THE WESTIN DENARAU ISLAND
After a smooth 10 hour flight on Fiji Airways from LA, my husband and I arrive in Fiji on a picture perfect day. "Ahhh heaven" I say to Jase, with my nose pressed up against the window, spotting little huts and scattered palm trees as we descend. "Island life just agrees with me" I add, presuming he is peering over my shoulder and listening to me babble. When I get no response-I look back over at him and he is fast asleep, even doing a light snore with his mouth open. Already on "Fiji time" apparently.
On our itinerary for the next few days: sleeping in, sitting by the pool, ordering food and reading. Yep, it will be really tough- exhausting infact. Fiji and I go way back to when I was a toddler- it was my first ever overseas trip and my family continued to visit every year during school holidays- accumulating more grass skirts and wooden carved statues than I like to admit. We made such good friends with the hotel employees, that one came and stayed in our home when he visited Sydney for a couple of weeks.
Enough reminiscing: time to focus on our last trip in September. As soon as we touched down and stepped onto the tarmac, we are hit with a very distinctive smell (is it burning sugarcane? Coconuts?) Whatever it is, I love it and it instantly takes me back to 30 years ago. The humidity wraps around every single hair fibre and before I know it, I'm looking like a frazzled poodle. Me + humidity = not a good look.
This particular trip we have chosen to stay at the Westin which is on Denarau island- a very small ( 2.55 km²) private island, northwest of the main island of Viti Levu on Fiji, connected by a small bridge. I have stayed at the Westin numerous times, but it has been about 8 years since our last visit, so I'm really looking forward to see if there have been any changes to the hotel. We soon discover not much has changed- and that's a good thing!
The hotel itself is unique in its traditional Fijian architecture- believe it or not, most hotels on Denarau island don't reflect a particularly Fijian atmosphere. That's something I'm not a big fan of - hotels that feel like you could be anywhere in the world- I don't really see the point. I want to feel like I'm far away from my "normal" life- I want some culture, not a sterile marble hotel! The Westin is the opposite to this- it has a very Fijian feel to it. Lots of dark carved wood, Fijian ornaments, thatched roofs, and traditional tapa prints scattered throughout the foyer and grounds.
The main pool overlooks the ocean- it has beautiful plants around the perimeter, and many private nooks with sitting ledges inside the pool, so it's perfect for those who want a quiet spot to relax. There is a separate lap pool for those inclined to keep up their exercise regime (NOT ME) and a small gym located next door for the super healthy (ONCE AGAIN- NOT ME). The main restaurant overlooks the beautiful pool area and serves a delicious buffet breakfast which is included in our package. You can press your own juice, there is lots of sweet local fruit on offer, omelettes made to order, bircher muesli, champagne, pastries- the list goes on. If you can't find something here to your liking, you are being too picky! At night, a short traditional drum performance starts outside the main restaurant and echoes throughout the hotel, along with traditional torch lighting- which is really atmospheric and romantic.
The rooms are very comfortable - and they aren't kidding when they call the Westin beds "heavenly", we seriously could barely get out of them every morning. The layout of the room is well thought out too, they are a generous size with small outdoor patios or balconies (perfect for afternoon drinks), and a large bathroom with great green tea products.
All in all, we had a fabulous stay and would thoroughly recommend it to couples and families alike. If you're lucky to book at the right time, they occasionally have great specials going as low as $160 per night for 2 people, including full buffet breakfast. Such great value for money for a Westin chain.
For more information on the Westin Denarau- http://www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=202&language=en_US