Spontoon Island
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Posted 30 April 2008
  Tourist Season
A background essay by Ken Fletcher

Tourist Season on Spontoon Island

Spontoon Island was an insider's destination for the rich tourist starting in the early 1900s. It was exotic in politics, but English-speaking and relatively safe, The Spontoonies also had some up-to-date infrastructure in place on Accounting Island, (that was later called Casino Island.) Rich travelers visited via yachts, freighters, and ocean liners between the USA and the Philippines and points West, and between Rain Coast and Australia. Later, in the 20s, there were scheduled zeppelin flights, some private seaplanes, and cruise ships in the late 20s. The Spontoon Atoll and Spontoon Archipelago became a destination for the private yachts and private seaplanes of the rich and eccentric, especially after the Spontoon-based movies of the early 1920s.

The Casino and several of the resort hotels were developed in the late 1920s to make Spontoon Island a tourist destination attractive for cruise ships. Spontoon Island's example and rival was Hawaii.  Hawaii was a more attractive Winter destination, with larger islands to explore. Hawaii is a USA-occupied territory with Honolulu (a tropical American city), and the government was by Euros, for Euros. Spontoon was more exotic in culture and politics, including allowing gambling, alcohol (no Prohibition) , and more tolerant of other entertainments (that were obviously well-regulated) . Casino Island and the other Lagoon tourist areas were much smaller than Honolulu, but way more exotic. Tourists could use Spontoon Island as a base, and go to visit tourist locations in the larger Archipelago.

Spontoon's tourist industry rapidly grew since 1929.  Hawaii was also a popular tourist destination. Neither really lost business to the other -- they were different flavors of island vacation.

There are some tourists and travelers in-transit crossing the Pacific year-around that may stay at the smaller Spontoon hotels and resorts that are open for such travelers trade. There just aren't as many visitors as the large numbers that show up May to September. Most of the larger hotels and resorts are shuttered in the off-season.  Spontoon Island isn't yet much of a Winter destination. Spontoon does have seasons, and the Winter does have a blustery, rainy, stormy couple of months. There can be off-season tourists: The Archipelago may still be more attractive in December than where the traveler has come from.

The most tourist visitors come in large batches on medium-to-large cruise passenger liners, so the scheduled arrival of a wave of tourists is often determined the previous Fall by the ship schedules.  The cruise ships are mostly from the USA and the Rain Coast, and around-the-world international cruises. By the mid-30s there are some destination cruises from other Pacific nations. Most cruise-ship tourists are solidly middle-class, although the Rain Coast cruise ships are worker-class bargain cruises (and have attracted budget tourists from elsewhere in North America). Some of the larger passenger-freight shipping lines have regular schedules that stop at the Spontoons (usually between the SW and NE Pacific rim).  These ships may have "tourist class" & 3rd class cabins.

Many standard freighter ships will have passenger cabins, and these can be in the 3rd-class to 2nd-class price range.

Most aircraft travelers are the very rich or the business staff of the very rich (or their corporations) or government workers. Their flights are often 'business flights', but it is not uncommon for a business flight across the Pacific to include a several-day layover at a resort --to recover from the "rigors of travel". The resorts of Southern Island, Spontoon Lagoon, have become one of these 'tax write-off' stopovers.

One can encounter tourists occasionally mixed among the business travelers: The very rich were the world-travelers through the 1930s. By that time it is possible to circle the world by air, if you have the money, and some wealthy travelers would do so, for the novelty. By the mid-30s there were some chartered flights to locations like the Spontoons - 'air-cruises' filled with upper-income vacationers. If you have the money, you might also indulge in impromptu vacation travel to a semi-exotic location on the route of the regular scheduled trans-Pacific flights. Spontoon Island Atoll became one of these destinations.

It is possible that going on a vacation to the Spontoons could go out of fashion. I understand that by '38 and '39 some newspaper and magazine articles start to appear revealing the scandalous truth about Spontoon 'custom' and role-playing for the tourists, and the fact that Spontoon reality does not match the feature movie versions of Pacific adventure. This is something many of the tourists realize after just a few days into a visit - most of these tourists will adjust their attitude and enjoy their stay anyway.  However, this Spontoon reality is not generally known to the readers of USA, Europe, or Asian Sunday newspaper supplements, and may be a surprise to their comfortable expectations.

Ken Fletcher
27 April 2008
Text and information released to Public Domain.