luxury hotel brand - Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa
Credit: Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa

This Luxury Hotel on Denarau Island Makes a Trip to Fiji Worth the Flight

In Pursuit of Paradise at the Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa

As far-flung tropical destinations go, it doesn’t get more dazzling or postcard-perfect than Fiji. Over 300 islands comprise the idyllic South Pacific archipelago whose closest neighbors include New Zealand and the Kingdom of Tonga. Yes, you’ll cross the international date line to get to this luxury hotel in Fiji and be almost one full calendar day (19 hours to be precise) ahead of California, but from the genuinely warm and friendly local Fijians to sun-soaked beaches and reefs teeming with colorful fish and famous surf breaks, this pretty slice of paradise in Oceania is worth the flight.

If you’re looking for another reason to pull the trigger and book a trip, the five-star Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa should sway you with its European elegance and modern French style. Renowned for its art-de-vivre, this outpost of the Paris-based luxury hotel brand is no exception. Located on the western side of the main island of Viti Levu, it’s a 20-minute drive from Nadi International Airport, which means you’ll be poolside with a mimosa in hand two hours or less after landing. Tucked within Denarau Island, a tiny tourist enclave also home to Port Denarau, you’ll have access to catamarans, ferries and small ships that depart multiple times each day for the Mamanuca and Yasawa island groups, making Sofitel ideally situated for day trips. So set clocks to Fiji time and get ready for the warmest welcome—”Bula!”—of your life. 


Getting There

Around 10-plus hours from Los Angeles, national flag carrier Fiji Airways operates non-stop overnight service to Nadi (pronounced “Nandi”), which means you have all day to pack and get a ride to LAX. Not everyone loves a red eye, but the travel bonus here is waking up in paradise first thing in the morning—yay for an extra vacation day! While most of us daydream about “turning left” after boarding and sitting in cushy business class, Fiji Airways’ Bula Bid program means you can make an offer to be upgraded from economy to an unsold business class seat. While there are no hard-and-fast rules, successful bids should be aimed slightly above the baseline price. 



When to Travel

With minimal extremes and a warm climate, Fiji is considered a year-round tropical paradise, but there are distinct wet and dry seasons. Characterized by brief but heavy local showers, the wet season lasts from November through April. For many, though, the best and more temperate time to visit Fiji is from mid-May to mid-October—June is a lovely month in particular. Dry, cool and sunny, especially on the northwestern slopes of the main island, winds have dropped and tropical rains have finished by then, leaving the landscape looking lush, the humidity much lower and coastal conditions calmer. In other words, perfect for beach days and island-hopping cruises.


A Five-Star Resort in Paradise

luxury hotel brand
Credit: Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa

Set amidst 26 acres of lush, palm tree-studded grounds on the northside of Denarau Island and encompassing 296 guest rooms and suites, three restaurants, four bars, two sparkling swimming pools and a nightclub, Sofitel Fiji is the complete package. After a three-year, $50 million remodel, guest rooms and public spaces were reimagined, while brand new amenities and areas like the Waitui Beach Club were added. Sofitel’s beachfront location means almost all rooms and suites here enjoy a glimpse of the ocean, although any with a luxury prefix have more wow-factor views. Beautiful design details and natural finishes are featured throughout, as are cotton kimono-style robes and Sofitel Fiji branded Pure Fiji bath products.

Resort facilities are seemingly endless, from the main pool area and Journal Lounge, an exclusive hangout-meets-“Work From Hotel” space open to guests booked in luxury rooms with Beach Club Plus privileges, to the pretty Suka Bar for sundowners and Republik nightclub for dancing and late-night drinks. If soaking up the sun poolside or strolling along the beachfront gets old, you can join in one of the daily guest activities, including beach cricket and necklace making. There are kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to borrow too. Off-property, a handful of shops and restaurants in nearby Port Denarau are also worth a look and can be reached via the hop-on, hop-off Bula Bus, which makes its rounds multiple times a day stopping close to the main lobby.



Resort Within A Resort: Waitui Beach Club

luxury hotel brand - Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa
Credit: Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa

The adults-only “resort within a resort” concept, Waitui Beach Club, provides a private and boutique area that not only boasts its only brand-new arrival lobby—enjoy a fresh coconut while you complete check-in paperwork—but an infinity pool, luxury cabanas, restaurant and swim-up bar. Day beds are dotted nearby along the sand, so no matter when you head down, there’s always somewhere fabulous to lay out and chill. Service feels more personalized, and the space is quiet and sanctuary-like. One of the island’s hottest dinner reservations, tables are booked a week in advance during the high season at Waitui Bar & Grill. Helmed by Executive Chef Stephane Postoyan, dishes showcase local seafood and produce with standouts being kokoda (a traditional Fijian ceviche made from fish “cooked” in lime juice) and the Sigatoka Highland pineapple and apple crumble.  


Sitting Pretty at The Sofitel Spa

luxury hotel brand - Sofitel Spa
Credit: Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa

Whether you plan to schedule spa time after arriving or space out treatments throughout your vacation, Sofitel Spa offers a range of services that will beat jet lag and leave anyone feeling in tip-top shape. The hotel partnered with Pure Fiji on their product line here too, so expect lots of yummy scented infusions like white gingerlily, orange blossom and frangipani. Local favorites from the menu include the warm seashell massage and nourishing moringa melt spa ritual, while a holistic wellness studio has gua sha and facial massages with “honeylift.” Treatments are performed in individual spa bures, but there are a handful of couple’s rooms plus a co-ed whirlpool. The pavilion waiting and relaxation lounge is lovely, complete with a decorative pool and lawn area where post-treatment refreshments can be served. Every morning, there are workout classes, including yoga and Pilates, plus a boot camp and a guided walk/stretch at the fitness center.


Cultural and Island-Hopping Day Trips

Credit: Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa

As lovely as resort time is, no trip to Fiji would be complete without island hopping or experiencing local culture on the mainland Viti Levu. The concierge team is happy to arrange all kinds of day trips, excursions and adventures. The Sigatoka River Cruise is slightly misleading because the half-day tour includes an adrenaline-fueled jet boat ride up the Sigatoka River paired with a visit to a local village to learn about Fijian culture and countryside life, which includes a kava ceremony and lunch. Another must-do highlight near the hotel is the Mud Pool and Hot Spring tour—be sure to pack a black bathing suit or swim trunks.

While Sofitel Fiji can arrange any island excursions, including a day at the Malamala Beach Club (think day beds, club tunes and cocktails), if you’ve only got time for one island, make it Monuriki, which is part of the Atolls islands and not to be confused with Castaway Island Resort—yes, it’s where they filmed “Castaway,” and no, you won’t find Wilson. What you will discover, though, is a next-level Robinson Crusoe experience (but make it luxury) thanks to a team of dedicated staff providing breakfast and lunch buffets on the boat ride there and back, foot or full-body massages on the beach, plus stand-up paddleboards and Jet Skis at your disposal should you feel like zipping around a bit in between glasses of champagne.


Shop Local and Sustainably

Whether looking for a personal keepsake or gifts to bring back to family and friends, it’s always fun to find treasures from an overseas trip, but put down those mass-produced fridge magnets and shot glasses and turn your attention to locally made souvenirs instead. The Nadi Handicraft Market has a variety of stalls selling tapa cloths and wood carvings, although it’s not always easy to trace their origin or prove authenticity. Thankfully, Sofitel Fiji has several vetted boutiques in its lobby, including Cocoon Home (think uber-tasteful handcrafted decor, pearl jewelry, art and resort wear), while standouts at Jack’s of Fiji include local skincare line Nama Fiji, made with hand-harvested sea grapes and woven table mats, printed pouches and totes by non-profit Rise Beyond The Reef. Finally, stock up on the entire range of Pure Fiji products at the only dedicated Pure Fiji boutique in the country, located inside Sofitel’s swanky lobby.

Travel Requirements

Credit: Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa

Fiji reopened to international travelers in December 2021. While everyone planning to vacation there must display proof of full COVID-19 vaccination at airport check-in before departure, negative test results or proof of test bookings to enter the country are no longer required. In more good travel news, the Fijian Government removed the requirement for post-arrival testing for international travelers in September. However, anyone who develops symptoms will be asked to self-report, and those who test positive will be required to isolate themselves for a minimum of five days. Visit Fiji’s travel site for the latest travel requirements, trip planning, weather forecast and a list of FAQs.

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Keri Bridgwater is a freelance writer covering travel and lifestyle. Her work has been featured in Fodor’s Travel, Marie Claire, Matador Network and InsideHook, among other outlets and publications.




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