A June 2003 trip
to Fiji by clarkie
Quote: Having fallen in love again with Fiji last year, we have just revisited with our son, his wife, and our grandsons, and then with friends for the second week. Come read and enjoy.
Our reception was very warm by the Fijian staff. There is a little shop for buying basics and a gift and souvenir shop. You can hire videos. The porters are friendly and helpful.
Once settled into our apartment we ate at the Seafront Restaurant. It has excellent food. Fridays is a very good seafood banquet which we enjoyed and they have a huge selection of interesting childrens meal and importantly a great wine list-mostly Australiana nd New Zealand wines.
The apartment was a spacious and well-appointed two bedroom two bathroom with a fully equipped kitchen, cable TV, video, and CD player. The balcony had a six person table and chairs and we spent most of our time on the balcony--meals, cocktails, cards, and watching the Bula serenaders as the sun went down. The kitchen has an oven stovetop, microwave, coffee maker, blender(we made yummy cocktails made with our duty free loot), and a large fridge freezer. There is a washing machine and dryer and a full dining setting so that you can easily entertain six for dinner, which we did of course.
The resort has many activities starting with a brisk walk around Denerau at 7.30am. After breakfast we would sail on the Hoby Cats, paddle a canoe, swim in the huge pool or take our grandsons into the kids pool. With a swim up bar you can order a cocktail or beer from 10 till 10.30pm. Happy Hour is 5.30 to 6.30 then 9.30 to 10.30 which is nice to do after dinner and you can sip them in the big circular spa. We cycled one day around Denerau, participated in the Aqua Aerobics. There were coconut, kava, sulu tyong and other local custom demonstrations. All of these activities are free. A highlight is the fire lighting ceremony each night when the Bula serenaders come out and sing and beat the drums to celebrate the sunset for one hour. Rosies Travel is located in reception and they book day tours, car rentals etc and are very efficient. Our son hired a car on the last day and we said to go to Sigatoka to view the village life, they took a wrong turn and ended up in the mountains with a 4 hour drive back to the resort. Scary!! The villagers were helpful but as the men carried machetes and the children all tried to clamber on the car to check out the blonde aussies including our precious grandsons they were very pleased to get back to the resort safely.
The 'Trendy' bus takes you around the Sheratons and to the marina where the island trips go from.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 25, 2003
Comfortable beds with turn down services spacious bathroom with two basins, bath and shower. A well stocked mini bar, a safe and tea/coffee. We had two large comfortable chairs and a verandah with a table and chairs.We slept with the doors open so we could hear the gentle surf and see the sun come up. We encouraged some close friends to join us for this second week of our trip and as we were all Starwood we each had beachfront rooms overlooking the ocean, pool and activities.
Outside our rooms were comfortable beach lounges and we would gather there each afternoon around 4.30pm with our duty free for cocktails and nibblies as the sun went down and before dining out--boy did we have some fun, chatting up everyone who happened to pass by. We played petanque and beach volleyball. There is a 3 hole golf course which is pretty basic but a bit of fun and of course we had to play chess in the lobby on the giant chess set locally carved.
Each night the Bula serenaders sing in the cocktail lounge and there are drums and a fire lighting ceremony which gets me every time.Then there is the smiling Sam who looks like a front row forward.
Yachts and catamarans may anchor outside the Royal and we met Will, the Yankee from Conneticut while playing golf at the Sheraton Denerau Golf Course. He had sailed up from New Zealand for the annual Fiji Golf Open which my husband plays in. We went on board his 47 foot catamaran for margaritas and boy does he have it set up for luxury living!!
There are a lot of little boutique style shops now at the Royal and local village crafts men and women who will carve or weave for you. We bought grass skirts to shock our friends back home next summer-it is winter now.
There are lots of other activities such as lawn bowls aqua aerobics and day trips. The tour desk is excellent and as always friendly. Of the three Sheratons we believe the Royal wins out for tradition, comfort, friendliness, dining service. It is small but that means no kids so it is more romantic.
We used Starwood Points-I transferred 56,000 Diners points which equates to 28,000 Starwood points. There was a special of one night free if you stayed 5 nights. Our bill including meals, 2 rounds of golf, fishing and a bikini was $1200FJD. We purchase a Starwood dining card which means 50% off the food bill at any restaurant-great value.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 27, 2003
You are served beautiful fresh breads and a hors d'oeuvre on arrival with your choice of cocktail. The a la carte menu is extensive and if you choose a Caesar salad, it is prepared at your table. There were eight of us for dinner and our friend, Grant, had caught a huge, five-foot wahu fish while deep-sea fishing, which they prepared for us as an appetizer. Complimentary sorbets were served then we had delicious steaks. We could have selected rack of lamb, various fish all elegantly presented with dramatic silver service. For dessert crepes Suzette were chosen and these prepared at our table and as it was Grant's birthday they prepared a small cake and sang to us. We followed this with flaming coffees and their special liqueur chocolate cups -- fabulous.
We finally left so that they could close the restaurant and went across to the planters lounge to dance to the local band. We took our own wines to Ports of Call, which we purchased at the local Sheraton store -- they charge $10 corkage. They are fully licensed so you may select from their extensive list. With our Starwood dining card, our bill was less than FJ$79 per couple.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 27, 2003
The Magic Cat takes 10 comfortably has a covered cabin, toilet, and bunks.
We went out near Tavarua Island where they surf. This is the island they used for the storm sequences in Tom Hanks Castaway movie. We circled the reef for a couple of hours in the hope of landing a big one.
We had four reels and hand reels for handline fishing. It was a beautiful day, calm and the night before a full moon, but alas no fish. We did some handline and got a coral trout or two and watched the dolphins -- dozens of them.
Next day a friend went out on the same boat and after three and half hours caught a giant Wahu (filled the length of a bathtub), which they cooked for us as a appetizer at the Ports of Call restaurant at the Sheraton -- delicious!!!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 25, 2003
At Denerau, there is the Worldmark Timeshare and three Sheratons along the beachfront. You can just walk along the shore in front of the resorts at any time of day and feel good. It is just so relaxing and everyone says hi and with big smiles.
The Fijians just love to have a chat about anything and they are all very proud of their country and lifestyle. "Bula" (welcome) and "Vinaka" (thank you) are the only Fijian words you need.
Looking out to sea, you will see islands in the distance surrounded by palms and coconut trees and sandy beaches. Castaway Resort is simply a day trip and you will see the island where Castaway was filmed with Tom Hanks.
Back to the beach, if you are a guest, you can use the non-motorised gear at no cost. Just book it with the friendly Activities Manager. They provide life jackets and the equipment is well maintained and safe. I was a bit concerned, but once I got on a Hoby-Cat, I just loved it and it is so safe.
If your pleasure is to just stay on the beach and watch the world go by, then do do. Grab a hammock and a book and relax. Beware though that you will find reading is second best to watching the activities around you. The daily activity schedule is there as well. You can play volleyball or petanque. The Royal Peni will take you to the island.
Hang around at sunset and the warrior will come along the beach lighting flares. It is picturesque with just a gentle flat surf -- no waves. There are patrolled spots at each resort so it is safe, but there is no snorkelling -- you have to go to an island on a day trip or drive for 45 minutes to Nataloa where there is a beautiful beach with coral and colourful fish to view.
Once you have played all day on the beach, we would gather the crew together outside our beachfront room at the Royal for cocktails and laughter until the sun went down -- pure magic!!
Oh, and the sea is very warm even in June.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 1, 2003