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

Let's Travel - - DESTINATION FIJI - By Shane Boocock

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

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