After ten fidgety hours of flight time, we were looking forward to a slice of tranquil heaven on this gorgeous Melanesian island of FIJI. Flight attendants aside, the first people to greet us were chocolate-toned frizzy-haired tour staff with beaming smiles and a booming BULA! At half past midnight, that was our first taste of Fijian hospitality and an exact representation of Fijian folk.
Here’s my Fiji hotel review of The Westin Fiji, my first stop in Denarau.
Arriving at The Westin Fiji
Arriving at the Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa at such a late hour, even through flight-weary eyes, another image struck us – the beauty of the local architectural style and décor. High roofs, wooden beams and floorboards gave us a warm and welcoming ambience of the islands….. the start of our tropical island getaway.
The lone receptionist at the front desk offered a cheery ‘Bula’ welcome and a sensibly brisk run-through of the room facilities and services whilst Security and a porter hovered on standby, ready to assist with our luggage. No dawdling.
A short walk past fountains and fronds then up a flight of wooden stairs brought us to our room. We were pleasantly surprised at the largeness of it; with two double beds, an almost ‘dining’ table and the rest of the usual amenities. But wait, there in the corner was a chaise lounge too! Great for my reading-in hours! And…two large slatted wooden doors slide open onto a private balcony. The smell and sound of the sea wafting through was proof of its proximity. Though there isn’t a lift to the first floor units, the ground floor units have ease of access.
Decorated in local style, with an indigenous art weave on the wall, wooden furniture and practical tile floors (considering sandy slippers), the room looks seemingly comfortable – until you hit the Heavenly® Bed. It’s close enough!
The bathroom is discreetly screened off from view with a slatted divider that also acts as a backdrop to the vanity. And with two wash basins …there’s a little taste of luxury! The expectation of a long tub and separate shower was not to be, but it’s almost made up for by the double vanity being outside the bathroom instead of inside.
Then, for two hungry travellers – a first taste of Fijian cooking. The 24-hour room service order of a burger platter proved to be a delicious chunky meat patty between fluffy buns with a generous helping of potato chips. But watch out – it’s pricey!
I’m guessing, the quietness of the night is testament to the exhilarating daytime activities that had taken place. A good night’s sleep!
Sunrise in Fijian Paradise
Waking up to our first view of the Fijian sunrise right from our balcony, with the sea practically at our doorstep, it was time to sample the fare at the breakfast buffet. Followed by some of the fun daytime activities available at this Denarau resort.
Again, happy greetings from the staff: from the housekeepers to the gardeners; to the pool cleaners to the waiters. Breakfast starts at 6.30am and runs up to 11am to cater to the late risers.
Breakfast at The Westin with a View
Of course, my Fiji hotel review includes a food review. Holiday time is makan time, right?
Set right by the poolside, the breakfast spread is an array of fresh seasonal fruits and juices, yogurts, pastries, breads and beverages; with a dash of Asian – like roti and curry, and porridge.
Though it’s a self-serve buffet-style, you do get served a full pot of coffee or tea or hot chocolate if you so desire. There’s also a cook on hand to prepare eggs the way you like them. And you will be joined by some happy birds sharing your breakfast if you’re not careful!
The best part for me was the pancakes with indulgent toppings of maple syrup, whipped cream and cinnamon sugar. On the second day I switched it up with a scoop of strawberry yoghurt on my pancakes. Naughty but irresistible!
Around the Hotel: Things to do in Denarau, Fiji
Tours & Day Trips
After breakfast, to experience Fiji’s rich cultural heritage and local lifestyle, you can purchase a variety of packages at the tour desk conveniently situated at the lobby. The friendly staff at ‘Rosie Holidays’ desk is ever ready to brief you on the tour options and make private transport arrangements for you.
Or for a free-n-easy move around, buy an all day pass for 8.50 FJD to ride the Bula Bus down to Port Denarau where there are several shops, restaurants, bars, Hard Rock Cafe and cultural performances.
If you’re choosing a Fiji tour to do, I’d recommend the Sigatoka River Safari, an exhilarating and educational trip up the Sigatoka river with a visit to a village to experience the Fijian way of life. We really enjoyed the 360 spins in the boat and the chance to meet with local villagers.
Another desk you will find is the Heavenly Spa counter.
For 167 FJD you can enjoy an hour’s pampering massage. The world-class Heavenly Spa is just a walk across the tarmac from the main lobby, hidden behind some trees. The setting is lovely! An outdoor bure style private area with a waterlily-filled pond next to it, creates a peaceful ambience for a quiet, relaxing rub down. You can even choose if you want all quiet or soft chatter from your masseuse. The massage was fine but it was somewhat spoilt by the noise of repair works going on nearby.
For souvenir hunters and shopping queens, there are a couple of shops selling souvenirs and beachwear in the Westin and neighbouring Sheraton hotels. And interestingly, in support of the local villagers, makeshift stalls are set-up within the resort by a few local ladies selling jewellery and decorative items, some home-made by the ladies themselves. Thumbs-up!
3 Resorts in 1
Take a walk down the beach and you can share the facilities of sister Starwood properties, Sheraton Resort and Sheraton Villas. This is one of the coolest things about staying at The Westin, you get access to 3 resorts which means 6 pools and several restaurant options. My favourite is the Sheraton Villa’s infinity pool directly facing the ocean. And if you’re thirsty for a Pina Colada, this is a swim-up bar too ;p
If you prefer to take a swim in the sea, unfortunately, you can’t do so at the Westin’s beach but you can at the Sheraton.
On our way to the Sheraton, we came across a sweet little white chapel right by the beach. As you’ve guessed, many couples have had their picturesque wedding among the palm trees. Absolutely delightful!
Evening at The Westin
Come evening, enjoy the sea breeze and watch the sunset from your balcony. Then catch the nightly show where staff light up the walk paths with fire sticks after a drum and dance display.
Sunset view from our balcony
These sounds of the island will put you into the mood for some food. And the good thing is, dining options are many between the Westin and the Sheraton. The Kitchen@Westin offers international cuisine under the eaves of a thatched roof whilst the Ocean Terrace (of the buffet breakfast) transforms into Zing Restaurant serving up Chinese and Indian fare. There’s also a ‘Singapore fried noodles with BBQ pork’ dish on the menu!
Get Active in Denarau
Water sports aplenty! Paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkelling and jet skiing, to name a few, are available. However, at The Westin these are all payable activities, whereas at some other hotels/resorts, they come free with your stay.
Besides water sports, The Denarau Golf and Racquet Club is within walking distance. Themed with bunkers in the forms of marine creatures it offers international standard golf lessons and clinics. Rack rate for adults is 167 FJD with clubs hire at 65 FJD and shoes at FJD 20. Oh, and we’ve heard that here’s where Vijay Singh, Fiji’s own international golfing star started out :)
Be an SPG! No, not the Singapore kind. It’s the Starwood Preferred Guest where members earn valuable Starpoints® and redeem them for some pretty good rewards. We got 15% off our meals. Membership is free.
Verdict – The Westin Fiji Hotel Review
Overall our 3-night stay was very pleasant, surrounded by the warm and friendly people (my favourite being the happy towel guy cracking jokes over his island music playlist – for me that set the tropical island feel). The hotel did play its part in the service and hospitality.
The oceanview balcony, traditional palm leaf roofs dotted around the property, outdoor heavenly spa and 6 pools to choose from, were all great wins. I would say though that the resort could do better with their pricing of water sports attractions, room and meal rates.
Would I recommend staying here? Yes. Particularly as your first stop when you land, or last stop the day of your flight home. The Westin is a great family-friendly and couple-friendly resort close to Nadi Airport, which means you can sink right into their heavenly bed when you get off the flight from Singapore landing past midnight. And the next day, enjoy all the frills you would expect from a 5 star hotel. So it’s a top choice when you’re staying in Denarau.
That said, be sure to get out and see the rest of Fiji! The beaches only get more beautiful and the island feel will sweep you over.
Vinaka Fiji, we’re coming back!
About the Author
Geraldine D’Rozario is a Singaporean ex-magazine editor. She enjoys experiencing rich cultures and historical places she’s read about in her grand collection of books and Nat Geo magazines. In her 50’s, she now values comfort and ease of travel on any trip. She adds the perspective of mature travellers seeking a trouble-free holiday getaway from Singapore.