We’re very excited to introduce the new Maitai Lapita Village on Huahine! This charming hotel welcomed its first guests on August 1, 2011 and since then, quite a few of us have also visited the property. We love everything about it – the design, the amenities, the staff, the food – but we especially love the hotel for what it represents. It’s a place with character, a place with heart, and a hotel respectful of the environment and the unique history of the land and its people – both past and present.
What’s in a Name?
At first glance, you might agree that the Maitai Lapita Village is in a prime location. The hotel is situated between a freshwater lake and Huahine’s blue lagoon, boasting incredibly scenic views of the island’s lush surroundings. What you might not realize is that the hotel is actually built on an ancient archaeological site where the island’s first ancestors once lived.
These ancestors, known as the Lapita people, are believed to have navigated from South East Asia over 4,000 years ago, making their voyage to Polynesia in large, double-hulled sailing canoes. Traces of their villages can be found throughout the Western Pacific including Fiji, Tonga and Somoa. In particular, their culture has been identified by a distinctive type of pottery (pictured to the right).
Numerous artifacts were uncovered at the current site of the Maitai Lapita Village in 1974 by a respected archaeologist named Yosihiko H. Sinoto. The majority of what he discovered – including a wooden migrating canoe – would have been damaged if fully excavated, so these items were preserved inside the swamp and maintained by water. (For more information about Sinoto’s work, you can read a few excerpts of his writing here.)
The hotel was therefore given the name “Lapita Village” in honor of the Lapita people, recognizing their influence on Polynesian culture and their ancient ties to the land around which the hotel was built.
Because of the site’s rich history, a lot of careful consideration went into the hotel’s construction plans. In order to guarantee the protection of ancient artifacts, they asked archaeologist Mark Eddowes to supervise the construction. Today, you can walk around the property and visit certain areas of archeological significance including the village’s restored temple, marae Tahuea.
Mark was also responsible for the creation of the Vaito’otia Museum located inside the hotel lobby. It tells the history of the Lapita people and displays a variety of illustrations, artwork and relevant artifacts, including a number of stone objects found during construction. The exhibit is arranged chronologically and also reflects on present day life, featuring artistic pieces from recent individuals including the artwork of Bobby Holcomb.
The hotel was even designed to pay tribute to these ancestors. Most of the decorative elements around the property were inspired by archaeological objects found on the site.
The bungalows were built to evoke visions of historic Polynesian canoe houses, or “fare va’a,” which would have stood there over 200 years ago. Their decks are decorated with canoe prows and the furniture on the terrace of each Premium Lake Bungalow is in the shape of a canoe. Traditional paddles not only decorate the walls of the bungalows, but are also used as signs to direct guests around the hotel grounds.
The landscaping is also very traditional, giving the grounds an authentic appearance that resembles what the site might have looked like in ancient times. While walking around the property you’ll encounter native trees and medicinal plants, Polynesian taros, yams, breadfruits, sugarcane, kava, and banana, as well as modern fruits and vegetation such as papaya, mango and vanilla.
The staff works hard to further safeguard the site’s ecosystem and protect the environment. The hotel’s primary motivation was to create an eco-friendly property that combined local, traditional resources with modern, recycled materials. This not only makes for a unique, sustainable design, but it also supports the local community by taking advantage of the resources available on the island.
To further uphold their vision, the hotel employs a number of eco-friendly practices in their daily operation including the use of renewable energy. Their solar farm produces over half of their power and is the largest on the island. They also use non-polluting waste treatments and cleaning products to protect the lake and its environment.
The ultimate goal for the hotel is to earn their EarthCheck Certification, following the example of the other Maitai Hotels on Bora Bora and Rangiroa. This prestigious label rewards a number of eco-friendly practices, while also taking into account the hotel’s efforts to educate their staff, raise awareness and benefit the community at large.
We definitely encourage you to experience this resort for yourself. Two of our vacation packages, Huahine Discovery and Huahine All-Inclusive Getaway, both feature the Maitai Lapita Village and offer a unique opportunity to see the resort within its first year of operation. Until you can get there, here are some pictures to hold you over!