Monday 4 August 2008

Feedback letter

Dear Morika,

Thank you for your personal response. It doesn't surprise me though, as everything we experienced on the Tui Tai was obviously completed with attention to every tiniest detail, and being a former trip coordinator for 15 years, it did not escape my appreciation.

On the plane ride home, I wrote 3 pages of my Tui Tai impressions - trying to put my feelings on paper. I am aware that many things were in play for our experience to be so perfect, but I have to say, without any exaggeration, it was the best experience of my life - truly life changing - and I will try to tell you why.

From the moment we were greeted by Liga with his sincere welcome, I FELT an earnest that is often not present when staying somewhere. The song greeting was so sweet, and the usher into the lobby with smiles, a genuine welcome, from the crew. Ben was very kind, welcoming and present. He went over the general specifics of the boat, safety (which I was so happy to see is so well covered. My mother just 2 months ago went on a Blue Lagoon Cruise, developed an infection on her leg, there was no doctor on board, not
even a first aid kit, and she came home to 5 weeks in the hospital and was ONE DAY away from dying.) Needless to say, the confirmation of substantial first aid on board Tui Tai was welcomed!

The bike rides, the hikes, the kayaks were all the perfect length for me, and I noticed for most of the guests. Gordon did work really hard to keep the bikes in good order. One thing I so appreciated was whenever we arrived at a beach to kayak or bike, the kayaks or bikes were just there waiting for us seemingly effortlessly. The crew is magic how they slip in and out without any fanfare other than smiles when you see them. They were so kind, helpful, welcoming and at the same time respectful and warm without seeming like they were falling over themselves to wait on us... Every time we were out on any adventure the crew were quietly in the background in case anyone needed anything. There but not in our face, just in the background. I remember every time we got back on board, Kouri was there with clean towels, greeting us with a warm smile. I felt Liga set a high bar for the crew, and they reached it every time.

The food was perfect. It was varied, in plenty supply, had a good offering for my son who is a vegetarian, healthy and so yummy, thanks to the cooks. Mere was darling, gave both of us a massage - very kind, hospitable and had a beautiful singing voice.

The opportunity to visit the villages was wonderful. I really wanted an experience where I felt as if I got to see the real Fiji and you honored that - you promised it in your publications and it was true. I felt we were truly welcomed by the villagers as guests, and not only a source of money. The difference to me is monumental. I don't like to feel a fake welcoming, just to get $$ from me, these people though were genuine and it made the experience so much more real.

I have to say Liga was remarkable. I would say he made the trip for me and for my family. He went out of his way to give us an experience that was overwhelming. I appreciated his understated presence - he was full of information, but like a treasure chest, there for the opening, not dumping all over us, just overflowing once you open the lid. His knowledge of the history, the culture, the language, the villages, the people, the nuances from island to island and the fact that he actually knew the individual people on the islands, made it feel as if we were visiting friends, not just random inhabitants. We felt Liga let us into his world, and it made all the difference to us. He deserves an award or at least a raise!! :^) He truly is remarkable and I will never forget him and all he did for my family.

When we left, listening to "Isa Lei" sung by the crew, just about did me in. I left feeling truly heart sick - as if I was leaving something I had fallen in love with. It was the experience: the lack of interruptions by cell phone, internet, and the feeling of being held in a week-long hug. No stress, no cares, only kindness, genuine people, adventurous fun, soul warming food, and the fact that the mix of other guests, the weather, the crew and the day to day unfoldings were so smooth, made it something that was very hard to leave. The good thing is, it is in my heart and I am a changed person in a way I hope I always stay. Calm to my soul and more appreciative for the people and the country of Fiji. I also want to thank you because I know a good boss is the backbone of a successful establishment and without your guidance I'm sure a lot of this wouldn't just happen on its own. So thank you.

Vinaka vakalevu.

With sincere gratitude,