FIJI RESORT STYLE: A warm Bula welcome
FIJI WELCOMES OLD FRIENDS
By Peter Chapman
It had been more than two years since we had boarded a flight headed to an international destination.
Our story was no different to that experienced by thousands of Aussies as we all rode the Covid roller coaster since 2019.
Optimistic early overseas holiday bookings had just resulted in disappointing cancellations. The Queensland Government was in no rush to provide simple quarantine clearances and the last thing we wanted was to take off on a holiday only to return and be locked down for two weeks in a square boxed city hotel room.
Fiji had been an old friend for a decade or two and when she announced she was open for business we locked in a “can’t refuse offer” to spend 10 days enjoying her hospitality.
We booked in December to take our February holiday so we were still uncertain about quarantine approvals, but after such a long wait we were prepared to roll the dice.
Fortune finally smiled at us as vaccination numbers climbed and by the time we boarded our Fiji Airway flight in February we had only minor protocols to follow. A negative Covid PCR test 48 hours before departure and after arrival and a clear RATS test two days before we returned was all that was needed.
Of course our biggest worry was that even with triple vaccinations we might still pick up a Covid infection. We took some RATS test with us and used a few when even a simple cough had us on edge.
Our destination was the boutique Navutu Stars, a 10 bure only resort located a three hour boat ride from Nadi in the Yasawa Island group.
The offer was enticing, a 60 minute massage for both of us every day, a nightly cocktail at the bar, free tours and two meals a day covered. This private resort had us won over even before we stepped on to its sandy shoreline.
Tough story to Tell
While we had been frustrated by the Covid lockdowns the islanders who managed and cared for the resort had a much tougher story to tell.
Before the recent reopening, the resort had been in mothballs for almost two years. The 35 staff members who had been at the resort since it opened in 2015 had been sent back to their nearby villages and a skeleton maintenance staff was the only occupants.
The Navutu Stars had been granted reopening approval by Fiji Health authorities with just four other Yasawa island resorts after agreeing to put in place stringent Covid protocols. All guests were tested on arrival, all staff had to be fully vaccinated and strict cleaning practices had the adhered to.
Many of the larger Fiji island resorts are keenly awaiting their chance to reopen and the success of resorts such as Navutu Stars will determine if that happens.
International guests from Australia and USA have been the first to flow into Fiji and the numbers, although small, are slowly increasing.
Fresh fish, lobster and fruit dominated the menu, while daily snorkeling trips and successful handline fishing excursions gave us plenty to look forward to along with our 3pm daily booking for 60 minutes on the massage table.
The rain on most days was but a backdrop to a resort that offered guests a unique village style experience.
We waited two years to say Bula Bula and we will be back.
REEF DIVING: Sydney visitor, Dylan Camarsh, explores the reefs surrounding the Navutu Stars Resort.
SWEET CATCH: Peter Chapman shows off his morning's catch before handing the fish to the resort chef to cook up for that night's dinner. A table of nine other guests joined him for the fresh fish feast.