5-star b outique hotel with $300 m Investment in
What had started as a journey to find the perfect holiday home for the Griffiths family of New Zealand soon turned into a multi-million-dollar investment between five friends.
This investment is for luxurious island residences and a boutique hotel ‘Island Grace’ on Malolo Island.
The five friends – Andrew Griffiths, Michael Lucas, Christian Burtscher, Anthony Marcotti and Keith Gosling – have worked at remarkable pace to see earthworks of 500,000m3, construction of an initial 45 residences and the 5-star boutique hotel start to take shape.
The third phase of the project, which will see more residences being built, will start upon completion of the first and second phase work.
This will see more than $300 million worth of investment in the Fijian tourism sector by the Vunabaka team. They say the partners have been able to invest through partnering with the Fiji Development Bank.
Almost all companies contracted by Mr Griffiths and his partners for earthworks, construction, data cabling, gas supply and the likes are local.
With nothing but praise for the FDB and the Bainimarama Government, Mr Griffiths said good days lay ahead for Fiji.
He said that under the chairmanship of Bob Lyons, FDB had done well to move their focus onto maximising the Fiji tourism sector.
Construction is almost complete on the beach beautification project with all-tide swimming.
By the end of the month service installation will also be completed, including reticulation of gas, water, power and fibre data cabling.
A tender is currently out to market with Fijian construction companies to begin building the villas and hotel.
It’s expected that there will be around 350 jobs available to contract workers on the Vunabaka site over the next 18 months.
Benefits for community
Sitting on native lease, the three mataqalis – Taubeni, Vunakavika and Taubere – are set to receive substantial financial benefit out of this venture.
“Vunabaka has been developed by a group of passionate owners, not traditional developers,” Mr Griffiths said.
“Our ethos from the get-go has been to create a development we are proud of – the best in the Pacific – and share this project’s success with local Fijians as stakeholders.
“The local community receives 10 per cent of all land sales and has a 21 per cent stake in any body corporate profits.
“We are also steadfastly committed to protecting the environment and employing ecologically sound building practices.”
Interest has already proven high for purchase of residential lots on the land with 65 per cent of the first phase lots pre-sold.
Major interest has come in from New Zealand and Australia, with more expected from Asia and the US.
What is described as an affordable purchase option for property of this calibre, the lots are priced between FJ$1.2million to FJ$2.8million.
Mr Griffiths said what has made the process uncomplicated as foreign investors has been consistency in policies, less bureaucracy and no corruption.
He said that under the current administration led by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, they have been assured of all this and more.
Currently some 100 locals have found employment during the initial stages on the island.
More than 250 will be joining them in the next two months when construction work on the hotel and villas begins.
Advice to foreign investors
Mr Griffiths said the success of the Vunabaka project can be attributed to the support received from the FDB and Bainimarama-Government.
“They showed a real commitment to enhancing the Fijian tourism sector further,” he said.
He advised to follow all the correct policies, ensure approvals and consents are in place and make certain you follow all the conditions of your development approvals.
He believes Fiji has been let down in the past by overseas investors not fulfilling their development commitments.
But with such a great platform being provided by the current government, the opportunities for Fiji going forward are extremely positive and he encourages others to look at Fiji as an investment destination.
Mr Griffiths would also advise other foreign investors that having a commitment to staying true to the local environs and the local people is hugely important.
“It’s an investment in the beauty of Fiji – developing a community that showcases the geographically stunning and picturesque Malolo Island region while also maintaining an ecological focus,” he said.
“The entire Vunabaka development will run on networked solar power, with an organic wastewater system and a reforestation programme in place to restore native rainforest and hardwood trees. Having that sort of commitment is key.”