Iconic island resort goes big on food

Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa's director food and beverage, Maurice Fahey. Picture: FELIX CHAUDHARY

Shangri-La's Fijian Resort and Spa's director food and beverage, Maurice Fahey. Picture: FELIX CHAUDHARY

FOOD and beverage are two of the most important aspects of any visitor’s holiday experience, and Fiji has to compete with other destinations to ensure the country continued to enjoy a bigger slice of the tourism pie, says Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort and Spa’s director of Food and Beverage Maurice Fahey.

“Food is a bigger part of the vacation experience in Fiji,” he said.

“Before it used to be very small, people did not necessarily come to Fiji for food because it was all about sun, sand and sea.

“But in today’s very competitive tourism market, we need our food and dining experiences to be extraordinary,” he said.

“The beaches and the beauty and energy in Fiji are unique and it will sustain us for a certain amount of time, but it won’t sustain us forever because there are beautiful and exotic locations opening up everywhere.

“We have to be able to compete at every level and food is a huge part of that.

“And nowadays because of the growing number of young people with disposable income, and their tendency to travel and try new and exciting experiences, we have to adapt.

“Our market is also predominantly Australian and Australia has a big migrant community and big influx of immigrants from across the globe.

“And the young Australians that are coming here are Italians, Asian or Middle Eastern and they know what the different foods are supposed to taste like and they know what it’s supposed to look like.

“And they don’t want somebody else’s version of a watered-down Italian or whatever cuisine. They want authentic food in exotic locations.”

Mr Fahey said Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort was taking the new challenge head-on by investing in its most important asset — its people.

He said in the two and half years that he had been on Yanuca Island, the growth in confidence in his team had been phenomenal.

“We have had staff like Emmanual Fonmanu and Feifanua Rounds who have travelled overseas and got internationally recognised accreditation and certification.

“In the last two years we have gone from nobody having internationally recognised qualifications to five having WSET(Wine & Spirit Education Trust — British organisation which provides globally recognised education and qualifications in wines, spirits) qualifications and 10 have set the Shanghai University online certificate training.

“Fei got the opportunity to go to De Bortoli vineyards in Australia and Emmanual got the opportunity to go to one of our new hotels in Manilla twice last year to work with one of the world’s best bartenders to learn mixology.

“We have the most modern bar in Fiji in the brand new Golden Cowrie Lounge and Emmanuel is the most modern mixologist, beverage manager and restaurant manager.

“Fei is the most qualified sommelier we have ever had and the first female who is WSET II qualified.

“And she is also the manager of the Beach Bar and Grill restaurant.

“Fei is the first female manageress and Emmanual is the youngest manager so there’s a bit of a renaissance going on at Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort and Spa.”

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