Few people left as much of a mark on Fiji as the founder of its first private island resort, and his loss has left the many people he touched celebrating his adventurous life.
When Richard ‘Dick’ Smith first landed in Fiji, it was an entirely different world from the popular tourist destination it is today – in the 1960’s, it was a wild dream that the rustic island nation would ever see the almost half a million visitors per year it now receives. The isolated country was a place where people went to get away from it all, and there were no ringing cell phones or buzzing Blackberries to interrupt the tropical sunsets. In Fiji, you were truly in a wild and beautiful place, where the cares of modern civilization may as well not exist.
Fiji is certainly still wild and beautiful, but extensive development has resulted in a thriving tourist economy where the rest of the world just seems a little bit closer than in Dick Smith’s day. He opened his first resort project in 1966 – the now iconic Castaway Island Resort, the offering the first private island holidays in the country. On a gorgeous 174-acre island, Smith and his wife brought a vision to life of a simple yet elegant retreat, with the now-ubiquitous traditional “bures”, or beach huts, without which no modern Fijian resort is complete.
Despite the challenges of developing a remote island, especially in his low-tech era, the island bug, once caught, is hard to shake – after selling Castaway, the couple were soon on to their next island. Together with two partners, in the late 1960’s the Smiths purchased a large share of Malolo Lailai Island in the pristine Mamanuca chain. This was to become Musket Cove, home to the famed Dick’s Place resort. A true labor of love, it started with a modest 12 bures, but quickly took on a life of its own, and is now a veritable Fijian institution with 55 bures, private homes, over-water bungalows, and a small village with a marina, spa and restaurants.
In addition to his iconic island resorts, Smith is fondly remembered after his recent passing for the many community and sporting activities he enthusiastically took part in. He was a founding member of the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association, among other groups, and mentored many young people eager to become a part of the country’s booming tourism industry. The legacy that Dick Smith has left behind is one of friendship, community and creativity, and no doubt many who knew him have been sitting beneath a tropical sunset, toasting his memory and recounting the many stories of his Fijian adventures.
Read more about Dick Smith: Link
Visit the Musket Cove website: http://www.musketcovefiji.com