We take 5 with Liana Scott – General Manager of Muri Beach Club Hotel in the Cook Islands.
You grew up in the Cook Islands. What was life like for young Li?
Life was dreamy and adventurous, and totally without fear as a kid growing up in the islands. My memories are a kaleidoscope of learning to dance the ‘ura’ once I could walk; venturing into the sea to catch stone fish or lion fish to earn a free ice cream from the marine zoo; and climbing mountains to pick wild fruit.
I was raised on a chicken and pig farm, so assisting in birthing and feeding animals also came with the territory, and my youth involved lots of responsibility caring for animals. In addition to the Pigs and Chickens, we had ducks, cats and dogs, as well as vegetables such as corn, silverbeet, broccoli and cauliflower, beans and cabbage to name a few – there was just something magical about this time.
How long have you worked at MBCH and what has your career there looked like?
Muri Beach Club Hotel is my family’s business and I’ve been working here since its inception. Prior to the hotel’s opening, as a school student, I worked part time in different departments in two of the bigger hotels on the island (learning the ropes you could say). I then took my very first full time job as a travel agent for Air New Zealand, followed by a gig as a local travel agent for Island Hopper doing outbound travel arrangements.
What drives and inspires you personally?
Good conversation, learning new things, making people happy, and positive energy!
Life as a GM of a hotel in the Cook Islands sounds like a dream come true. Take us through your average day?
I feel like I am living two lives at the moment – one pre Covid-19 and one post Covid-19. Both have similar principles, both start the day early but there are definitely differences.
A standard work day in the Cooks starts at 8am and I will generally be at work between 7.15am-7.30am, which gives me a chance to get my admin in order and read the shift report of the night/early morning prior, before I do the ‘rounds’.
Pre Covid-19, the rounds would encompass chatting to guests at the breakfast table and having that all important first cup of coffee. Now it includes running staff through jobs and duties that can be completed around the property; with coffee still a close second.
Administration is constant and normally I would prefer to do most of this before lunch. Keeping fit and healthy is also a priority, so I have joined the Cardio Combat classes at lunch – healthy body, healthy mind!
Afternoons take me on the ground in a more hands on capacity, doing whatever needs to be done to maintain the hotel and our slice of paradise for when guests return.
What’s the most challenging part of your role? And on the flip side, the most rewarding?
Weather can bring out the best and worst in people. It can be challenging to change the mindset of our guests to still do tours and activities if the weather isn’t so great. Even when it’s raining in the Cooks, we still experience 24 degrees or warmer and the showers don’t normally last for long, so we try to live by the mantra ‘don’t let the rain dampen your spirits’.
The most rewarding part of my role is seeing guests do a tour or activity for the first time in their lives, like swimming with turtles or learning to kitesurf – being part of these first-time memories is fantastic. The other rewarding element would be seeing our returnee guests and welcoming them back like family!
Can you share with us your favourite ever MBCH memory?
There are so many; but I guess the one that sticks out the most is when a couple who were animal lovers used the local beach dogs to be ring bearers! This could have been an absolute disaster but lets just say we had most of the staff keeping watch that particular afternoon.
What’s something about the hotel people might not realise?
In the Lagoon Lounge we have movie night once a week and provide free popcorn.
What should people never visit the Cook Islands without?
A reusable water bottle – there are plenty of refill stations on the island as well as complimentary UV water from the restaurant.
Tell us your hottest local secret or tip?
Converse with a local! The locals are so in tune on the island with different tracks you can walk up or the best snorkelling spots, and generally they will join you as well, which means you can learn and discover along the way.
Where in the world is calling your name for your next trip?
I visited Dubai over 20 years ago when the ‘gold’ markets still existed and I know it has changed so much, and the culture is so different to ours in the islands, so I would say Dubai in the UAE is what appeals at present.