InvestSamoa hears about new resort projects

Two major resort projects gave an audience here in Auckland a taste of what they’re building, or planning to build. The presentations made at the InvestSamoa conference at the Pullman Hotel was to inform interested New Zealand investors on what they need to do to invest in Samoa.

More seating had to be arranged as the capacity audience spilled out to the hotel lobby. The Return to Paradise Resort and Spa, the labour of love of couple Jim and Ramona Su’a Gilchrist is already underway at Lefaga. Mr Gilchrist said the project is to be built in three different phases.

The first, a 33-bungalow resort, has already started, employing local workers. It will be of a four-star standard and will include a conference center, swimming pool, water sports and other features present in top resort establishments. Cost is estimated at around WST$15 million.

The second phase will be time share apartments and beach homes with investors already queuing up. Cost is estimated at US$30 million.

The third phase will involve 10 acres of beachfront property to be made available to a hotel brand to come invest in the area. Response, from international hotel brands, he said have been encouraging.

Mr Gilchrist described the three projects as exciting and credits good relations with Lefaga village and government in terms for facilitating the leases and getting the project off the ground.

The second presentation was by Tupa’isina Jesse James, chief executive of Samoa Village Resorts, who planS to build at Sasina in Savaii. The oceanfront resort, which is expected to cost more than $450 million to develop, is set on 600 acres of prime leased land. The 120-year lease, Tupaisina said, is the biggest customary land deal in the history of Samoa.

The first phase of the resort, which requires a $150 million commitment, will feature a hotel, time-share units, a championship golf course, and cultural center to be followed in later phases by additional hotels, private residences and a recreational marina.

Tupaisina presented the audience with a letter from international hotel chain Windham, of its intentions to partner with his company on the Sasina project. Sasina landowners, Tupaisina said, have been receiving lease payments on their land since the lease was signed. He added that he has been assured by government of upgrading the Asau airport to an international standard allowing bigger jets to land there.


Tupaisina dismissed allegations made in the Samoan media that his project was behind recent casino legislations passed by Parliament. “This project never included any casinos. It was never our intention. Although now that Samoa has casino legislation in place, we might have a look at it in the future.”

Tupaisina said that his company has not applied for a casino license. He also understands that the Sasina project has been stalled for some years now and has this to say, “We are very committed and I assure you this project is going to happen.”

Earthworks, he said, will begin in the next few weeks.


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