Written by Paul Chai
The lush surrounds of Airways Hotel’s well-cared-for garden acts as a welcoming oasis for guests and staff alike. Verave Uba, a supervisor and gardener, has been taking care of the gardens at Airways Hotel for eight years, tending to the ginger lilies, bougainvillea and golden cane palm trees that have been lovingly planted by the hospitality business over the years. Verave was a village farmer who tended to his own crop of yams and bananas but it was a friend that suggested he apply for a gardening job at Airways where his green thumb has seen him progress to becoming a supervisor. “The botanical garden is different to farming because a lot of these plants are not seasonal, they are permanent, so we have to look after them very carefully or they will die,” Verave says. “We clean them, tend to the soil and water them so that our plants can remain healthy.” The garden is thoughtfully planted in layers from ground cover to 10-metre high trees with winding paths for the hotel visitors to explore the greenery. Most plants are sourced from the Port Moresby market or local suppliers and all are picked for their visual splendour. “When guests see our garden they will feel happy and relaxed here,” Verave adds proudly.
Functional as well as beautiful Not only are guests enveloped in spectacular greenery from the botanical garden, the plantings also offer guests a taste of Papua New Guinea.
Crisanto Lacanlale, Services Manager at Airways Hotel, says that the effort they put into the grounds – Verave is aided by 25 additional garden staff – is geared toward providing guests with a true example of PNG’s amazing produce. “Our guests feel the hotel is different because we have places for flowers but also for fruit-bearing trees so when they are in season – like it is mango season now – we place some mangoes at the restaurant and reception for guests and they can eat some fruit from our garden,” Crisanto says.
The hotel also provides hands of bananas and fresh coconut water thanks to the effort of Verave and his team. Verave’s favourite plants include the flowering shrub golden duranta, as well as some rusianas. “We think the garden really does draw in guests who want more from a hotel than just a nice room, they want to explore the area and to feel calm and relaxed,” he says. Crisanto agrees saying that the plantings really add to the hotel’s ambience and that they are often changing things so that the garden remains fresh for regular visitors. “Just recently in our front area in the entrance we have changed some flowers and they are planning to beautify the gardens more and add some more flowers,” he says.