Orchard-to-table café opens soon at Ifiele’ele Plantation
Future guests to Ifiele’ele Plantation in Fasito’o–Uta can look forward to dining in the new open fale style café and extra rooms being built by proprietors Paul Lepou and Joan Macfarlane in an effort to cater to the domestic market as well as the anticipated arrival of international visitors next year.
Located just 15 minutes away from Faleolo International Airport, the private oasis is popular with transiting guests or couples and small groups looking for a relaxing getaway in a secluded plantation setting that comes with all the mod cons needed for a luxurious retreat.
Before Covid-19 Paul and Joan mainly catered to the overseas market but during the ongoing border closures they have been concentrating on developing more value added products sourced from their organic orchard on their 15 acre property.
They started out making and selling gourmet fruit preserves, popular with the overseas market who bought them as gifts at the Duty Free retail outlets at the airport. Without tourists, demand for these products has declined. Not to be deterred, Joan and Paul have ramped up production of their dried fruit range and this year developed real fruit fruti-pops, frozen ice treats, which have been a hit with families and health conscious locals.
Like other properties, they have learnt to adapt their business to cater for the domestic market and have discovered that locals like to holiday in large groups. It led to their decision to expand accommodation lodgings to include two rooms connected to an open fale café.
“We’re trying to appeal to the local tourism market and they like to come in larger groups than what we’ve been able to accommodate previously which is we why we wanted a couple of extra rooms” said Joan. “We recently added a separate kitchen where we process our fruti-pops and it will be utilised as a central kitchen in close proximity to the extra rooms and the open fale café where meals will be served. We believe it will add to the experience of our guests who can still enjoy their privacy but also socialise in a common area.”
Although the open fale café caters to in house guests, Joan and Paul will also open it up to the public and visitors will have a chance to view the plantation, sample their fruit preserves and other fruit products and experience eating in a traditional fale with a modern twist. The café construction is expected to finish within the month and according to Joan, they already have a booking.
“We wanted an airy open fale feel so we haven’t got walls although the shape of the building is different to a traditional fale – it’s like ‘de-constructed fale’!” laughs Joan. Alongside this modern version of a fale are three traditional fales with ‘lau’ thatched roofs which are also part of the new café complex.
“ We were fortunate to receive a grant subsidy from Business Link Pacific to help us adapt our business during Covid which we spent on timber to build the café “ said Joan “ the café will be a medium sized fale where people can come try our products, taste them and hopefully buy them so there is that added benefit as well”.
“The fale will give us more flexibility in what we are able to offer and expand the types of groups to whom our facilities appeal. We will be better able to host functions, conferences, business meetings, retreats and perhaps even exhibitions“.