Imagine all the upscale amenities of a five-star tropical island
resort and times it by three. The destination is Fiji and the place
is Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide’s three adjoining
properties spanning Denarau Island. The oceanfront resorts sprawl
across 60 acres of beaches and tropical gardens. Even with combined
accommodations of nearly 650 guestrooms, none of the buildings
rises above two stories. Located 20 minutes driving distance from
the international airport of Nadi, on the main Fijian island of
Viti Levu, the resorts serve as both a launching point and a
departure point for other Fiji destinations as well as a complete
vacation stay of their own.
“Our business from the U.S. market is throughout the year, but
higher during the period of October to May (Fiji’s summer months),”
said Linawaty Ko, marketing communications manager.
Each resort has its own signature style: the contemporary
Sheraton Fiji Resort; the luxury Sheraton Denarau Villas; and the
culturally themed Sheraton Royal Denarau Resort, the latter of
which will be rebranded into the Westin Resort & Spa, Denarau
Island by mid-2006.
I checked in at the Sheraton Royal Denarau Resort. The
spectacular Fijian art-inspired lobby featured teak wood floors and
furnishings, wooden panel walls and a vaulted ceiling and an
open-aired sunken lounge. The 274 ocean- and garden-view rooms were
divided among eight buildings with long outdoor corridors. My room,
off to the far side of the resort and a a quick golf cart drive
from the lobby, felt isolated from the rest of the complex. The
furnishings are traditional Fijian style with a tapa cloth bed
canopy and rattan furniture. The sliding patio doors opened to a
majestic view of the ocean.
Making the trek back to the lobby, clients can choose to relax
in the open-aired Meke Lounge and listen to live Fijian music or
watch the sunset torch-lighting ceremony. The resort’s four
restaurants included a comforting steakhouse grill and a pasta
kitchen. But guests of each resort have access to all the
facilities of the others. So visitors will be choosing among 18
restaurants and bars in all. They can walk the oceanfront paths
connecting the properties, but most will opt to hop on and off the
open-aired Bula Bus that transports everyone around the
That is if they pull themselves out of the poolside bar and
grill. The submerged bar stools in the pool overlooking the ocean
attract a crowd that likely will leave the water with quite
wrinkled skin. There are currently three pools across the resorts.
In March, the Sheraton Denarau Villas will feature a new massive
freshwater lagoon pool about the size of a football field, complete
with bridges connecting to an island in the center.
Numerous resort activities include a long list of watersports:
jet skiing, scuba diving, parasailing and deep sea fishing. Guests
can take a free boat ride to a private offshore island of Akuilau
for exploration or private functions. Of course, there is a
championship 18-hole golf course and 10 tennis courts managed by
Troon Golf. Kids, however, are likely to spend a fair amount of
time at the Kids Club. Open from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., 4 to 12 year
olds can take part in supervised activities. A BBQ dinner is
organized exclusively for them.
The two other resorts include the 82 guestrooms and villas of
the luxury Sheraton Denarau Villas. Popular with families and older
people, who wouldn’t want to stay in the modern one- to
three-bedroom apartment suites with kitchens, lounge, laundry and
dining areas as well as hotel style guestrooms.
The neighboring Sheraton Fiji Resort is also undergoing a
complete makeover of its 292 oceanview guestrooms slated for
completion in July. The airy open-plan resort features upscale
restaurants, a pub and nightclub. The resort caters to many
business travelers and conferences.
The resorts’ overall meeting spaces are extensive with seating
of more than 1,000 in one spot. Themed events include the Barefoot
Black Tie Dinner and a Fiji Country ho-down. General entertainment
includes a fire-walking ceremony and feast.
Many visitors treat themselves to the deluxe Mandara Spa. The
new Westin property will operate its own spa, The Seven Pillars of
Well-Being. Wedding and honeymoon travelers can use the oceanfront,
air-conditioned Paradise Chapel on the most panoramic site of the
resort. Ko said there has been a general upturn in enquiries from
honeymoon and leisure markets.
“Family holidays are also on increase with some families now
choosing to spend more time to explore Fiji’s mainland interior and
islands,” Ko said.
With so much to do on- and offsite, visitors understandably may
forget to venture beyond the perimeters of the resorts. But they
shouldn’t. The resorts’ prime location near the airport as well as
a major marina is perhaps its best attraction, allowing for easy
trips to more remote islands and locales of Fiji.
Sheraton Resorts, Denarau Island
Sheraton Fiji Resort guestrooms range from about $200-$350.
Sheraton Denarau Villas’ guestrooms range from about $200-$300.
Villas range from about $300 for a one bedroom, to $700 a night for
Sheraton Royal Denarau Resort guestrooms range from about $180
for a garden-view room to $400 a night for a beachfront suite.