|Vatulele Island Resort|
It appears the luxury A$800/night resort, Vatulele Island Resort, will remain closed indefinitely following its sale to controversial developer, Albert Bertini. According to a report in the NZ Herald, Hawera (NZ)-based rural services business and Hanover Finance victim Allied Farmers, borrowed NZ$11.6 million in 2009 to acquire the resort.
The 50-year-old Mr Bertini, apparently made overtures for the Fiji property, winner of the 'Fiji's Leading Resort' title at the 2010 World Travel Awards, as far back as July 2011 when he 'spontaneously' married 24-year-old, former teenage surf competitor Renee Hyman on the island. Bertini hit the news again when the company behind the refurbishment of the South Sydney Leagues Club went into receivership in March raising concerns that partners and pals, Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court, would also be exposed.
Quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald at the time, Mr Bertini said, despite his losses, "Nothing damages me."
A note on the Facebook page placed by outgoing receivers, ANZ (Fiji), dated 8 March 2012, reads:
We are pleased to announce the sale of the Vatulele Island Resort which has been completed on 29 February, 2012 to a Fiji incorporated company, Trivest International Limited, owned by Mr Albert Bertini, a prominent Australian property developer.
The new owner plans a significant expansion, refurbishment and upgrading of the Resort and replacement and upgrading of Resort infrastructure and accordingly the Resort is closing at the end of February, 2012 to allow this expansion, refurbishment and upgrading to proceed during March and April 2012. We see this as an exciting stage for this iconic property.
Accordingly, the Resort will not be open during the period of the refurbishment and all existing bookings will be refunded. Guests with bookings will be offered alternative accommodation at other leading resorts in Fiji. The Resort regrets any inconvenience to those holding bookings during the closure period.
It is expected that the new owner will make an announcement about the reopening of the Resort upon completion of the upgrading works. Having operated the Resort as Receiver/Managers since 14 June, 2011, we wish to thank our staff and partners for their co-operation and continued support for the Resort.