With Fiji open again for travel from Australia, Turtle Island, a privately owned luxury island in the Yasawa Group, is not only welcoming back guests but also welcoming home husband and wife General Manager team, Rob and Landi Burns.
Both originally from Africa, the couple first made Turtle Island their home in January 2017 and were responsible for the full management of the 500-acre island and resort which included hosting guests, the management of a team of 90 staff, overseeing island and resort maintenance, supervision of the kitchen garden and other F&B requirements as well as contribution to the island’s conservation and philanthropic efforts and engaging with the local community.
After three years on Turtle Island helping to turn it into the most highly rated South Pacific holiday destination winning multiple awards, the call of Africa lured the couple back to their homeland in December 2019.
During their two-year hiatus from Turtle Island, Landi joined Traveluxe Official as the Editorial Director and Luxury Travel Advisor and was awarded Top Travel Specialist 2021 by Conde Nast Traveler. Rob has been tending to their farm and supervising their building projects. However, they missed the strong family ethos and authentic warm Fijian culture for which Turtle Island is renowned.
“The second you step foot on Turtle Island, you become a member of the privileged Turtle family, and the bond and connections you make stay with you forever,” said Landi Burns. “During our time away, Rob and I missed those family ties, the beauty of the destination, and the opportunity to share that with the guests. We wanted to be a part of that again and are so delighted Richard Evanson invited us back. We can’t think of a place we’d rather be as tourism on Turtle Island recovers after an unprecedented two years.”
Rob and Landi officially walked back down the dock at Turtle Island on 23 March and their roles remain very similar but with a few additional responsibilities. These include farming skills and the management of farm animals with the island now home to dairy cows, pigs, ducks, over 500 hens, and 120,000 honey bees, all of which help to reduce carbon emission from food miles. The eggs and honey appear on the breakfast table while the fertilizer provided by the livestock is used in the vegetable garden, the fruit tree orchards, and other parts of the island vegetation.
The vegetable garden is now completely organic, using only natural growing and pest management methods. To reduce waste the staff are drying, fermenting, and pickling produce – some island favorites include pickled green papaya, cucumber pickles, and sundried tomatoes.
Their responsibilities around community support have also increased with important new conservation programs in place that give back to the local community.
The health and safety of all staff and guests will also come under their realm of responsibility and working closely with Government and the local tourism entities to support the safe return of guests. Turtle Island is certified under the Care Fiji Commitment (CFC), a WHO-approved standard of best-practice health and safety measures for travel.