After we stopped for lunch at Pizza Place in Maui Bay, we continued about another 2 hrs. on the road to Denarau, an island resort town on the west coast of Viti Levu. It’s the tourist hub of Fiji.
Denarau was practically a ghost town over the last two years as the pandemic hit the nation’s economy hard. But the trend is clearly reversing. The Sofitel, where we stayed for a long weekend, was fully booked. The government has lifted most COVID restrictions, and it seems Fiji is getting its tourism mojo back.
The Sofitel has undergone an extensive renovation recently, and the place looks great. We got a room on the top floor (third level) by the adults-only pool. The room is spacious and features a balcony overlooking the pool/bar and the ocean (the Sofitel has a proper beachfront, unlike some of its competitors).
The design is modern luxury with a few South Pacific touches. There’s a good amount of space to lounge and work. I particularly liked the balcony–there’s full coverage because of the side walls and foliage so you can relax in privacy and do some people watching. I worked, did some reading and sipped wine out there, then stepped inside when I needed to cool down in the AC.
The pool areas are well designed. The long family pool is bright and inviting and snakes the length of the buffet dining space and lobby. The smaller adults-only pool faces the beach.
I enjoyed the gym because I got to use the punching bag and had plenty of space to do other exercises in the adjacent pavilion.
You can fill up water bottles with cold, filtered water from fountains on each floor of the resort.
A few criticisms: The dinner buffet seemed overpriced (about $40 USD), but I guess this evens out because the breakfast buffet is included in the price of the room. We had dinner one night at one of the restaurants where you need a reservation; the hotel was packed, and service was slow–we had to keep flagging the servers. Also, there’s a bit of a funky smell in the room from the AC, but maybe that will clear up as the hotel gets back into full swing with more tourists coming in. Some of the electrical outlets in the room weren’t working, too.
In general, the food quality was so-so. The best meal came from room service: I ordered fish and chips for a dinner, and I liked the thick and lightly crunchy batter; I also ordered a cauliflower and quinoa salad, which had excellent pesto flavoring. The resort has a kitchen garden, and you get a lovely whiff of the basil if there’s a breeze when you walk by.
There are eateries outside the resort, at the marina on one end of the island. You can walk, drive or take the Bula Bus for a fee to get there. The marina also has a supermarket if you want to self-cater.