Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa
IF HAPPINESS was a place; then the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, Natadola Bay, would be it.
The first glimpse of the sparkling water of Natadola Bay, is not one I ever tire of. Coral reef fringes the bay; a white ring against the blue depths. That I have been visiting this spot since 1980 makes it all the more special. As a child I had the privilege of calling Fiji home for a few years (my parents were adventurous); Dad decided that living in a tropical country would be great fun. It was…in fact it became pivotal in deciding my career…
You see; the oversight of an official responsible for our arrival meant that our housing was not ready when our plane landed late one balmy evening. All it took was a look at my poor mother (and three young children in tears at the prospect of no home); for us to be whisked off to the only ritzy hotel in Suva – The Travelodge. With the benefit of hindsight and age I imagine it might only scrape in with 3.5 stars these days. But to me it was Paradise. We stayed three months; and during that time I decided I needed to find a way to have a life that took me to stay in Hotels around the world. Eventually we got our house, but that feeling never left me.
Another memory from that happy time was family holidays driving up and down the Coral Coast; our favourite spot was Natadola Bay. Virtually deserted (the local village supplied ice-creams) – we tended to get the beach to ourselves…
Sand dunes have been replaced by the groomed lawns of the Intercontinental Fiji Golf & Spa Resort; golden sand still meets the most perfect rolling sea. Floating on my back on a recent visit, lulled by the gentle, warm waves – I might have been twelve again – watching clouds drift and listening to the welcoming song floating across the resort. Since the hotel was built in 2010 we have visited 3 times and have brought Grandparents and friends along – it is a magical spot – I love this place and you will too. If you haven’t already – put it on your holiday bucket list.
InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa is a 45 minute transfer from Nadi International Airport to Natadola Bay. At just 3.50 hours flying time (ex Sydney) it is an easy trip for us to make. Traditionally we visit over the summer season in January, when days are humid and nights are washed fresh with tropical downpours (lasting just long enough to take away the heat of the day).
Why did you visit this property?
My history with the location as told above; AND The Husband is a Golfer – more about that below. A perfect destination for a family holiday.
Was the property easy to book?
For us a breeze; I contacted my Travel Agent and she confirmed it all (quick plug for fabulous Samantha McCarthy of Total Travel Solutions). Depending on when you visit, it is worth keeping an eye out for seasonal specials – the official airline is Fiji Airways.
Was the transfer from the airport seamless?
The holiday feeling descends as soon as the doors of the aircraft swing open; the harmony of a local quartet welcomes you in song. Pre-book a transfer to the resort – and a driver escorts you to air-conditioned transport. We have experienced everything from a sedan, to private mini-bus to a 45 seater coach. No rhyme or reason – nevertheless it is always timely, comfortable and cool…
Your journey from Nadi takes a route along the main highway (a term used loosely; it is basically a two lane road complete with cows and sugarcane transport and local open air buses, and lush forest). There is not much sign of the ocean; until you wind through the sugar cane and reach the resort. Then wow – truly, truly breathtaking.
Greeted by handsome Fijian warriors beating drums, shell necklaces and smiling bell desk staff.
How was Check-In handled?
The open air foyer looks directly on to the beach; immediately transporting you to a happy holiday place. Settled in comfortable lounges, plied with cool water and looked after by attentive reception staff. No request is too hard.
I absolutely recommend you become an IHG Rewards member upon booking; it is complimentary to join and a host of benefits are offered to members (food & beverage credits, preferential room allocation and the like…).
Can I help you?…Room arrival…
We were personally escorted to our room, given a room briefing, and the facilities of the hotel were explained. I have mentioned before that I always check our room allocation BEFORE the bags arrive (I send the boys off for a swim). The resort is spread out over quite a large area and I find that our room location can make or break the stay.
When the boys were younger we found it easier to request rooms near the kid’s pool and kids club (Planet Trekkers). Now we prefer to be near the beach (but not along the lagoon; the afternoon wind can prevent you from enjoying cocktails on the balcony); and ground floor so the boys can come and go easily. Although the views from 1st floor rooms are stunning.
The key is be clear about your needs when you make your booking and do not be afraid to ask for an alternative if you are not happy on arrival. Naturally during busy periods it is hard for the resort to accommodate all requests (and if you have paid for garden view not much point in expecting beach side) – however I have found that everyone bends over backwards to make guests satisfied; may be able to pay for upgrades on the spot.
Ta da – how was the room?
We have stayed in standard rooms (plenty of room when the boys were younger); and also a 1 bedroom suite. Unlike many other resort accommodation; there is actually lots of room to spread out. Wardrobe space is plentiful, toilets are separate, bathroom spacious AND the piece de résistance is the Cleopatra bath on EVERY balcony. I defy even non-bath lovers not to enjoy soaking in the huge tub, the sound of rolling waves as backdrop. Bliss…
Welcome – anyone saying this?
Bula, Bula, Bula – all the time and delivered with big, genuine smiles. The staff here are obviously well looked after because they are happy. They love children; it truly is a kids holiday paradise.
Sleep – bliss or blah?
The beds are like sinking into a cloud; with good quality white, cotton linen – changed just often enough to keep them fresh (I hate sand in the bed…) – pillows wonderful. The rooms are whisper quiet – we sleep like babies.
Unpacking – is there room for everything?
Good variety of hangers, wardrobe space and drawers.
WI/FI – techie bright stuff.
Television with enough channels to keep the kids happy; there is also a DVD library at Concierge with a good enough selection. CD player/iPod connection, BOSE sound system – internet connection in all rooms – essentially, plenty to satisfy everyone. 220 volts for electrical points, so no adapters required for Australians.
Made to feel at home (robes, bottled water, tea/coffee).
Robes, bottled water (FIJI water – naturally – replenished regularly), tea and coffee facilities (no coffee machine), mini bar.
Keeping it clean – bliss or blah (amenities, decent hair dryer)?
Pure Fiji bathroom products – oh thank you – a whiff of that delicious, coconutty fragrance and I am transported to holiday heaven. Go to the Day Spa and purchase a bucket load to bring home – you will thank me for this hint when you are mid-way through the year, stuck in the gloom of winter – a soak in the bath at home with these lovelies; and your head will be back in Fiji…
Very good hairdryer.
Your only problem will be fitting it all in – and working it all off. Fiji has suffered from a bad rap regarding their Food and Beverage offerings; this property contributes to changing that perception.
Enquire about dining policy for kids – generally children under 12yrs (with an adult) eat free at certain times.
Breakfast: (get this is included in your room rate) – Sanasana is the vast, open air main dining outlet. Nothing speaks holiday more than a leisurely start to the day. The offerings are varied and good (divine omelettes); coffee passable; staff efficient. However, it can get very busy during peak times (as all resort restaurants do, people get hungry on holiday) – if you have older kids they can wander in when they feel like it and I tend to arrive later when the crowds have gone. I have heard guests complain about flies – yes they are around (every attempt is made to cover food) – this is an OPEN air venue – so some wildlife is to be expected. I have never found the entire resort to be anything but very clean…
Lunch: we are usually too stuffed from a late breakfast to eat lunch; the boys often grab a bite at poolside Toba Bar & Grill – they quite often have BBQ’s – the best bit is the New Zealand Natural Ice Cream cart…
Dinner: Sanasana has nightly themed buffets (we enjoy the Indian selection – Fiji has a large Indian population and they do very good curries…ask for the homemade Roti…sublime…).
Then there is Navo… I would have dinner there every evening (and leave the boys with a babysitter – we have taken them but quite frankly it is more fun without them). Situated on the edge of a lawn that spills into the beach – a more romantic spot you would be hard to find. A varied menu (try the sashimi, melt in your mouth) – and good wine list. I suggest pre-booking a table at the front. NOTE: Sunset is stunning but HOT, those final rays can bite – I like to time our reservation as the sun start to dip into the ocean; and the temperature is kinder (obviously if you visit in winter, ignore this last comment).
Room service: if you must…
Kama Lounge: the pre-dinner cocktail or post-dinner dance spot. Once a week there is a cultural evening; other times musicians play on rotation with a DJ, our kids love the ”disco” – again it is an open air outlet; comfy lounges; good cocktails.
Action/Relaxation – what activities were on offer?
Where to begin. Actually I needn’t have bothered to mention working off your meals, because there is so much to do to keep you moving constantly. Or not…and isn’t that the key to a successful Resort – put it all on offer, then leave guests to choose.
Let me plan a day for you;
- Pre-breakfast walk of the 2km stretch of beach. Take a snorkel and go for a swim amongst the pretty reef fish. Or swim across the narrow channel to the small island (complete with a family of goats). NOTE: The beach in front of the resort is pristine; further along it becomes the property of the local village – unfortunately there is some litter (the hotel arranges for regular community clean-ups). Villagers with their horses trot up and down (you can hire them for a ride); if you don’t want to, be firm – beware the droppings along the beach…
- Early morning yoga
- Golf: Nirvana for The Husband is the 18 hole, par 72, Championship Course (if you are not a golfer skip this bit – although there are regular, FREE, clinics at the driving range – occasionally the boys and I can be dragged away from the beach to participate – it is a fun couple of hours). The course itself is renowned for the spectacular vista from almost every hole. Be mindful of the dress code.
- The rest: water-skiing, kayaking, reef snorkelling trip, surfing (there is small rolling surf, unusually for a mainland Fijian Beach), kids and adults only pools – and on the list goes.
- Kids Club: a great facility for younger kids, lots of activities, good safety measures (check-in – plenty of lovely staff). Older kids (10+) are not so well catered for. Babysitters can also be hired, I have always found them fine – more relaxed than I am (the boys eating chocolate out of the mini- bar at 9.30pm when we returned from dinner…) however they are vigilant about safely and supervision; which is more important in my book.
- A trip to Sigatoka Markets is an eye opener and fun for local souvenir shopping, the boys also enjoyed the Sanasana Village Tour; slightly further afield is Kula Eco Park (lots of wildlife…).
A massage to you…
And facial; and a session in the Wai Zone (soak in the hot spa, followed by the ice room, and the steam room, and sauna; and rain shower…bliss). Good massages (depends on the masseuse which is true of everywhere you go). The design of the building is Zen and gorgeous – Pure Fiji products are used in abundance – so it smells divine too.
Would I stay at this property again?
Forever in my heart; and forever on our holiday itinerary…
THE URBAN MUM’s LUXE LIST
I’ll say it again – BECOME AN IHG REWARDS CLUB MEMBER
Ask and you might just receive; check your room before you check-in.
Find a shady spot at the adults pool (while the kids are in Planet Trekkers) – it gets hot.
Dine at Navo.
If you make a visit to Sigatoka stock up on snacks at the local Supermarket.
FIND OUT MORE
Have a look at the Resort website to discover more…
DISCOVER THE DESTINATION
** observations my own – we travelled under our own steam – (all expenses covered by The Urban Husband) – thank you xxx