Ebullient Fijians often raise both arms in salutation (bula!), leaving no doubt that visitors to this archipelago of 333 islands are welcome. Ocean breezes, white-sand beaches, clear water, and cheerful, polite islanders begin working their magic within minutes after guests clear customs at the main island's Nadi International Airport. Fiji's serenity prevailed even during a recent coup that peacefully replaced the country's government without a blip on its tourism radar screen.
It took only a 15-minute flight via Pacific Island Seaplanes to Vomo Island to transform me from international traveler to solitary beachcomber. Surrounded by coral reefs and blanketed with coconut groves, mango forest, and lush green hills, the island has miles of pristine beach and just one hotel. The all-inclusive Vomo Island Resort features 27 bures (villas), a spa, nine-hole golf course, and a tennis court. Weeks later, I was still talking about my two-hour trek around the island's perimeter.
On Fiji's main island, Viti Levu, the 271-room Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa is stylishly chic after an extensive makeover, offering 271 guest rooms and suites, an 18-hole championship golf course, 30 acres of beachfront, and a spa. A ballroom accommodates up to 300 guests.
On Viti Levu's Coral Coast, the 436-room Shangri-La Fijian Resort offers tennis courts, beach massage, scuba diving, horseback riding, and a nine-hole golf course. There are three restaurants and five meeting rooms (the largest accommodating up to 770 theater-style), and a staff accustomed to the expectations of U.S. meeting and incentive planners.
In the heart of the Coral Coast lies the 250-room Warwick Fiji Resort & Spa. The resort has three conference rooms, five restaurants, two pools, tennis and squash courts, complimentary scuba diving lessons, and an 18-hole pitch-and-putt golf course. Stroll across a bridge to the resort's private island and enjoy fresh seafood and a Fijian sunset at the Wicked Walu.
Other resorts of interest on Viti Levu include the 123-room Sonaisali Island Resort, accessible via a short boat ride from Viti Levu; and the sophisticated 296-room Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa.
The JW Marriott Fiji Resort & Spa at Momi Bay opens in mid-2008. A site tour revealed an oceanfront setting and lush fairways. The retreat will offer 250 accommodations, including Viti Levu's first over-water bungalows; Fiji's first destination spa, featuring 10 waterfront bures; an 18-hole championship golf course; seven restaurants; a nightclub; and six meeting rooms.