Fa’a Samoa … the Samoan Way.
There are only a few hotels in Pago Pago, the capital city of American Samoa. The on-line travel agencies such as booking.com and expedia.com list only three. One, now called Sadie’s by the Sea, was once The Rainmaker Hotel. In its day, it was a first rate 200-room property.
The last time I was there—quite a few years ago—it had deteriorated and only about half the rooms were actually in use. The other half had been cannibalized, with furniture and fixtures, even carpeting, removed and used to refurbish the other rooms, leaving many with a decor that was … well … unusual.
I stayed there when I was in Pago Pago pitching the Samoan Office of Tourism for their tourism promotion business and I took that opportunity to meet the hotel manager, thinking I might possibly return to Honolulu with two new clients instead of just one.
The front cover of the hotel’s brochure, which became known around our office back in Honolulu as “The Bigfoot Brochure”, featured a large color photo of a woman floating on an inflatable mattress in the hotel’s swimming pool. Unfortunately, the photo was distorted. Her feet, which were closest to the camera, appeared to be huge. At least size 25.
I used that photo to tactfully suggest to the hotel manager that he might better be served with experienced professionals looking after his marketing needs. He agreed and a new brochure became our first assignment.
Some weeks later, the printer delivered several cartons of the Rainmaker Hotel’s new, four color brochure. I called our newest client to confirm that he wanted me to send them down to Pago Pago on the next flight.
“Please do,” he said, “but save a thousand for me up there.” By coincidence, he was flying to Honolulu that Saturday morning and connecting with a flight on to Los Angeles. He would be spending the next two weeks visiting several dozen travel agencies in the Southern California area, acquainting them with the Rainmaker and leaving each agency a supply of the brand new brochures.
Of course I was there at the Honolulu airport when his plane arrived to hand him a package with the new brochures. In addition to his luggage, he had brought a styrofoam chest filled with ice and a half dozen fish, all close to two feet long, all caught the day before, and all but one intended for relatives in Honolulu. The extra fish was for me, the palangi (the white guy). He waved his hand dismissively when I thanked him. “Fa’a Samoa,” he said. “It’s the Samoan Way.”