The Trip: Client Immersion Trip
Location: Nadi, Fiji
Miles Traveled: 5,535 miles
Destination Highlight: Visiting a Fijian village and learning about the customs and culture that guide Fijian society
“Bula!” I heard that phrase exclaimed with a genuine exuberance the minute I boarded my Fiji Airways flight. “Bula” means hello, but I realized quickly it’s almost always delivered with a warm smile, giving the expression much more heft than the average hello. Fijian culture and hospitality came alive aboard my 11-hour flight to Nadi, the international gateway located on Fiji’s largest island of Viti Levu. The flight on Fiji’s national carrier became a transcendental experience. With every passing hour, the crew aboard Fiji Airways’ A330 business class service slowly unfurled the tastes, smells and feels that, in hindsight, accompanied me throughout my trip.
Tropical fruit, the scent of coconut, amber pinks, soft hues of blues and a genuine delivery of service not only presented themselves inside the cabin, but would become sensory touch points that I now remember most about Fiji. Well, those and the beauty of the people and place.
“Place” is not the best word to describe paradise. After all, Fiji is an archipelago of 330 islands, each with its own personality and brand of bula. That, in part, is the reason for the visit.
How do we effectively answer questions like, “If we only had seven days, where should we go?” or “Why would I go to Fiji instead of Tahiti?” The answers to both, as I’d soon find, were easy. First, Fijian culture, warmth and customs are unique to Fiji. Often confused with Polynesian culture, Fijians are in fact Melanesians. Second, Americans visiting Fiji for the first time can consider the Mamanuca (pronounced ma-ma-nu-tha) Islands, a volcanic archipelago of about 20 islands, seven of which are covered by the Pacific Ocean at high tide, a destination easily accessible upon arrival.
Soon after arriving into Nadi, Fijian hospitality was on full display at the airport. Songs, scented towels, Fijian floral leis and Fiji Water, of course, were dispensed with warmth by Rosie Holidays Fiji. A quick 20-minute transfer to Port Denarau was our jumping-off point to a discovery of the Mamanucas.
Resorts on the island chain demonstrate the vast variety of accommodations to fit the budgets and tastes of every traveler. The family-friendly Malolo Island and Musket Cove resorts offer budget-friendlier options, while Likuliku Lagoon and VOMO Island Resort offer a more luxurious experience, all providing a unique take on Fijian hospitality and customs.
Then I found Cloud Nine. A speedboat thrust us into a turquoise ocean framed by puffy white clouds, and minutes later, a floating barge dotted with people in swimsuits and playing lounge music gave the entire experience a sultry vibe. Once on board, visitors from all walks of life, surfers and locals alike savored wood oven–baked pizzas, a full bar, hip music and the privilege of being the only ones floating in the middle of paradise.
And it was paradise and a privilege – all of it. Being in Fiji on behalf of our clients Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji is an experience I won’t soon forget and one that has since elevated our understanding of the appeal and opportunities for the destination.