AN Australian by birth and having lived in Asia for most of his working life, the only thing Brad Shennan had in common with Fiji before he ever saw the country was tourism.
And yet, three months after arriving here to take up the position of director of operations at Treasure Island in the Mamanucas, Brad, as he is known on the island, finds himself very much at home in Fiji.
"It's paradise," says Brad of his new home.
On a two-year contract with the resort, Brad, 42, finds Fiji quite a contrast to his previous experiences in Asia and Dubai.
That's what gives him such an appreciation for his new assignment in this part of the South Pacific.
All that for someone who had no idea what this side of world or Fiji in particular had to offer.
"I got into the industry because I love to travel," he recalls.
"I started in the tourism industry after completing my university studies in Australia, which was around 1984," he said.
"It was the Sheraton hotels in Townsville for three years then on to Ayers Rock for another three years.
"I then went on to Melbourne where I worked for four years before heading off to Malaysia for 10 years. After my work there was completed, I headed back to Australia before moving down to Dubai for a year."
While living in Asia gave him the opportunity to learn about different cultures, Brad decided to continue the journey he began in a different direction when he took up the job in Dubai. When that assignment ended, he was given a choice to either take up a job in Kuwait or come down to Fiji.
"I was flown over here to check out the place and just opted to stay on," he said.
"Let's face it, Fiji is one of the prettiest and most peaceful places in the world.
"Fiji is a lot more relaxed, unlike Dubai where it's very exciting but things are done in the extreme.
"There are mega projects. Things are done on a large scale and a lot of money is being used. It's like Disneyland."
Brad is married to Renai, who is from Bali, where they plan to set up a business.
While this traveller at heart has seen much of the world, he is yet to leave his little corner of paradise on Treasure Island to see what the rest of Fiji is like. But it is clear he has already formed a real bonding with this country.
"I chose Fiji because it's more preserved especially with its culture but Dubai has rushed into development where it has lost its culture. Dubai is the westernised version of the Middle East.
"One of the biggest differences is that there are some places around the world where once you have met a person, you would be wondering when they would start asking things of you.
"But that's not the case here in Fiji. People are genuine and it's fairly unique.
"What's not to like about this place. People come here and relax. It's exciting to the tourist because they are in a foreign country and they are safe."
Adapted from Fijitimes Online