Modern Wedding Editor in Chief, Victoria Black, is our 'go to woman' for all things wedding, white and wonderful. Even when V goes on holidays she doesn't leave the wedding world behind. From behind that cocktail umbrella her eyes are peeled looking to see if it could be the perfect place for a destination wedding or honeymoon... here's what she found in Fiji.
I recently had the enormous pleasure of 7 days at the Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa with my husband and three boys. I am rather well travelled, having always preferred to spend my money on travel rather than cars and houses or anything sensible, however I was completely blown away by how magnificent this resort is and I haven't stopped raving about it to anyone who will listen!
Let me explain why this resort is so special... at the Intercontinental Fiji they have a resort within a resort. The exclusive Club Intercontinental is set high on a hill with sweeping views of the ocean. There are 55 hilltop villas in the Club and there is an awesome "clubhouse" for want of a better word, which only Club members can use. This includes an eyepoppingly beautiful infinity pool and lounge area with gorgeous cane pods filled with cushions for cuddling up in the shade or private reading and snoozing time. In the 'Club House' you can also have the most delicious a la carte breakfasts, high tea EVERY DAY, cocktails and canapés during happy hour...all for free! My family thought they had died and gone to heaven.
Our villa was the best accommodation we have EVER stayed at - and we have been fairly spoilt so that's saying something! The lounge area was very spacious and overlooked our own private infinity pool with a spectacular South Pacific water view. As the Intercontinental is only 3 years old the decor looked brand new. We loved being in the villa and could really relax with a good book by our own pool. The sunsets were absolutely incredible every night! It was so luxurious we felt like rock stars!
So what's to do? There is plenty to do...or nothing. On our first night we saw horses on the beach and that is something I have always wanted to do - horse riding on the sand. So we booked for the next day (it is run by local Fijians) and negotiated a rate of $A 30 per person per hour. I might tell you this was not an official activity - there were no waiver forms; the reigns and saddles were very simple and a Fijian boy was likely to jump on the back of your horse with you at any moment he felt like it! No O.H and S. rules here, which added to the charm. Well, we loved our horse riding so much we went back every day and became friends with the boys. So much so that we spent lots of time with them in their village and they showed us around the local caves.
On our last night we were greatly honoured to be invited to their house in the village next to the hotel for a feast. This is a local tradition which involves at least 14 people to prepare all afternoon. The fresh fish and chicken, along with sweet potato is cooked below ground on hot coals and covered by sand and banana leaves...kind of like a slow cooker.
They picked us up on horses and we rode to their village, which is still very traditional despite being so close to Western influences. My family was invited to sit on the floor on cane mats and to share kava with them (the local "wine" which is made from the kava plant). We then were instructed to eat our dinner with our bare fingers (the kids loved it). After saying grace (they are very dedicated Christians) we ate the incredibly delicious meal while the Fijians smiled and watched us. They would not eat themselves until they were convinced we had eaten till we were full. After dinner the local children did a singing and dancing performance for us. Our family returned the favour with a 'Gangham Style' rendition - well it's all we could think of on the spot! (How is it that all Fijians can sing and dance?)
We were then taken to the beach just up from the hotel and treated to a gigantic bonfire, which they had prepared earlier. Absolutely magical! This was one of the great highlights of our life and we will never forget it.
The beach is pristine and you can walk on the sand without shoes - there is coral but it doesn't seem to be sharp. Natadola Bay is considered one of the world's best beaches. Forbes magazine voted amongst the top 25! Beachside activities include all the wonderful water sports such as diving, snorkelling (there is good coral in easy swimming distance), tubing, fishing, stand-up paddle boarding, ocean kayaking and surfing. The bay is very protected but there is still a gentle surf, perfect for learning to surf, kayak or paddle board, which I had always wanted to master.
And I haven't even told you about the spa yet. My hubby and I had a couples massage - it was out-of-this-world! What a fabulous treat for honeymooners! This spa has everything you could possibly want and would be ideal for pre-wedding events with your bridal party. The girls can relax at the spa while the boys play golf at the best course in Fiji.
The wedding chapel is right on the water and is delightfully intimate. Alternatively you can marry on the white sandy beach at sunset or in the stunning wedding pavilion. They have lots of different packages for destination weddings from simple ceremonies through to their ultimate package where you book out the entire Club Intercontinental for your guests and have exclusive use of the upper resort. This Soqo Lagilagi experience is the most luxurious option in Fiji - how amazing would that be!
Everything about our holiday was totally divine - the restaurants, the swimming pools and of course be famous friendly Fijian hospitality. In fact my children said it was the best holiday they have ever had! Below are some of my holiday happy snaps!