No bed for NZ tourists after TV show hijacks accommodation

By Rebecca Lewis

Hundreds of New Zealanders have had bookings cancelled at a top Samoan resort so it could house crew for American reality show Survivor.

Aggie Grey's Lagoon Resort in Apia is closing during part of its June to September peak season to accommodate production staff for the CBS show.

The location was supposed to be secret, but details leaked out via internet messageboards when holidaymakers were told they had to cancel bookings.

The resort offered to house affected guests at the old Aggie Grey's Resort and bus them to the new hotel's amenities, but many are furious their holidays will be wrecked.

Aucklander Linda Storey prepaid for a trip with her mother, daughter and her daughter's boyfriend, and was "disgusted" to find out about Survivor via internet forums.

Her travel agent was unaware of the situation until two weeks ago, and Storey decided to bring forward her holiday two weeks.

"I'm disgusted with how they are dealing with this but, unfortunately, we can't afford to go to another hotel," she said.

"I'm going to make my opinions heard in person when I get there."

Another woman, on www.tripadvisor.com, has had to relocate 50 guests for her wedding as a result of the saga.

"Although the hotel is offering to relocate my guests and allow me to get married at the Lagoon, it is disheartening that all my plans have altered tremendously," she said.

"I can't believe that they think it is so easy to ask more than 50 people to reorganise their lives."

Calls and emails to both Aggie Grey resorts were not returned. Agents across New Zealand have been trying to relocate customers, and work out alternative travel dates.

Flight Centre said 300 of its customers were affected. Spokeswoman Marie Pilkington said they were trying to relocate them to other islands and many were rebooking for Australia.

"We had no warning, but we do understand the situation Aggie Greys has been put in and we're trying to sort it out as best we can for everyone."

Another agent had tried to book customers into resorts in Fiji and the Cook Islands.

"There aren't many alternative options in Samoa so we're trying to secure places on other islands. Understandably, many aren't happy because they wanted to travel to Samoa specifically."

Survivor Samoa will be the 19th series of the show, in which contestants live a Robinson Crusoe-like life in desolate areas for 40 days.

But internet rumours suggest the latest series will be made only a short distance from luxury hotels.

- Herald on Sunday

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