By DOMINIC KRAU
THE new Cassowary Hotel in Kiunga, Western province will no doubt raise the bar in terms of hospitality. The hotel opened its doors to the public on June 18, 2018.
And with the largest and best-known hospitality chain across the country, Coral Sea Hotels managing the hotel, the air around Kiunga town is already abuzz with talk of enjoying a scrumptious pizza from Coral Sea’s very own Enzo’s Pizza brand, fine dining in style at The Fly Breeze Restaurant, or a rendezvous with friends over a cold beverage from the Barramundi Bar.
Situated about 2 kilometres from the town centre along the Kiunga-Tabubil Highway, the hotel sets a class of its own among other hotels in Kiunga and boasts 38 standard luxurious rooms, 6 suites, 2 conference rooms and all of the qualities a full-service hotel provides.
I had the privilege of spending a night at the hotel on May 30 and was greeted upon arrival at 7pm by a friendly and smiling Front Office Manager David Gima.
After signing in, I was given a plastic electronic door key card and then was escorted by Willie Tepu, one of the hotel security guards, to room 221 on the second floor.
I then proceed to hold the card over the door sensor and a green access light flickered above the door handle, followed a second later by a subtle click and I opened the door into my room.
Entering, I slid the access card into the wall-mounted card slot to activate power, lighting and air-conditioning for the room.
The wall also has a cool black touchpad where you can either press the ‘Do Not Disturb’ icon and ‘Make Up My Room’ icon which illuminates red both in the room and also on a corresponding wall-mounted pad just outside the room door. These icons remain blue when not touched. There’s also a doorbell icon that can be touched on the outside touchpad by visitors instead of knocking on the door.
The use of such technology is something new to the hotel scene in Western Province town centres of Tabubil, Kiunga, and Daru but is on par with other hotels in the country which I have visited within the last 6 months…well, I only visited two Coral Sea Hotels in Port Moresby to be exact.
When the lights came on, what appeared was a nice large bed; wall-mounted 42-inch flat screen television (with Click TV) and an authentic room layout.
The room has a spacious bathroom with all the basic amenities, a mini bar fridge, study desk, internet LAN connectivity ports, alarm clock, hairdryer, electric iron and ironing board in the wardrobe, tea and coffee facilities, and my favourite – free Wi-Fi for guests, something I learnt later when chatting with hard-working Cassowary Hotel Manager Mal Toran who is busily setting up for the imminent opening.
Mal has been in PNG since 2014 and has a wealth of worldwide experience in the hospitality business and managing hotels. He was previously the Hotel Manager at the Bird of Paradise Hotel in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province prior to making the move to Kiunga.
He took me on a tour of the hotel beginning on the ground floor foyer, staff offices behind the front desk, bar and balcony, restaurant, Enzo’s pizzeria, loading dock, waste disposal storage, staff mess and locker/shower room, kitchen & cold storage and laundry area.
It was interesting to see the waste storage all air-tight and air-conditioned. Mal explained that the hygiene and cleanliness of a hotel were important as the air-conditioning reduced the foul odours emitted from waste disposal and minimised pests like rats entering the hotel.
We then proceeded to the first, second, and third floors, inspecting some of the rooms and suites on levels 1 and 2. Two staff rooms are located on the third floor. This floor also has a storage area and 6 massive air-conditioning condensers supplying constant cool air throughout the hotel.
The tour ended back on the ground floor foyer around 10pm.
Mal is in charge of 68 staff, the majority are locals who have received on-site hospitality training across all aspects of hotel operations from the Coral Sea Hotel head office trainers as they prepare to open The Cassowary’s doors to the public.
Mal is also very supportive of his staff and ensures they get the best training both in-country and abroad to ensure hotel guests are satisfied with the service provided.
Two of the young staff on duty at the time were very polite when I spoke to them said they were excited to work in such a classy hotel and were privileged to receive training from Coral Sea Hotels.
The next morning I was treated to a continental breakfast of bacon and eggs on two slices of toast with a side serving of baked beans and two beef sausages.
Though I did not eat at the hotel restaurant the previous night, I had a look at the menu which boasts local and international cuisine with the likes of burgers, pork belly, soups, salads, T-bone steaks, lamb cutlets, half a chicken, pizzas and an array of desserts. The bar serves an amazing selection of wines and spirits, local canned beers, and international bottled beers and ciders. It also boasts two huge flat screens for sports enthusiasts to watch their favoured game of footy.
All standard rooms are priced at PGK 550.00 and the suites at PGK 700.00 inclusive of breakfast.
After taking some more pictures of the hotel interior and exterior, I walked away feeling content about my overnight experience and knowing that I will be coming back soon. If I’m not dining in the restaurant or having a drink at the bar, I’ll definitely be grabbing some pizza!
The hotel is the eighth and final pooled investment of the 158 villages of the Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA) region under current processes facilitated by the Ok Tedi Development Foundation.
The Cassowary will return in excess of PGK 2.4 million per annum for 20 years, generating a significant return to the CMCA Properties portfolio, income that will become available for future generations when the Ok Tedi Mine eventually shuts down.
The Cassowary hotel investment, worth PGK 35 million in total is a magnificent way to complete the CMCA Trust Investment portfolio which is now worth more than PGK 107 million in asset value alone.
The Trusts also gratefully acknowledge the PGK 7 million contributions loaned from the Nupmo, Tutuwe, Wai-Tri and Middle Fly Women’s Associations, returning them an 8% return over 10 years.
The CMCA Trust Investment portfolio consists of real estate, aviation and shipping and is owned by all eight CMCA Trusts of Nupmo, Tutuwe, Wai Tri, Middle Fly, Suki Fly Gogo, Manawete, Kiwaba, and Dudi regions.
CMCA Properties officially handed the building over to Coral Sea Hotels on April 17, 2018 symbolised with a joint official plaque unveiling by Western Province Governor, Hon. Taboi Awi Yoto and Ok Tedi Mining Limited Board Chairman Sir Moi Avei.
OTDF would like to thank Steamships Trading Company for their support through subsidiary Companies Pacific Palms Properties (Project Construction Manager) and Coral Sea Hotels (Hotel Operations Manager) for contributing to such an outstanding building and hospitality service that we all look forward to enjoying right here in Kiunga, Western Province.
For the business traveller or visiting adventure tourist, why not stay at “The Cassowary” on your next visit to Kiunga…….you won’t be disappointed!
For reservations, email the Cassowary Hotel via [email protected] or get in touch directly with the Kiunga team on 6491800 or the Front Office Manager David Gima on 71004700.