With the International Day of Happiness approaching (20 March), Fiji may as well claim this celebratory day of happiness as their own every single day. Anyone who has visited the South Pacific nation will have enjoyed the jubilant greeting of ‘Bula’ which is invariably accompanied by a cheek-splitting grin and laughter. Every day in Fiji feels like a day of happiness with strangers welcomed into Fiji’s warm tropical heart. Embracing this year’s theme for World Happiness Day of ‘happier together’, we’d like to introduce you to Fiji’s newly crowned ‘Bulanaires’ for 2020.
The first ‘Bulanaires’ campaign was launched in 2019 to address what we are all ultimately seeking – happiness. With two-thirds of Australians indicating in a survey that they felt they ‘could be happier’, there are few better countries better placed than Fiji to celebrate happiness. The ‘Bulanaires’ initiative ties into Tourism Fiji’s “where happiness finds you” focus and features some of the terrific locals – happiness ambassadors if you like – that holidaymakers are likely to meet when visiting Fiji.
Meet Fiji’s ‘Bulanaires’
Embracing this year’s theme for World Happiness Day of ‘happier together’, we’d like to introduce you to Fiji’s newly crowned ‘Bulanaires’ for 2020.
Amos Daniel (Captain Cook Cruises Fiji)
Filomena Merelesita (Namale Resort & Spa)
Caroline Oakley (Kokomo)
Alipate Laveti (mixologist from Savusavu)
Amos Daniel was Fiji’s first Bulanaire to be announced for 2020. Hailing from the soccer-crazed town of Ba in the Western Division, Amos is a Marine Biologist with Captain Cook Cruises Fiji. He was nominated by his team for his “big Bula smile… he goes above and beyond to ensure our passengers have a fun, meaningful experience in Fiji.”
Filomena Merelesita hails from Kubulau in Bua Province and works as an office supervisor, wedding & guest concierge at Namale Resort & Spa in Savusavu. She was nominated by the company General Manager, Nowdla Keefe who said, “Filo embodies the Bula Spirit – truly rich in happiness. She is the epitome of warmth, dedication and hospitality and would be an amazing ambassador for the Bulanaires program.
“She does it every day here at Namale. She started in our Food & Beverage department then moved to concierge and weddings, now she is our Guest Services Supervisor. She always has a Bula smile; she’s great at anticipating guest (and staff) needs,” explained Keefe.
Caroline Oakley, Head Chef at Kokomo Private Island Resort, is an exceptionally talented frontliner who is known for personalising menus from scratch for her guests and sharing her deep passion for food. She is proud to allow her guests to experience the true Fijian flavours.
“I believe that cooking is a part of me; every dish that I create has a piece of my heart and soul. Every taste, every flavour, every ingredient brings joy. Nothing is more rewarding to me than seeing someone celebrate my food. With this, I thrive on someone’s happiness. Food is the biggest part of any person’s life. I create a connection with whatever is on the plate and from here they become family. Every single person I have ever cooked for, I remember and celebrate their return as if they were my own family.”
Alipate Laveti, a mixologist from Savusavu and is Paradise Beverages’ ambassador for their Rum Co of Fiji brand. Nominated by General Manager of Marketing and New Product Development Paradise Beverages Ms. Rowena Ah Sam said, “Alipate has helped grow our brands through teaching resort/bar staff around the country how to make all our cocktails. He’s a great role model for young, aspirational locals as he works hard; starting off as a bartender and quickly moving up the ranks.”
The annual Bulanaires list is compiled under the guidance of happiness expert Professor Lea Waters and honours the true heroes of the hospitality industry in Fiji.
Tourism Fiji Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Matthew Stoeckel said, “We believe our Bulanaires program provides a unique, ownable position for Fiji that represents the true character of the destination. Importantly it profiles the incredibly warm hospitality of our tourism industry which makes us such an appealing destination to visit. We are confident that the next phase of the campaign will continue to go a long way in attracting more people to come and visit Fiji to experience for themselves the place where happiness finds you,” he said.
Many of Professor Lea Waters’ general guiding principles for happiness are found among the people of Fiji, which likely explains why Fiji was deemed the ‘Happiest Country in the World’ in the 2017 annual Gallup International Survey on Happiness, Hope and Economic Optimism. The same survey found that the world’s happiness had declined since the previous year, with Fiji bucking this trend.
Commenting on what a Bulanaire is, Professor Lea Waters said: “Bulanaires redefines the way we measure success. A common measure of success is often portrayed through the annual ‘rich lists’ that showcase the increased number of billionaires each year. But perhaps instead, we need to consider finding happiness and contentment as a measure for being rich. Fijians have that in abundance.”
For the month of March, travellers to Fiji will be able to meet some of the selected Bulanaires as part of its Happiness Month, as well as enjoy ‘happy moments’ with complimentary add-ons at many resorts and hotels, and activities such as extended happy hours and complimentary massages as part of the initiative.
More information: Fiji Travel