Coral Coast Gem
From the depth of his rib cage comes a melodic burst, “BULA, BULA, BULAAAAAAAAA, BULA!” His arms are raised above his head waving like a bird about to take off, possibly to extract greater sound or for showing off? The greeting is by one of the gatekeepers at the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort. Every time you enter the Resort grounds an enthusiastic Fijian welcome is bestowed upon the guest. And no matter how many times you hear the various versions, some louder and more theatrical than the last, it brings a smile to your dial. The ‘Bula Spirit’ is an indication of what you’ll find inside the resort grounds – Fijian hospitality vibrant, friendly, infectious and very welcoming.
A 90 minute drive from Nadi Aiport, Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort is on the Coral Coast of the main island. The resort boasts 207 rooms and suites and 47 bures, a considerable amount of accommodation choices spread out on 16 hectares. Walking through the reception area (past the guitar playing Fijian) and onto the balcony overlooking the resort, I feel as though I’ve stumbled upon a Fijian Village, not a five star resort. The light brown thatched bure rooves nestle among manicured tropical gardens filled with towering palms and flowering frangipani trees. The dazzling blue of the reef-fringed lagoon frames the scene. Somewhere in among the greenery are five restaurants, a family and an adult’s swim pool, a kids’ club and a fitness centre. The layout is subtle and very inviting.
Bustle or chill
This is the kind of place you can choose to do as much or as little as you feel like. The family pool has plenty of space for kids to cool down and parents to relax. The adults-only pool in the adults-only section of the resort includes a lap pool and swim-up bar. There are tennis courts, but unless you’re happy to sweat it out in the heat, I recommend avoiding playing while the sun is fierce and instead opt for night tennis. The air-conditioned fitness centre (adjacent to the adults-only pool) is open 24 hours and is a ‘cooler’ option if you desire a workout during the day. For keen golfers, the resort has a golf training facility with six 220 metre bays stretching. A putting and chipping green is available for those wishing to put in more practice.
The dining options range from casual to elegant. Buffet breakfast at the Vale Ni Kana will have you energised for the day with a wide selection of hot and cold breakfast treats. Lunch at the Baravi Restaurant by the pool could take your palette to the Orient, Thailand, Singapore or India. Dinner at the award-winning Ivi restaurant is a divine fine dining experience and deserves an entire story on its own (it’s coming!) Don’t miss dinner at the Sundowner Bar & Grill, not only for the atmosphere and the tasty menu, but the sunsets are incredible.
Bebe Spa (pronounced Behm-Ba) provides guests with the ultimate in luxury pampering. Once you enter the quiet space you’ll appreciate the appropriateness of the name given to the hill – Vakalomalagi – which translates to Heavenly Hill. Climbing up the hill would be arduous – but the resort insists on escorting you by buggy to the top. At the top of the hill, the calm environment envelops and you slip into relax mode.
With eight treatment rooms all facing the ocean including balconies and sunken spa baths, this is the place to unwind, relax and indulge. The only issue you face is what treatment to choose. I highly recommend a Bobo massage. My therapist Tinaly was diminutive in size, but her powerful hands erased all my pre-Fiji stresses in my one-hour session.
The special things
Talai Butler Service – guests staying in Deluxe Ocean View Rooms enjoy a visit by a Talai Butler who brings a glass of sparkling wine and a little plate of canapes for you to enjoy. It’s amazing how much you look forward to the 5 pm arrival of this special indulgence at Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort. (They also sneak in at night time for ‘turn down’ and leave a sweet nightcap to complete the evening.)
A note is left in your room containing practical information on the next day’s activities, weather forecast, sunrise and sunset and a new Fijian word to learn – I loved this special touch.
Kalokalo Bar – is at the highest point of the resort, cleverly built above the 300,000 gallon water tank which provides fresh water for the resort’s use. Kalokalo means “stars” and it feels like a gourmet tree house for celebrities with spectacular Pacific Ocean views towards the coast and green rolling hills towards the east.
For couples, families or singles, Outrigger Resort offers a kaleidoscope of options and experiences. One thing I can guarantee, any stress you may have brought with you on arrival will be whisked away the moment you hear the “BULA” welcome at the resort entrance.