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Whether the record-setting heat wave hitting much of the country has you wanting out, or a July 4 holiday that fell on a Wednesday prevented you from taking a bonafide vacation, chances are you’ve spent a moment or two thinking about the balmy ocean breezes and over water bungalows of our current Destination of the Week: Fiji.
WHAT TO DO
Though most folks just come to relax and get some sun on the beaches and enjoy the crystalline waters, Fiji has an assortment of activities to keep you busy.
Despite the cheesy name, the Oolala Day Cruise from Denarau Island to Savala Island comes highly recommended for families who want to spend a day spotting exotic bird and wildlife as well as sea creatures during a snorkeling expedition, and learning about local customs and culture during demonstrations of coconut husking and handicrafts; while more serious scuba enthusiasts (though beginners are also welcome) can explore some of Fiji’s renowned dive spots with Reef Safari Fiji.
Visitors passing through Nadi can also spend some time in the traditional Fijian village of Navala with its typical thatched structures, a welcoming dance ceremony, the hallmark kava ceremony that distinguished Fijian hospitality, and arts and crafts demonstrations and even enjoy a village feast with the chief if they so wish. Another interesting cultural landmark is the Sri Siva Subramaniya Temple – which claims to be the largest Hindu temple in the southern hemisphere – near Nadi, where visitors can check out eye-poppingly vibrant paintings, sacred statues and
Thrill seekers can take to the air with an adrenaline-boosting plunge with Sky Dive Fiji dfa
Destination of the Week pieces are not meant to be comprehensive guides to destinations since we don’t have the time or funds to visit all these places in person and report back to you. Nor are they endorsements of all the hotels we mention. They are simply roundups of top destinations that we have specifically pinpointed for the opportunity they present to use your miles and points to get to and stay there. As always, we welcome your comments to help enrich the content here, provide opinions and first-hand experiences of these destinations.
Air Pacific, the international Airline of Fiji, operates five direct flights a week from Los Angeles to Nadi on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday aboard a Boeing 747. The flight takes about 10 hours non-stop, though passengers can also travel on to various other destinations in the South Pacific from there including Australia. Air Pacific partners with American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, both are transfer partners of Starwood. You’ll need to call both programs to book your award.
Star Alliance members can fly Air New Zealand, which offers flights from Auckland and Christchurch and Skyteam members can fly Korean Air via Seoul.
Though Fiji is a small destination without a ton of points hotels and room rates can get expensive, they can often be great values for points redemptions since many of the properties aren’t in the various brands’ highest redemption categories.
Radisson Blu Resort Fiji Denarau Island: This resort has 270 rooms and one- and two-bedroom suites, each of which comes with private balconies, free Internet, and LCD televisions. There are also four restaurants on property, and it is near the Denarau Golf & Racquet Club,which offers a range of water activities, and has a Harmony Retreat Day Spa set on its own little private island behind a waterfall. The hotel has five lagoon swimming pools, an outdoor Jacuzzi as well as a kids club. Rates in July begin at 700 FJD ($388). This is a Carlson Category 5 hotel and requires 44,000 Gold Points for an award night. A fun choice for those who have racked up points on the cheap through their current super-generous promotions.
Fiji Beach Resort and Spa This hotel’s beachfront location feature rooms that range from studios to five-bedroom villas and include kitchens and washer and dryers . The hotel’s swimming complex features seven separate pools. Guests can dine in two gourmet waterfront restaurants, barbecue at their rooms, or takeout gelato and espresso as well as deli items from L’Epicier market. The spa here offers the possibility of treatments in a private cabana right on the beach. Rates in July start at 449 FJD ($250) per night, or 35,000 Hilton HHonors points since it’s a Category 5 Property.
Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa: The resort features 271 guestrooms and suites with either gardens, lagoon, or beachfront views. The rooms have satellite television, wired Internet, and iPod docking stations. There are five restaurants and bars, four swimming pools, including an adult only infinity pool and family activity pool, and a 18-hole championship golf course. There is also Spa Intercontinental which combines Asian, Eastern and Western treatment methods as well as a fitness center with steam room and hydro-therapy pool. Rates in July start at 650 FJD ($360) per night or 30,000 Priority Club points.
Sheraton Fiji Resort: This resort has 274 guest rooms that feature Sweet Sleeper beds, 32″ LCD televisions and high speed Internet access. There is a resort lagoon-style swimming pool with a sand entry and a quiet zone with a dedicated pool for adults only as well as in-water day beds, pool seats, and an underwater seating area adjacent to the Flying Fish poolside bar.Guests have access to Denarau Golf & Racquet Club which features a club house and pro shop with professional golf instruction, the Belo Vula Restaurant, a 300-meter driving range and 18-hole championship golf course designed by Eiichi Motobashi,as well as all-weather tennis courts. Rates at the Sheraton in July start at 490 FJD ($270) per night. This is a SPG Category 4 hotel requiring 10,000 Starpoints per night or 4,000 points + $60.
Sheraton Denarau Villas: This second Sheraton is on the island’s western coast right on the ocean and includes two- and three-bedroom villas with views of the gardens, pools or ocean, and standard amenities including separate living room areas with flat-screen televisions and surround sound, high-speed Internet access, full kitchens and in-villa washing machines and dryers, while the bedrooms each have their own televisions, sofa and en-suite bathroom with bath-shower combo. The hotel has both a lagoon-style pool and an infinity-edge one right on the waterfront, while guests can also take advantage of facilities for volleyball, golf and kayaking, a 24-hour gym, and a kids club, or head to the Westin (see below) to experience the Heavenly Spa there. Guests also have access to the Starwood resorts complex’s 17 restaurants. Rates for July start at 915 FJK ($510) This is an SPG Category 4 hotel requiring 10,000 points or 4,000 points + $60.
Westin Denarau Island Resort & Spa Fiji: This resort is a little more island-chic with sliding wood doors in the rooms, thatched shade huts lining the pools and restaurants. The rooms feature the signature Heavenly Bed and Heavenly bath, and among the water activities and land sports, cultural activities like the Evening Unwind torch-lighting ceremony. Guests have access to all of the facilities at the three surrounding resorts including four swimming pools, 17 restaurants and bars, an 18-hole championship golf course and 10 tennis courts. There is also the Heavenly Spa which is Fiji’s largest day spa as well as Westin Workout facilities. Every evening guests can Unwind and experience the rejuvenating sounds of the Lali, the traditional Fijian wooden drum, in the nightly torchlight and fire-dance performance ceremony. Rates in July start at 275 FJD ($150) per night or 7,000 Starpoints per night (2,800 + $45 cash & points) since this is a Category 3 hotel. With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.