FIJI HITS THE SWEET SPOT – NOT ONLY ON THE COURSE

Fiji – a Pa­cific par­adise so close to home that I never tire of vis­it­ing this beau­ti­ful place.

New Zealand Golf Magazine - - CONTENTS - WORDS BY EL­IZ­A­BETH WIT­TON

We travel to Fiji for the Fiji In­ter­na­tional and dis­cover lux­u­ri­ous places to stay.

Every time I land at Nadi air­port I remember a lit­tle girl a few years ago say­ing, ‘you can taste the warmth' as she felt the warm breeze wrap around her when she dis­em­barked the plane. Fiji is one of my favourite hol­i­day des­ti­na­tions and over the last cou­ple of years, I've met sev­eral peo­ple who have never been there – some­thing I find sur­pris­ing, es­pe­cially when it's so close. It's only a three-hour flight away and at this time of year there is no time dif­fer­ence so trav­el­ling there is a breeze.

Over the last cou­ple of years, I have met sev­eral peo­ple who have never been there – some­thing I find sur­pris­ing.

Fiji is only a three-hour flight away and at this time of year there is no time dif­fer­ence so trav­el­ling there is a breeze.

There are some great ac­com­mo­da­tion choices, great golf cour­ses and plenty of ac­tiv­i­ties to choose from when you want to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. What more could you want?

This year I made my annual trip to see the Fiji In­ter­na­tional golf tour­na­ment at Nata­dola Bay Cham­pi­onship Golf course and then had an ex­tra cou­ple of days to en­joy this stun­ning des­ti­na­tion.

Nata­dola Bay Cham­pi­onship Golf Club is about a 1 hour drive from Nadi so I pre­fer to stay not too far from the course. This year it was at Yat­ule Re­sort and Spa, a small bou­tique ho­tel with only 36 bu­res right sit­ting right on the beach­front of Nata­dola Bay. With its pris­tine white sand and clear blue warm wa­ters, it is an idyl­lic spot. The re­sult? A quiet re­laxed place to stay, per­fect if you just want to get away and have a low key re­lax­ing hol­i­day.

The com­fort­able rooms over­look ei­ther the beach or the pool. My beach­front bure let me en­joy the stun­ning sun­sets and fall asleep to the sound of waves gen­tly lap­ping the shore.

While the restau­rant and bar are quiet, the food is good (I had an ex­tremely tasty and beau­ti­fully pre­sented curry that I could have hap­pily eaten every night) and ser­vice is friendly.

After leav­ing Yat­ule I ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing truly Fi­jian. A visit to ‘Flavours of Fiji' cook­ing school. What a great day. This is not so well known as many other things you can do in Fiji but it is a fan­tas­tic way to ex­pe­ri­ence a lit­tle bit of Fiji. Sit­u­ated on De­na­rau you can ei­ther start your day at the school with a trip to the Nadi mar­kets or if you want a lit­tle sleep in you can miss that and ar­rive for the cook­ing classes. Fiji cui­sine is in­flu­enced by the na­tive Fi­jian, In­dian and Chi­nese cul­tures. At the cook­ing school's sim­ple spa­cious room we all had our own work sta­tions and got to make and then eat sev­eral Fi­jian and then

After leav­ing Yat­ule I ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing truly Fi­jian. A visit to ‘Flavours of Fiji’ cook­ing school. What a great day. This is not so well known as many other things you can do in Fiji but it is a fan­tas­tic way to ex­pe­ri­ence a lit­tle bit of Fiji.

In­dian recipes us­ing lo­cal pro­duce. You don't need to be a great cook as ev­ery­thing is ex­plained sim­ply and you are not rushed in your cre­ativ­ity. Soon after I got back to NZ all the recipes ar­rived by email so now I have a few more amaz­ing meals to tempt my fam­i­lies taste buds with. I even have the cer­tifi­cate telling me I am now ‘of­fi­cially a lo­cal mas­ter cook'.

Be­fore com­ing home I was treated to a night at the new Fiji Mar­riott Re­sort, Momi Bay Re­sort. WOW – what an amaz­ing place.

The re­sort opened in April this year and is al­ready prov­ing to be a pop­u­lar ac­com­mo­da­tion choice for vis­i­tors and I am not sur­prised.

The grand en­trance with its high ceil­ing is breath­tak­ing, as is ev­ery­thing about the re­sort. My la­goon view bure was oh so lux­u­ri­ous and com­fort­able. With its king size bed, bath, sep­a­rate shower and seat­ing area I was feel­ing very spoilt. To make the most of my view across the quiet la­goon I lay on the chair on my deck and con­tem­plated the idea of spend­ing the night sleeping there mak­ing the most of the warm balmy breeze. The bed won out and what a great night's sleep I had.

If you re­ally want to treat yourself to a bit of lux­ury there are over­wa­ter bu­res. While over­wa­ter bu­res may be rel­a­tively com­mon in other coun­tries this is the first re­sort on Fiji's main Is­land of Viti Levu to have them.

The res­tau­rants pro­vide a va­ri­ety of qual­ity de­li­cious din­ing options at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions around the re­sort and the dress code is ca­sual – just what you want on hol­i­day.

If you want to do a bit more than re­lax by the wa­ter, whether it be out­side your room or at one of the pools, there is plenty on of­fer.

At Quan Spa, I was treated like an hon­oured guest from my first step in­side the doors of this quiet, peace­ful oa­sis un­til I left. After a very short wait I was taken to my treat­ment room. There, I was able to shower be­fore ly­ing down on the bed, a treat in it­self rather than get­ting changed in the same room as every­one else and then wait­ing again be­fore be­ing taken to a treat­ment room. I came away from my mas­sage feel­ing very pam­pered and un­able to fully de­scribe it as I spent the whole time strug­gling to stay awake as the aches in my mus­cles were soothed away by ex­pert hands. For me that cov­ers all the as­pects of a great mas­sage ex­pe­ri­ence. I left wish­ing I had time to go again.

If you want some­thing with a bit more ad­ven­ture there are plenty of other ac­tiv­i­ties on of­fer at the re­sort. I was lucky enough to join a snorkelling trip out to the nearby coral reef. Be­fore ar­riv­ing at our snorkelling spot, we were taken to the world-fa­mous Cloud Break surf­ing area. With its con­stant wave ac­tiv­ity, it was easy to see why this is an area for ex­pe­ri­enced surfers. I con­sider my­self to be a con­fi­dent swim­mer so was look­ing for­ward to get­ting into the warm wa­ters. Fear not though if you are a be­gin­ner as the at­ten­tive staff will look after you no mat­ter what your swim­ming abil­ity. The coral pro­vided an in­ter­est­ing and con­stantly chang­ing back­drop to the numer­ous beau­ti­fully coloured fish and starfish, I wish I could have stayed in for a lot longer than I did.

I may have only had one night at Momi Bay but I de­parted feel­ing as if I had had a re­lax­ing break of sev­eral days. It made me fall in love with Fiji all over again.

For all of you who have never been to Fiji, make this the first choice of des­ti­na­tion for your next hol­i­day and for those who have been be­fore, I know you will be plan­ning to go again. With the warmth of the peo­ple, great weather, warm seas, white sandy beaches, fan­tas­tic ac­com­mo­da­tion choices, lots of dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties for all the fam­ily to join in and some world class golf cour­ses this sound like a des­ti­na­tion heaven – it is!

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