I chose the Fijian Shangri-la as I’d wanted to stay on the mainland and heard about it being on its own island of 110 acres with white sandy beaches, unlike the black ones at Denarau. After booking the Shangri-la I became apprehensive due to subsequent Trip Advisor reviews and found out through this website that the family lagoon room we had booked had been relocated. I enquired and was informed that we had been upgraded to an Ocean View Family room. I was initially disappointed as we no longer had the curtain divider separating our bed from the kids, plus we would not be as close to the family pools. However, I could not have made a better choice of resort if I’d tried!
We chose the April school holidays and arrived late in the afternoon and seemed to do everything after everyone else had (late swim in pool until sunset, late dinner with kids) and the entire resort seemed like a ghost town. To top it all off, our initial family room 443 was so mouldy/damp smelling that we could not sleep). That was where the disappointment ends. The following day we were moved within hours to a delightful family room 448 on the ground floor, corner of the block, so quiet, and beautiful with amazing ocean views, and that change of room altered our whole perspective of the resort. I totally recommend this room as it had no room adjoining doors. Look, every room has a slight damp smell, you just cant escape that with a mix of aircon and tropical environment so you just have to get used to it. We loved our room but our lovely neighbours had an ice machine and washing machine by their room and had very sleepless nights. So I do believe that whatever room you end up with will make or break your holiday, so if you’re not happy, simply ask to move! The staff are very accommodating.
We were actually grateful to be on the ocean side and not lagoon side. As a young family, we didn’t have the worry of our children wandering out onto the grass and over to the pool without us. It was also much more peaceful. We ate buffet breakfast in the Takali restaurant which was very close, and I’m told much better than the previous Lagoon buffet restaurant which has now closed. The food at breakfast was brilliant – the omelettes so absolutely amazing that I had one every single morning.
The family pool is spectacular offering amazing sunset views every day. There is a pool bar close by and warm towels offered throughout the day (occasionally they did run out but that was because some families were selfishly taking far more towels than needed). Every morning you found someone cleaning the pool. So much care was taken throughout the resort – cleaners everywhere. Perhaps too many?! The morning basketball and afternoon volleyball at the lagoon pool were so much fun. Sunsets at the Bilo Bar and beach bar and grill were incredible.
Be mindful of “happy hour”. It works well if you plan on consuming a vast amount of alcohol within 2 hours as it’s a set package, but if it’s really busy, it’s possibly cheaper to pay for individual drinks as Fijian service isn’t the fastest! That said, whenever we booked room service, we never waited long. So much for Fijian time as on the whole, it was impeccable!
The free kids club was brilliant. As soon as my 5 year old found some friends she asked to go. She made tie died tshirts, turtles made of clay, went out on boat rides, made sandcastles, went to the kids disco (between 7pm – 9pm) and a whole variety of other things in the couple of days she participated. Totally recommend it, the ladies that run it are so lovely and friendly. It also has a great playground, as good as any found in Australian parks.
Our adorably friendly maid was Soko and asked me next time I go over to bring her some makeup. I so wished I’d had something to give her. It won't be for years so please do consider taking some over for the maids you really would make their day. I’ve read previous Trip Advisor reviews that suggest taking them chocolate and so I did take some with me for the maids and other staff. To be honest they can readily buy chocolate from the supermarket.
I totally recommend leaving the resort and getting a taxi to the local Fijian restaurant Tomlus (it is next door to the local supermarket). Order fresh mud crab and lobster at a fraction of resort price. Also, try Geckos across the road. They’ll pick you up and drop you off at a fraction of the cost that Shangri-la charges. They also sell nice wine! Try their amazing Polynesian show on Friday or Sunday nights. It’s more personal and much cheaper than the Shangri-la, which to be honest was overpriced and completely unorganised (loads of overbooking at tables and only 1 bar staff serving the entire crowd!).
Something we found out through word of mouth is the Puffing Boto (ex sugar cain) train which goes to the local town Sigatoka and stops at a kindergarten where 50 kindergarten children perform songs for you in Fijian and English. They do ask for a small donation as the teachers are so poorly paid and do an incredible job. Also take lollies and throw them to all the lovely Fijian children that run out to the train to watch you pass through their tiny villages. I can’t get over how friendly and happy Fijians are. It seems (to some respect) the less you have, the more content you are.
The resort has an amazing gym with incredible views and not bad music. It also has an amazing wedding chapel, honeymoon bures and adult only pool and restaurant to suit holidaymakers without kids. However, I do believe this resort is more suited to families and a lot of couples would probably be quite put off by all the children and write far more negative reviews. There is a nightclub but it is for kids until 9pm. We did get babysitters twice and try it later but both times we found it dead after 9pm.
Something else to point out is that the water at the Shangri-la is completely drinkable. They have a water purifier onsite which apparently feeds through to a large proportion of the island.
Also be mindful we could only get the internet working by the lagoon pool, infinity pool or lobby but rooms close by could probably get it too. So we had just enough time to check in our flight and upload Facebook photos to make everyone jealous back home! Who wants to go on holiday and use the Internet anyway?!?
If buying Fijian keepsakes it is worth getting out to the local villages or towns and buying from the local community rather than Jacks and Tappoo, despite what they advertise. ALL your money then goes back to the Fijian community and you get a better price. The communities need the money more than ever after the cyclone at the beginning of 2013. There is also a local supermarket which sells beer and other amenities and only a few dollars in a cab to get there. The Fijian village at the resort is brilliant, but note sunscreen is very expensive so pack more than you think you’ll need!
Something we wish we'd done but didn’t was to hire a car and go exploring but it was so easy just to chill on the beautiful beach, use one of the pools, canoe and snorkel. The Shangri-la is a truly amazing place and our 3 & 5 year old were so entertained. So despite the odd building works, tarpaulin on roofs here and there, closed lagoon restaurant and partly closed resort - no, it might not be Western 5 star but it is definitely a Fijian 5 star and all in all, unless you are extremely fussy, I thoroughly recommend the Shangri-la and room 448!
Ocean view family rooms are great for peace and quiet, and safer for young families as further away...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.