Monday, January 17, 2011

Fiji 2010 day 2: Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa

 For more background on this trip, click here!
After leaving Sonaisali, the 30 or so agents on the Fiji Matai FAM were split into 4 groups, each heading in a different direction for the next 5 days. The first stop for my group of 8 agents was the new(ish) Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, opened in June 2009 and located on Fiji's aptly named Coral Coast.
The Coral Coast as seen from my flight between Nadi and Pacific Harbour in November 2009.

We were welcomed to the Intercontinental with some Fijian-style drumming, and spent a few minutes sipping refreshing tropical drinks and gazing at the beautiful view from the resort's lobby.
We then started our site inspection, guided by the delightful Navi Gagalia, the resort's business development manager. I must say, although the Intercontinental is a larger and slightly more commercialized property than I personally prefer, it is absolutely gorgeous! Far and away the best option I've seen in Fiji for travelers looking for a classic luxury beach resort experience on the main island of Viti Levu. I would compare the Intercontinental to the top end properties in Hawaii in terms of amenities, services, room quality and design, etc.- but the Intercontinental offers a better value and a wonderfully Fiji flair.

This property also has a championship 18-hole golf course, so is the perfect choice for anyone looking to swing a club in paradise! It's also a fantastic family resort - children will love the Planet Trekkers kid's club, and parents will love the incredible value and the option to have some time to themselves! Open daily from 9AM to 6PM, children aged 3-12 can spend part or all of the day there for only $30FJD (about $15USD), including all activities and 1 meal. Babysitting is also available outside those hours and for children under 3, for about $15FJD/$7.50USD per hour.

A wide variety of activities and excursions are available both on- and off-property for both adults and children who wish to see more of the area and enjoy some sightseeing and/or outdoor adventures! Horseback riding along the beach, shopping at the Sigatoka market, taking a ride on the Coral Coast railway (restored sugar cane locomotives), and hiking to waterfalls and caves are just a few of the options available in the Coral Coast area.

The Intercontinental was designed to mimic the layout of a traditional Fijian village - a rather large and fancy one, apparently!
It sits on a long stretch of gorgeous white sand, with the crystal clear waters of Natadola Bay sparkling a dozen shades of blue just beyond the beach.
On one side, the water dips inward to form a lovely lagoon, perfect for swimming, sunning, or hanging out with your new equine buddies.

There are quite a few different accommodation options at the Intercontinental, starting with the "standard" rooms. Standard may be a bit of a misnomer, because even these are over 600 square feet and beautifully decorated, with some of the most comfortably appointed patios/decks I've ever seen.

Each room's outdoor spaces offers multiple places to relax, including a daybed, "egg" chair, and soaking tub.
The Garden View Rooms are the entry level category, but Lagoon View and Beachfront Rooms are also available for a slightly higher price. Lagoon and Beachfront Suites offer even more space with the addition of a separate living area.
While the Executive Club level suites are located at the top of a hill, further from the beach and main resort areas, these 1 and 2 bedroom suites are also worth serious consideration.
Only guests staying in these suites have access to the clubhouse, which offers a host of special amenities. In the clubhouse's dining area, Executive Club guests can enjoy buffet breakfast, afternoon tea, non-alcoholic drinks, and sunset cocktails and canapes, all for no additional charge. The clubhouse also features a lounge area, business/work area, and a beautiful infinity-edge pool overlooking the resort and blue sea.
24-hour butler service is another benefit of the Executive Club, but in my opinion the best reason to stay here is to take advantage of one of the suites with a private plunge pool (about half of the Executive Club suites have these)!
After checking out the Intercontinental's beautiful and spacious spa, we jumped into golf carts (since the Intercontinental is so large and spread out, the resort offers complimentary golf cart rides to/from anywhere on the property) and headed for lunch at Toba Bar & Grill. Toba is located in between the resort's expansive all-ages "activity" pool and the adult-only infinity pool.
Although it features a variety of dishes, Toba specializes in gourmet woodfired pizzas, most notably the lobster pizza. Lobster + cilantro + pesto, all on a pizza = heaven!
The other pizzas we tried were also delicious, though, as were the salads and antipasto platter.
Beef teriyaki
Chicken Satay
Roasted pumpkin
Prosciutto and red onion
With full bellies, we headed back to the lobby where a van waited to take us on to the Shangri-La. I cast a wishful glance back at the beach and wished we had even a few more hours here...  Guess I'll need to plan a real stay here soon!

My idea of a perfect day at the Intercontinental:
6:00AM - Take a sunrise walk along the water, looking for shells on the beach and dolphins in the bay.
8:00AM - Order a room service breakfast and enjoy it outside on the daybed of my beachfront suite.
9:30AM - Time for some sunbathing on the beach!
11:00AM - Put on my snorkeling gear and hear towards the coral in search of colorful tropical sea life.
11:10AM - Back to the beach after being charged and almost attacked by a picasso triggerfish (Note: this will probably not be an issue for you - see the Blue Lagoon snorkel section of this review for an explanation!)
12:30PM - Lobster pizza and umbrella drinks at Toba? Don't mind if I do!
1:30PM - More sunbathing, swimming, and fruity cocktails at the adult-only infinity pool
3:30PM - After my terrifying wildlife encounter earlier, a relaxing massage is definitely in order! The only question would be whether to have it in the open air beachside massage palapa, or with one of the air-conditioned spa treatment rooms overlooking lush gardens.
5:30PM - Sunset cocktails at the Kama Lounge, where I'd relax on the huge cushioned lounge beds and take in a cultural show on the Meke Lawn.
7:30PM - Dinner at Navo, the Intercontinental's elegant restaurant overlooking the lagoon. I'd order lobster (what else) and enjoy watching the chefs prepare it in the glass-walled show kitchen. If traveling by myself, I'd sit at the restaurant's communal table (they do also offer private tables) and make some new friends!
9:30PM - Full and perhaps ever-so-slightly tipsy, I'd finish the day the way I started it, with a walk down the beach. Then a bit more relaxation on my terrace, reading and listening to the waves gently lap the shore, before turning in for the night and dreaming of all the beauty and fun the next day would bring. Ahhhh...

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