Fiji three ways
If you're pining for summer and a touch of the tropics, a Fiji fling might be what you need.
But in a country bursting with resorts, it can be hard to know where to stay. We visit three properties to help you choose.
IN LOVE WITH LUXURY
Spend your days soaking in the poolside views of the aqua ocean beyond at Tadrai Island Resort. This place is truly indulgent, with just five thatched villas on a private beach on Mana Island in the Mamanucas.
It's five-star all the way but far from pretentious. There is a main open-air lodge with a medium-sized pool, around which you can laze on beanbags or dine on lobster.
There are plunge pools on the balconies of each villa, too, along with inviting day beds. Enjoy a massage in a seaside cabana or on the nearby sandbar. Afterwards, go on a private boat cruise around Mana Island, sipping champagne as you watch the sun sink below the horizon.
Snorkelling, scuba diving, fishing and kayaking are other ways to fill your days, but really, all you'll want to do is relax.
There is really nothing to fault at this adults-only retreat, and if you can afford the price tag, it's worth every penny.
A villa costs $FJ3000 ($1902.6) a night, and includes all meals and beverages (except premium wine and spirits), and most resort activities.
SPRAWLING, STYLISH CHAIN
If you're of the view that bigger is better, then you'll be a happy holidaymaker at InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa.
In true chain style, this place is a monstrosity, and although it's size can be overwhelming, it's far from brash.
There are 271 rooms and 91 suites, including perfectly positioned family rooms right next to a family-only pool. My pick of the resort is Club InterContinental. It's an exclusive hilltop area that features its own pool and bar in Club Lounge and gorgeous "rest nests" - faux cane cocoon chairs.
There are four pools across the resort, one of which is adults-only, as well as four restaurants, an 18-hole golf course, a 24-hour fitness centre and a day spa. When I visited, the restaurants were busy, so be sure to book a table.
The InterContinental, on Viti Levu, is on Natadola beach, where guests can go surfing when the tide is up.
Rooms are available from $FJ595 ($377) a night.
If you have children, they'll have a ball at Sonaisali Island Resort, a three-minute boat ride from Viti Levu.
There's a fabulous kids' club (open 9am-9pm) that includes entertainment such as frog races and allows parents time alone to enjoy activities, including a sunset cruise and jet-skiing.
During my visit, there was constant squealing and laughter from kids as they jumped off the "rock" in the middle of the lagoon-style pool. Adults watched from the swim-up bar, which has a decent cocktail menu worth making your way through.
The pool is popular because the beach has dark volcanic sand, and is not the most appealing for swimming.
The resort is very tired, and although it's promoted as four stars, it is more realistically a three-star property. The beachfront bungalows are large, comfortable and filled with light, but are outdated. A lick of paint, bathroom renovation and new flyscreens wouldn't go astray.
I am told a refurbishment is under way in other parts of the resort, but a time frame for completion hasn't been announced. So far, the two hotel wings have been renovated, the conference rooms refurbished and the tennis court resurfaced.
Service is often slow and many staff are unenthusiastic, and although there is a fine-dining restaurant, the main eatery has an RSL-style buffet, which is great for kids but unappetising for more refined palettes.
Overall, Sonaisali is suitable for young families, although wait for when the rooms go on sale because prices don't reflect standards. Accommodation in a beachfront hotel room starts at $FJ655 ($415) a night, and the beachfront spa bungalows start at $FJ960 ($608.8) a night.
IF YOU GO
Fiji Airways flies direct to Nadi International Airport. For more, see fijiairways.com.
The writer travelled as a guest of Fiji Airways, Tadrai Island Resort, InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa and Sonaisali Island Resort.