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Dream still on

Solomoni Biumaiono
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

WHEN he first came to Fiji 30 years ago Tom Davis didn't have an inkling that he would one day fall in love with the country.

So much so that he went into semi-retirement from his usual job in the construction industry as a project manager and consultant to focus on building his one true love, the Raintree Lodge at Colo-i-Suva on the Princes Rd in 1999.

His only experience in the tourism industry was working as a part-time barman at the Beefeater Arms dine and dance restaurant in his native New Zealand as a young man.

"When I first saw the three acres that now is the site for the Raintree Lodge I was totally blown away by the beautiful surrounding and natural landscape. To me now as it was then, it is a magical place.

"Prior to my moving to Fiji on a permanent basis I had been visiting Fiji for holidays since 1982 and as most tourists do, always stayed at a beachside resort. I don't know why. Perhaps it was the 'magic' of this land that convinced me that I wanted to build Fiji's first eco-tourism resort that was totally different from any other resort in Fiji.

"My dream came true when I was able to secure a lease on the land and within a matter of weeks I started the construction of my dream," Davis said.

Now sporting a mop of white hair Davis is still very much into his dream and does not want to wake up from it.

"Now I only do a single project every year or two but my time is devoted entirely to the Raintree Lodge," he says with pride.

Davis will graciously refute anyone who thinks that the Colo-i-Suva weather is usually rainy and foggy and he would take the time to explain the small botanical joy that he has planted all around this three-acre property.

His journey first started way back in 1987 when he left New Zealand to work and live in Fiji on a permanent basis.

Prior to that he would joke he had a variety of professional capacities like company and retail store management before he opted to specialise in project management in the construction industry when he officially entered the workforce in 1967.

Davis is well known in the construction and architecture circles in Fiji as he has participated and worked in many building projects around Fiji and New Zealand.

One of his major projects in New Zealand was being project manager for the construction of the 41-storeyed building in downtown Auckland that was the tallest office building in New Zealand when it was completed in 1999.

He also helped redevelop Queen St in Auckland's central business district between 1986 and 1988 which turned this street into a chic shopping and business street.

When he came over to Fiji he also worked for the Anglican Church, being responsible for all their properties.

Some of his other projects include the construction of the Suva Motor Inn and he also worked for the Fiji National Provident Fund and the now defunct National Bank of Fiji.

Some buildings he was project manager for were the Suva Private Hospital and the Vodafone Fiji Tamavua headquarters.

But to Davis the most important project that he has ever undertaken and still manages is his own Raintree Lodge.

And to him that is work enough.

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