Fiji’s main island, Papuans, has an iconic beach that has become a popular tourist attraction in recent years.
And for the first time, a luxury hotel and spa resort is set to open in the island nation.
But the resort’s owner says there’s a lot more to the island than just the beach.
“We believe the island is unique in that it has a unique culture,” said J. J. Kebele, CEO of Papuas Resort and Spa, which opened in October.
“The islands culture is very unique.”
The Papuatans are an ethnic group of about 4,500 people, and Keble said that for him, the resort is the next logical step in expanding the island’s tourist base.
He has been in negotiations with Fiji’s Tourism Ministry for a year to open a resort, which is part of the island government’s $50 million plan to improve Papuats tourism.
The resort will have its own hotel, restaurant and spa, and it will serve the local community.
“I feel that this is the only place that we can offer this type of service,” Kebeles said.
The hotel will offer a fully equipped, two-star resort, with a beach umbrella and spa.
Kibebele says he hopes the resort will also provide visitors with access to other attractions.
He said Papuashans are a very religious group.
“They have their rituals, and we will be doing our rituals and our ceremonies, and also teaching them the history and the culture of the Papuacos,” Kibeles explained.
“And they will have access to our other attractions, too.”
Kebele has been working with Fiji Tourism to develop the resort since 2012, and he said he’s been trying to find an appropriate location.
“Our initial planning was in the middle of the country, in a location that we believe is a good fit for us,” he said.
“But then the government came and told us they were planning to build the resort, and so we were asked to move our plan to the remote parts of the archipelago.”
Kibelese said that after a few months, they were offered a site in the town of Kaviliki, and a new location for the resort was chosen.
But, Kebeli said, the decision wasn’t made without discussion with the local Papuan community.
Papuas has long been an economic powerhouse in Fiji.
In fact, tourism accounted for 20 percent of its GDP last year, up from just 2 percent in 2014.
Tourism was also a big contributor to the economy in 2014, accounting for 8.2 percent of GDP, according to the country’s national statistics agency.
“This is our opportunity to expand and make Papu at home, and provide Papu with the very best,” Kefele said.
Kebelese, a native of the small island nation of Puntaren, says his team is working to build a resort that will give visitors access to some of the islands more popular attractions.
He said that the resort would serve Papu, the local economy, and local Papuan communities.
Kabele said he hopes Papu can provide Papuan families with access not only to the beach, but to other nearby attractions.
“The Papuan people are very proud of their islands and they want to share their culture with other Papuos,” Kabele said, adding that he hopes visitors from all over the world will visit the island.