Golf resort

Fijian island’s first resort gets $73m makeover

THE PLACE

After reopening to the Australian market in December, Fiji has become one of the most organized countries when it comes to COVID-19 policy for incoming customers, with strict but not onerous protocols in place on its islands. The Sheraton Golf and Beach Resort is one of several upscale Fijian resort properties to undergo significant renovations during the two-year shutdown, reopening in March this year after a $73 million ($48 million) renovation. ).

LOCATION

Flights to Fiji take just under four hours from Sydney and the Sheraton Golf and Beach Resort is a 20-minute drive from Nadi Airport on Viti Levu, the largest of the 300 islands that make up the Fijian archipelago. . The Sheraton was the first resort to open on the 344-acre Denarau Island in 1987 and remains the largest fully integrated resort, with an 18-hole golf course, its own on-site farm and access to two adjacent sister properties. , The Westin and Radisson Blu. The location’s main appeal is its convenience: Guests can fly into Nadi Airport and be in the resort’s pool within an hour and a half of landing.

THE LOOK

Completely renovated, the resort’s understated and elegant atmosphere is introduced to the open-air covered lobby, which extends to the ocean with a soft color palette, water features and comfortable seating areas to create privacy. . The resort’s central pool faces the waterfront with the requisite number of shaded palms, beach chairs and a swim-up bar. Rather than hiding the kids’ club like many resorts, Sheraton takes a more integrated approach; there is a communal pool for children and adults and an elevated dining area overlooking the enclosed toddler play area. As part of the resort’s “Side by Side” program, families undertake activities ranging from cooking to fishing together rather than catering exclusively to children. The hotel grounds are complemented by well-established tropical gardens. Mouse-sized red and green finches hop each morning between the branches of frangipani and hibiscus bushes. As the sun sets, a warrior in traditional full dress lights flaming torches along the waterfront.

BEDROOM

I stayed two nights in a ground floor ocean view suite. The rooms have been completely renovated with interesting design choices. Blue chrome lamps and an electric blue leather headboard are bold statements, but are balanced by more conservative abstract artwork that adorns the walls. Luckily, the light switches and air conditioning system don’t require an advanced engineering degree to use; they are easily adjustable and located right next to the bed. There is a full tub and shower, but the best feature is the daybed on the deck, which allows me to watch the sunset directly over the Mamanucas each afternoon.

THE FOOD

The Sheraton has five dining outlets, including the main Six-One-Nine Restaurant which functions as a series of live stations; we enjoy freshly made sushi, a charcuterie bar and breakfast with all the trimmings. The 28g Cafe in the lobby offers exceptionally good coffee (try the signature espresso tonic on ice), while Tatavu, the elevated beachfront grill restaurant serves fresh lobster, fish and crab over a wood fire each evening. . Cooking and coffee demonstrations are held regularly for guests, traditional dishes like kokoda are incorporated into menus, and a farm-to-farm tour of the resort shows how food waste is composted.

GET OUT OF

The Port Denarau Marina commercial area contains several shopping and dining options, and is the jumping off point for day trips to the Mamanuca Islands. Nadi town is a 20 minute drive away (don’t miss the markets on Saturdays). For a change of scenery, head to the beach bars of Wailoaloa at sunset.

THE VERDICT

A hotel this large could easily seem impersonal, but the Sheraton manages to create a cozy atmosphere. Although it has over 300 rooms, the estate is surprisingly spacious, and the biggest benefit for guests is the variety of experiences and dining options on offer. It’s clear that the Sheraton can accommodate a variety of interests, while still providing enough physical space for resort guests to enjoy.

THE ESSENTIALS

From $398 ($255) a night. See marriott.com/nansi fiji.travel myfiji.com

UNDERLINE

Phenomenal staff who are refreshingly unpretentious in their hospitality and have an infectious sense of fun.

LOW LIGHT

It is disappointing to see plastic straws used in some food and beverage outlets.

The writer has stayed as a guest of Sheraton Golf and Beach Resort and Tourism Fiji.