THANKS TO THE OPENING OF NEW SPA BURES, SHANGRI-LA’S FIJIAN RESORT & SPA IS BETTER THAN EVER. TO FIND OUT HOW THE HOTEL IS PERFORMING, HM SPEAKS TO GENERAL MANAGER MICHAEL MONKS.
WORDS JAMES WILKINSON IN YANUKA, FIJI
HM: Michael how is Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa performing at present and what are you expecting for the next 12-18 months?
Michael Monks: This will be a year of recovery from the economic climate of 2009 and we are quietly confident that we will come close to 2008 business levels in some months this year. With no major incidents in the global scene which can potentially disrupt business, we envisage 2011 will be an even better year.
HM: Which market segments are you expecting to be the strongest in 2010?
MM: Our usual ‘bread and butter’ segment, wholesale offline, which are leisure travellers booked through our key partner travel agents will continue to be the strongest market segment in 2010 with a significant growth foreseen in the wholesale online (internet travel portals) segment.
HM: How is the Fiji market is performing at present and how is the industry banding together to maintain strong visitor arrivals?
MM: Whilst Fiji as a destination continues to face tough competition from neighbouring, Asian island and resort destinations, Tourism Fiji’s marketing initiatives and campaigns, launch of new flights from new geographical markets along with that of our major wholesale partners from our two feeder markets of Australia and New Zealand, keeps this island paradise ‘top of mind’ of the consumers.
HM: Australian arrivals in particular saw record numbers each month for the past six months. Are you expecting this massive jump in numbers to continue?
MM: Australia will continue to be the number one feeder market in the list of geographical markets of origin into Fiji, not just for sheer proximity but also because Fiji has over the years become an ‘aspirational destination’ for most Australians. It also helps that Fiji, since its currency devaluation last year has become even more affordable. The introduction of new Jetstar flights from Australia sometime in April will also be very instrumental in growing the numbers.
HM: What will be key markets for the hotel over the next 12 months?
MM: Australia will remain our strongest market and this is followed by New Zealand and North America and on a smaller scale some of our long haul markets as well. We will also be focusing on business from Asia and Europe with the recent introduction of Air Pacific flights to Hong Kong and Continental Airlines from Japan via Guam. This has opened up potential access from other long haul markets such as Europe.
HM: What are the main challenges facing the hotel at present?
MM: The market is still very price driven and bookings have a much shorter lead time and it is more challenging to forecast.
HM: The new spa bures are a brilliant addition to the hotel. How are they performing and what feedback have you had?
MM: Our Spa bures take our guests to another level and a place where you can experience something completely different to the rest of our hotel. It was designed in such a way to introduce our signature CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La and offer discerning guests either a place to stay or a sanctuary for an hour or more from the general hustle and bustle of our hotel. With each treatment tailored to the guest’s ‘element’, the spa is performing very well. This has as a result led the resort to extend its operating hours to accommodate high demand periods.
HM: Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa works on a number of projects to support the local community. What are some of the recent initiatives the resort has undertaken?
MM: We have a long-standing association with our community in the district of Cuvu as our Resort leases the island from the landowners here. We continue to support many community initiatives including the installation of water tanks, scholarships, substantial funding for the renovation of Cuvu District school and most recently the setting up of a Marine Centre that will be closely linked to community initiatives.
HM: You have some excellent F&B on offer at the hotel. What are the highlights in your opinion?
MM: We recently renovated and reopened our Marau Village which is the venue for our cultural shows and through this we hope to provide an authentic experience for our guests in terms of the food that is prepared in a traditional way, the performances and of course the ambience. We have introduced other key initiatives such as our adult-only breakfast in a dedicated area, seafood night twice a week at our Beach Bar and Grill and an Indian night at our Takali Restaurant.
HM: The hotel is very strong in the MICE segment. What does the hotel offer in the way of MICE facilities and how are you expecting the market to perform over the next 12 months?
MM: This segment is very price driven at the moment and remains a challenge although we feel we do have a unique offering with our wide range of venues and signature events.
Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort & Spa
Owner & operator: Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts
General Manager: Michael Monks
Rooms & suites: 442
F&B outlets: 6
Conferencing: More than 3,000sqm of meeting space with break out options and a variety of spacious outdoor options.
Recreation facilities: Three pools (with one adult-only pool), extensive range of activities, 9-hole golf course, 18-hole mini putt putt, CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La).