Below you'll find the journal I wrote during the Pacific Stampin' Up! Incentive Trip to Fiji in October 2011. I was one of 13 Australian and 4 NZ demonstrators who earned the all-expenses paid holiday for two to Denarau Island, Fiji. There are different ways in which demonstrators can earn the trip, but in general it's based on a combination of annual sales plus activity within the team. For info about other benefits click HERE.
To read about the 2010 Incentive Trip to Hamilton Island, click HERE.
To read about the 2012 Incentive Trip to Broome, Western Australia, click HERE.
Before the trip
About a month before the trip a courier arrived with this fabulous parcel.
Inside was a Fijian bag we used as a travel wallet, Agenda & Travel Guide, Spin-to-Win tokens, bag tags, 'While I'm Away' contact details for the babysitter (in our case, my parents), and other bits & pieces.
Definitely time to get excited!
The reality of our trip to Fiji hit home, and I spent the next few weeks making swaps, shopping/packing and getting everything organised at home. The kids were excited because their Nanny and Pa were moving in for the week, so they were more than happy with the plans! :)
Day 1, Wednesday:
Arrival and Welcome Dinner
Our day started early with the pre-dawn drive to Melbourne Airport. Roadworks didn't help the nerves, but we got there in time and caught up with the other achieving demonstrators from Victoria. So exciting!
Adele, Lisa, Tracy, me and Maureen
We were all buzzing with excitement and it was a fun way to start the trip.
We got into Nadi Airport a little later than expected due to flight delays, but had just enough time to quickly freshen up in time for the evening activities, which at that stage were a complete mystery to us. All we knew was we'd be collected from our rooms at 6.45pm.
What a hoot when I answered the knock on the door at the allotted time and found myself staring at a group of Fijians in full traditional dress. They greeted us with a very loud 'BULA!'. So much fun (ok, I did jump out of my skin but they were pleased with my reaction!).
We were led to the gathering place for exotic-looking drinks and mingling, before being entertained by island dancers and fabulous music. I was so enthralled I didn't take many pictures, but I can tell you it was a great way to start the evening.
Later we were led to the dining area for a buffet of traditional Fijian food. Jason and I sat with Alisa, Patrice and their partners, and it was a lovely evening. So nice to stop and chat and get to know each other.
During dinner a local Fijian entertained us with an educational yet amusing talk on the history, traditions and language of Fiji.
At each place setting was our first gift: a beautiful hand painted masi (barkcloth) painting. Each was different and personalised with our name. Mine was called Hibiscus Lailai.
After dinner we wandered back to our rooms at the lovely Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa and our first pillowgift was waiting: a cornhusk tote beach bag, along with instructions for our Group Activity day tomorrow.
It was a little difficult getting to sleep with all this excitement, but with the 4.30am wake up time fast approaching we really needed the shut-eye.
Day 2, Thursday:
This morning we woke up early – 5 minutes before the alarm was due to buzz (isn't it freaky how that happens?) – and met downstairs in the lobby at 5am. We grabbed a breakfast box and filled it with our choice of croissants, pastries and fruit. A quick cup of coffee did the trick and off we went in the air-conditioned bus for the beautiful drive south-east for our River Rafting adventure day.
It was a long bus drive and many in the group dozed or chatted quietly. I loved looking out the window and was amazed at the lush forests and landscapes of Fiji as we whizzed by.
We stopped for banana bread and juice a couple of hours later then continued on to our final destination near the Nabukelevu Village.
After a safety debrief and instructions, we were decked out in life jackets, helmets and wet bags and listened to an enlightening talk about what to do if we went ‘swimming’ (ie. fell out of the raft!).
EurekaStampers team members – Simone, Maureen & Tracy – and partners
Okay, I'm the first to put my hand up and say I was getting a little nervous at this point. LOL. Don't let that smile fool you. And, yes, I may have been heard to say 'I want to go back on the bus' during the jungle hike BUT as soon as we got in the raft it was all worth it.
We were instantly blown away by the stunning scenery, and the cool water was just what we needed after the hike and hot morning. We paired up, and Jason and I were with Maureen and hubby Brendan. We had such a lovely time, lots of giggles, splashing and working together to row our boat.
Our guide was called Simi – an easy one for us to remember seeing I’m often called Simmy. Simi was a fabulous guide, great at directing us when we needed (‘forward’, ‘hard forward’, ‘lean in’) and even taught us some Fijian (hmmmm, he never did tell us what some of those words meant, now that I think about it…)
Click on the picture above for the larger version – it's worth it. In fact, most of the pictures on this page will open up bigger if you click on them.
The morning was hot so it was especially fun to pull up alongside fellow demonstrators and splash them like crazy…. As they did to us!
These photos above were taking by the photographer who travelled the entire 24kms with us in his own canoe. Stampin' Up! gave us access to the 200+ photos that were taken – how cool is that? We were too busy trying to stay in the rafts to take photos so it is a real treasure to have access to these.
Halfway through the trip it started to rain, but was a welcome relief from the heat. We stopped in an area of the gorge that was sheltered from the rain, and enjoyed a lunch of rolls, meat and salads, cake and fruit.
The rain came down heavier later in the afternoon, and it was a great adventure getting changed into dry clothes when it was all over. We looked like drowned rats coming out of the water, were tired but knew we’d experienced a once-in-a-lifetime event. It was a part of the world not many get to see, and we are so grateful to be given the opportunity.
We played some quiz games on the way home (yay! I won a roll of Baja Breeze ribbon and crown trinkets) but as the sun set the bus got quieter and quieter, and most of us had a sleep. It was after 8pm when we arrived back at the hotel, and discovered our second pillow gift: a storage box FULL of supplies for tomorrow's stamping morning. Yes, there were NEW products in there and I happily admit to squealing with excitement! Can't share the details just yet, but let's just say that a wish came true :)
We thought we’d crash that night but it didn’t happen. After a hot shower we met up with Tracy and Maureen and their hubby’s for dinner and chats, before going back to the room for stamping and giggles (somebody hadn’t quite finished their swaps for tomorrow morning… not saying who! LOL).
So now as I write this I look at the clock and realise I’ve been up for 21 hours! Time for a well-earned rest.
What an amazing day!
Day 3, Friday:
Group Swap and Make & Takes
Oooh, so excited about using our new goodies today. We gathered after brekky to swap cards/3D's with all the other achieving demonstrators. We did something different this year, by standing in a line and then the first person walked down the line swapping with everyone, followed by the second person who did the same thing, and so on. It was all very organised and we knew we'd swapped with everyone by the end.
The swaps were all beautiful and inspiring; I hope to share them on my regular blog posts at some stage.
My contribution was a disk holder, complete with blank DVD in it for storing photos or sharing music, etc. Maybe we should store our disk with photos from yesterday's river rafting day!
After swapping we settled down to stamp together – a favourite activity for a room full of Stampin' Up! demonstrators!
My Make & Take table: Debbie, Marelle, Sage, Angela, Alisa
Dave Baugh and Shelli from the Home Office chatted with us while we crafted.
Yummies to help keep the energy levels up
We took a break for the Official group photo (still to come) although I did take this shot of Angie (event manager extraordinaire!) taking the group shot – she goes to great lengths to make these events a success, even climbing out of windows to take a good photo!
It was fun celebrating Shelli Gardner's 50th birthday with her. Shelli (Stampin' Up! CoFounder & CEO) is truly an amazing and inspiring woman. I loved getting this photo with her and my two downline who were also achieving demonstrators, Maureen and Tracy. These girls have big hearts and I'm so blessed to know them and to call them my friends.
Maureen, Shelli, me (Simone) and Tracy
After the swapping and 'Making & Taking' was over, it was a free afternoon. Jason and I spent a leisurely afternoon exploring the resort, checking out the activities, swimming and even had an afternoon sleep (it had to catch up on us at some point!)
We also popped up to the hospitality desk for another chance to Spin the wheel and collect more gifts. This year I got yet-to-be-released Designer Series Paper, trinkets, ribbon and even a stunning Stampin' Up! cardigan!!! Keep reading to see what it looks like.
Tonight both Jason and I received beautiful gifts – delicious Pure Fiji products, labelled "For Him" and "For Her". Lotions, sugar rub, moisturisers, and more. What a thoughtful touch!
Day 4, Saturday:
Free day & Farewell Dinner
This morning I indulged in a 75 min spa treatment at the onsite Mandarra Spa… mmmmm, heavenly.
Our plan for today was to do nothing! And that's pretty much what we did. Swimming, lounging by the pool, and catching up with other demonstrators who were also swimming and lounging by the pool – LOL!
This evening we all met at 7pm in the reception area for pre-dinner mingling. Hard to believe the official part of the trip is over. After a little while we were led to the beach and were entertained with the most spectacular fire dancing display.
It was truly breathtaking!
We then followed our Fijian hosts back to the hotel to an amazing room complete with chandeliers and flowing drapes. Magical. It was a beautiful evening as we enjoyed the company of Dave Baugh, Debbie, Jacque, and their guests.
Farewell dinner. (p.s. Jacque is wearing that gorgeous Baja Breeze cardigan we all got as a Spin the Wheel prize)
And to inspire us to meet up again next year at Incentive Trip 2012 we each got a beautiful mother-of-pearl shell from next year's trip destination: Broome, Western Australia!
The place marker reads: Simone – Broome Awaits. Sounds good to me!
The evening finished with a children's choir singing farewell songs to us in their native language.
It was so beautiful and genuinely heartfelt, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't the only one moved to tears. Afterwards, all the children walked around the room and shook hands with us.
With many of the group catching an early morning flight the next day it was then time for all of us to say our good-byes.
Day 5 – 7:
This year Jason and I decided to extend our visit by two more nights. With the way the flights worked out, this effectively gave us 3 full days more to enjoy being 'on Fiji time'. I have to say I was happy to sleep in that first morning after the Farewell Dinner and then have a leisurely breakfast. Otherwise it would have been us catching the 5.15am transfer to the airport!
These couple of days were just what the doctor ordered. A few others stayed on as well so it was nice to bump into familiar faces for the occasional meal, chat or cocktail, but it was also a special time for Jason and I to enjoy a few rare days of peace.
Here are some photos from our 'extra days' in Fiji.
A daily occurrence: catching the 'Bula Bus' into the port (Port Denarau) for lunch/dinner/shopping
Stretch limo… Fiji style
View from the breakfast table. Champagne was on offer every morning for those who enjoy a 'Champagne Breakfast'!
Our digs at the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa
Thank you once again to all those who have supported and encouraged me in my journey as a Stampin' Up! demonstrator. I'm incredibly grateful for opportunities like these, and never forget for a minute why I'm there. I look forward to continue being your demonstrator, upline or one who simply shares your passion for papercrafting. See you next year!
I hope you enjoyed this little snapshot summary of our trip to Fiji. Please feel free to leave a comment to let me know you stopped by!
To read about the 2010 Incentive Trip to Hamilton Island, click HERE.