Sheraton Fiji Golf & Beach Resort offers a safe haven in lap of luxury

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The Sheraton Fiji Golf & Beach Resort is now open for business after a major renovation.

One of the South Pacific’s largest resorts, the 300-room Sheraton Fiji Golf & Beach Resort, is expecting more Australian and American tourists than ever following its recent $48m renovation.

Developed by the failed Japanese group EIE around 35 years ago on Denarau Island, 10 minutes from Fiji’s Nadi Airport, the resort reopened just last month and is already experiencing 100 per cent occupancies following a major renovation of its rooms, lobby and three restaurants – designed by Sydney interior specialists, Chada.

Fiji was one of the first countries to reopen for tourism business back in December and expects to attract even more international tourists, particularly Australians and Americans, than previously, because it is seen as a safe destination, featuring on many travellers‘ bucket lists. Post Covid, research for both hoteliers and cruise companies reveals tourists now expect to spend more money on travel – buying higher category hotel rooms such as oceanfront over garden view rooms as well as more expensive cruise itineraries.

“In terms of the market recovery, Fiji expects to match 2019 occupancy levels or exceed them,” said Sheraton Fiji Golf & Beach Resort hotel manager Sudhir Yadav in an interview with The Australian.

“We are definitely expecting more of the US market, it will be more than it was in 2019,” he said.

Local carrier Fiji Airways is expected to increase flights from Nadi to North America this year.

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Sheraton Fiji Golf & Beach Resort is Fiji’s largest playground and its guests have a big selection of leisure amenities.

At present Australians make up 80 per cent of the resort’s occupancy followed by New Zealanders, Americans and locals. Chinese and Japanese tourists account for less than 3 per cent.

The resort is also attracting more local Fijian guests. “We are hoping that 30 per cent of our food and beverage is driven by our local residents from Lautoka, Suva and Nadi,” Mr Yadav said.

“We love our locals, we relied very heavily on our locals during Covid, and we want to keep the same trend.”

Mr Yadav said the hardest point during the two-year construction was the hotel could not give its employees as many work hours as they once enjoyed.

He said there was not a problem in sourcing hospitality labour in Fiji as there is in Australia. The problem was delays in international deliveries.

“We had delays when China was shut down. Shipping costs are five times what they were in 2019. We had items due in February which are still not here.

“Everything including major equipment and machinery is imported on this island. When there is a delay it causes the same impact as labour shortages.”

Within the Sheraton Fiji Golf & Beach Resort, Fiji Airways has rented space to provide a complimentary check-in lounge. It offers remote check-in capability for passengers and their luggage – allowing guests to spend more time enjoying the 5-star resort amenities.

Apart from Fiji Airways there are a number of high-end retail outlets in the resort‘s lobby including duty-free operator Jacks of Fiji and clothing group Tappoo.

The resort is Fiji’s largest playground and its guests have a big selection of leisure amenities, including a championship 18-hole golf course, five restaurants and five bars, four swimming pools, synthetic and grass tennis courts, a fitness centre, spa and beach. Guests will also have complimentary access to in-complex resort facilities within the sister property, Sheraton Denarau Villas.

The resort is owned by Fiji’s largest financial institution, the Fiji National Provident Fund, which was established more than 50 years ago and is the country’s only super fund.

The Sheraton’s sister resort, The Westin, is now closed for a major multimillion-dollar renovation, with the resort complex expected to reopen in the first quarter of 2023.

In 1995, Japan’s EIE Development Co Ltd‘s $265 million Denarau Island resort in Fiji was placed in receivership.

The resort was one of the failed EIE corporation’s grand integrated resort developments.

Today the Marriott Group operates resorts at Fiji’s Momi Bay, Tokoriki Island and Denarau Island.

The writer was a guest of Captain Cook Cruises and Tourism Fiji.