I was hesitant to jump right in and start clearing the cobwebs from my passport and saddling up the travelling horse as some of the restrictions that had held us from international travel for what seemed like an eternity began to disappear. The constantly shifting rules and restrictions were a minefield, and the last thing I wanted to do was spend the majority of my first international trip trapped in a hotel room.

As a result, it was nearly effortless for me to begin my return to wanderlust close to home and in a country that has previously demonstrated its ability to make wise travelling Covid decisions. I hadn’t been to Fiji in a long time; in fact, it had been more than ten years since my last trip. To be honest, it had been far too long, and I understood how important tourism is to the Fijian economy, with over 150,000 Fijians employed in the business, so I made up my mind to return and reacquaint myself with those smiling faces and the warmth of Fijian hospitality once more.

Still, I was going to play it relatively safe by choosing a resort holiday, one where I knew I would be in somewhat of a holiday bubble where everyone visiting or working would be following protocol and were following the same rules as me.

Sofitel Fiji was my chosen destination and there were a few reasons that swayed that conclusion. Firstly, they are a Care Fiji Commitment (CFC) hotel, a WHO-approved standard of best-practice health and safety measures for travel in a post-COVID world and that was reassuring.

I’ve stayed in Accor hotels before and knew that not only would I be in a safe, pleasant environment, but I’d also be able to experience everything that makes a visit to one of their properties as enjoyable as it can and should be.

With the decline in visitor numbers over the last few years, Sofitel Fiji saw a chance to elevate the resort, and Director of Sales and Marketing Michael Bell stated, “We were out to establish the best hotel on mainland Fiji.” It would be easy to trade on location alone, with such a large amount of land surrounded by tropical palms and a lovely ocean front setting but that is certainly not in anyone’s thoughts here.

When it comes to where and what you want to do on vacation, the hotel provides the best of both worlds. This is owing to the resort’s ‘two sides’ possibility. One side caters to families with a higher-energy, action-packed feel that boasts the Pacific’s largest pool, complete with its own water slide.

The flip side of the Sofitel coin is the Waitui Beach Club, which caters to loved-up couples, honeymooners, or just those lucky folks looking for some one-on-one time. Waitui Beach Club has its own check-in station, which you will be delivered to on a private golf cart upon arrival, and you will instantly feel distinguished. The complementary nibbles during the day, as well as poolside canapes and champagne after dusk, assist! The luxury suites with views of the beach or the adults-only pool and deck are extremely spacious and feature the most comfortable bedding and furnishings.

An added extra bonus of a free mini bar that gets replenished everyday makes it even more superior.

Water activities are abundant, and they are accessible to everyone. You can enjoy use of the non-motorised activities such as Paddle Boards, Kayaks, and Hobie Cats at no cost, or you can go for the adrenaline rush and treat yourself to a Jet Ski Safari or a sky-high Parasailing expedition.

Dining options are also exceptional, which is saying something considering my first trip to Fiji was not particularly gastronomically memorable. Sofitel has delivered, and I believe that ‘foodies’ will be pleasantly surprised. Bazaar, with its multiple interactive live cooking stations offering flavours from around the world for breakfast and dinner, is one of three primary dining options.

The gastronomy of Solis, with its Mediterranean seafood specialities prepared with the freshest and cleanest local produce available, may be enjoyed right on the water’s edge. The local lobster is absolutely magnifique! Waitui Beach Club Bar and Grill is a true delight that must be experienced at least once during your visit. Adults only once more, so if you’ve had the youngsters in tow, take a night off and enjoy some scrumptious specialties from the charcoal grill while sipping on some top shelf wines or perhaps some French Champagne.

The resort also boasts a beachside Suka Bar with a seemingly endless range of in-house infused rums served with Fijian-styled tapas, as well as a French-inspired Café with a heightened coffee experience that includes those always-tempting pastries that we find difficult to refuse.

Overall, I couldn’t be happier with my decision to take small steps back into the realm of international travel. Everything went almost perfectly, and it felt great to fly there and acquire a stamp in that long-forgotten passport. Yes, Sofitel Fiji is a winner, but without the beautiful people loving Fijians themselves there to treat you like you are part of their extended family it wouldn’t be half as special.

Bula and Bonjour!!

For the latest advice on travelling to Fiji head to smarttraveller.com and search Fiji. It will be worth it

For the latest advice on travelling to Fiji head to Smartraveller.gov.au and search Fiji. It will be worth it.