It really was the worst kept secret in Rarotonga. Yes Hillary Clinton did arrive on our sunny shores, along with her incredibly large entourage and additional cargo plane!And I have to say, what an amazing visit for Rarotonga and for the Pacific Islands Forum.
As we blogged last time, this was the biggest VIP visitor since Queen Elizabeth II in 1974.The hype she created was huge, with locals still buzzing over the historic visit by the US Secretary of State and her delegation.
While here, Clinton did an amazing job of talking to the locals while happily posing for photos.She even delighted some by thoughtful touches such as using a Polynesian inspired clutch purse designed by ex-pat Rachel Guinea.
In terms of official business, Clinton really did impress. Given what an incredible role model she is to women (intelligent and driven), as part of her visit she met with a group committed to improving the lives of Pacific women.There she spoke about gender equality and launched the Rarotonga Partnership for the Advancement of Pacific Island Women.This is an initiative between the governments of the US, New Zealand and Australia to support emerging women leaders, and establish networks for sustainable leadership development in the region.
At the Pacific Islands Forum she told leaders that "our countries are bound by shared interest and more importantly shared values, a shared history and shared goals for our future".The Forum participants then agreed to international commitment to sustainable ocean management and conservation.This included the launch of the World’s biggest marine park, by the Cook Islands government. A huge 1.2 million square kilometres (386,000 square miles), this is equal to the size of Egypt!
Of course much more was discussed, and it is hoped that the results of the forum will translate into real tangible economic benefit for the whole of the Cook Islands.
Nevertheless, for those in the tourism industry one of the lasting legacies will be the amazing feedback Hillary Clinton and other Forum leaders gave to journalists while on their visit. Hillary and other guests were reported to be ‘spellbound’ by our Islands’ natural beauty, and charmed by the local people and the beautiful cultural performances. While on the Forum retreat, the local paper quoted one of the leaders as saying “this is heaven”.
And at the end of her visit, clearly taken with the Cook Islands, Hillary Clinton said she would prefer “not to go on to the next stop”.
There is no denying; in terms of tourism promotion this was an incredible way to showcase our patch of paradise.
Everyone here in Rarotonga is very excited about the news that another ‘high profile’ international guest is expected to visit the Cook Islands. Rumour is the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be attending the annual Pacific Forum to be held here in Rarotonga beginning August 27.
While the US Embassy in New Zealand declined to confirm the rumour, Cook Island officials are ‘preparing as if she is coming’. This preparation includes sourcing vehicles for her stay, in addition to the three SUVs owned by the government. In all there will be 16 cars, police vehicles, motorbikes and scout cars.
Local Police have asked drivers to be on alert for the ‘motorcade’ which will be transporting VIP leaders around Rarotonga. There will also be tighter security on the Island during the Forum, with New Zealand providing some extra police officers to assist the local police force.
You may wonder why such a powerful and influential US politician is attending the annual forum. Apparently her presence would ‘emphasize Washington’s policy shift on trade, humanitarian aid and military presence in the Region as it seeks to capitalize upon and counterbalance the rise of many Pacific and Asian nations.’ Translated I would say, the US needs as many ‘allies’ as possible in the current world economic and political environment.
If the rumour proves true, this will be the biggest dignitary to visit Rarotonga since Queen Elizabeth II came to stay with Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips – in 1974! Hopefully Hillary and her entourage will consider some much needed R&R at Rumours Luxury Villas and Spa!
The photograph above of Queen Elizabeth was taken by Bill Johnson and all credit for the photo goes to him.
Over the last 5 years there have been some amazing advances in technology and we are able to enjoy them while living in the tropical island paradise of Rarotonga. As the owner of Rumours Luxury Villas and Spa I have a vested interest in how these advances can enhance tourism and tourists alike in Rarotonga. We have worked very hard at ensuring our guests have access to the right type of technology while on holiday at our resort, and that they are also informed about what is available.
Facebook is an example of one of the additions we have made to our marketing strategy. This is a fantastic way to stay engaged with those guests who have stayed with us, and it also gives us the opportunity to share information about our resort and Rarotonga with future guests. Currently we have over 2,700 people who ‘like’ Rumours on Facebook, and this number grows every time we have new visitors stay. I like Facebook for the fact that we can post specials and news and our ‘followers’ get the information instantly.
Access to the internet is also important for some of our guests. We are able to provide WiFi for all our luxury villas and there are currently 70+ WiFi locations around Rarotonga that you can connect to.
A new application is also available on itraveller (through iTunes). This ‘App’ provides information on where to go and what you can see. It includes a fully zoomable offline map with interactive guide, GPS positioning and points of interest nearby, driving directions, landmarks, shopping, restaurants etc. The App is compatible to iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.
An example of new technology introduced to Rumours is the amazing addition of a 2.5 metre screen and projection system in our ‘Ultimate Beachfront Villa’. We recognise that while our guests are here to relax by the beach and/or pool, come the evening one of the ultimate ways to relax is in front of a great movie. The large screen is a luxury item that some guests will not have at home, so we hope it may be as memorable as the facilities and tropical beachfront setting that our guests enjoy.
So we will continue to watch with interest the advances and changes with technology and the internet, and where possible use these to our best advantage to enhance our guests’ stay here in Rarotonga.
Lately I have had the time to sit back and reflect on the amazing journey we have been on with Rumours Luxury Villas and Spa. The most amazing part of it all of course is to be able to live in the beautiful Cook Islands. This Country offers everything you would expect from a tropical Island, and more. From the picturesque white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, to the wonderful culture, this Island nation really does have it all.
When we are asked about activities on the Island it never ceases to amaze me just how much there is to do here. For the adventure seekers there is snorkelling, scuba diving, hiking, deep-sea fishing, boat tours, scenic flights, and kayaks. On some of the Islands you can even hire a moped to zip around the island! Personally, I love to relax on the beach with a good book and the occasional dip, and for this Rumours is the perfect location. With our Villas far enough away from the larger resorts you practically have the beach to yourself Our location on the Island also means we get to see the sunrise. I have lost count of how many spectacular sunrises I have seen here, sometimes with a glass of champagne to welcome the day!
For my cultural fix I love the music here.The Cook Islanders are incredibly talented with both their singing and dancing. I have witnessed some fantastic festivals that they hold throughout the year, the combination of modern music with traditional ukuleles made from coconut shells gives a very unique sound. I have also visited many churches on Rarotonga on a Sunday, the beautiful a capella singing is something everyone should hear during their lifetime.
I have also been very privileged to witness some stunning weddings here at Rumours. One of the advantages of living in a temperate climate is that we can hold weddings all year round. An intimate ceremony on a white sandy beach is what I consider truly romantic.
Yes it would be fair to say I have experienced it all here in Rarotonga – the adventure, the culture, the romance. I’ve explored lush rainforests, driven the coastline, danced to drums, drunk out of a coconut, fed tropical fish from a kayak, and best of all – I’ve slept on the beach.
And as I watch the pink sky welcome the moon rising over the water, I am thankful for the unique opportunity to be able to live in what I consider to be ‘Paradise’.
Wow, what an exciting month for us. Rumours Luxury Villas and Spa have been named as the winner of the ‘Best Resort Spa for the Cook Islands’ in the World Luxury Travel Awards 2012! This is our second time winning as we were also the 2011 Award Winner.
The World Luxury Spa Awards recognise spas that “raise the bar of service excellence and put the spotlight on spas representing only the finest standards”. Executive Manager of the Awards, Marinique de Wet, said the level of competition in 2012 was exceptional. “These spas stood up to the highest expectations and were tested by discerning spa-goers looking for the ultimate experience where only the absolute best is acceptable.”
As we said in our April blog, we have worked really hard over the last 12 months to maintain our high standards. We also understand the importance of continuing to provide world class service for a Luxury Spa Resort that is situated in one of the best locations in the world!
Winning this award not only recognises our hard work, but is also a huge accolade for our incredibly dedicated therapists. Thanks to this fantastic team we have had many guests vote for us this year, so a big ‘Thank You’ to them and to all of you who took the time to vote!
Don’t forget if you want to stay in June check out our special offer of 35% off all rates when staying 6 nights of more. Go to our Hot Deals page to read more about this amazing deal!
Here at Rumours Luxury Villas and Spa we have had the honour to host some famous faces from New Zealand rugby, and on Friday we along with everyone in Rarotonga were very excited about the visit of Rugby World Cup winning All Black Jerome Kaino for a parade and fan visit.
The Webb Ellis Cup has travelled to the Cook Islands where it was showcased at an honorary Rugby World Cup dinner hosted by Prime Minister Henry Puna last Monday night. Mr Puna acknowledged that the Cook Islands community has the greatest supporters of the All Blacks outside of New Zealand. This is the first overseas outing for the cup since it was won by the All Blacks last year. It is a very special visit as it acknowledges the support that the Cook Islands has given to the mighty All Blacks and their successful Rugby World Cup campaign.
Last Friday afternoon People in Rarotonga got their chance to see the cup at a special parade. The parade started in the Avarua township where Jerome Kaino was driven with schoolboys flanking him and drummers following. Stops were made for photos and the parade finished at a local market where a traditional Cook Islands welcome was presented, followed by a dance troupe, and finished with school boys performing the All Black haka and their local haka. Happy fans were able to have photos taken with the cup and Kaino, and the day was a huge success for our small community.
As with any Country, it is great to celebrate success and to inspire the younger generation to get involved with sport. We are lucky that despite a population of less than 20,000, the Cook Islands have so many sporting activities available for both locals and tourists.
We are very excited that our very own Rumours Luxury Villas & Spa has again been nominated in the prestigious 2012 World Travel Awards. The category is for “Best Resort Spa” for the Cook Islands.
These Awards give luxury hotels recognition for their “world class facilities and service excellence provided to guests”. The Awards aim to “encourage and raise service standards within the luxury hotel industry”.
We have worked really hard over the last 12 months to maintain our high standard that won us this award last year. We understand the importance of offering a luxury resort that has outstanding service and of course one of the best locations in the World. Winning awards like this not only recognises our hard work but also raises our profile as a luxury resort and gives our hard working staff the recognition they deserve.
If you have stayed with us and wish to vote, go to the link on our facebook page or visit the World Travel Awards website http://www.luxuryhotelawards.com/. You can read more about the award we won last year in the Press Release included in our April 2011 blog.
If you haven’t stayed in the last 12 months, check out our brand new 6 night pampering and indulgence packages. There is a package for all villa categories and so many inclusions! See the deals on the Hot Deals page of this website.
Rumours Luxury Villas & Spa has been announced winner of the 2011 World Travel Awards – Best Resort Spa. Below is the press release from the World Luxury Spa awards.
4 April 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The World Luxury Spa Awards™ pay tribute to the global spa industry’s top spas
The World Luxury Spa Awards™ gives recognition & thanks to the spa industry. The Awards congratulate unsurpassed service excellence and put the spotlight on our spas that represent the finest standards & thus attracting the attention of global spa-goers and industry experts.
Open to luxury spas in the respective categories, the World Luxury Spa Awards™ are recognized and respected on the global front by the public and media at large and are universally acknowledged.
The World Luxury Spa Awards™ celebrate the spa industry with 8 spa categories.
The caliber of entries for 2011 was outstanding and as such the bar was set high. Official voting closed on the 19th of March and the response and comments from voters was phenomenal. The independent judging process was based on spa guest votes and the feedback and votes from a selected global panel of spa industry professionals.
Marinique Truter, Executive Manager, World Luxury Spa Awards™ said: “The World Luxury Spa Awards™ is the highest accolade a spa can ever hope to receive. For participants the World Luxury Spa Awards™ challenge service excellence and highlight the importance of constant improvement. The World Luxury Spa Awards™ truly puts a winner/finalist spa ahead of its peers from a marketing perspective. Recipients of this prestigious accolade see challenges as opportunities and stay ahead with strategic changes allowing facilities and service to stay on par with global trends. We congratulate all our winners further to this outstanding achievement.”
The World Luxury Spa Awards support all nominees in promoting their status with our Awards.
Consumers are increasingly using the list of winners and finalists as a reliable guide and means of reassurance when choosing their next spa destination. Spas that make it on to the winner & finalist list receive global coverage and share in fantastic marketing benefits that further build and maintain credibility.
From start to finish the wedding went with a breeze and was very stress free!
When we arrived it only took a few hours to arrange all the additional details and meet those who would be involved in the wedding. Julie took us around to the town hall for our marriage license, we visited the florist and JK the wedding celebrant in his home. The hairdresser and also the photographer popped into the villa also to confirm a few details. Very well organised and met some brilliant people!
Our wedding took place at 3pm and we even managed a kayak session in the morning it was so stress free!
The hairdresser arrived at 1pm and with a glass of champagne was a great start. We had a decorated archway on the beach and flowers decorating the beach. Hinoi the photographer came earlier to take a few pre wedding shots and everything was ready. Flowers, cake and champagne were brought with Julie and Maria.
We had a local guitarist on the beach when the wedding started which for us was a very beautiful authentic touch to the ceremony. There was the opening ceremony, vows, rings and declarations. Tipani weddings had decorated and set a table up for signing, cake and champagne while we signed the papers.
To top this great day off we had a very talented chef come to our villa and cook our gorgeous 3 course meal. He was very talented and made us feel very comfortable.
Overall we both had a memorable day and a beautiful wedding!
Thanks to Tipani ladies and Rumours for making our day such a special one!
Rumours Luxury Villas and Spa in Rarotonga has just received a Certificate Of Excellence from the world’s leading Travel Review website. The certificate acknowledges a 100% overall excellence in guest ratings from those who have stayed at the property throughout 2010.
Our staff at Rumours work extremely hard to maintain our positioning on the island as a recognised extremely high standard of luxury villa accommodation, not only with presenting a villa standard of a world class but also along with that, realise that a property can be beautiful but if there is not the same high standard of service, then it is of limited value. We have a small staff in place but one highly dedicated and motivated to do the very best they individually can and take pride in the personal satisfaction they gain from seeing happy and contented guests commenting on departure that they don’t really ever want to leave. The majority of our staff here at Rumours have been with us for years, with the latest staff member now being into her second year and not wanting to leave at the end of her three year contract already. A happy team also goes a long way to having happy guests !
Hopefully we will be able to show the readers of this blog some of the same high standard Cook Island hospitality at some point in the future.