Join us at our restaurant and bar for dinner, and every Thursday for island night which includes a string band, buffet and fiafia.
Va-i-moana Seaside Lodge in Asau, Savai'i - the bigger but more unpopulated island in Samoa - is hailed by tourists as one of Savai'i's top accommodation spots.
But little is really known about this property and it's history which goes back 40 odd years. The renovations are new and the accommodation as a lodge has only been in operation for a couple of years.
Resurrected as a place where visitors can come and experience first hand the serenity of Savai'i with traditional Samoan hospitality, the lodge is run by Saleimoa and Rosie Va’ai - a couple whose commitment to the place is a 'labour of love'.
The Va'ai family grew up in the area around Asau but eventually moved to Apia for education. Although they owned several properties and plantations in Savai'i, Saleimoa's father Tui Va'ai only acquired the eight-acre property that Va-i-moana is situated on in the early 90's when he purchased the local sawmill. The land, which fronted the ocean and came with an island airstrip was the home to expatriate Americans who had been living and working in Samoa since 1969. It was an oddity, a place they called The Camp which had been turned into a piece of paradise for families who were not only far from home, but miles from the mainland and anything remotely western in Samoa.
"We grew up not far from here and my aunt married an Australian man from The Camp so we would visit often," says Saleimoa. "It was a hive of activity - a bunch of very happy and sun-speckled foreigners enjoying life in the sun, I don’t even think the kids went to school".
"I remember going to my Aunt's house, which is now the worker's residence, and seeing rugs on the floor. I had never seen a rug in my life! The Camp residents imported all sorts of home comforts and it really was the strangest thing to see as a young boy growing up in Savai'i".
A LABOUR OF LOVE
When the sawmill closed down, so did The Camp and the land lay dormant for years until Saleimoa talked to his father and decided the opportunity was calling. Although living in Apia, he didn't mind the distance and the chance to get his 'hands dirty'. Saleimoa and Rosie had a vision and started reviving the old village, renovating current buildings, and building fales by hand as accommodation for guests.
"The spirit of this place is really about making the most out of a beautiful but entirely different situation," says Saleimoa. "That's why I built traditional fales initially instead of fancy air-con rooms although I have a couple of those now. It really is about experiencing your environment first hand".
Although Va-i-moana was initially fale accomodation with shared facilities, it's grown to include fales with ensuites, rooms in the renovated homestead and brand new air-con villas. Saleimoa says its also in response to demand from people who liken their facilities including the Sunset Fale - a restaurant, bar and reception area - to the amenities of a resort. "We now have the entire gambit of accommodations," he adds. "And I'm still building!