By Zane Yoshida

Welcome to Fiji – Welcome to VIP Kava

VIP kava has been used by Fijians down the centuries to welcome their guests!

Fiji is known as the “friendliest place in the world” and, whether it is the Queen of England, the Pope, the President of the USA, or a Hollywood celebrity, a traditional welcome drink of kava is guaranteed. To us, it’s a way of saying “we are glad you have visited and will do everything we can to make you feel comfortable here.”

The traditional kava welcome

In the past a traditional welcome would entail a full sevu sevu ceremony. Guests take their place on a locally woven mat in a semi-circle arrangement, facing the chief. Everyone must dress modestly, keep their heads lower than the chief’s at all times, and point their feet away from him.

A bowl of kava sits in front of the chief. When it’s time to drink, the chief drinks first. When the bilo or coconut shell is refilled and passed around, the guest claps once with cupped hands and says “bula” as a sign of gratitude. Then he or she takes the bilo in both hands and raises it to the lips, drinking the contents in one go. Then the shell is handed back, the guest claps three times, and says “bula” again.

A modern welcome at the Fiji Hilton

This ritual is still performed when guest of honour visit or when a special event is taking place. But hotels and resorts in Fiji have started to get creative and use modern alternatives so that the ancient traditions are preserved for their guests.

The Hilton Fiji Beach Resort on Denarau Island recently confirmed that Taki Mai shots are now the welcome drink at the resort for VIP guests.

This is one of the top resorts in the South Pacific and it is a proud moment for Taki Mai as our VIP kava become an official part of the welcoming ceremony for guests to the country.