Fiji is the home of happiness, writes ALANA SRUBAR -VERNON . There are 333 islands that make up the Republic of Fiji and this is a review of family time relaxing and regenerating on the largest – Viti Levu.
With a rich Pacific heritage and strong Indian influences, Fiji is unlike other Pacific islands. Driving around Viti Levu is an experience not to be missed. With a range of car hire options available, it’s worth taking time and exploring the different geography and local culture of the island. Taking in a wider array of hospitality is also a fantastic idea to experience different aspects of Fiji.
We started our journey experiencing Fiji on the beautiful Coral Coast. Famed for its expansive coral lagoon, tropical fish are abound making water based activities a must-do. The Warwick Hotel Fiji, offers travellers a place to hole up and relax. There really is no need to leave the resort, with multiple restaurant options and stores should you need any supplies that may have been forgotten (or want a memento of your time in Fiji). Rooms are well kept and those with ocean views can enjoy watching sunsets from their balcony over the lagoon. Of course the aptly named Sunset Bar is ideally suited to enjoy the sun dance its way down the horizon and is one of seven bars. There are five restaurants on site for satisfying hungry bellies. The breakfast buffet at Bula Brasserie leaves you so contented – it’s usually only the ice cream bar that is needed for lunch.
In between treating yourself to delicious food, time can be spent joining in with the activities on offer. There is a kids’ club that keeps the little ones entertained from ages three to 12 from 9am to 9pm. Adults can join in the family based activities and there is an adults-only area and pool.
For those travelling without kids there is also an adults-only wing to the hotel that is ideally placed next to the spa – optimising the relaxation process.
We relished the water activates on offer and highly recommend kayaking or snorkelling on the lagoon. There is an abundance of sea life not seen (by us) elsewhere on Viti Levu. With such variety of tropical fish and sea slugs / cucumbers, hours can literally be spent enjoying the ocean. We even managed to see the docile black and white banded sea snake as we hurried the other way (despite being docile they are highly venomous).
Continuing on from the Coral Coast, Suva is the capital of Fiji. Suva is a must-do for any one travelling to Fiji and when doing so staying at the Grand Pacific Hotel is definitely the best choice. As you arrive its grand façade beckons travellers inside to enjoy the royal treatment that awaits during your stay here. Originally built in 1914 and running for 50 (now operating for over 100) years, the object was to provide first class accommodation, with the hotel run like a luxury ship, with rooms like staterooms on a vessel. In 2014, the Grand Pacific Hotel reopened its doors, providing patrons with an opulent hotel experience. The rooms retain their luxurious and ample presentation, with individual balconies to enjoy the spectacular views from very large bathrooms.
Despite having such decadent rooms to enjoy, your room is not the best way to enjoy the hotel. There is an onsite spa offering a range of treatments. I enjoyed a relaxing and traditional Fijian Bobo massage, enhanced with techniques from the globe. The masseur was so good that I must have been transported through a time warp, as time went by so quickly and too soon it was finished. For the fitness fans, there is a complimentary air conditioned gym available for use. The Grand Pacific Hotel is also well set up for families with a large pool that has a kids section. Noteworthy attractions like the National Museum and Parliament building are nearby. Walking along the seaside sidewalk is a lovely way to see locals going about their day and provides great views.
Foodies are spoilt for choice at the Grand Pacific. Breakfast buffets offer a range of delights and eggs are made freshly upon
your arrival to your preference (French toast and pancakes are also made upon your arrival should you desire). Fresh juice is made to order with tropical fruits and vegetables and there is a waitress bringing you, your selection of hot beverage. Dinner courses offer five-star taste bud sensations, which change every night. There is indoor dining available for every meal, but the best dining option is to sit outside soaking in the views and colonial atmosphere.
Completing a circle around the island takes you along the Kings Road – the remote northern reaches. The sense of isolation here, coupled with the truly typical Fijian villages makes you feel like you are really scratched a bit more of the surface in understanding Fiji. After completing the circle back to Nadi, it’s time to be spoilt and relax at Radisson Blu Resort, on Denarau Island. Joined to Viti Levu by a short causeway, the private island is famous as a resort haven. Radisson Blu stands out as being top notch and has been voted number one family resort in the South Pacific. Not only is there a babysitting service and kids’ club for the younger travellers to enjoy, but throughout the day, activities are put on for all to partake in as a family.
The hotel has a range of rooms to suit, but the one-bedroom suite is perfect for a small family. With all rooms able to be separated you can relax in the evenings, getting room service and enjoying your balcony, all whilst watching over the little ones. Being self-caterable, some pressure can be taken off keeping with restaurant times if needy tummies require earlier attention. Our particular highlight was the variety of climate controlled pools available to take the edge off the heat. The family pool with its waterslide was a great way to delight our little guy. Joining in some of the activities is another way to bond as a family – my painted sarong will be a treasured memory of our stay at Radisson Blu. Adrenalin Water Sports, located at the beach front, organises a multitude of water sports to suit the laid back relaxer to adrenalin junkie.
There are four restaurants onsite that provide different cuisines to suit all tastes. Chantara Thai is the number one restaurant on the island (rated on Trip Advisor) and our taste buds were rewarded when sampling their delights. Neptunes and Blu Brasserie are great for families and we spent most of our food hours indulging here. For a bit more elegance Signature Blu is the place to go.
Other places that are of note on Viti Levu to enjoy during your stay are: Leleuvia Island Resort and also one of the many options at Pacific Harbour.
Leleuvia Resort is just a tiny emerald clad gem, rimmed with golden sand. Guests are allowed to experience a desert island experience while indulging in a Fijian experience enjoying the traditional bures, right on the water. The island is surrounded by a 2sq km marine reserve, with amazing snorkelling within 25 metres of the beach. Being wedged between two culturally significant historical islands, tours can also be arranged.
Pacific Harbour is famous for its shark experiences. But for a less extreme, Pacific Harbour Excursions offer a range of excursions from spearfishing to Bucks ‘n Hens fun.
Fiji is fun for all, no matter what the occasion and definitely the home of happiness.
The Grand Pacific Hotel has reopened its doors with an air of opulence.
The main climate controlled pool and beachfront (left), at Radisson Blu Resort, plus having fun (below) at the Kids Koro Club.
Leleuvia Resort guests enjoy outrigger canoeing.
Swim-up refreshments at the Warwick Fiji pool bar.