In September 2009, Samoa was struck by a powerful Tsunami killing dozens of people and destroying much of the small developments and villages along the South East portion of the island of Upolu, including Salani Surf Resort.
We first built Salani Surf Resort in 1998, and we quickly learned that this sort of project in such a remote and underdeveloped portion of the world was not simple. After years of perseverance with a variety of challenges, Salani Surf Resort managed to become a sanctuary for people looking to enjoy rich Polynesian culture and surf from its simple, comfortable surroundings.
Around 2007 ownership changed hands and the mission of running and enjoying Salani was transferred over to Chis Donato and shortly thereafter his beautiful Samoan wife Shannon. Chris and Shannon along the Australian/Irish managers Nick and Triona held strong to the mission of having guests enjoy Samoan hospitality and culture. Salani was and never will be a resort with big walls creating a divider to the outside environment.
Unfortunately, in September of 2009 an earthquake in the Tongan Trench generated a massive tsunami which slammed the SE corner of Upolu, Samoa. Salani Surf Resort was completely destroyed, nothing remained. Thanks to the quick actions of Nick and Triona, both the resort and local village were evacuated with only minutes to spare – Salani village was the only village along this area of coast that had no loss of life; Nick and Triona Shannon are true heroes.
After much deliberation and number crunching, Chis and Shannon decided they wanted to rebuild Salani; as much for them as the staff and local village that had become family over the past 11 years. Over a two year period Salani was rebuilt with the same bone structure but with a much nicer body. The new bungalows are nicer, larger – each with private bathrooms (biggest upgrade) and the main Fale (bungalow) is also larger and stronger with a westernized infrastructure including professional kitchen, bar and housekeeping facilities.
So the labor of love continues. Love for Samoa, the people, the families, the culture, the surf; but most of all the enjoyment of sitting on the deck with an ice cold beer looking at the reflection on the river and listening to the sounds as the sun sets.
Learn more about Salani here.