from Birmingham, Alabama
Submitted on 08-06-2016
A friend and I recently visited the beautiful island nation of Fiji and were guests of the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji, Sonaisali Island. We chose this property foremost due to the price - expedia.com offering members 50% off select hotels - and due to curiosity, with the DoubleTree brand not common in the resort market. Very shortly after booking, we became aware that this property was recently purchased by DoubleTree and had been undergoing an extensive renovation with a scheduled opening...
A friend and I recently visited the beautiful island nation of Fiji and were guests of the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji, Sonaisali Island. We chose this property foremost due to the price - expedia.com offering members 50% off select hotels - and due to curiosity, with the DoubleTree brand not common in the resort market. Very shortly after booking, we became aware that this property was recently purchased by DoubleTree and had been undergoing an extensive renovation with a scheduled opening date just prior to our arrival.
From the moment we stepped on the property, we experienced the genuine spirit of "Bulah" (welcome in Fijian). From the porters, to guest services, to restaurant staff, to maintenance staff (who were constantly working to keep the resort pristine), there was always a genuine smile, "bulah," and interest in how you were enjoying your stay on the resort and your experience of Fiji as a whole.
The DoubleTree Resort Hilton Fiji is located about 35 minutes to the south of Nadi International Airport and roughly 25 minutes from Denarau Island (where many resorts and the port are located). The resort is nestled on a small, quiet, and secluded island just offshore from the mainland. Getting to the resort requires a two minute transfer via boat, free of charge, and operating 24/7.
The resort blends in with the natural surroundings of the island, with structures designed unobtrusively, in a traditional island style. Palm trees and beautiful gardens encompass the resort. The lobby, pool (with swim-up bar), indoor restaurant, outdoor bar & grill, gift shops, gym, and spa are centrally located. Padded lounge chairs, many shaded by palm trees, are located down the perimeter of the resort, overlooking the sea and outer islands. Large padded swings are also located throughout the property.
The majority of the rooms at DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji are located in traditionally styled Fijian bures, or villas. Each bure comprises of two hotel rooms offering tall vaulted ceilings, large private porches with ocean views, mini refrigerator, adequate storage, tile flooring, and double sinks. My friend and I booked a Double King Ocean View Bure, which, in fact, offered two very comfortable king size beds. The resort also offers traditional rooms located in 2-story buildings on each side of the main building, offering private verandas and balconies with ocean views.
The resort offers a restaurant serving breakfast (buffet), lunch, and dinner; outdoor bar & grill serving lunch and dinner; and a coffee shop. The restaurant offers seating indoors or on the covered patio, which offers views of the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. The breakfast buffet is extensive with options from the hot station, yogurt/fruit, various breads and cereals, and juices. Dinner is served a la carte style and offers entrees such as an Indian styled duck, lamb, Fijian styled chicken dish, and fish. The outdoor grill also offers a nice dinner menu in a relaxing environment. The prices of the meals are in Fijian Dollars, which may appear expensive if you're visiting from the US or Australia, but keep in mind that $1 Fijian is equal to roughly 53 cents USD. The portions of the meals are decent and the taste flavorful. Beyond portions and tastes, the quality of service is pivotal to a pleasant dining experience and it just so happens that the dining staff in the restaurant are phenomenal. With each and every encounter, there was a genuinely felt "bulah" and interest in your activities and experiences of the day. Dining staff were prompt, yet took the time to engage with guests. On several occasions staff went above and beyond to accommodate the needs of my friend and I, without any hesitation. Katarina, Kesia, Marcus, John, and several others whose faces I remember, yet names I unfortunately cannot recall, should be commended on their excellent service and attention to details. These were the staff that made the experience the most pleasant and worthwhile.
The resort offers an abundance of activities for very reasonable prices. The pool area is large and inviting, with a fountain, swim-up bar, whirlpool, and small dipping pool. There is an ice-cream cart poolside (1 scoop, $10 Fiji). Inside the lobby is the kiosk where you may sign up for various daily activities including stand-up paddle boarding ($35 Fiji), horse back riding ($50), jet skis, parasailing, paintball, and kayaking. The spa offers a comprehensive menu with full-body massages ($99 Fiji for one hour), body wraps, and facials.
- A cab ride to/from Nadi International Airport will cost you around $55 Fijian.
- A cab ride to/from Nadi town will cost you on average $35 Fijian.
- A cab ride to/from Denerau Island is roughly $45 Fijian.
- Free parking is located inside the gate at the main entrance on the mainland.
- If you have reserved a cab or a shuttle, notify the front desk so that access will be allowed inside the secured gate.
- Most charges for dining and services are billed to your room.
- When booking your room, book the package that includes the breakfast buffet, otherwise there is a surcharge. It's well worth it.
- In general when it comes to Fiji, tipping is not the norm as it is in the US. However, your dining staff will highly appreciate it.
- DONT FORGET TO GET YOUR COMPLIMENTARY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE UPON CHECK-IN AND SUBSEQUENT ARRIVALS TO THE PROPERTY!
I gave the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji excellent reviews because I see not only how much DoubleTree has invested in the property, but also how much the staff are invested themselves. The subdued and pleasant environment, the amenities, dining experiences, accommodations, and above all else, the genuinely hospitable and friendly nature of the staff are what make this resort worth booking. Having said that, there are a few minor issues. The one disappointment I had with this resort was the beach and lack of crystal clear turquoise water that one imagines of Fiji. The water at Sonaisali Island is a brown, mucky water. Just to be clear, though, this is also the case at Denereau Island. As it turns out, both islands are man-made with the natural mangroves being removed have resulted in the lack of clarity of the water. Turquoise waters may be experienced at most of the outer islands, away from Fiji's two largest islands. The second issue is regarding the horse back riding trails. As stated earlier, the resort was recently purchased by DoubleTree and is still undergoing refurbishment. While this is not noticed in the slightest on the property, it is evident outside the property on the horse back riding trails where remnants of the previous furnishings and plumbing have been, assumedly, temporarily stored.
If you're wanting a tranquil, secluded, pleasant, warm Fijian experience then the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji is your top choice.