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Hotel brings back memories

Avinesh Gopal
Friday, May 30, 2014

IT is a landmark building that has relived the memories of many people, especially those who worked there in their younger days.

For some, it was a place they often went to for a cold beer after a hard day's work or for some business purpose.

But last Friday, the young and the old gathered to celebrate the 100th birthday of the Grand Pacific Hotel, commonly known as the Grand Old Lady.

Some people who worked at the hotel once were also present to grace the occasion and had a taste of the world's longest Swiss roll cake, measuring more than 130 metres. The hotel in Suva, opposite Albert Park and close to the Fiji Museum, was built in 1914 but it closed for business in 1992.

However, the hotel has now been restored, with the original building standing in the middle and new wings added to give not only the hotel but the area a new look.

Vani Wainimala, 83, who worked at the old GPH, shared her experience of working there with this newspaper during the 100th birthday celebration last Friday.

The hotel is 25 per cent owned by the people of Fiji through the Fiji National Provident Fund while the other 75 per cent is owned by two Papua New Guinean companies.

During the birthday celebration, FNPF's deputy board chairman Tom Ricketts said, "It's good to see the people of Suva, the Fijian people come out to celebrate."

"After all, this is their hotel and today is only the birthday celebration. We'll come up with a soft opening soon but the main opening will be sometime in July."

Mr Ricketts said people had seen the hotel being neglected for a long time and now they were seeing what it is really like, saying "they own 25 per cent of it so they should be proud".

On the Swiss roll cake, he said the hotel had broken the world record, something that was really great and would hopefully put Fiji on the world map.

"I remember the Boys Grammar School was just next door here, in the old days but yeah, I've known GPH since the 1950s. I've seen it in its glory days before.

"I've seen it when its gone down and I'm really happy to be on the board of GPH and put it back to where it really belongs and is probably one of the best hotels in the South Pacific."

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