Cruise Control on Castaway Island
Near the end of 1966, Castaway Island in the Mamanuca Islands region of Fiji, started its life as a tourism destination. To celebrate this auspicious occasion, on November 18th last year, Castaway Island Fiji marked its 50-year milestone of delivering a p
To put that year into perspective: in 1966, the first episode of Country Calendar aired on New Zealand TV screens as the All Blacks completed a clean sweep of the touring British and Irish Lions. A week after Castaway Island opened, the General Elections returned the National Party to power and Keith Holyoake remained Prime Minister – only 1,409,000 people were registered to vote. In 1966 Leonid Brezhnev became the leader of the Soviet Communist Party, whereas Harold Wilson was embarking on another four years in office as the UK Prime Minister. In the US Mia Farrow married Frank Sinatra in Las Vegas while actor Ronald Reagan was sworn in as Governor of California, and back across the Atlantic the Beatles had three number one hits in the UK (repeated in the NZ charts), and British designer, Mary Quant introduced the ‘miniskirt’ to the world – the mid-Sixties was a life in focus.
Former Castaway Island owner, Geoff Shaw, who bought the iconic resort in 1992, subsequently transformed it into one of the South Pacific’s leading tourism properties. It was his vision for Castaway Island that made it the byword for Fijian ‘barefoot’ luxury hospitality that it is today, a vision that has realised a returning guest rate of 40%.
Geoff Shaw has fond memories of his early days as the owner of the resort. “It was just wonderful. They were the happiest, funniest and most wonderfully productive times. There were also times of trauma and natural disaster when everyone jumped in and got the job done. You create a bond that never breaks,” he said. The only problem I had on Castaway was that the sun didn’t come up soon enough. All I wanted to do was to get up and get into it.”
For five decades, Castaway has welcomed guests to its ‘sand-between-your-toes’ beaches and alluring turquoise waters, offering a unique blend of South Pacific tranquility, impeccable service and fine cuisine.
The resort’s history can also be traced through its hosts, some of whom have been working on the island for more than 30 years. Mere Kasaqa, who originally came from Navuso Village in Naitasiri and who has now retired, worked at Castaway Island for 32-years. Mere joined the resort at the tender age of 20 in 1971 as a dining room waitress working her way up to be Guest Relations and