Weekender

Natadola Resort nears completion

Written By : WAME BAUTOLU. The most speculated and talked about project is finally taking shape and the developers’ hope to complete it by March, next year. With land issues
11 Jul 2008 12:00

image Written By : WAME BAUTOLU. The most speculated and talked about project is finally taking shape and the developers’ hope to complete it by March, next year.
With land issues and the removal of previous developers, the project that had captured much attention is finally taking shape.
Natadola Bay Resort is expected to be completed by February 26, next year and will open in March.
The five star hotel is 65per cent complete and will employ between 700 to 800 people as early as next year.
The Natadola Project is funded by taxpayers money through the Fiji National Provident Fund and FNPF board member Felix Anthony said they are pleased with the progress they have made and is confident of opening in March next year.
Next week, they will be transporting their first batch of plants from the project’s nursery to the hotel site.
Plants will be transported from it’s nursery on monthly basis to ensure the hotel blooms with plants when it opens.
“The 220 rooms with the main facilities will be completed by February 26 and we are working closely with the Intercontinental Hotels to see the opening of the Hotel in March next year,” said Mr Anthony.
A general manager for Natadola Resort is expected to be appointed soon to be part of the team so that he would be familiar with the project before it is completed.
Mr Anthony said there is still a lot of work to be done and he is pleased to say they have a good team on the ground in Natadola who are committed to the project ensuring that it is completed on time.
He said the progress of the development is being monitored every week to ensure they stay on track for next year.
Coming in from Yatule Resort side (which is just beside Natadola) the first building you will notice after its completion will look like a church, but close enough the building has being allocated to be a wedding chapel.
Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama jokingly told the developers he hopes couples getting married at the chapel will never divorce.
Next to the chapel is the main reception building which is about four to five times bigger than the chapel.
At the main reception area, guests will check in at the top floor in full view of the famous Natadola Beach. With the huge size of the Resort, guests will be driven to their individual rooms after checking in.
“We have also made progress on the golf course and if the weather permits we are hoping to finish the golf course by September this year but it will be open with the hotel next year,” said Mr Anthony.
The golf course so far has a good drainage system and grass planted has being brought in from overseas to ensure the course has international standard.
Caretakers of the golf course ensure that its length remains at 3milimeters all time and not only for special tournaments but for their guest to enjoy world class golf all year around.
If there is no rain for sometime, then it would not be a problem as salt water could also be use to water the grass ensuring they stay green despite of the hot sunny weather.
He said they still have a couple of land issues to deal with which mainly concerns the golf course and these issues is currently holding back the construction of the golf club house.
“We hope to resolve that with the Ministry of lands in the next week or so because that is crown land. Once that is done expression of interest will be advertise for the construction of the club house.”
Mr Anthony said the golf club house should be ready by January, next year.
“All and all we are pretty much on course with the project and the board, the team down here in Natadola is committed to see the project ready by early next year,” said Mr Anthony.
There is no electricity yet but all the cables in all rooms are nearing completion and Mr Anthony said they are working with the Ministry of lands for a sub station location at the site which will supply electricity to the Hotel.
Interim Minister for Lands Netani Sukanaivalu said they are still working to secure a site for a sub station and they are thinking of introducing thermal energy to light up the resort, an idea which is being implemented in Ba and also in Vatukoula.
He said they will find land to locate a sub station.Water pipes are being installed and according to the developers water will be supplied from the Fijian Resort.
Not only is the Fiji National Provident Fund Board proud of the project’s progress they are also proud of the huge amount of money being saved.
With $343 million allocated for the project Mr Anthony said they will be able to complete Natadola Resort with only $230 million which saves $113 million.
“Despite problems we have encounter with this project we were able to overcome it. This may be the biggest construction site we have in the country at the moment and we are confident that we will complete this project well below the initial budget which has being allocated for this project,” said Mr Anthony. He said they would be able to save money from the budget being allocated from the previous management and he said this should be good news for workers in the country.
“The initial budget was set at $343 million by April sometimes ago and we are hoping to complete the project to somewhere near $230 million which does not take in to account our damages claims,” said Mr Anthony. He said they have looked at ways where they don’t need to expand money without compromising standards.
Saving money on the project doesn’t mean that they have cut down on anything which was planned for the original project but instead they will bring in extras and will still save up a lot of money.
‘We have managed this project very tightly, as tightly as we possibly could without comprising standard and we will continue to do that until the completion of the project and if that means substantial savings for us, that’s good for the workers of the country and good for FNPF,” said Mr Anthony.
With the construction site being the biggest in Fiji so far, upon completion it is hoped that it will be one of biggest FNPF funded project ever.


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