When you hear of Samoa, the first things that come to mind may be sun, beach and coconut trees, To Sua trench or the fact that the not-bad-on-the-eyes and worlds-highest-paid-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is a Samoan brother.
It’s the twenty-first century, yet there are only a handful of things that Google and travel agents could do justice in telling you about beautiful Samoa. It’s simply a place you need to experience for yourself.
Despite proudly being of Samoan heritage, I discover something brand new and exciting every single time I visit. It’s an untouched land waiting to be explored. Found in the heart of the Pacific Ocean with enchanting stories and rich traditions, blessed with stunning landscapes, vibrant ocean views and warm Polynesian culture, it is quite simply one of the most beautiful places in the world. A postcard of natural beauty - white sand beaches, turquoise lagoons, exotic rain forest, shimmering waterfalls and lush volcanic ridges.
We were lucky enough to be hosted by the Sheraton Samoa for a once in a life time premiere wedding experience. Designed for all the ladies in the place with style and grace, the Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort and Sheraton Samoa Aggies Grey’s Hotel delivered over and beyond our wildest expectations.
As a wedding planner, my primary concern for our clients is Quality.
Quality of service, food, atmosphere, guest comfort and of course the experience - especially where destination weddings are concerned. At times, I'll admit to worrying if Samoa could rise to the occasion when it came to consistently delivering the quality of weddings we are used to; but the Sheraton Samoa set the standard.
Our premiere wedding experience with the Sheraton Samoa began with us being greeted at the airport by their lovely staff with refreshing drinking coconuts, cool mint towels and beautiful tropical flower lei’s. From the very beginning, it was their attention to detail that truly set them apart from the rest.
We were to experience the Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort in all its glory, being a stone's throw away from the Faleolo International Airport. Surrounded by tropical gardens and their very own beach, we were greeted by their local staff who welcomed us with a traditional Samoan Siva (a graceful dance performed by the women) and the Toa Samoa Siva Tau (Samoan warrior dance). For my European counterparts, it was a great cultural immersion experience. You could tell that they were excited and we were so happy to be there.
First up a Hen's Pamper Party at the Manaia Polynesian Spa; canapés, bottomless momosas, girl talk, a hot rock oil foot massage and asking the friendly masseuses where the local night-life hot spots were - it’s the Marina by the way, thank me later. It was poppin’.
When we were at the Manaia Polynesian Spa, so many ideas sprung to mind on how to use this space to its full potential. You could experience it a number of ways. Of course, the perfect spot for a Hen's Pamper Party. My favourite idea would be to utilise it as the first location for your wedding day. Imagine it for your pre-wedding drinks, where your wedding guests meet before the wedding ceremony. It’s intimate and multi-faceted. Add some live music, refreshing beverages and a grazing table, and I feel it would add a great element to your special day, as it would get your guests excited for what’s to come and set the tone for the kind of wedding they may have never been to - a premiere wedding experience.
Next was Pre-dinner drinks at Palm Pier. At this time of day, the sun was setting, giving us a glimpse of heaven. Samoa is the epitome of natural beauty. We were surrounded by a stunning sunset and turquoise coloured water - this was all the “decoration” this location really needed, making it the perfect backdrop for your wedding ceremony or vow renewal. Or you could turn this area into the party before the party... Where your guests enjoy entertainment, cocktails and canapés under the palm trees while you’ve gone off to take your wedding photos. The perfect atmosphere.
If that wasn’t enough, our dinner was in the Fairy Light Garden. An enchanted rain forest setting. Softly lit with fairy lights, tiki torches and candles, under a gorgeous old tree. Complimented by the natural ambience of the cicadas and the ocean waves. This was THE spot I would recommend for a magical wedding reception.
For me, there are three responses to design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for and wow was my genuine response to each element that was experienced with the Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort that evening. Dining in the Fairy Light Garden was my absolute favourite. It was unforgettable. I even cleaned my plate when it came to the best raw fish I had ever tasted before... And I don't even enjoy seafood! I became a new person that evening, thanks to the Sheraton Samoa.
Our next experience was at the Sheraton Samoa Aggie’s Grey’s Hotel in Apia. About an hour from the airport and near all the cafes, bars and markets. If there was one word for the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel it would be classy. She was the epitome of elegance and good taste.
Of course, with good taste, there is good food. With good food, there is a mastermind with impeccable taste and that was Mr. Jiju Rajappen also known as the 'Chef On The Move’.
He has moved and grooved in over 36 countries, cooking for people all over the world, speaking six languages and was simply incredible! His mouth-watering creations were at times out-of-this-world, his artistic presentation as charming and cultured as he is. Sampling his degustation menu over two evenings was an absolute privilege. Experiencing Jiju’s unique cooking style was most certainly my highlight with the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel, hands down. Let’s be honest, life is too short for sh*t food - especially at your wedding.
One of the reasons we were experiencing the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel was because they were holding their annual Wedding Show that weekend, the first of its kind in Samoa and only the second to take place in the history of Samoa.
I love that the Sheraton took the initiative to do something that had never been done before. Samoa needs more leaders who challenge the status quo. I believe if we all worked together to improve peoples' destination wedding experiences in Samoa it would help with their tourism and economical development and give local businesses the opportunity for growth.
At this point, I was confident in the Sheraton Samoa’s abilities to deliver beyond expectation. I could tell the key people in the business were carefully handpicked for their respective roles. This made all the difference. Quality staff begets quality results. Team work, makes the dream work. Everything was done in good taste, consistent and of true quality. If everyone had this kind of experience when planning their destination wedding in Samoa, there would be no 'Bride/Groom-zillas'... (Yes, there are Groomzillas now!)
To top off the seemingly un-toppable, the Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort and Sheraton Samoa Aggies Grey’s Hotel rooms were modern and spacious. The bathrooms were gorgeous and clean, with all the amenities. Every room was laced with a touch of Samoan culture and beauty. Welcomed with fresh tropical fruit platters and fresh flower arrangements every day - then surprised by boutique Samoan gifts each time we returned to our rooms, it was the sweetest thing.
As a wedding planner, my job is to ensure our clients have a premiere experience when planning one of the most important days of their lives. We have high expectations of the other suppliers and vendors we work with, because our clients' experience is paramount.
Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort and Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s Hotel “get it”.
We understand each other and together we understand our clients needs. This is the quality of people we enjoy working with. They help make the design and planning stage simple for couples getting married – and we know that 'simple’ isn’t necessarily easy.
I believe the Sheraton have set the standard for luxury wedding experiences in the beautiful islands of Samoa. It truly was a five star experience. I would happily recommend them to anybody wanting to have a destination wedding in Samoa - I know they would get the job done and go the extra mile to achieve successful outcomes.
It's definitely time to put Samoa at the top of the list for island wedding destinations.
The others are great, but it's getting to the point where "everyone" is choosing the same places for this very important milestone and it's getting boring.
It's time for a new adventure. Choose Samoa - it's perfect. Explore its untouched beauty full of hidden gems and surrealism. There is an abundance of activities to enjoy - Samoan Food Tours with Chef John, cascading waterfalls, uninhabited beaches, snorkeling through coral reefs, mountain hikes, historical sites and natural wonders. You're welcome.
The time for new beginnings is now.