It’s time to say farewell to Samoa, but we really loved our two weeks here. Great beaches, beautiful landscapes, friendly people, good food – it’s an easy place to love.
Our last four days was something of a whirlwind. First we spent two days at a Sheraton resort right in Apia, a place where we were confident we’d have good cable to watch the Clinton-Trump presidential debate. I was a nervous wreck before the debate started but needless to say, we enjoyed the show. Surprisingly, we enjoyed the hotel, too, a place with a real history. Aggie Grey’s Hotel was the classic 1940s-era Samoan Hotel. Named after the hotel’s founder, stars like Dorothy Lamour, Marlon Brando, and Raymond Burr had stayed there; she was a friend of James Michener and was likely the model for his Bloody Mary character in Tales of the South Pacific. Fast forward a few years and the hotel was starting to show its age until the Starwood chain bought the property, closed it down, and did a great renovation, updating it but keeping that ’40s-era feel. It only reopened last month and was a beautiful space to hang out for a couple of days.
From there we went to a Treesort in the middle of the island. Yeah, you read that right, a Treesort. Jack is an Oregon native, a fourth-generation builder, who kept coming back to Samoa because he loved it. He decided to build a resort on the southern coast of the island, where the other great resorts are. He was mid-construction in 2009 when the tsunami literally wiped his investment off the face of the earth. (As he put it, “I lost my investment; too many people around me lost everything.”)
So he had to start over again. This time he bought property high above the coast, built a house for himself and his wife, and decided to build a couple of tree houses. It just goes to prove that even three-and-a-half years into this around-the-world adventure – and around and around and around – you can still find something utterly new. The cabins were amazing. Built into a 300-year-old, 180-foot banyan tree, our cabin had a bedroom, small living room, bathroom, and deck overlooking the southern coast. It’s worth saying that describing it as being built “into” the banyan tree is precisely true. The banyan, you see, is a fig tree that starts as vines growing on another tree. Over time it completely subsumes the host tree which eventually … disappears. Some of the cabin, thus, was literally inside the remains of that long-since-gone tree. Stunning, and an engineering marvel. If you ever get to Samoa, you gotta spend at least one night up in the trees.
Finally, we headed to the western end of the island for a last night at another Sheraton resort right near the airport for our morning flight to Fiji. We like staying in Starwood properties because, after spending enough nights there they typically upgrade us to a nice room, often a suite. This one was particularly notable. A big bedroom, big bathroom. Big living room with a separate bathroom. And a conference room. Conference room? Yup, I’m sitting at a conference table watching CNN typing this blog.
There you are. Samoa: Great beaches, friendly people, hotel rooms in trees, and suites with conference rooms. Strange place. Next stop Fiji!