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Q&A with Colleen: the Manager who Refuses to Call Her Job Work

Colleen hails from sunny South Africa. She had never been to Fiji when she was offered the opportunity to work at Navutu Stars. It was a daunting prospect – but not out of character for this self-professed “nature baby and people person.” Starting as a nature guide in South Africa and working in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry must have prepared her to take risks. She says of her move to Fiji, “it was a bit of a leap of faith to go that far from home, but I am sure glad I did it! Probably the best thing I have ever done for myself!

Q: What does a nature guide in South Africa do?

“I call it bragging about our beautiful nature and wildlife.” At her previous job, Colleen was the General Manager at Balule River Camp in the Greater Kruger Park in South Africa. At this boutique 12-bed lodge, she wasn’t simple managing reservations. “My daily hazards were elephants, lions and many other different wildlife in the garden. I loved it!”

“On the play side, I am very adventurous and love extreme experiences like sky-diving. I so enjoy getting the adrenaline flowing!”

Colleen at Navutu Stars Fiji ResortQ: So how does your job at Navutu Stars compare?

Colleen laughs, “Have you been to Fiji? This place is paradise!” She spends her days managing the incredible resort staff, interacting with guests, and handpicking the menu, which changes daily depending on the season and locally available produce. As she describes it, her job is “Pretty much making sure our guests and staff are all happy in the environment they find themselves in.”

Q: What is the best part of your job in Fiji?

When our guests arrive on the island and they have these big smiles and go “Wow! This place is beautiful!” Or when they leave and they cry; these are the moments – the small rewards – that remind me how fortunate I am to be living and working here, and what a great thing it is we are doing, and what a fantastic place we have here at Navutu Stars.

“Also I adore fresh fish and seafood. Being able to purchase this fresh, daily from the fishermen boats is my kind of retail therapy.”

Q: Are there any challenges?

“I thought it would be hard to be so far away from my family, but social media makes it so much easier to always be in contact! There are hard days at any job, but I wouldn’t be able to really appreciate the good days if I didn’t have those.

Q: So can you tell us more about the perks of living and working in Fiji?

I wake up in the morning with the sunrise pouring into my room, and the ocean swooshing right outside my door. It doesn’t get better than that! The Fijian people are just fantastic and an absolute joy to work with! Such big, warm hearts!”

Q: What is your favorite free time activity in Fiji?

“I enjoy running in the morning at sunrise. Dearest Torika is teaching me yoga, and in this environment it is so easy to get grounded with some yoga. I am also busy with my Open Water Course in diving. I have been very lucky to swim with manta rays! Basically as long as it is outside and has something to do with nature, it makes me happy.”

Q: What is something people don’t know about Fiji?

Fiji is a small, close-knit country of less than one million people. With some of the most beautiful people in the world, I think Fijians should travel more. The world would be a much better place if they could just rub off a little bit of themselves onto the rest of the world.”

Q: What should we do in Fiji if we are visiting for the first time?

“Don’t miss out on the opportunity to get to know the beautiful people of Fiji. Whether it is around a tanoa of kava or just visiting a village, this experience – and these people – will change your soul forever.

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