For anyone who has seen the photos on Facebook, the devastation of Friendly Bungalows is graphically real.
Cyclone Pam, the category five cyclone to hit Vanuatu on 13 March this year scored the landscape especially on Tanna and Friendly Bungalows was razed to the ground.
Out of this crisis, the owners of Friendly Bungalows are proud to announce the rebranding and rebuilding of the property, the commencement of Friendly Beach-Tanna, Vanuatu.
The owners of the property have embraced their decision 100% and engaged the services of a Landscape Architect to re-design the use of the land with maximum respect for the ecology and natural beauty of the area. ‘We have seen the landscape with brand new eyes” said Joanne, “ we have a clean slate to work with and are taking this amazing opportunity to build three private and exclusive villas, rebranding and re-inventing as Friendly Beach.”
Clearing and preparation of the site has been underway for the past two months and construction of the new development and private sand beach commences next week. The property will be rebranded to Friendly Beach – private villas and beach. It is anticipated the first prototype villa will be complete by end of August, with the second two to follow very closely and the restaurant and reception pavilions finished before November this year.
Travellers from all over the world visit Tanna primarily to climb the Mount Yasur volcano and experience the strong pacific islander and ancient cultures of the island. For over ten years, Friendly Bungalows was the main source of income and pride for the three local communities living in the fairly remote eastern side of the island.
“When we bought Friendly Bungalows 8 years ago, it was the appeal of the location, the magic charm of the local people and of course the pristine black sand beach and swimming in the south pacific that drew us to this place” said Joanne. “Over the years we have formed a really strong bond with the local villages who still work on a chiefly system that demands a lot of respect for their way of life and culture. For over a week after the cyclone we couldn’t get word in or out of Tanna to see if the staff and communities of Friendly Bungalows were alright, it was one of the most traumatizing times of my life” she continued.
When Joanne was able to reach Friendly Bungalows, the chiefs immediately called a meeting with the owner and described cyclone Pam as the biggest catastrophe they had experienced in their lives. In their words, they continued to say that if Friendly Bungalows did not re-open, that would be a catastrophe of the same magnitude.
“The impact of these words resonated with me for weeks” said Joanne. “We had to rebuild, there was no option, but we did not want to go back to the same. We have a vision for Tanna that is going forward on a global scale, it is truly a remarkable destination and we see Friendly Beach taking this lead” she continued.
The owners are planning an official launch of Friendly Beach once the project is totally rebuilt by the end of November and in the meantime are offering a soft opening, takings bookings for the completed villa and day visitors to the beach as from mid August this year.
Friendly Beach will meet the need for a more upmarket and luxury adventure alternative in the Tanna accommodation market and the owners are confident the development will attract great interest from travellers wanting an authentic but more comfortable adventure experience.