Monday, December 27, 2010

Fiji 2010 day 1: Hotel Novotel Nadi and Sonaisali Island Resort

For background info on this trip:
After landing in Fiji about 5:30AM, all of the agents on the trip were driven to the Hotel Novotel Nadi to eat breakfast, freshen up, have a site inspection, and then eat lunch. Only about 10 minutes from the airport, the Novotel is convenient for those needing a day room for a few hours between flights, but I would not recommend it for a stay longer than a quick overnight.

The rooms were a reasonable size, the balconies have a lovely view out to the mountains, and the decor is fine, but the rooms just did not seem as clean as they could have been.
The grounds are pretty, and there is a small swimming pool, but up close it also looked to be in need of a good scrubbing.
The breakfast buffet was decent, and the omelette station was a nice touch, but the lunch buffet left a bit to be desired. Lunch can also be ordered a la carte, though I can't comment on the quality of that food.
Overall, I think it would be worth it to spend just a bit more money and time to go over to one of the Denarau Island resorts if you'll be staying in the Nadi area for more than a few hours. By doing so, you'll be in a nicer room and resort, and will also be on the beach! My favorite resort in that area is the Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa, but the Sofitel, Sheraton, and Radisson are also good options in that area.

After lunch at the Novotel, we headed for Sonaisali Island Resort. Sonaisali is located on its own island, about a 3-minute shuttle boat ride off the coast of Viti Levu.
A large property by Fiji private island standards, it has about 125 rooms and bures, spread out down a long but thin stretch of tawny sand. Honestly, this is not a property I'd be likely to recommend to clients at this point, so I'll keep this review fairly short and to-the-point.

*Spa is reasonably priced and my massage was excellent overall

*Bures are spacious
*Bures have good-sized decks, some (Beachfront Spa Bures) with private jacuzzis
*Friendly staff
*Dinner was beautifully presented and delicious (especially dessert!)
*Nice grounds
*Bure design and furnishings are a bit basic and in need of some updating
*Found stains that appeared to be fresh dried blood on sheets and bathrobe (of which there is only 1 in each room, which is a bit odd)
*Breakfast selection was very limited, poorly laid out, and service at that meal was nonexistent - I asked for a napkin and drink, which never showed up in the hour I was there.
*Beachside open air massage area is right next to the volleyball court. While this may not always cause problems, it's hard to relax when several pre-teens are screaming obscenities and hitting/kicking the ball into the massage area for your entire hour-long massage.
*Check-in was very disorganized and there was a lot of confusion over our bags at checkout, though the fact that we had a fairly large group may have been partially to blame for this. Still, since Sonaisali does attract a good number of groups (company retreats, weddings, etc.), I was surprised that they were not better equipped to handle multiple guests checking in/out at the same time.
*Feedback from other guests staying at the resort were not good - other agents in my group also reported hearing multiple complaints regarding service, room cleanliness, activity availability, food, etc.

Sonaisali did put on a lovely reception for us in the evening, with cocktails, kava ceremonies, traditional henna tattoos, fire dancers, and a recital by darling local children--definitely the highlight of our stay there! But unfortunately, that just could not make up for the negatives we encountered at the resort.
I hate having to give such negative reviews of the first two properties, but at least the subsequent resorts we visited on this trip were much better! Up next: Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa and Shangri-La's Fijian Resort & Spa!


Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said...

OMG, when I was in Fiji that's exactly where I stayed!!! Bula!

Caroline said...

Too funny! Would love to hear about your stay there!!


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