I've just returned from a whirlwind trip to Fiji, where I attended the spectacular celebrations for the completion of the Phase III (AUD $30 million) development and expansion of Wyndham Resort Denarau Island - one of the largest tourism developments undertaken in Fiji in recent years.
The resort's impressive refurbishment and expansion of the 201 apartments for both vacation (time-share) owners and resort guests boasts new accommodation choices of one, two, and three-bedroom deluxe apartments - and with the stunning three-bedroom ocean view grand suites and three and four-bedroom luxurious presidential villas with private plunge pools overlooking the ocean, you've got the perfect base (just out of Nadi town) for all levels of budget and style.
Those grand suites and presidential villas, in particular, are really quite sublime. The latter took my fancy, with its private plunge pool just metres from the beach, outdoor entertaining area (including your own bbq), Bose sound system, gorgeous living spaces and bedrooms, and (always a must!) the indoor/outdoor showers. It's large enough to accommodate a large group, but for couples wanting total privacy and some serious luxury, this would be the ultimate retreat.
Based on design concepts by Australian architects Guymer Bailey, the design of the new apartments and suites is relaxed and contemporary in style, incorporating Fijian elements throughout the interiors. The public areas of the resort have also had a huge overhaul and update, with an expansive pool area refurbishment now offering a poolside bar and café, plus the expansion and redevelopment of the resort reception and lobby and kids' club and the relocation and construction of the new Mamacita Mexican Restaurant.
Although this is most definitely a family-friendly resort, I spotted plenty of couples who were obviously honeymooning or holidaying ... you could find them chilling out by the pool bar at the Karma Maravu Adults' Retreat Pool, or enjoying some drinks by candlelight, cocooned in the comfy beanbags on the sands of Karma Beach Club - Fiji's first Karma property and a place that promises to inject some of the relaxed sophistication and the tropical lounge vibe of it's famous sister properties in Bali (Karma Kandara and Karma Jimbaran). They're actually looking to start offering the venue up for wedding ceremonies and receptions at the beach club, which is great news for couples looking to plan their destination wedding in Fiji.
L-R: Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific CEO and Managing Director Barry Robinson, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wyndham Vacation Ownership Franz Hanning, the Prime Minister of Fiji, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, Fiji Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Tui Nadi Ratu Sailosi Raimoqedawai and Reverend Ame Tugaue.
Equally, if not more, impressive than the resort itself were the super friendly and welcoming staff who made our stay at Wyndham Resort Denarau Island an absolute pleasure. There's something so warm, engaging and genuine about the Fijian people, a joy for life that greeted us from the moment we stepped off the plane at Nadi Airport, fresh from our flight from Brisbane aboard the new Fiji Airways plane (and at just under four hours flight time - easy!).
We were welcomed by a four piece Fijian band, those big burly men with bigger smiles, in the obligatory bright tropical shirts, guitars around their neck, singing and shouting the local greeting of 'Bula' at the new arrivals. You can't help but smile back, and switch straight on to 'Fiji Time'. Actually, I think I'm still on it ...
Be sure to read more about our Fiji experience in the next issue of Holidays for Couples magazine, out in April 2014!
To find out more about Wyndham Resort Denarau Island, head over to their website.