I can’t say our time at Paradise Cove Island Resort was bad, because it wasn’t. But there were so many little and medium scale issues that it would be hard to recommend the resort to others. What follows will sound largely negative as it’s human nature to focus on the poor experiences while spending less time addressing the positive. I think our experience was influenced by what an amazing time we had just had at another resort (click on my name to see that review) and perhaps this resort just wasn’t for us. With all of the options in the Yasawa’s for resorts (including 3-4 within a 15 minute boat ride) I can definitely say we would never go back here…so how could I recommend to others that they visit? I’ll try to bullet point our takeaways and if you want some elaboration you can read below. This resort seems to lack greatly from leadership (ie management) and training.
*great facilities, room, pool, reef (start at the dive center and head south), island aesthetics, short hiking trail…all were wonderful (one caveat, below).
*the staff on excursions (hike, snorkeling) were great
*modernized in availability of TV, wifi, ipads available, air conditioning
*Seemed to be a great place to bring kids (don’t have any though)
*cleanliness seemed great
*The food that was available was typically very good.
*Almost all staff involved with meals/service (there was one woman and one guy that were great, by day 3 we were crossing our fingers to not get certain people).
*Being proactive to deal with issues as they arise
*Having enough beachfront lounges (more than half “reserved” for the beachfront bures). *Having enough seating period for beachfront/pool deck
*Grounds keeping noise (with beautiful landscaping comes non-stop high RPM motor noises…all the time)
*Getting a straight answer out of people about how much things might cost
*The Activities schedule having the correct information (times, tides) so you can actually do some planning.
*Feeling of worry regarding theft
*Stuff missing from room (admittedly this may be our fault, but can’t shake the feeling it was not)
*The options for food at mealtime (Dinner is sort of a nightmare if you’re a bit picky). They need to allow for the extended permanent lunch menu to be accessible at dinnertime and not just lunch. How do you have nearly 20 items at lunch and only ever 3 at dinner?
We really loved the room, it was beautiful and the bed was extremely comfortable. The bathroom was pretty spectacular. It was nice having access to a TV for the afternoons or in case of rain and their selection of movies and TV shows was extensive (though we did experience several hiccups in the system, freezing in the middle of watching shows; and not all of them could be fast forwarded back to where you lost it). The air conditioner was nice as well; allowing you for some privacy by closing the shutters and not needing to depend on circulation through the windows. The dining area and pool were very nice as was the bar (though there were several times when it looked like no one was at the bar during operation times). It was nice having access to wireless and they had an iPad mini check-out program that allowed you to borrow a mini for free ($100 deposit charged to a card that would be removed once the mini was returned in one piece). The activity booth seemed a little disorganized depending on who was working the counter when you showed up, but the staff during the snorkeling excursions and hikes were great. Very nice, very helpful and actually interested in directly engaging with the guests. The head gardener was probably the best staff interaction we had (I think his name was Samu?); he was one of the staff members not from Soso village, but I had trouble with the name village he was from, he took us on the hike one of the mornings and did a great job. The landscaping was really nice throughout as well; he must do great work. In your room and walking around the grounds everything was usually quite pleasant. Our biggest issue was probably that we had to constantly ask and double-check things that you would think would just be handled…as well as a general feeling that at any moment something could be stolen.
I’m going to start generalizing unfairly to several of the staff. There were definitely some staff who were very nice and engaging, but I’d put the number between 25-30%. In general (as I mentioned above) the excursion staff were great, but the rooming staff and wait staff (especially at dinner) were a bit of a mess.
Cell phone use among the staff was ubiquitous, and more importantly, seemed to take precedence to handling guests at inopportune moments. The most striking example was our arrival. As we shuttled from the Flyer to the island, a host of staff were singing and dancing on the beach ready to welcome us finishing with a hearty “BULA”, quite nice. We hit the beach and by the time we had maneuvered getting off the boat (30 seconds?) the crowd had vanished; we did see them from behind as they all began checking their text messages. One gentlemen did stay behind to introduce himself and park us on the couch for check in…and was then replaced by another person who gave us a quick intro to the facilities. We were shocked at the number of staff on their phones when we got there, however, we didn’t notice it nearly as much after our arrival. Maybe they rounded up staff who were off-shift for the greeting dance? It just looked bad to put all that effort into welcoming someone to your island and then ignoring them seconds later. The staff were very friendly and engaging…with each other. My wife did a jewelry making activity and the three staff women basically spoke to each other in Fijian the whole time and kind of ignored my wife (note: this is more for kids, they’re not showing you Fijian jewelry making. They’re handing you fishing line and tiny shells that were probably shipped in and saying “make a bracelet”). When we arrived our fridge was locked…I’m not sure if they were supposed to bring us a key or if it was supposed to have been unlocked when we got there, but on the second morning when we asked for it to be unlocked they gave us a key and we discovered the water that they provided was in the fridge. The introduction book said there were “games” and an umbrella in every room. We had neither. In speaking to the front desk apparently the “assortment of games” meant there should have been a deck of cards. They also brought us an umbrella, but we were worried that they weren’t there when we arrived. Little issues, nothing big, but we were constantly asking for stuff that according to their booklet should have been available (they never did bring cards to the room).
We left the fridge key and an SD card on our bed at lunch one day. When we came back both were gone. We don’t know if it got swept up and tossed (unlikely) if it got rolled in the sheets and laundered (seems likely) or if someone got a new 32 GB SD card we were using for our cameras. We do know for sure it was no longer in the room. Our fault for leaving it out…but hard to imagine it wasn’t noticed. You’ll note that the introduction booklet strongly suggests putting everything that will fit into the safe, there is a locking mechanism on the inside of the door to the bathroom, the fridge has a locking mechanism, and it’s strongly suggested you don’t log into any accounts while using their wireless. Very reassuring.
They didn’t replace our towels one day (when we left them on the floor to indicate needing a replacement). Our foot bath to avoid bringing in sand wouldn’t stay filled and they never refilled it after the morning fill. We mentioned this on the first day when we returned in the afternoon and asked the office how we can fill it. Their response was “maintenance comes around and refills”. No, they do not. They never came after we reported to the office (around 1 PM that afternoon) and never refilled any other day during the day. Surely someone would have noticed and said “hey, maybe these guests would like to not track a ton of sand into their bure”, but that didn’t happen. Big deal? Not really, but if you’re going to have that option available then take care of it. If there were no foot baths available we wouldn’t have cared, but having it there and constantly seeing it empty was annoying. I even tried to mess with the drain valve to tighten it and put some leaves in to stopper the drain. No luck.
The timing for trip activities was inaccurate. We signed up for 9:30 AM snorkels two days in row. The actual trips took place at 11:30 AM and 2:00 PM. Unfortunately my wife was going to try discover SCUBA at 2:30 PM and couldn’t due to the 2:00 PM snorkel trip. It’s hard to make those plans when there is a time posted in large black letters on the sign-up sheet that you fill out at the scuba center and it doesn’t take place at that time. It makes sense, they want to take you at mid-high tide so you don’t destroy their reef, but then why doesn’t the sign-in sheet reflect that? Why even have it listed at 9:30 AM? We may have even been able to ask to have the discover SCUBA change time, maybe they could have done it…but there just seemed to be a lot of personal leg-work with trying to do anything at this resort. We just wanted to sign up for a scheduled event and have it actually fit into that schedule; doesn’t seem like too much to ask. One morning we were preparing for the 9:30 snorkel when we noticed the time wasn’t posted on the chalk board. We walked to the dive shop and they didn’t know either. They had to call someone to get the 2:00 PM time; how does the activity center no know the activity time the day of the activity? Especially at 9:00 AM When the trip was originally posted as 9:30 AM. We were brought to the same reef two days in a row, they should have coordinated that better and allowed guests to experience a new reef.
The lounging issues. There were I think 10 little shaded lounging huts (could have been 12?) along the beach front. 5 of them are reserved for the beach front bures that are quite large. That leaves 5-6 of them for the rest of the guests (I don’t know how many total bures are actually at this resort, but I do know the numbering system reaches the 40s). Each shade can have 2 lounges underneath. There are also several hammocks that are suitable if you’re 5 feet or shorter. When we got there two of the shaded areas had no lounges; we did ask on the second day and the staff brought two down for us. But, why aren’t they just there? It seems it’s because they’re usually up on the pool deck for use by guests at the pool, in other words they don’t have enough lounge seating for symmetrical aesthetics at both the pool and beach simultaneously. It was frustrating how many beachfront were reserved for the expensive bures and it lead to guests coming out at 7:00 AM putting some sandals and towels on the lounges at the beach to claim them, disappearing until 11:00 or after lunch and then finally using them in the afternoon. While the rest of you are forced to use the seating around the pool, ask staff to drag more down or just lay on the coral heavy sand. I’m not big on laying in the sun, if I’m at the beach I’m in the water…but it bothered my wife a lot. If she had wanted to lounge at a pool we’d have gone to FL, not spent thousands on Fiji.
The dinner issues. The biggest issue at this resort is, hands down, dinner. First a quick note, whatever you do don’t ask any questions of your servers. They won’t know the answer and leave to ask someone; it’ll take a while for them to come back to you. When you get the answer you have no time to digest it to make a decision. If you pause for a second to reconsider your options with the new information you’ll find that the staff will just sort of wander off…and may not come back for quite some time (typically because they’ve probably found another staff member to chat with, or, more rarely they’re taking an order at another table). The most interesting experience was having a staff member turn and walk away while I was in the middle of ordering…no clue what was going on. Dinner typically took 30 minutes to order if you weren’t the first one or two tables seated. The worst night was lambshank night that took an hour 45 minutes to get our meal after ordering(and we weren’t the last served. 4 tables seated before us were served after), the following night was the quickest; I’m guessing the guests let the management have it after that crazy night. Dinner typically has three options, fish, non-fish meat, and vegetarian. You have to ask to find out about the vegetarian and the server will never (and I mean never 4 dinners 4 lunches, never knew what the veggie option was) know what the dish is. My wife and I don’t eat fish (makes me ill, she just doesn’t care for it) so we had two options. My wife also doesn’t eat lamb so the meat option was out two nights as well. The veggie option those two nights were mushroom risotto (surprise she doesn’t eat mushroom) and stuffed cabbage (another surprise she doesn’t eat cabbage). She made the mistake of trying to order off the extended lunch menu (which is still given to you with the dinner options), shock to us; that food is only available for lunch. They have a (at least 10 but I think longer) list of options for lunch plus 2-3 specials each day, while dinner has three options only…that’s it…if you’re at all picky dinner is going to be a problem for you. The second night when she also didn’t care for the 3 dinner options she asked to be served just the vegetable sides from the dishes instead and to just have the leave the meat off, seemed a reasonable option right? They brought her a plate with about a pound of mashed potatoes in the middle of it…and that was it. There was no salt in the potatoes, no butter served, no gravy with it…it was a pile of potato and after waiting for so long for the meals to come out my wife didn’t want to try and ask for some sort of gravy (like the one that was being served with the meat meals) and just picked at plain, bland potato for about 10 minutes before she gave up. The appetizer was almost always fish (3 of 4 nights), so, if you don’t do fish you can ask for a fruit tray instead, which they will bring to you instead if you ask the right staff member…or they’ll say no and you have to point out that someone else did that and you should be allowed as well (and hope someone else actually did order fruit). Breakfast was better than an American hotel continental in that they have baked beans, an omelet bar and usually some sort of croissant wrapped meat (fish or lamb sausage), but the omelets options weren’t extensive. Again if you don’t do fish and lamb the breakfast accessories outside of eggs might be a disappointment. Lunch was the only meal that was consistently doable. We only had a couple of oddities at lunch. My wife ordered the veggie burger twice (mainly to try the tamarind sauce). The first time the “burger” came out and was literally sautéed mixed vegetables (peppers “capsicum”, eggplant, onions and string beans), the second time it was an actual veggie patty. No clue why we got two different things from the same order. Both were good, just odd. She got the vegetarian pizza at lunch one day (the chicken pizza came with pineapple) and they told her it was capsicum and onions. It came out and also had mushrooms on it she had to pick off of the pizza. Again, be careful ordering the veggie options, the server won’t know what it is. I know it sounds picky, and I bug her about her picky eating regularly, but we had just spent 4 nights on a different island and had absolutely no problems finding food from the menu without special ordering. She doesn’t eat fish or lamb at all and rarely eats beef or non-barbequed pork, but loves chicken. There just weren’t many chicken options at any meal (one dinner of 4 had a chicken option).
All of these issues weren’t really major, but they added up to a rather exhausting experience where we had to constantly be on our toes to make sure we were actually getting what we paid for instead of the experience being more relaxing.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Luxury Island Resort in the Yasawa Islands, Fiji. White sandy all tide beach, stunning sunsets, beach and pool bar. ... more less
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