The Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva Fiji

The Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, Fiji as depicted on the back of a Fijian ten dollar note.

The Grand Pacific Hotel opened on May 23, 1914 in the Fijian capital of Suva on the island of Viti Levu. The hotel was built by the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand as luxury accommodations for cruise ship passengers. The hotels original design mimicked the layout and amenities of a ship. The hotel quickly became the social center of the island.

Reserve Bank of New Zealand one pound note overprinted for use as emergency currency in Fiji.
This piece was saved by an American serviceman on a short snorter.

Fiji was an important logistics base during the Second World War. The huge influx of New Zealand and American military personnel put a tremendous strain on the Fijian monetary system. A shortage of currency and small change soon developed. New Zealand banknotes were overprinted for use in Fiji and an emergency issue of small change notes was printed.

These measures helped the situation but proved insufficient. Local businesses had small change tokens printed for use in their establishments. The Fijian government took a dim view of this private scrip and banned its use. The Grand Pacific Hotel was one of the places that issued paper tokens. Its tokens were in denominations of one penny, three pence and sixpence.

Receipt for one pound to an Ensign Mills from the Grand Pacific Hotel in September 1942.

With the post-war decline in passenger ship travel, the Grand Pacific Hotel fell on hard times. The Union Steamship Company pulled out in the 1950s and the hotel went through the hands of a succession of owners. The Nauru Government took over in the 1980s but it closed in 1992. Subsequent attempts at revitalizing the hotel were delayed by political instability in Fiji. It was finally renovated into a five-star hotel and reopened in time for its centennial in 2014.

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