David Gilmour, Who Turned a Tiny Island Into a Resort, Dies at 91

David Gilmour is a Canadian-born entrepreneur who, in the 1990s, built a luxury resort on Wakaya, the small island he owned in Fiji. Fijian Natural Pressed Water, The man credited with turning a local resource into a leading bottle brand died June 11 in Manhattan. he was 91 years old.

Friend and business partner David Ross said the cause was cardiac arrest.

Gilmore had built several businesses over 30 years before acquiring Wakaya from two business partners in 1987. He imported Scandinavian home furnishings and manufactured high-end stereos. He helped found his chain of hotels in the South Pacific, which made him familiar with the archipelago nation of Fiji, and co-founded a gold mining company.

But something was different with Wakaya. At the time, he was mourning the death of his only child, Erin Gilmore, who was murdered in his Toronto apartment in 1983.

His wife, Gillian Gilmore, said in a phone interview that he called the island “the world’s last bastion of sanity.” “When everything turned like Calflo, he knew this was where he was going. The island itself is so beautiful. There is an area called

In 1990 he Wakaya Club & Spa, a cluster of eight independent suites in a former coconut plantation. At the time, he said, he opened the place as “actually just a place where friends who can’t have in their own homes can come and share peace.” He added, “Frankly, I don’t think this is very commercial. It’s probably only breakeven.”

Nevertheless, it became popular among celebrities such as Tom Cruise, Bill Gates and Melinda Gates (who spent part of their honeymoon there). Keith Richards fell from a palm tree there In 2006, he was taken to a New Zealand hospital with a head injury.

One day in the 1990s, Mr. Gilmore saw a guest drinking a bottle of Evian.

“He said, ‘There’s something wrong with this picture,’ and I said, ‘What do you mean?'” Gilmore said. “And he said, ‘We’re on our own island and they’re drinking water from Lake Geneva. Fiji has a lot of rainfall, so there must be more water sources.’ I know that.”

Gilmore discovered an underground aquifer containing mineral silica-rich water beneath the volcanic plateau of Viti Levu, Fiji. In 1996 his company began packaging and shipping worldwide in a distinctive square bottle.

Gilmore said the purity of the water is a result of Fiji’s geographical remoteness. “No acid rain, no industrial pollution, no pesticides,” he told the Palm Beach Post in 1998. “This is the purest pristine ecosystem.”

Fiji is now the second largest imported water brand in the United States, according to Beverage Marketing Corporation.

David Harrison Gilmore was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on November 5, 1931 and raised in Toronto. His father Adam Gilmore was an investment banker and his mother Doris Godson Gilmore was an opera singer.

Gilmore studied business at the University of Toronto for a year, then accepted his father’s offer of a $10-a-day scholarship to travel to Europe, and traveled for a while before returning to Canada.

“I learned the true form of human beings.” He told Palm Beach Illustrated: “I learned to touch only what I believed in 100 percent. And I learned how to take care of myself.”

He turned down his father’s offer to join the bank and instead moved to Montreal where he sold pots and pans door-to-door for a year.

His first business was importing modern, streamlined Scandinavian homewares and furniture. He launched his startup in 1958. creatone sound, Collaboration with Hungarian-born electrical engineer Peter Munch. The company produced his sophisticated, critically acclaimed Hi-Fi system, and its buyers included Frank Sinatra and Hugh Hefner. However, it ventured into the television business and tragically went bankrupt after moving operations to Nova Scotia.

Amid heavy losses, Gilmore and Munk were forced out of the company in 1968 and later settled a lawsuit in 1967, alleging they sold their shares before the company’s bad quarterly results were announced.

They quickly recovered and founded Southern Pacific Properties in 1969 with over 50 hotels in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia, Tahiti and other islands. An ambitious development plan near the pyramids of Giza, Egypt, was finally canceled in 1978 by President Anwar Sadat.

3 years later Tan Sri Ku Tec Puat, A Singaporean banker bought Southern Pacific for $130 million, but Wakaya was owned separately by Mr. Gilmore and his partners until Mr. Gilmore bought it.

In the early 1980s, Mr. Gilmour and Mr. Munk were one of the original partners of Barrick Gold, one of the world’s largest gold producers. Mr. Munch served as chairman and chief executive officer for many years, and Mr. Gilmore served on the board until 2001. Munch died in 2018.

Gilmore explained his working relationship with Munch in 2008: Globe and Mail in Toronto. “I’m more of an entrepreneurial type and like to start a new venture, but Peter loves growing huge companies,” he said. “Once it hits critical mass, sitting around the boardroom table gets a little boring.”

Marketed as a luxury brand, Fiji Water was a huge commercial success, but like other brands, it criticized the industry for the energy and greenhouse gases consumed in manufacturing and transporting the plastic bottles, as well as the plastic waste. despised by environmental activists. leave. Fiji in particular was chosen to transport water to consumers thousands of miles away.

After a Category 5 cyclone devastated the island, Mr. Gilmore sold Fiji Water to Roll International in 2004 and Wakaya to Seagram heiress Claire Bronfman in 2016. . “We sold it for a dollar and ten cents,” Gilmore said. In 2020, Ms Bronfman received a prison sentence for her role in enabling the Nxivm sex cult.

Mr. Gilmore has a wife. Erin’s marriage to mother Anna Wilmot and Diane Williams ended in divorce.

Mr Gilmore, he sold his Palm Beach property His portfolio, which died last year with $44.9 million, included one last company. wakaya perfectionis a wellness company that sells ginger and turmeric powders and capsules grown in the volcanic soils of Fiji and Nicaragua.

“David had the belief that organic, single-source, extremely pure, high-quality ginger and turmeric were what people wanted,” Ross, who founded the company with Gilmore, said by phone. Told. “And Oprah has twice picked it as one of her favorites.”

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