Government of Samoa and Virgin Australia.  It operates direct flights between Apia, Auckland, Sydney and Brisbane.

Source: Travel Today