FIJI TOURISM HIT A ROUGH PATCH LAST YEAR. When the island nation experienced a military takeover last December, travel advisories from a number of nations quickly followed, including an advisory from the U.S. Surveys by Fiji's Bureau of Statistics showed a collective decrease in visitor arrivals of about 40 percent from the previous year. Fiji, a destination synonymous with laid-back vacations, tropical beauty and friendly residents, found itself with an image problem.
Tourism constitutes Fiji's main source of foreign exchange. Last month, the Fiji Visitors' Bureau received almost $1.3 million for marketing the destination to tourists. The U.S. Department of State's public announcement advising U.S. citizens to consider carefully the risks of travel to the Republic of Fiji will be reviewed at the end of this month. Hopefully this combination of marketing dollars and reexamined advisories will get Fiji back on track and doing what it does so well—providing vacation and honeymoon experiences to satisfied visitors.
Fiji is well known for its bures (pronounced boo-rays). These are traditional palm-roofed bungalows that are widely spaced for privacy and the free flow of ocean breezes. Visitors will find bures to be prevalent and an unexpected luxury. AgentAdvice
The most difficult times to book rooms in Fiji are during Australian and New Zealand school holidays (usually July through October) and over the Christmas/New Year period.
Likuliku Lagoon Resort (www.likulikulagoon.com.au) is a couples-only resort on Malolo Island in the Mamanuca archipelago, 16 miles from Nadi International Airport. Transportation from Nadi is 10 minutes by helicopter or seaplane, 30 minutes by speedboat transfer or two hours by catamaran transfer.
The resort has 45 bures. Ten of these are Fiji's first and only over-water bures. All bures have wireless Internet access, DVD player with flat-screen monitor, sun loungers and daily delivery of a chef's canapé plate.
The Deluxe Beachfronts with their own plunge pools are the most popular beachfront bures. The split-level design offers optimal lagoon views. The over-water bures are booked at 100 percent occupancy most of the time; book at least three months out to secure one for your clients.
The resort's Tatadra Spa has two couples' rooms. The spa director is Scott Howard ([email protected] , 679-672-4275). On Tuesdays, Fijiana, the resort restaurant, hosts a Fijian Lovo, which is a traditional form of cooking in the South Pacific where meat, seafood and vegetables are wrapped in coconut and banana leaves and then buried with hot stones and coals to cook slowly in an underground earth oven. Sunday evenings are Magiti night (Fijian for "feast"). Guests participate in a Fijian family feast "share style."
Prices start from $1,448 per person per night, inclusive of all meals and non-motorized activities. Travel agents can contact Samantha Muspratt, director of sales and marketing ([email protected]).
The Sheraton Denarau Villas (www.starwoodhotels.com) is on the island of Denarau, a 20-minute drive from the Nadi International Airport. Guests staying at the Sheraton Denarau Villas have access to all the facilities at the adjacent Sheraton Fiji Resort and the Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa, Fiji.
The 82 Villa Suites come with a lounge, dining area, fully equipped kitchen and laundry. The resort has an innovative twin key design which allows one-bedroom Villa Suites and guest rooms to be booked individually or combined as a Villa Suite with either two or three bedrooms. Villa Suites have an LCD TV, a DVD home-theater system and a balcony with a sea view. Suite numbers 801, 816, 874 and 824 are considered the ideal rooms to book. We hear that rooms in blocks 800 and 900 have sea views. The most requested premium accommodations are two- and three-bedroom villas.
The Sheraton Denarau Villas doesn't have a spa of its own, although treatments are available at the Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa. Agents can book treatments for clients ahead of time by contacting the facility's director, Amanda Burleigh ([email protected] 679-765-0000 ext. 7940).
The pool deck is used for weddings and there's a wedding chapel at the Sheraton Fiji Resort. The resort has two nuptials coordinators. Contact Miriama Komailevuka ([email protected], 679-675-0000 ext. 8613) or Perina Qoro ([email protected], 679-675-0000 ext. 8615). Rates start at $177 per night, and it's recommended that agents book three months in advance. The travel agent contact is Max Stock, general manager, Allied Travel Service Pacific ([email protected] , 679-675-0000 ext. 8906).
Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji (www.outrigger.com) was Fiji's first five-star resort. On the Coral Coast on the island of Viti Levu, the property has 207 rooms and 47 bures. The most requested rooms are the Beach Front bures for their location, and the Deluxe Ocean View rooms for their panoramic views. The Beach Front bures, with their tapa-lined high ceilings, are reminiscent of a Fijian village dwelling, although they do have modern day trappings, including plasma-screen TVs, broadband Internet access and in-room dining. The absolute best views are Beach Front bures 401 to 407 and Deluxe Ocean View rooms 621 to 640, 701 to 740, 801 to 840, 201 to 216 and 301 to 316. Both categories receive the resort's Signature Talai VIP Butler service. Plantation Family bures can accommodate either four adults and two children or three adults and three children and are made up of two bures joined together with a lounge area. Sixty-four connecting rooms are available at the resort.
Ivi restaurant's signature dish is kokoda, a local delicacy made with mahi-mahi, coconut cream, hot pepper and tomatoes, prepared tableside. The restaurant also offers chef's cooking classes for guests.
The resort's Bebe Spa has eight treatment rooms of which four are doubles. Each treatment facility has an outdoor balcony or patio. The most popular treatment is the Balinese aromatherapy massage. Agents can book treatments ahead of time by contacting the spa director, Marie-Adele Hames ([email protected], 679-650-0044).
Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji features two wedding options: a Garden Wedding package priced at $1,446 and a Fiji Bure Ni Loloma Wedding Chapel package for $2,185. The wedding coordinator is Praveena Dewan, ([email protected], 679-650-0044).
The travel agent liaison for the resort is Wayne Robinson, assistant director of sales, ([email protected], 679-650-9906).