Despite $2.6 million in damage from Cyclone Winston, Outrigger’s Castaway Island, Fiji Resort reopened this summer. // © 2016 Matt C. Bauer
Feature image (above): Much of the resort’s landscaping was also damaged and has now been restored. // © 2016 Matt C. Bauer
After a turbulent start to 2016, Outrigger Hotels and Resorts’ Castaway Island, Fiji Resort reopened earlier this summer, offering guests a range of renovated improvements. The resort was forced to close for three months this spring after suffering substantial damage from Cyclone Winston in February.
“The effects of the winds caused all our ‘bures’ [bungalows] and main complexes to lose all their thatch and caused some structural damages to bures,” said Steven Andrews, general manager for Castaway Island, Fiji Resort. “We had to completely rebuild five bures, while nine had refurbishment work carried out on them.”
Andrews notes that Winston also caused major destruction of the property’s landscaping and gardens, toppling many of the resort’s palm and coconut trees, and he says the foundational pillars supporting the main restaurant were also badly damaged.
“I remember trying to do a walk around the morning after the storm,” he said. “I had difficulty getting around due to the obstacles on the pathways — all of which included debris, uprooted trees and broken branches. Both our Malua and Nuku Marau pools were filled with debris, including branches, trees and even sand. They looked like ponds in the ‘Jurassic Park’ movie.”
All told, Winston did more than $2.6 million worth of damage to the resort, according to Andrews, and the property’s staff spent much of the three-month closure removing debris, replanting trees and gardens, refurbishing furniture, rethatching roofs and painting.
Meanwhile, a construction team was renovating and rebuilding the destination’s bures and overhauling damage to the main restaurant.
“For the main restaurant area, we had new ‘tapas’ [cloth made of bark] placed on the ceiling in the Lali bar, upgraded the bar setting and removed the stone pillars that were structurally damaged by the cyclone and replaced them with concrete columns,” Andrews said. “This gave the restaurant more space and allowed in more natural light.”
Improvements to the resort’s bures include renovated bathrooms, new tile flooring, new French glass doors, improvements to the beds and the addition of more living space.
A popular spot for divers and snorkelers looking to take advantage of some top-notch ocean environments, Castaway Island, Fiji Resort is also just a 20-minute boat trip from one of the world’s most legendary surf breaks — Cloudbreak, near Tavarua island. The private-island property, which is only a 10-minute flight from Nadi International Airport, is also a terrific place for overworked vacationers who are truly looking to unplug, according to Andrews.
“We encourage guests to disconnect so that they can reconnect with their partners and/or families and the natural surroundings,” he said, adding that clients will have difficulty finding a friendlier group of staff members. “There is no Wi-Fi access and there are no televisions, clocks or telephones in the rooms. Although Wi-Fi is provided in the bars and restaurants, guests are wholeheartedly encouraged to unplug for the duration of their stay. Disconnecting from the rest of the world is exactly the point of our magical enclave.”