Just 20 minutes after landing at Nadi International Airport on Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu, my partner and I arrive at the brand-spanking new Pullman Nadi Bay Resort & Spa having been whisked away by a friendly driver from Rosie Holidays.
A vast bure opens up before us and eye-catching totem poles welcome us into the resort. I’m later told each totem represent the elements of fire, water and earth, and the original paintings that make up the totems are details of the Fijian reef. Our bags are taken care of so discreetly we don’t even notice they’ve gone, and we’re greeted by smiling staff who welcome us with shell leis and fresh fruit mocktails – with appropriately eco paper straws.
Cries of “mBula mBula!” come from all around us and on this, our first trip to Fiji, we’re already starting to understand why people call this the happiest place on earth.
We’re fortunate to be staying here not once, but twice, for two (too) short visits before and after our Four Cultures Cruise with Captain Cook Cruises Fiji.
Walking through the enormous lobby, we admire the various seating styles that section out different areas in the open-plan area – there are upside-down decorated canoes, stylish modern wire chairs and comfy lounge areas as well as wi-fi stations – leading us into the resort. I make a mental note of RO Bar, Dan Dan Noodle House and Magiti restaurants (all overseen by the resort’s executive chef, Jeremy Allan) but I struggle to tear my eyes away from the view beyond – looking out across the pools to Nadi Bay.
It’s impossible not to stop here and drink in the collection of stunning swimming pools in front of us, flanked on both sides by the accommodation – all of the 236 rooms and suites have balconies so no-one is without a view. At the end, we see the enclosed bay and Wailoaloa Beach plus a single elegant palm tree that makes an Insta-worthy scene.
Staying at Pullman Nadi Bay
Eager to explore the facilities as well as our accommodation, we enter our ground-floor poolside suite, which contains what turns out to be the most comfortable bed I have slept in in my life (the fact we had been in transit for around 12 hours might have helped). The rooms feature decor inspired by nature and Fiji itself, and all the mod cons you need to while away the time with a good book and a Nespresso (your in-room coffee maker) if you need a break from the sunshine. The bathroom is separated from the bedroom by a large window, which has us chuckling and waving at each other, until one of us decides to close the opaque blind. Opulent bed linen, plush towels and Fijian toiletries tells everything we need to know for now.
It’s time to explore the newest resort in Pullman’s illustrious stable at Nadi Bay. Each room is only steps away from the pools, of which there are four: two huge interconnected family pools, a shallower kids’ pool and a separate adults-only pool, which has an infinity angle to it that allows you to gaze across the natural beach to the glistening water beyond. The options for relaxing around the water are plenty – there are elegant, shaded bamboo bures and large lounges that look like beds protected from the rays by canvas. Plus, there are private cabanas and the alfresco Barefoot Bar & Grill where you can enjoy share plates and snacks, such as a charcuterie board with giardiniera or tandoori chicken with flatbread, tamarind chutney and minted yoghurt. Opt for a refreshing young coconut, a delicious fruit cocktail or mocktail, or a coconut rum, while you sink into Fiji time – something you can only truly understand once you’ve experienced it.
Wailoaloa Beach and The Sleeping Giant
But before we choose a cocktail, we take a stroll to the beach and walk along the dark sand. The area in front of Pullman Nadi Bay is a natural beach that is carefully maintained to a high standard in terms of aesthetics and cleanliness. To the right there is The Sleeping Giant – Fiji’s largest and most well-known mountain – and it’s from that area that we spot a seaplane taking off where visitors go to get a better look at the islands, the ocean and blue blue sky. By now the evening is painting its beautiful pastels across the sky and, coming from the left, we can hear happy beats of music from accommodation further down the beach. It’s not imposing; its sounds are those of happiness, friends and togetherness.
We’re ready now for a quick dip in the adults-only pool followed by a cocktail at Barefoot (we opt for Passionfruit Mojito and Kah Sunset), which is accompanied by the rhythmic sound of a beating drum and Fijian music. A lone man in traditional warrior dress complete with grass sulu holds aloft a flaming torch and runs around the outside of all the pools, lighting torches as he goes. A powerful reminder of where we are and a nod to the culture we’re anticipating for the coming week.
It’s so laid back that it’s an effort to go back to our suite to prepare ourselves for dinner at Kah, the adults-only restaurant headed up by Prapai Patthamang. It’s a tough life.
Open for Brun-Cha (Thai-style yum cha) on Sundays, Kah Restaurant is full of expansive light and the floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the deck and a sparkling blue sea. By night the venue feels completely different. It’s cloaked in an intimate ambience with long dark curtains shrouding the windows and gentle background music. It’s the perfect place for a romantic meal and includes delicacies such as chicken larb, green payaya salad with roasted peanuts and dried shrimp, and beautiful laksas, curries and sticky lamb ribs.
We finish our meal with young pumpkin poached in palm sugar and coconut, and take a stroll towards the beach before the call of our luxury suite is too loud to ignore.
Waking the next morning, we’re welcomed by a wall of heat as we open the sliding doors to our small open patio area that looks out across the pool. We sit for a while, soaking up the sun and the fact that we have made it to Fiji (there’s a joke here about my partner, the coup of 1987, a cancelled family holiday and the fact that his parents went to Fiji at a later date without him).
We take breakfast in the open-air Magiti Restaurant where the expansive deck sits cheek by jowl with the tropical flowers and colourful birdlife. The buffet here is an exciting mix of curries, kokoda (ceviche), delicate Fijian fruits, pastries and, of course, eggs all ways.
The open-plan foyer is lively with people attending a conference. Pullman Nadi Bay has four meeting rooms, including two boardrooms, and can accommodate 525 attendees. It’s already proven a huge draw for major businesses from all over the island.
It’s tremendously difficult to tear ourselves away from the resort, but we have a boat to catch to explore north of Vanua Levu – Fiji’s second-largest island – so it’s bittersweet. We take a quick stroll around Veikau Spa and the ‘fit lounge’, and make a mental note to make use of them on the return leg of our journey. We also make note of the kids’ and teens’ clubs – the latter would come in handy if we have to bring the teens next time – and the shopping, which includes Prouds Fiji and two Frangipanis boutiques.
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