Sandy Kilgour checks into the adults-only Tokoriki Island Resort, Fiji.
In the northwestern tip of Fiji, in the group called the Mamanuca islands. The truly luxurious way to arrive is via helicopter after a seamless transfer from Nadi International Airport ($415pp, one way). Sadly it takes only 15 minutes of magic to travel birds-eye across 35km of ocean. I arrive feeling like a movie star as the skilful pilot lands us directly on the bullseye at the end of the jetty.
Check-in experience: Part of any luxury experience is a welcome — and a Fijian welcome is one of the best in the world. As I disembark I am greeted with handmade beaded necklaces and a welcome home song from the whole Tokoriki crew. A personal greeting with a refreshing cold fresh juice and towel to wipe away any nervous sweating from the helicopter ride is much appreciated. Every staff member — whether they are cleaning your room or manicuring the garden — knows your name and treats you like a returning family member.
Room: The Beachfront Pool Bure comes at a premium price at $1193 per night and it certainly delivers a luxury experience. Room 19, the second room from the main dining area, is that quintessential tropical paradise you dream of to escape a New Zealand winter. The room is spacious and in classic Fijian style. Just three steps from your hammock you are on a white sandy beach, swimming in a lagoon. Or you can choose to cool off in your own plunge pool. All 36 bures face west, making for perfect sunset viewing.
The bathroom: One of my favourite parts of the room was the gorgeous outside showers. Here you bathe under the moonlight to the aroma of frangipani while watching very large bats fly overhead — magical.
The bed: Huge and comfortable.
Mini-bar: This is filled to your customised order and includes mixers required to complement your duty free booze.
Wi-Fi: Nothing in the room (forced relaxation), however it is available free in the lounge and bar areas.
Noise: Just the constant sound of waves lapping on the beach.
The view: Coconut palms, turquoise sea and sky and a view to outer islands past the reef. Tokoriki lies in an area that boasts the highest sunshine hours in Fiji, which is just what a sun-deprived Kiwi needs.
The food: Who doesn't love to be serenaded by the band over every meal? We booked the full meal package ($196 per day), which provided a full breakfast, two-course lunches and three-course dinners. Every dish was a tasty delight and so different from the Fijian food I remember from my last trip more than 15 years ago. On top of all of this delicious food there are added treats with special ocean-front seating on the edge of the water.
The band comes to our table for a romantic tone. Not too sure if you would call it a romantic choice but when I asked for a bit of Bob Marley, they sang a moving rendition of I Shot the Sheriff.
Activities: Though I am happy getting into full relaxation mode, there were plenty of activities on offer. I enjoyed the snorkelling safaris and boat trips and immersing myself in the 28C warm water. Fish viewing and visiting the island made famous by Tom Hanks as the set of Castaway movie was a highlight. I can also highly recommend the massage and spa to melt into the Fijian experience.
Final word: As it's less than a three-hour flight, I think I might just come back for a long weekend. For tropical luxury with a welcoming family vibe, I would have to give Tokoriki resort a 10 out of 10.