When you really want to get away from it all, Samoa could be just the destination you’re looking for.
Samoa is an emerging destination for the meetings sector, seeing a 24 per cent spike in conference group arrivals from Australia in the last 12 months.
Indeed, visitors are flocking to the destination in record numbers with the “Treasured Islands” experiencing strong visitor numbers in the last financial year. According to ABS arrival numbers, Australian visitor numbers for the 2011/2012 financial year are up year on year, clocking in at 26,921 compared to the previous year’s figures of 24,644 – a 9.25 per cent increase.
The last six months reflected an increase of 16.4 per cent with Celebrate Samoa festivities, especially the Independence Day Celebrations in June, contributing to the growth of visitor numbers.
Adele Leathan of Samoa Tourism Authority is encouraging Australians to continue to support Samoa and explore her Treasured Islands.
“Australians continue to discover our hidden jewel of the South Pacific and with great value properties and competitive airfares from our partners, there’s no better time to go and explore Samoa,” she says.
“Visitor arrivals in June alone contributed to a 27 per cent increase from the previous month and we are very excited about that. The growth in our country is palpable and our people are responding to it by upgrading current facilities, opening new resorts and conference centres to cater to the needs of our Australian guests.”
Pristine seascapes, good food, excellent resort facilities, many with spas, golf courses, and a friendly people, Samoa offers a refreshing and relaxing destination that still maintains its traditional Polynesian heritage.
Samoa is made up of 10 islands, each offering very distinct and different environments to explore – from the rainforest covered rugged volcanic mountain peaks of the two main islands to the vast valleys leading down to a coastline ringed with a necklace of white sandy beaches.
Within these green fertile valleys grow banyan trees towering above the rainforest canopy which is full of tropical blooms and numerous varieties of vegetation. Waterfalls drop into rivers that cut jagged lines through the valley floor as they make their way to the ocean.
Samoa is a five hour direct flight from Sydney or Brisbane with Virgin Samoa. There are three direct flights per week from Sydney, one direct service weekly from Brisbane, and three services from Brisbane via Auckland. Alternatively, travellers can reach Samoa via Fiji (Air Pacific) and Auckland (Air New Zealand).
While the 3000-year-old Fa’a Samoa tradition is timeless, the conference facilities are certainly up to date, with numerous properties having the ability to accommodate a board meeting for a dozen through to the new conference venue for 450.
The new conference centre opened up late last year. It is a two-storey complex located in Apia. The ground floor is used for receptions and the first floor is the convention centre with a capacity of 450 seats.
There are numerous five-star accommodation options for meeting and incentive groups, none more popular than Aggie Gray’s Hotel & Bungalows and Aggie Gray’s Lagoon, Beach Resort & Spa.
A colonial-style hotel made world famous by its founder, the late Aggie Grey, Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalows is nestled among lush tropical gardens overlooking the majestic Apia Harbour and shoreline of Apia, the capital of Samoa. It offers meetings facilities for up to 100 delegates.
Aggie Gray’s Lagoon, Beach Resort & Spa has 140 deluxe ocean view rooms and meetings facilities that are slightly larger than its sister property (160 delegates theatre-style).
Another property tailor-made to the meetings market is the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel.
The Tanoa Tusitala Hotel, located in Apia, has been completely refurbished to four-and-a-half-star international hotel standard reflecting the key elements of Samoan architecture and culture. Tanoa Tusitala’s central courtyard is dominated by hand-tied fales (traditional Samoan houses), housing the lobby, restaurants, bars and entertainment areas with pools and terraces adjacent.
Set on 15 acres of lush tropical gardens, just metres from Apia’s waterfront and a few minutes’ walk from the CBD the location couldn’t be better. It offers 95 accommodation rooms and meetings facilities for small to medium sized groups.
Other properties that cater for the meetings and incentive travel sector include:
- Sinalei Reef Resort and Spa (50 pax)
- Hotel Millenia (200 pax)
- Insel Fehmarn Hotel (70 pax)
- Jetover Hotel (40 pax)
- Le Manumea Hotel (25 pax)
- Orator Hotel (80 pax)
- Bayview Resort (35 pax)
- Galusina Village Resort (50 pax)
- Lerichousing Motel (80 pax)
- Lusia’s Lagoon Chalets (40 pax)
- Moanalisa Hotel (30 pax)
- Savaiian Hotel (80 pax)
- Stevenson’s @ Manase (60 pax)
Besides the beautiful beaches, lush rainforests, waterfalls and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Museum to explore, on the island of Upolu there is To Sua Trench – a 30 metre deep crater filled with sea water accessible down a steep ladder, Piula Cave Pools and the Papase’ea Sliding Rocks – Mother Nature’s own slide, for some adventure!
Savai’I – known as the ‘big island’ – has the spectacular Alofaaga Blowholes, Falealupo Rainforest Canopy Walk, and the Salelaula Lava Fields to enjoy.
Boasting beaches that are rated as some of the best in the world, visitors are raving about the myriad of soft adventure activities to be had in Samoa, evident in the gorgeous images posted by fans from all over the world of their visits to Samoa on the country’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/SamoaTourismAuthority).
Samoa was recently voted the Best Value Destination in the South Pacific with an array of properties to suit all types of budgets – from beach fales that kiss the water’s edge to family friendly resorts.