Tropical Trio

Sheraton Resorts join forces to offer more

By: Karla Aronson

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 considerable grounds.

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
Nadi, Fiji

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 a three-bedroom.

Sheraton Royal Denarau Resort guestrooms range from about $180 for a garden-view room to $400 a night for a beachfront suite.