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dimanche 9 novembre 2014

The Hawaiki Nui Hotel of Raiatea

  Another way for the tourism

Far from the formatted hotel chains and downplayed service deliveries around the world; far from the catchy slogans praising these male appetites for exotic trivial fantasies...
There are vacation homes which know to offer intelligently, in a mix between heart and conscience, non-warped image of Polynesia.

Among tourism professionals, those who are intervening on the ground even and provide 24 hours / 24 a friendly hospitality, there are dynamic figures which can both create the guest expectations and enhance the potential of the generous inhabitants of Raiatea.
The tourism, it's now, today. Patricia Russmann-Maurin, Tahitian, a Hawaiki Nui Hotel manager, gives you her perspective.

Inlet between coral reef and motu
For one, I checked it, several times during my stays in Raiatea and it's objectively that I give you some thoughts about Patricia's views and pictures on this human dimension accommodation unit.

A changing environment
Advocating a mixed tourism, not to say "inseparable", i.e., both representative of the soul of a people and in unison with the unprejudiced curiosity of the travelers... Maintaining the sense of sharing... including natives with international guests in the same resorts, this is taking into account the needs and aspirations of the island territory of Oceania. Because, let's not forget, the island of Raiatea is the second economic center of French Polynesia.

This atoll's core are channeling, with "structured" agricultural activities and its expanding industrial production,  the populations of  the Leeward Islands, as also those from nearby archipelagos. It owes that to its hospital unit, its administrative capital, its schools and high schools, its unique floral species (the apetahi tiare), its fishing stock, its lagoon market -including the vanilla and mother-of-pearl of Taha'a- and its aboriginal sites.

Hotel close to the reef
How to adapt tourism to make it an integral part of other areas of activity? How to meet the diverse interests that are employment, medical travel and tourism with a cultural vocation? How to spark tourist's interest in local affairs, associate it with real issues, those that are not distorted by consumerism?

The quest for this balance seems to have animated in different forms, the adventure of the Hawaiki Nui, since its inception…

Once Upon a time
Once Upon a Time ... an island, the island of Raiatea. It would be named in mā'ohi  language Hawaiki Nui or Havai'i Nui, meaning "island where we come" or "The great  paradise of souls" according to other sources.  Long ago, it was the island of origins.

It was... long, long after ... in the Tepua Bay, inside the lagoon, opened by the inlet of Teavipiti, opposite the motu of Taoru, the first site of hotel bungalows on the water. Designed by Tahitian architect Gerald Garnier, it emanates from a trio of Californians, the "Bali Hai Boys", i.e. Hugh Kelley, Jay Carlisle and Muck McCallum. Living in the Polynesian Society Islands, since the early sixties, they "are the real creators of the tourism of the islands", from Moorea (1961) at first, to Huahine (1973) at last.

The Bali Hai Boys
In Raiatea (1966), they "created a hotel that soon became the social center of the island with its nightly festive getaways, its rounds of the island  by typical trucks and boat, named " Liki Tiki "(phonetically "leaky Tiki"), a big drunken welcome.", as the "philosophy" of the Club Bali Hai notifies us. On the menu, island bath: food, dance and music with the singer and musician paumotu, former oyster fisherman, Vilivala…

This was the time when the charter flights of the world poured their share of curious. Since, and even today, the taxes, levied by the Polynesian fenua, are straining the airlines and tour operators; farewell cheap cultural tourism and hello scarcity of travelers!

The first over lagoon Bungalows in the world
However, the Bali Hai Raiatea damaged by fire, sold, became Hawaiki Nui Hotel, in the second half of the eighties. The legacy of "the respectable Polynesia, the spirit of the festive golden age and friendly atmosphere, is transmitted", says Patricia RM. The legacy of family tradition vigils accompanied by singing and the multicultural fabric of this country are going on...

In any warmth!
One of the peculiarities of the Hawiki Nui, given the date of its foundation, because it is among the oldest Polynesian hotels, is this refinement blended perfectly with rustic charm. Picturesque pairing of incomparable freshness!

Also remains the indisputable stamp of the lagoon bungalows, designed on the model of the fare on stilts, conform to the ancestral coastline Polynesian habitat. A lightweight pioneer in the history of world tourism, endlessly imitated since which ended up "consolidate" with its coral base. It still houses the same initial aquatic fauna and flora without degradation. "The awnings fitted with red pareu are replaced by bay windows; the floor with Plexiglas’s sheet lets see many species, spawning above the reef, this fish building," says Patricia.

A watercolor for immortality...
"If the city has skin-whitened, if the Polynesians used to dress like popaa, Raiatea demonstrated the mentality of a small tropical sub-prefecture. The Hawaiki Nui, here is the Islands hotel, the station hotel. Uturoa, by its administrative function, mix locals and tourists.” The originality is there! "The access is not restricted"… unlike luxury hotels, fearing promiscuity, and unlikely hurt feelings or community tensions.

Zest for life?
The Hawaiki Nui is the typical hotel. "The framework we offer, the size of our hotel unit allows for ethnicities to mix. It supports, manages the diversity of clientele. It unites people around the joy of life." Why should we iron out the communicative mood? "The ukulele or guitar" causes only a contamination... but safely!

Glad there are places where the effusion is accepted! This opportunity does come only because the management is autochthonous? It is true that "the design of the service should benefit to be revised in large Polynesian hotels. The Staff can’t be treated as an abstract entity or anonymous. In their training, the managers should go through an airlock: to understand... that they have to do with "real people" who carry with them their own way, their own way of life."

Floral grace Temperaments
It’s a principle that tempers the Polynesian relation to employment here: “people forget they work, they are there to please. They do not work by obligation, but because they love you. This is the base." The duty replaced by the feeling, it's a whole world!

"To love is respect. The process is reciprocal. To love is to place a value on someone: first of all recognize that we are dealing with living human beings, rough, with their problems, and that our task is to personify.
"The work is a house where the problems are forgotten"

Polynesian-style service!
It's just a bit more complex, but equally effective. It's give employees "the free to manage their time; it's not the same logic; my Cartesian side is worrying;  my Polynesian side repeats me to have patience. Everything is going well. "

"In four years, I have not suffered a setback. The hotel is stocked by farmers and local fishermen. A mama every morning brings a basket of passion fruit. Juices are pressed on demand. We serve Polynesian way, we eat Polynesian way."

Side of the bungalows
The animation uses daily local artists and adds other sources, for the weekends, working with artistic or near and far cultural associations. Inspirations and influences crossbreed together. The customer is pampered, coming to celebrate a family event. Happiness is contagious.

I saw "a happy staff!"

An interactive tourism
The democratization of tourism is she still tainted with derogatory overtones and calamitous? Does it continue to shade off the monopolies of global tourism, with which some representative of public bodies may speculate? Still, that "cultural tourism" has to face some difficulties to safeguard its integrity.

Atmosphere in fare under niau roof
Let’s put the Hawaiki Nui in context: "Raiatea is an island of retirees; the land of return of Polynesians after long stretches in Tahiti for dietary needs; of retired French, too; of officials. The youth leave, to open up their minds elsewhere ". Tourism doesn't therefore target young people.

"The bay of Uturoa attracts boaters, lovers of wrecks and history, ecologists: the site is protected. The island is large, easy-going, well served (3-5 flights per day), provided with the necessary; everything's at hand. The motu are public and with full amenities. "

Raiatea does not revels in the drowsiness of its immemorial heritage and its underwater remains ... Raiatea is  a country being reborn: on the trail of his ancestors officiating on marae, in the wake of the three-masts Norby, sunk 25 meters depth and visited by the Sub Hemisphere diving  Club, off the Hawaiki Nui; with the tempo  of its venerable musicians or its new bands as Manino, and its local dance groups; on the sea-foam of its annual dugout race, the Hawaiki Nui Va'a ...

Diving for history and fun!
As for tourists: "We are willing to love them, provided they are likeable! Unpleasant, with displaced jokes, they often serve us the Western myth of the vahine; it's rather grisly! This image is totally negative for tourism, especially for young couples on their honeymoon!  It's not because they have spent a fortune, that you owe them. Generally, they aren't disappointed, quite happy. "

The real tourism is this interactive brewing.

A Future for the Hawaiki Nui?
Although the "sharks" of the tourism are globalizing their range of leisure and residence in sets more and more expensive and extravagant in Polynesia, the recipe -in every sense of the term is not profitable! Worse, the customers turn away. Quibbling about budget items, they have been faced with a strike, at Tahiti as at Bora Bora. The great chains of hotels continue to close some sites.

Welcome in island!
The Hawaiki Nui seems rather to maintain a dynamic and constant attendance, despite the financial woes affecting, for other reasons, its current owner.

Is the Hawaiki Nui threatened really? Those are rumors. But it would be damaging to a hotel so well included in the heart of the city, in the life of the inhabitants of Raiatea, that the threat is confirmed.

The elegant barefoot lady...
Still, the elegant lady, in many pareos of every color of the time... the soul of Hawaiki Nui, relentlessly pursues her role of vestal.

She keeps the flame of genuine hospitality, kindness, taste, ardor, openness, of joy and happiness. A true celebration of the idyllic holiday or the paradise on earth, if you prefer...

A beautiful way to display her polynésianité...

An article of Monak

Copyright Monak. Ask for the author’s agreement before any reproduction of the text or the images on Internet or traditional press.

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