Destination Spotlight – Fiji, Bula!

An unforgettable view
An unforgettable view

Recently we went on a family holiday to Fiji. It was our first ‘real’ holiday in that (a) we didn’t drive there, (b) we didn’t stay in a self-contained house/apartment, which leads directly into (c) I DIDN’T HAVE TO COOK!

This holiday had been a long time in planning and I have to say it was DEFINITELY worth the wait and being in the middle of a Sydney winter, the timing was perfect!

When it comes to accommodation choices in Fiji, there are so many it literally makes your head spin. Add to that the thousands of online reviews (TripAdvisor anyone??) that go from ‘Worst place I’ve ever stayed’ to ‘Best Ever’ (for the SAME property!) and you’ll understand why we chose to go somewhere that friends recommended – the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa in Denarau.

Given it was our first trip we thought we should make things as easy as possible. Staying on an island did cross our minds (Malolo Island looks AMAZING and has rave reviews!), and perhaps we will visit there in the future, but on this occasion having a short transit time from the airport was important to us, and as mentioned above, having some idea of what to expect gave me some reassurance.

We had an early departure from Sydney so were up at the crack of dawn. Our boys (aged 6 & 4) were really well behaved on the flight over (thank you iPad, colouring books and food!), and our travel agent had booked airport transfers so we were on our way pretty quickly once we touched down in Fiji.

The Sofitel Fiji

Arriving at the Sofitel, we were greeted with a bright and friendly ‘Bula’ (hello), which didn’t take long for the kids to grasp the concept of, and in no time at all, they were very comfortable greeting the staff in the same way.

We requested a ground floor room so that we could have direct access to the lawn and we’d definitely do this again, especially with our two very active boys. The room was adequate – a reasonable size, very clean and had everything we needed – and had two queen beds. There are Family rooms (Junior Suites) which have one queen sized bed and a children’s nook with a double bunk and a PS3 – obviously more expensive, but with older children, I would definitely splurge on it!

I was really impressed with the food, particularly the breakfast buffet at the Lagoon Restaurant, where there was very nearly every conceivable breakfast/brunch food known to man! Suffice to say, we never left breakfast hungry and we could generally make it through to dinner just fine. For the kids, we packed a few snacks, made sandwiches at breakfast, grabbed an apple or banana and they were set for the day too. The discovery of La Parisienne Café was perfect for our daily coffee and the kids very much enjoyed their milkshakes!

There are 5 dining options within the resort, but we didn’t venture further than Salt Restaurant, down on the water’s edge. The kids loved ‘eating outdoors’ (and if you ask them, they’ll say it was their favourite part of the holiday!), and the food was really good with lots of variety. Kids were also catered to well which was handy, given our fussy eaters.

Most nights the resort also held themed cuisine nights such as Italian, Wildfire BBQ and Pacific Indian, but due to our fussy eaters we preferred to stick to Salt Restaurant. One night however, there was a Fijian Lovo dinner on the beach which was just stunning. The food was amazing and there was traditional Fijian dancing which the kids loved watching and participating in. This was definitely our favourite night!

Fijian Entertainment at the Beach dinner

The Sofitel has a lovely big pool that the boys spent most of their time in, despite the water being a little….fresh! And much to the kids’ delight there was also a waterslide which was loads of fun. It should be noted that whilst the Denarau resorts are all beachfront, it’s not like our Australian beaches. Perfectly fine to play on but the sand is grey and the water wasn’t overly clear. Not that it mattered at all, the pool was perfect!

Each day there is a timetable of activities that you have the option of participating in – though we preferred to just laze around by the pool. For the kids there was no shortage of activities – fish feeding, basket weaving, coconut painting, crab racing, beach football, just to name a few. One of the favourites with my boys was the ice cream eating contest!

Unfortunately, Turtle Club (kids club) didn’t turn out as we’d planned. The boys flatly refused to go! It did look great though, was very well equipped with both indoor and outdoor equipment and the staff seemed lovely and genuinely happy and excited to be with the kids. I imagine in peak holiday season you’d need to book ahead, but while we were there, it wasn’t overly busy and you could drop your children off at any time.

Playing on the beach with Ledua, their new friend.

On two days, we booked one of the activity co-ordinators to spend some time with the boys for a couple of hours and they had a ball! They played beach cricket and soccer, went swimming and on the water slide, ate ice cream and pretty much ran the poor guy ragged! But they loved him and even now, continue to talk about their new friend.

There is a gorgeous day spa and yes, I indulged! There is also a fairly new adults only area called the Waitui Beach Club that has its own pool with swim-up bar, private poolside cabanas and personal waiter service. We did have a little sticky beak and it looked gorgeous – perhaps next time!

This is just a small snapshot of our week in Fiji but I hope it’s inspired you to give it a go. It truly was the best holiday ever for us, so much so that we’re already planning next year’s return trip!

Bula!

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