Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Fiji 2012: Accomodation Review

Here's our final Fiji Blog, an account of our accomodations...
My track record for booking accommodation is pretty good. I have found affordable gems in Italy, USA, Canada and NZ. I was feeling pretty confident when I started planning our trip to Fiji. My confidence set me up for disaster! I started my research a good month in advance and found great deals on flights. I usually scour Expedia looking for deals and then read as many hotel reviews before making a decision. My plan for Fiji was Heaven on a Budget. Initially it might look like my plan is impossible but when you have a couple other vacations under your belt you feel pretty cocky. I was sure I would be able to save on some cheaper accommodation at the start of our trip so that I could splurge later. It turns out that it is possible to accomplish a progression of budget to decadence it was just not possible in the places I booked.
When I read hotel reviews, as with anything on the internet, I am sceptical of the source of the review. I generally picture the authors of hotel reviews as late bloomers that regularly send meals back in fast food restaurants and wet the bed until adulthood. The parameters I gave my self were to find:
-          Coastal resorts with access to the Mamanuca Island Chain
-          Included breakfast so that we would have the ability to load up on PB and J if we were feeling extra cheap
-          Generally positive reviews of food and location
 I did not feel that this was going to be too hard to meet my goals. Fiji consists of 303 Islands surrounded by coral. I figured that you could easily visit the “real” Fiji islands from lesser resorts.
The first hotel I booked was the Tropics of Capricorn. This was the biggest mistake of my travel career. When we arrived we were happy that they paid for our taxi from the airport, and upon arrival we saw a great view, (the next picture). It turned out that we weren't staying in the same building. We waited 1/2 an hour before our room was ready and when it was, we were taken around the block to a non-descript building guarded by a large stray dog in an over run yard. When we got in the room we were treated to spider nests in the blinds, broken screens, garbage in the bathtub, and trash in the cupboards. A lovely touch was the Christmas lights strung up instead of working room lighting... We tried to suck it up because we booked 3 nights here, but both of us suffered major allergies and we found another room in a near by hostel the next morning.

STOP 1: Tropics of Capricorn
Our Review: Total Failure (0 stray dogs out of 5)

A beautiful view from our disaster of a first stop.

Some creatures that we met along our travels.
Our second stop was for one week at the Anchorage Beach Resort. This resort offered good value with a variety of things to do near by. The major downfall was the food but a short walk away was a marina where we were able to eat better meals and for less money. All we had to do was follow the sugar cane tracks...these were easy to find because they were two steps out our door. The room was huge, clean, and had a small patio to have our evening drinks and enjoy a show of giant Batman Bats!
It was from this resort that we went to Beachcomber Island two times - the sister resort, and where we went snorkelling.
STOP 2: Anchorage Beach Resort
Our Review: Good (3 Sugarcane stocks out of 5)

We had a great view when the tide was high, but when it was out the "beach" was quite pathetic.

We had some great Papaya here, and I even tried to farm some on my own by throwing sticks and rocks up the papaya trees - narrowly missing Jess on several occasions. Also, Fanta is great. But Pineapple Fanta is amazing.
Our final stay was 4 nights at Sonaisali Island Resort. As the name suggests, this resort was alone on an island just a short 5 minute boat ride from Fiji main land - an Olympic long jumper could make it over easily. This was to be our "treat" finale resort, and it was in many respects. We stayed in a beautiful water front bure - the Fijian word for cabin or hut. We had a huge living space, a large deck, and private recliners by the water. The resort made some great bread for breakfast toast and all of their sandwiches, but as far as the rest of the food goes we were pretty disappointed with the lack of quality and the huge price tags.
STOP 3: Sonaisali Island Resort
Our Review: Good (3 Falling Coconuts out of 5)

Our water front bure. We had the spot on the right, and if you look close you can see me mooning Jess as she took this shot unaware...
We were treated by a visit from a hawk on the ledge of our railing a couple of times

You aren't truly living, until you are sleeping with three pillows. Luxury.
Our pool side spot most nights. Many Fiji Bitters were consumed at happy hour because it was too expensive any other time.

This was the coconut warning written in the resort manual. On several occasions we could hear the loud thud of a coconut falling from inside our bure. We didn't see any coconut casualties.
 And finally, our new friend Katich, ('little guy' in Fijian), is pictured below. He was our cab driver for our entire stay. Although we drove in a straight line, his steering wheel pointed several degrees to the right. We decided it was a character cab, and a true rural road vehicle. He drove us from each resort and also took us into Nadi for authentic Fiji Indian food. This was the only good food we ate here. The waitress gave us the plate of peppers in case we wanted to make it spicier.
Katich told us many things in our short trips together. Mostly it made us feel good that he was a trained light weight boxer, (very light weight), and could hopefully defend us in any potential Nadi town brawl. Happily this training was never put to the test, and we had a safe and enjoyable holiday.

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