A view from the Jacuzzi at the Shangri-La Fijian Resort & Spa.
The Shangri-La Fijian Resort & Spa is on Fiji’s Coral Coast, about a 45-minute drive from Nandi International Airport. The on-island tour operator Rosie Holidays is handling my ground transport during this trip, and I enjoyed the drive along nearly empty roads though a landscape of sugar cane fields and pine forests. My driver told me that Indians make up about 48 percent of Fiji’s population and the influence is immediately apparent, from the Hindu temples and sari-clad women to basic menus featuring tandoori chicken wraps and curried goat.
The Shangri-La Fijian Resort & Spa has been in operation for 41 years; Shangri-La took it over in the 1970s. The resort is on its own 109-acre island and is reached by crossing a short bridge.
I toured the resort by golf cart with the Sales Coordinator, Ranjini Reddy, behind the wheel. She described the resort as “four-and-a-half stars.” The three-story resort has 442 rooms grouped into wings fronting the lagoon side, and those fronting the ocean.
A Premier Oceanfront Bure.
The resort is well-equipped to handle groups and meetings, but it’s equally appealing for families with children. They tend to navigate towards the Lagoon Wing rooms, which are convenient to the kids club, children’s pool and the calmer waters of the lagoon; it’s not recommended that guests swim on the oceanside, due to the coral reef and strong currents.
Last February, the resort opened six Premier Oceanfront Bures. These one-bedroom accommodations come with 24-hour butler service, Jacuzzis, and private golf cart. They’re a good recommendation for honeymooners and romance-minded couples. The rate is $1,010 a night.
Destination weddings outnumber honeymoons at the resort. A really charming feature is the non-denominational Seaside Chapel, an authentic recreation of a chapel you might see in the countryside.
The Seaside Chapel.
This year the resort also opened Chi, the Spa at Shangri-La. I took a quick walk through and was impressed to learn that the spa offers a “Dusk till Dawn” package that allows guests to stay overnight in one of the six spa bures (four of these front the ocean while two are described as rainforest bures). The package includes four treatments, full beds and a spa breakfast on awakening.
The signature treatment at the spa is the Traditional Bobo Massage, utilizing Fijian techniques and materials, such as coconut oil. I was lucky enough to experience this for myself in one of the oceanfront spa bures. These are really spacious inside—almost a complex onto themselves, with a changing area and outdoor shower. The bobo massage uses strong strokes, as well as utilizing healing herbs that are inside a sachet of sorts that is applied to the individuals stress points (mine being the neck and shoulders due to long hours at the computer). My therapist was Inise Baravi, the resort’s specialist in bobo massage; I highly recommend guests seek her out.
The spa director is Jeanette Haua. Agents can make advance reservations for their clients by reaching out to her at 679-652-0155, [email protected].
The resort has lots of options for active guests, including a 9-hole golf course, tennis courts and watersports, including sportfishing charters. They’re currently tearing up one of the tennis courts to create a miniature golf attraction. Evening shows include those offering a glimpse of traditional Fijian ways, including dances, a lovo meal of food prepared in underground earthen ovens, and fire-walking—which I witnessed. I’m still trying to figure out how it’s done. The firewalkers didn’t sprint across the red hot stones; they stood on them, shouting out a hearty “Bula!” to the crowd. In no way do I think it’s a trick or a sham; it’s a mystery I’ll have to investigate.
The travel agent contact at the resort is Ana Tabulawaki, sales executive. She can be reached at 679-652-8705, [email protected].