It’s one thing to renovate rooms ‘cos you can do them one at a time, but when you’re ripping out the entire roof of the main reception/dining/bar area, it’s a big ask! So we had 10 days of disruption but our guests were very relaxed about it – we moved the restaurant up to the poolhouse deck on a temporary basis, and got on with it.

We were taking out all the thatching from the big bure – and really not before time. Traditional thatching is lovely to look at – but it takes a lot of maintenance, houses all sorts of beetles and other creatures, and is a potential fire hazard in kitchens.

We’d already put up corrugated iron roofs some years ago (nowadays a rather more traditional Fijian roofing style than thatching!) so the thatching was all on the inside. Arun Prasad and his team arrived early on a Monday morning and thanks to daylight saving, worked right through the day and pretty well completed the first part of the job in a day.

The whole place was a swirling mass of dust and straw and sawdust; the big bure was quite literally knee deep in the leaves. The team gathered it all up in big tarps and burned it out the back. The men strolled cat-like around the rafters on planks of wood – it looked precarious to me but the only accident was when one poor bloke who dropped his wallet into the piles of discarded thatch and never found it!

The next 9 days were spent in nailing up the ceiling boards and painting them; the roof is white, the rafters are deep brown – and we’ve carefully painted around the magimagi weaving on the central pillars (magimagi is a traditional form of Fijian decorative weaving in a thick string).

So less than 2 weeks later, it’s all done, we’re back in the big bure and the whole place is lighter, brighter and cleaner.