If the Grand Old Lady could speak
Updated: Aug 10, 2020
Sitting tall and proud opposite Albert Park in Suva is the Pacific jewel, the Grand Pacific Hotel and that Grand Old Lady has weathered the tumultuous history of Fiji and witnessed 106 years of our highs and lows so if she could speak, the talanoa session would be epic.
To be the walls that saw and housed Queen Elizabeth, the Australian aviator Sir Charles Kingsford Smith who stayed at the hotel during his trans-Pacific flight, our beautiful Hibiscus Queens and more recently Prince Harry and HRH Meaghan Markle. Can you imagine the stories?
This treasured landmark was built on the landing spot for the original Suva village, called Vu-ni-vesi after the trees nearby. On May 23, 1914 the hotel opened with 35 rooms, the veranda overlooked the harbor and one could walk completely around the building — as if walking on the deck of a ship.
I think most importantly for us Fijians it holds a special place in our hearts as the home of our Hibiscus Festival where we have crowned our queens and held the elegant balls that would become synonymous with our fashion scene of the 50s and 60's
1959 Hibiscus Festival, 2nd Runner- up, Miss Patricia Chandulal at the Grand Pacific Hotel (source: National Archives of Fiji)
After a gradual decline our Grand Old Lady closed it's doors in 1992 after a number of ownership changes in the 80s. She was abandoned for the most part, but at one stage served as a military station to protect the premises from squatters.
(Top/source: Temesia Tuicaumia) GPH Main entrance (Bottom/source:garygilliard.net) Main Entrance, year unknown.
On her 100th year in 2014 (after a 22 year vacay) she opened her doors again thanks to FNPF and PNG investors and the foyer retained her vintage aesthetics with an upgrade. In July this year the InterContinental Hotels Group announced the addition of this landmark hotel to its stable with an eye on post-COVID19 travel.
WF20 Campaign shoot at GPH - Styled by: Samson Lee/ Adornments: Senilolo/ Photography: Photopedia (Fiji)/Rahul Sharma/ Models: Kaya Soro, Heather Marama, Tera Narayan/ H&MU: Sugarose Fiji
Since it's re -opening in 2014 that iconic foyer will host it's first fashion show. We are extremely proud to be hosting our inaugural fashion show in the foyer that has witnessed 106 years of Fiji's historic moments.
7 designers will be showing and those 7 designers are each at this very moment mentoring a student designer who will produce a garment that will be shown as a part of a capsule collection.
Our project is focused on creating spaces to exchange fashion knowledge and with COVID19 changing the shape of our every day life and the way we do business it has also made us conscious of our community and engaging SME's to stimulate business. So when you buy a ticket to our event you're helping pay for our models, photographers, H&MU artists and designers and you're keeping our fashion industry alive during COVID19.
So I'd like to think if the Grand Old Lady could speak she'd ask you to come along to be apart of her history by attending our inaugural show, it'll be a story to tell the grandkids around the tanoa.
Tickets are on sale and can be purchased from the Samson Lee Fiji boutique on Butt Street, Suva.
By Neisau Tuidraki,
Co-Founder, Wearing Fiji Project