Is there any red-blooded male living who has not thought aat least once of packing it all in and going off to the South Seas? Well, this might be your chance, particularly if you happen to have about two million US to invest in a new business. The popular private resort, Shangri-La Beach Cottages on Muri Beach, Rarotonga, Cook Islands, South Pacific, is now for sale (Feb 2006), as the owner is considering retirement.
The Cook Islands are located in the heart of Polynesia in the South Pacific. They lie about 700 miles west of Tahiti and about 1000 miles east of Samoa and Tonga. Hawaii is about 2500 miles north, New Zealand about 1800 miles to the southwest. The climate is tropical, similar to that of Hawaii and Tahiti. Tourism is a year ’round industry. Rarotonga is the largest of the 15 islands in the Cooks and the main administrative centre.
The population of the Cooks is about 15,000, with about 9,000 living on Rarotonga. The main island has banks, ATM machines and dozens of restaurants, shops and markets. There is a modern telephone and international communications system with internet and e-mail access. Everyone speaks English, which is the official language, along with Cook Islands Maori. It is a stable self-governing democracy in free association with New Zealand and a member of the British Commonwealth. The people are very friendly, with a vibrant local culture of dance, music and crafts. There is a low crime rate.
There is a large international airport that handles wide-body jets. There are about 17 flights a week, which connect Rarotonga with New Zealand, Los Angeles, Tahiti and Fiji. Onward connections to Australia and Europe are well-timed. The main carrier is the well-regarded Air New Zealand and Pacific Blue—the low-cost carrier associated with Virgin Blue—now serves the Cooks from Australia and New Zealand.
Visitor numbers to the Cooks have grown from about 40,000 a decade ago to about 80,000 a year more recently. Projections show it reaching about 100,000 in the next few years. From the 1970s until about the late 1990s the only way to market Cook Islands’ accommodations overseas was through “wholesalers” and travel agents. These middlemen collectively take about 30-35% of what the guests pay to stay at an accommodation. In the last several years the internet and e-mail have opened up new ways of marketing accommodations overseas and Shangri-La has been in the forefront of this more lucrative “direct-booking only” system.
With its continuing popularity assured by excellent reviews in Lonely Planet, Frommers, South Pacific Handbook and travel websites such as Trip Advisor and Lonely Planet Thorn Tree, as well as word-of-mouth by their loyal guests, Shangri-La has been able to avoid the high cost of working through wholesalers and travel agents. By only taking direct bookings they have kept their rates 35% to 50% below comparable properties and also have a higher net return per night. This has been one of the keys to their success as an ongoing business. Their goal has always been to provide deluxe accommodation at a moderate price. They do seem to be succeeding at this and as one former guest succinctly put it on the internet: “Shangri-La provides the best bang for the buck on the island!”
Shangri-La is a small private resort that occupies a prime beachfront section directly on beautiful Muri Beach, considered the nicest beach on Rarotonga. There are twelve deluxe cottages, a large swimming pool, office and owner’s deluxe beachfront two-story home. Five of the cottages are partial lagoon-view and seven are garden cottages. This large property is 4544 sq. m., about 1.12 acres.
Although there are resorts and accommodations all around Rarotonga, Muri Beach is considered the top vacation spot. There are four little islets in the crystal-clear lagoon and the best snorkeling on the island starts adjacent to Shangri-La. Several of the top island restaurants are in walking distance, as are shops, vehicle rentals, the Internet Cafe, the Sailing Club and lagoon tours. All island tours stop at the Shangri-La entrance on the main road.
The Shangri-La is next to the best snorkeling area on Rarotonga and they have complimentary snorkeling gear for all guests. The kayaks are very popular with the guests, as there are four islets within a few minutes’ paddle of us. There are sunloungers adjacent to the beach, under a large almond tree and a nearby beach shower. The entire property is fully-fenced, except for the beachfront of course. The large parking area can hold ten cars, or six cars and eight motorbikes and is rarely filled to capacity. There is room for a couple of rental cars and motorscoooters if you desire to get into vehicle rentals for guests. The local bus also stops at the driveway entrance. Tropical plants abound on the property, including trees such as banana, papaya, mango, coconut palms and breadfruit and flowers such as hibiscus, gardenia, jasmine, bougainvillea and alamander. A large lawn fronts all the cottages on the T-shaped property.
There are several local law firms that handle commercial matters and it is recommended that prospective purchasers consider engaging a local firm to help assist them in the purchase of any local business.