REVIEW: INTERCONTINENTAL, FIJI

It’s hard to miss this sprawling five-star resort that’s located some 40 minutes from Nadi aiport on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu. Sitting atop picturesque Natadola Bay (voted one of the world’s best beaches by Forbes), the InterContinental is a constant hive of golf buggies ferrying guests from one part of the resort to the other (it measures in at a whopping 14 hectares), activities and restaurants and bars. For families with children to entertain, this roughly translates as PLENTY TO DO and the best thing is, it caters to both parents and children with equal measure.

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For my first trip here (more on that later) I packed up the kids (and my mother) and checked in at Club InterContinental, which is essentially an exclusive resort within the main resort accessible by a fleet of golf buggies. Club InterContinental guests have access to extra privileges such the Club Lounge and infinity pool, a 24-hour Itokani butler service, a choice of breakfast at three restaurants, all-day non-alcoholic drinks, afternoon tea at the Lounge and evening cocktails. My “room” was so much more than that – I was happy to find not only did it feature two large bedrooms and a spacious living area for the kids to run around it, my private courtyard had its own plunge pool and deep outdoor bath – one the nanny insisted on filling and sprinkling rose petals in just before I was due to get back from dinner. “I have prepared tea and chocolates for you,” she would tell me just before she let herself out. Honestly, I could have married her on the spot – had I had the time to plan a wedding so immersed in decision-making I was at the time (admittedly, daily decisions revolved around which of the swimming pools to swim at, or which of the five restaurants to dine in. Tough break, no?)

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It’s a family resort but I quickly discovered mums and dads were catered for in a way that made them feel like they were on a romantic break. Many attractive couples sans kids were making good use of the adults only infinity pool and on-site fine-dining restaurant, Navo (although the restaurant does have a family sitting time of 5.30pm to 7pm if the little ones so desire lobster). The activity sheet read like a novella with every activity from wake boarding and waterskiing to the 18-hole Championships golf course on offer. I photographed the activity pages for posterity and made my way daily to Spa InterContinental where I worked my way steadily through their large menu of heavenly treatments featuring Pure Fiji products. Bliss!

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I love Pure Fiji products!

I love Pure Fiji products!

My six year old is always begging to go back to ‘InterCon’ as she calls it, and here’s why – the resort features an 110 metre family activity pool, kids menus filled with delicious mini-person fare,  Planet Trekkers – the resort’s kids club where they can feed fish, go crab racing and cook with the pastry chef, and the buffet makes some pretty amazing pancakes which she devoured like nobody’s business every morning.

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All in all it was a successful trip – and 12 months later I found myself booking in for another stay. The first time I went was as a journalist but this time I would be going as a private paying guest and I was as curious as anyone as to how the two experiences would match up.

Reception

Reception

Instead of staying in Club InterContinental, this time I opted to stay within the main resort in an Ocean View room. And although I was preparing myself for disappointment (I figured it would be hard to come down from a Club Suite), I was pleasantly surprised. After a quick and pleasant check-in where I almost dropped to the ground and kissed the ground so happy was I to be back, we were dropped off at our room, where we were greeted with a view far more glorious than anything I could have imagined. The room was spacious with our bed – as well as the rollaway and cot the staff had already set up – all facing the beach. To our great surprise the balcony was almost as large as the actual room and featured an outdoor bath as well a daybed with a curtain for extra privacy. As we were to find out over the course of the next few nights, this romantic space would provide adult refuge after the little one had gone to bed and we could hang out in this space without disrupting them. Or as my husband put it, “We have a space where we can actually behave like adults”.

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12 months changed many things for us – the children were older and got a lot more out of the kids cubs and their services this time around and we were more comfortable leaving our baby with the nanny during the day. But aside from that, we discovered nothing else had changed. The superstar status I’m sometimes awarded when I check into a hotel I’m reviewing? It was still there – even though I was no different to any other guest. No matter where we went – be it the activity centre, reception, bar, or buffet, the staff were professional, pleasant and efficient.

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Poolside dinner for two

Poolside dinner for two

Drinks at Karma Lounge

Drinks at Karma Lounge

The one thing I learned from the two stays however surprised me the most. Now that I’ve stayed in Club InterContinental and an Ocean Suite in the main resort, I know that for a third, fourth or fifth visit, I would choose Ocean Suite time and time again. Don’t get me wrong –  I loved cocktail hour and the little extras such as the Butler service and children’s bedroom, but I wasn’t so fond of having to wait for transfers to pick me up and take me to the other end of the hotel and back any time I forgot something. With the Ocean Suite, it was just around the corner from the buffet, kids club and pools and when you’re travelling with two kids, and armfuls of toys and towels, it’s the small things that count.

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Would I go back? In a heartbeat and considering it’s only a four hour flight and 30 minute drive from the airport away, I know that I’ll be there again before I know it.

Need to know

Where: InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, Maro Road, Natadola, Fiji

Cost: Priced from $AUD340 a night.

Internet: Not included.

Pool: One adults only pool, one family pool and a Club pool (for Club guests).

Meals: The kids bento boxes at Toba Grill will put smiles on little ones’ faces as will the buffet options at Sanasana.

Going up: The room configurations with the outdoor living area is a parent’s dream. These are available even at entry level.

Going down: You are quite isolated so all of your meals and activities will have to be through the resort. Costs can add up quickly.

For further information, visit InterContinental

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