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Villa Mamana was built in the late-1990s by Joe Altenhein and his Tongan wife Lola.
Joe had come to Tonga in 1994 following a royal visit to Germany by the late King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV. during which the king had invited German citizens to come and live and invest in his tiny kingdom. Joe, a pilot, had been looking for the right place to start his seaplane business in an island country with many islands and sandy beaches with shallow lagoons. He thought the Maldives were too Islamic, the Bahamas too screwed up, Fiji too Indian, but Tonga just right: very authentic, relatively untouched, with nice people and beautiful weather, and foreign investment officially welcomed.
However, with the Government delaying the issuing of an operating license for his seaplane, he decided to wait and in the meantime build, as a support business to his original plans, Villa Mamana on Teleki'vavau. For more than six years he created, single-handedly, with just the occasional help from some local fishermen, this most exquisite resort. It must've been a labour of love because the logistics and the costs to transport material and build on this tiny and remote island must have been quite daunting.
Eventually, with their two children needing schooling, Joe and Lola put Villa Mamana up for sale.
After the sale to the current owners, Joe and Lola returned to Germany where they now operate a 'Hotel-Pension' in the centre of Berlin but still miss Villa Mamana.
As Joe wrote, "We all had the best time of our lives on the island, and will always miss it - unless we find another island and build a 'Villa Mamana Lite' just for us."