The pacific nation’s latest luxury resort has something for everyone
If there is one word you must learn in Fiji, it is ‘Bula.’ A word of many purposes that is most often used to express welcome or greeting, bula is said never said softly or timidly, but ejected outwards with resonance – an oral expression of the Fijians’ expansive capacity for hospitality. So after passing through impossibly green landscapes of fields and forests to arrive at the Marriott Fiji Momi Bay, the tranquility of the scene was punctuated by a booming chorus of ‘Bula!’. An iridescent bird in a nearby bush takes off in flight; it must be new here, for the rest of the flock simply gaze on in curiosity. There have been many Bulas today, and there will be many more to come.
Curving out from the coast in a graceful peninsula, the new Marriott Fiji Momi Bay is one of the latest luxury resort additions to an island teeming with luxury resorts. About an hour south of Nadi International Airport, it seems at first glance to have been built by creating artificial sandbanks; in fact the opposite is true – a natural sandpit was hollowed out to create a central lagoon that the resort wraps around in all shapes and forms. This explains the absence of reefs, with the lagoon having an even sandy bottom. Plans to introduce corals into the lagoon are in store (which would help the water gain more clarity) but for now schools of silvery sea fish take up residence here, joined by the occasional flash of a reef shark.
The lagoon is visible from any point in the resort. Catering to the vast demographic slice of guests that visit Fiji, there is something for everyone here – from the poolside rooms under thatched roofs for families and large groups, to lagoon- or sea-facing bure bungalows for those wishing more quiet privacy to the adults-only overwater bure villas designed for new matrimonial bliss. Underneath arched roofs emulating the curved keels of traditional Pacific wooden ships, crisp white linen and earthy tones bring the brightness of the beach inside the room, blurring the edges to create a seamless playground in which to frolic and to play. The temptation to wake up and walk straight down to the beach and into the lagoon for a bracing swim is difficult to resist on most mornings, and the smell of butter and bread wafting across the water from Goji Kitchen & Bar is the perfect antidote after morning calisthenics.
Built on stilts over the lagoon, breakfast at Goji – like most meals in Fiji – is a hearty affair. Cleaving from the rich history of the island nation, guests can tuck into traditional dumplings made by grinding local roots into flour, the spice of South Asia brought over by Indian migrants who came here to plant sugarcane and a requisite selection of international flavours. At sunset, that same cosmopolitan approach re-appears for the dinner buffet, but this time, a choir formed by resort staff will sing songs of welcome to new guests and lullabies of departures to those about to depart. The lapping sound of waves and dulcet vocal timbre are a perfect pairing to the meal, but since variety is the spice of life, there are other options as well. The Lagoon House & Bar is a breezy Mediterranean-style bistro where the sizzle of pasta, pizza and burgers whet the appetite while a bar opens out directly in the pool. The Fijian Baking Company has sandwiches, soups and baked goods for those planning trips out to explore the island, and it should be de rigeur for every guest to pop by adults-only Fish at dusk at least once. Enjoy the dramatic sunset by (or in) the pool with a cocktail, then settle down to a meal of immaculately cooked fresh seafood.
With this remote location, the sky stretching above the resort is an inky darkness populated by brilliant stars. Gaze in wonder at this on your veranda after a resort buggy drops you off at room or bure, or gather on the beach near Goji where acrobatic feats of twirling lights, spinning fires and pulsating music conspire to entertain guests. Music comes naturally in this part of the world, and so does dancing. Any excess of physical exertion can be cured the next day with an indulgent session at Quan Spa, where the Bobo Vakaviti Massage is highly recommended – using indigenous techniques and virgin coconut oil to heal physically and mentally.
Time passes differently in this pristine corner of Fiji. It’s not quite Fiji time (which is usually minus two or three hours), but one could easily spend what seems like an hour basking in the sun, wading in a pool, paddle boarding in the lagoon or just read a book to find only ten minutes have passed. It takes no time at all to slip into a cocoon of bliss – with friends, children or just each other – here. The only thing that will (briefly) jolt you out of this paradise is the booming sound of Bulas from the reception; another guest has arrived at the Marriott Fiji Momi Bay and is about to join the reverie.