Suite fit for the royals

Grand Pacific Hotel staff members sing Isa Lei to the royal couple before leaving Grand Pacific Hotel. Picture: SUPPLIED/GPH

Royal Suite 1 became Fiji’s most popular hotel room this week, when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle checked in at Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel on Tuesday.

A look at the room, GPH’s biggest and found on the hotel’s top floor just above the lobby will show why it was chosen to accommodate the British royals. Royal Suit 1 costs $2000 a night.

The door of RS1 immediately opens into a dining area consisting of a six-seat table with a platter of fresh local fruits. Adjacent to this is a writing desk with lamp.

The spacious lounge area consists of five huge sofas arranged around a coffee table decked with fresh fruits.

This can be seen clearly from the bedroom.

There is an abundance of Pure Fiji products and immaculately arranged tropical flowers to welcome any visitor.

Wall hangings, by way of black and white photos, depict previous visits by members of the British royal family.

Prominent in the room is a 1953 photo of the Queen receiving a bouquet of flowers from a young Adi Mei Kainona, the daughter of the late Governor General and President of Fiji, Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau.

Established as the standard of luxury fit for royalty, now more than 100 years later, rooms like RS1 remain true to the ideals of delivering the best hotel accommodation Fiji has to offer. A total of 16 rooms were taken up by the royals and their support staff.

“Possible through Team Fiji!”

Those were the words of Grand Pacific Hotel general manager, Peter Gee, as he described how Fiji and the hotel hosted the British royals this week without a hitch.

Mr Gee said from the day he was first informed the royals would attend a State dinner and sleep at the hotel, efforts were made to make their experience unforgettable.

“Their stay was very special for Suva and Fiji, and super special for GPH. GPH has been around for about 100 years and since that time this is the fifth generation of the royal British family to be here to attend a State function,” Mr Gee said.

The Queen has been hosted at GPH three times, the most famous being her visit in 1953.

“It has been like a fairy tale for GPH because a handsome prince and a beautiful princess came to stay with us,” Mr Gee said.

“This shows that what we do in Suva, Fiji and GPH is world class. The royal couple were very happy with their stay here. The feedback we got from them, all the minders and courtiers from Kensington palace all described their stay as outstanding. Mr Gee said this was something that all staff of GPH can be proud adding that it was the result of all the combined effort of 150 staff working together towards a common goal.

“We were very excited knowing the royal visit was an international event and it was their official tour. We knew eyes of the world was always going to be on this visit and there was going to be a lot of interest.”

Mr Gee said although the GPH had done a lot of State functions in the past the recent visit by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex was special because they coordinated it with all other agencies in Fiji.

“With help from staff of the office of the President, we went through a lot of practice sessions because we wanted to make sure the menu was perfect. We did menu trials, we changed it, we refined it and polished it.”

He said his job was to make sure the State dinner was seamless and timing was right. “In the end we nailed it and in the process we showcased ourselves to the world and showed people what Fijians are capable of doing.”

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