Amoa Resort increases support for local food producers with new catering services
Businesses on the remote big island of Savaii have always faced the added challenges of a smaller market and high transport expenses compared to the more populated Upolu Island where the country’s main port and center for services and trade are located.
With the unprecedented continuation of border closures and ongoing urban migration to the main island, accommodation operators in Savaii were some of the first in the country to close indefinitely.
Amoa Resort Manager, Elisabeth Siaosi said amidst the ongoing uncertainty, management had to weigh up the decisions to remain open or hibernate through the pandemic. Realising early that their choices would affect the many livelihoods of their tightknit community and district that depended on Amoa Resort, they decided to weather the storm by focusing on the inter-island market that were still travelling for business and family.
“We took a risk that if our strategy worked, it would enable the resort to carry on with business as well as enable employment, in turn contributing to the local community which has always been a strong focus for Amoa” said Elisabeth.
It wasn’t long into the first lock down that Amoa Resort quickly fine-tuned its focus on not only providing their brand of luxury accommodation but in providing quality catering and food to local Savaiians and travellers from Apia looking for something different when visiting the Big Island.
The capital Apia has a variety of restaurants and food outlets but Savaii has that authentic and fresh appeal that all Samoans look forward to. It's well known among Samoans that Savaii is the place to find and eat fresh seafood, authentically prepared from sea to table.
“We’re using as much local produce as possible and working with local farmers to offer our guests local raised beef on show with local steak, rump roast & Mongolian beef. We want to support our livestock farmers and create a local market for them.”
“The added benefit to expanding the food offering was making use of our existing staff and despite being a smaller team, they were happy to take on board the new changes. We started a dedicated Facebook page for our catering arm of the business and it grew from there.
With the choice of international travel for leisure, Elisabeth said she noticed the big island was bursting with locals travelling for family gatherings but when it came to catering especially after hours there was a gap in the market.
“We started with Sunday To’onai trays and then once our guests tasted the food they would come back and ask if they could order it during the week for their special meals or for entertaining” said Elisabeth. “We even have orders from people overseas who wanted to treat their families on the island. We have seen an increase in families wanting dining events and the benefits flowed on to room bookings particularly for meetings hosted at the resort.”
With each new breakthrough and successful outcome, the team at Amoa began to improve their marketing strategy to better attract the domestic market. According to Elisabeth this experience has had its benefits in helping to fine tune their services to the local market which she believes will translate into better quality service for their international visitors when borders re-open.
“Overall we have pushed through and during the process we are learning how better to attract and serve our domestic market. Once the borders open we will be much better equipped in catering to our locals who have always been our number one supporters during tough times.”
In 2019 the resort began construction of new rooms but has put them on hold until next year while they focus on implementing health and safety measures to ensure they are Covid-ready when international tourism resumes.
“Once the borders open we plan to open our new rooms which will target a quality conscious consumer with value for money in mind. Families and professionals will get to enjoy new luxury rooms at great value rates.”
The team at Amoa Resort is keen to demonstrate to their guests that they have evolved in terms of hygiene safety.
“We want to be as ready as we can once the borders reopen and to do so we have to be able to demonstrate to our guests that we have evolved in terms of safety and hygiene. Our teams are fully vaccinated and we have procured contactless thermometers which will be readily available for guests and staff.”
“While not mandatory in Samoa, we have on hand medical face masks as well as washable ones that guests will be able to purchase locally if they need to. We are expanding the number of servicing stations for best practice and to minimise crowding as much as we can.”
“All guests are able to sanitise in all common areas giving extra peace of mind when you are on the move. Guest and staff care is paramount and we are hoping to do our part to stop the spread should it ever come to Samoa.”