Fiji: Resting place

By Rebecca Lewis

The Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa is the sole accommodation on Natadola Beach. Photo / Supplied
The Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa is the sole accommodation on Natadola Beach. Photo / Supplied

When I heard my trip to Fiji was to be all about relaxation, my immediate thought was "yeah, right". Heading to a new resort in the middle of the July school holidays sounded more like running head-first into a pack of over-excited children.

I expected screaming. I expected noise. I expected throngs of American tweens travelling on mom and dad's credit cards. But walking through the lobby of the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa was like walking into a vortex of silence.

Where was everyone? The concierge assured me the hotel was nearly full.

Even the construction of 55 villas directly behind the lobby was pushing on with minimal grunts of machinery.

Bewildered, I walked around the massive 14ha grounds and discovered only a few, minimal signs of relaxed life. Tanned bodies draped across double sun loungers, honeymooners sipping cocktails on the beach and loved-up couples cocooned in "love pod" seats by the pool.

The children, I discovered, were at the children's pool, and even they were quiet. But the infinity pool stetched out in front of the Pacific Ocean is strictly adults only.

One of the marvellous things about this new hotel is the separation between those honeymooners who want to relax in their own bubble, and those who have children to look after.

And even if you don't feel like looking after your children, there are local nannies there to do it for you.

Nestled between Nadi and Sigatoka, about a 50-minute drive from Nadi Airport, the Intercontinental Fiji is the epitome of solitude and relaxation - it's the sole accommodation on the pristine sands of Natadola Beach.

The 5-month-old hotel, with 216 rooms, is spread across tropical gardens. Even the rooms whisper ways to relax. Mine was equipped with a bed, a couch, multiple chairs and three sun loungers - all a mere 10 steps from the sandy beach.

And, as if there weren't enough places to recline, the patio is also home to a deep outdoor bath with expansive ocean views - and curtains should you be concerned about protecting your modesty.

If you're lucky, you'll even catch a glimpse of a few horses trotting along the shoreline. On the way to the hotel, my driver explained the horses are owned by "someone, somewhere", but most people let them run free.

He also told me the hotel's Kama Lounge had 300 types of vodka. I found out later, over a meal with resort manager Neil Houghton, the number is a more believable 30.

However, whether it's to cure your vodka hangover or take a break from the beach, there's nothing better than what this hotel does best - golf and spas. The men - surprise, surprise - usually go for the golf. The 18-hole, par 72 course hugs the Coral Coast and was designed by professional Fijian golfer Vijay Singh, who grew up not far from the resort. Elevated above the Pacific, the location provides a distraction to its many challenges.

But, as a woman with a soft spot for being pampered, my choice was spa heaven. The purpose-built Spa Intercontinental is a predictable blend of modern and traditional stylings with plinky-plonky music, but the highly skilled masseuses with strong, soft hands and calming voices are something else.

Choosing the 90-minute Vaka Viti, a traditional "bobo" massage, was an excellent decision. A delectable blend of nut oils is used along with a range of healing tapping techniques passed down through generations. The fact my masseuse had to shake me awake when she was done says pretty much everything about how relaxing it is.

Basic yoga is also available on alternate mornings on the yoga deck and at night you can eat to your heart's content at SaNasana, the poolside Toba Bar & Grill or the exclusive Navo restaurant (the sashimi comes highly recommended and is divine).

At the end of every day the only thing left to do was stroll along the empty beach and take a dip in the outdoor bath. Accompanied by the sound of waves and a good book, I realised there is nothing to do here but relax.

- Herald on Sunday

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