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Well It Surely Has Been A Successful Year For Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel

Well it surely has been a successful year for Grand Pacific Hotel (GPH). This Grand Old Lady is a gem, it has built a strong and premium brand for the
29 Dec 2018 10:20
Well It Surely Has Been A Successful Year For Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel
Staff members of the Grand Pacific Hotel sing a farewell song to The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

Well it surely has been a successful year for Grand Pacific Hotel (GPH).

This Grand Old Lady is a gem, it has built a strong and premium brand for the Suva market and has accommodated key dignitaries in­cluding British Royals, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

GPH is also the official accommo­dation for the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians during the Pacific Nations Cup.

GPH general manager Peter Gee took over from his predecessor for more than two years and has never looked back.

The Fiji National Provident Fund (FNPF) late last month acquired the GPH after it acquired the re­maining 75 per cent shares from Papua New Guinea partners – Na­tional Superannuation Fund (NAS­FUND) and CGA Properties Lim­ited.

Fund chief executive officer Jaoji Koroi said: “This investment is part of our active growth investment strategy and is aligned to increas­ing our value chain in the tourism and hospitality industry, a critical pillar of Fiji’s economy.”

Mr Koroi also assured stakehold­ers that the hotel will operate as is under the current management structure and the Fund will go through a robust process to assess the long-term management of the hotel.

The acquisition of Grand Pacific Hotel adds to FNPF’s existing im­pressive fully owned hotel assets that include the recently acquired Marriott Denarau properties, Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay, the In­tercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa and Holiday Inn.

GPH was originally built in 1914 and continued to operate before its closure in early 1990s.

In 2014, FNPF partnered with NASFUND and CGA Properties to re-develop the hotel.

This was part of the Investment Rehabilitation under the Fund’s reform.

The hotel now boasts 113 rooms including 10 suites and is one of Suva’s leading choice for accommo­dation and hosting of events.

Below, are excerpts of an inter­view with Mr Gee

Questions:

Can you tell us a-bit about your ex­perience since taking over from your predecessor at GPH?

I was very proud, and indeed priv­ileged, to be appointed to the posi­tion of General Manager of Grand Pacific Hotel in mid-2015 and to help determine our future direc­tions and guide the team along that path.

Running a hotel is a constant fo­cus on getting the small details right, in leading and mentoring the team and encouraging them all to do their very best to ensure great service and a memorable guest ex­perience.

This is very satisfying when we do it properly and I think that our suc­cess in this is evident in that we do enjoy a very good reputation as an iconic place to visit and stay.

I have also enjoyed becoming a part of the community of Suva and working with and getting to know so many interesting people.

What were some of your accom­plishments over the past 12 months?

2018 has been a year of further consolidating our service stand­ards and reputation.

Our vison statement is to be “the pride of Suva, symbol of Fiji and an icon of the South Pacific” and we really do use this as our guiding tenant.

I believe that we have been faithful to this and successful in raising the image of Grand Pacific Hotel both within Fiji and abroad.

This year we were again awarded the coveted TripAdvisor Travelers Choice award, which is only given to a very small number of hotels worldwide in recognition of the standard of facilities and guest ser­vice.

This year also saw FNPF acquire full ownership of GPH.

This is a very significant mile­stone in our history and we are now truly owned by all of Fiji.

The major event of the year was the Royal visit, which was extreme­ly successful.

How did it feel to host the Duke and Duchess of Sussex?

What impact has it had on your business?

We were very proud to be chosen as the hotel of choice for this event and the visit really did add another exciting chapter to the history of Grand Pacific Hotel.

Very few hotels in the world have had the honour of hosting four generations of the British Royal family. We have had Prince Harry’s father (Prince Charles) , grandpar­ents (Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip) and great grandparents (the Duke and Duchess of York, who later became King George 6th and the Queen Mother) all attend events held here as far back as 1927. If we were to be really technical, we could even claim a yet unborn fifth generation!

The international publicity that both Suva and Ggrand Pacific Ho­tel received was immense and put us on the world stage, particularly with the balcony wave which had so much symbolism and resonance in replicating Queen Elizabeth ap­pearance in there in 1953.

The business impact for this sort of coverage is not immediate, but there is no doubt that GPH will have a top of mind awareness for anybody planning to visit Fiji.

Can you tell us a bit about the spe­cial team that looked after the royal couple? What was the experience like?

A huge amount of preparation and planning is involved in visit such as this. At GPH we appointed a small internal task force to liaise with the numerous external stake­holders and to coordinate our inter­nal preparations.

It was a great experience to work so closely with the Office of the President, the British High Com­mission and most especially with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who were the overall lead fpartner and interagency coordinating body.

I was hugely impressed with the focus, professionalism and sheer hard work that Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) undertook and the leadership and guidance provided by the Permanent Secretary, Ioane Naivalurua.

Those who were not directly in­volved do not really understand just how much work and effort went into ensuring that every aspect of the visit was planned, rehearsed, checked and then checked again a couple more times to ensure that it all went smoothly and the results of this was of course a hugely suc­cessful visit.

At GPH our planning also paid off and our contribution went very smoothly and each and every staff member of GPH was extremely proud to have been involved.

A highlight was our farewell Isa Lai to the Duke and Duchess, which was a very special and emotional event (not least for the Royal cou­ple) that will be long remembered by all.

What areas in the business are you looking to strengthen more?

All businesses always have room to further develop and grow.

I would certainly like to see more tourists visiting Suva, which re­ceives only a small percentage of the international visitors who come to Fiji.

Suva is a fascinating city with a deep and rich history.

The harbour and surrounding mountains have a mystique about them which, when combined with the hustle and bustle of our multi-cultural city, really does offer a slice of the true South Pacific.

Suva has developed a lot in the last several years and the reopening of GPH has been in part a catalyst to this, as was the redevelopment of Albert Park, and as will the open­ing of the National Gallery of Con­temporary Art in the historic St Stephens Grammar School build­ing in 2020.

As a destination we still have a lot of work to do to better promote this.

What is your New Year resolution?

To continue to do my very best to lead GPH to the next level of busi­ness performance by providing great customer service and a mem­orable experience delivered by a well-trained and dedicated team.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj



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