Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu Reopens After 15-Month Closure

Severely cyclone-damaged iconic property rebuilt ‘better than ever’

By Dan McGarry 

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 1, 2016) – With the familiar drone of a conch shell sounding across the gardens, General Manager Simon Douthett and the staff of the Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu welcomed dozens of distinguished guests to celebrate their re-opening after a 15-month hiatus.

The resort sustained significant structural damage during cyclone Pam, and required extensive refurbishment and refitting. The effort, characterised as ‘building back better’, allowed the resort operators to improve the structural qualities of all the major buildings, especially the shore-side cottages, which were exposed to the full brunt of the storm.

Government dignitaries and other distinguished guests were greeted by the local Erakor Children’s Choir who sung a medley of local Ni-Vanuatu songs.

Celebrations included a performance by the Leweton Cultural Village that showcased their renowned ‘Magical Water Music’ created by the community from Banks Island, as well as a traditional show from the Futuna Fatuana Cultural Group warriors.

In his opening remarks, GM Simon Douthett reminded his guests that “Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu has a long history in Vanuatu.

It was branded a Holiday Inn Resort in 2010 but opened as an Intercontinental Hotel in 1975. There is no doubt that in that time the resort has become important to the community and the traveling public.”

Mr Douthett took the opportunity to congratulate the government of Vanuatu and the Vanuatu Tourism Organisation for their positive approach to the tourism industry and said there is no doubt that there are positive times ahead.

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai attended the event, but deferred to Deputy Prime Minister Joe Natuman, who spoke on behalf of the government. Mr Natuman’s lengthy, informal talk reflected on the many challenges faced by the country in the fifteen months since the Holiday Inn was forced to close its doors.

He observed that the country had been making great strides of late to improve its circumstances. He wryly observed, “When you’re down this far, you’ve got nowhere to go but up.”

He went on to say that with improved conditions at Port Vila’s wharf due to the pilot phase of the Wharf Traffic Management Plan, and with emergency repairs complete on the Bauerfield runway, things had come a long way up in a short time.

To the casual eye, it looks like very little has changed in the resort. But that in itself is remarkable.

The challenge the operators set for themselves was to restore the iconic resort to the same appearance it had before, and the effort was intense. One staff member joked that it’s kind of boring to talk about roof copings with the guests, but if they only knew how much had changed under the covers, they might find a new appreciation for this landmark.

The resort was officially opened by the prime minister as he ceremonially struck a tamtam to announce the event.

Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu boasts 148 guest rooms, including 10 overwater villas on a private island which are perfect for weddings, families and groups.

Facilities include; a spa, tennis court, pool areas, kids’ club, golf course and water sports.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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