Toby Woollaston checks into the Maui Palms, in Fiji.
It's about 90-minutes' drive down Fiji's Coral Coast. The resort offers free airport transfers.
Check-in experience: The very charming Mani met us on arrival, cheerfully plied us with the obligatory welcome-beverage and proceeded to explain the ins-and-outs of this small but delightful resort. It was immediately apparent the whole operation is built on the personal experience and it wasn't long before our names were colourfully added to the dining room chalkboard — a discreet way of getting to know the names of your fellow sunbathers.
Room: I'm kind of finicky when it comes to blown bulbs, peeling wallpaper, wobbly tap fittings etc. No worries here, and even though the resort is nine years old everything seemed to be immaculately maintained. The rooms are huge and luxurious. This is a small resort with only seven modern villas and two extra rooms attached to the dining area. The resort's quiet nature is marketed at couples and honeymooners rather than large families. Despite us being two families of four, the director, Wayne, was very accommodating and organised us over three villas. There was ample room and it was a perfect solution.
A room with a view? Being a small resort, you're never far from the beach-front. Ours was towards the back and I never had the "back of the resort moon-dog blues". All rooms have a view of the ocean.
Bathroom: Although the showers are open-plan, the rest of the resort was spared the horrors or seeing my pasty-white and sagging body by the saving grace of louvres and bifold doors that sport some incredibly effective one-way glass — just remember to close the curtains at night.
The bed: A comfy king.
Food and drink: The menu goes quite deep and during my week-long stay I never felt the need to eat elsewhere. I'd recommend the seafood platter (not cheap but unbelievably good) and Neel's wonderful curry.
Price: $300+ per room/night.
What's in the neighbourhood? A small supermarket and petrol station are across the road. A short walk up the beach is another big crowded resort if you feel like a change of scenery, or an injection of smugness.
Wi-Fi? Free and reasonably quick.
Noise: Although situated on the main road, the resort is mercifully separated from traffic noise by a Trump-sized wall. And although you can still hear the occasional truck rumble past, the sound of the gentle sea breeze through the swaying palm trees always wins out.
Room service: Although they have a well-maintained and spacious dining area the expectation is that you take meals wherever you like. Would be a shame to not take advantage of the stunning sea views, so we took our meals poolside, roomside, beachside and in the dining area.
Exercise facilities: Never wanting to be separated from my cocktail for too long, I briefly ventured into the gym and was met with a well-appointed setup in a separate air-conditioned villa. I'd be lying if I said I'd brought up a sweat though.
What's so good about this place? Joe's snorkelling jaunt just off the beach was quite honestly an otherworldly experience and not to be missed.
The bottom line: It's difficult to fault Maui Palms for its pure restorative tranquillity. The facilities are top-notch, the staff are super friendly and are genuinely eager to help. I loved it and would return in a heartbeat.