Last week the NZ Herald published my ‘Room Check’ article about one of the oldest and largest luxury resorts in the South Pacific, Shangri-la’s Fijian Resort & Spa on the Coral Coast. Fresh from a US $50m refurb, the property – as located on its own causeway-linked private island – has everything from stunning white sand beaches, to a lagoon, a cute little chapel, a special adults-only wing, several pools including an infinity pool, private bures, an enormous inflatable waterpark, specialised rum and gin bars, world-class restaurants, a brilliant spa facility, golf and mini-golf courses, tennis and basketball courts, and even a coral replanting scheme with GPS tracking for future visits.
I spent four nights at the resort and with the island no-less than 44-hectares in size, it always felt like there was somewhere new to explore. Click here to read my full review, with a huge thanks to Chris Hamilton (Resident Manager), Rudolf Kunkel (Head Chef) as well of the rest of the always so wonderfully friendly staff.
Something I didn’t get to mention in my NZ Herald article is the social conscience that is a major part of the managerial ethos of this particular Shangri-la. Spend more than a couple of days at the resort and chances are you’ll make it to Bilo Bar, and despite all the fine options, I’m certain there’s no better place on the island for your sunset mojito. But what you may not realise as the tropical sun disappears behind the horizon is that the Bilo Bar is so much more than just a pretty place to serve cold drinks.
Since 1981, the Bilo Bar has doubled as a charity with a membership that currently numbers more than 1300 guests both past and present. It costs $50 dollars per year and you have to have been a repeat visitor to the Shangri-la to join. The purpose? Well, it’s incredibly noble. We’re talking fundraising so significant it’s helped build several local kindergartens, not to mention the sponsoring of scholarship programmes for villagers and even financial help for things like the funerals of staff members.
With the Shangri-la playing such a significant role in the local economy of this part of the Coral Coast, and with so many of the resort’s guests of the kind of financial means the Fijians who work at the resort could only dream of, the existence of the Bilo Bar Club is genuinely heartwarming. It shows just how much this is a resort that inspires loyalty, as well as what can be achieved when people realise holidays and hospitality can be about so much more than just relaxation and commerce.
Thanks again to everyone at the Shangri-la Fijian Resort & Spa! Once again, click here to read my NZ Herald review. You can also click here to read my NZ Herald article about the nearby – and must-visit – EcoTrax sugarcane railway excursion, as well as clicking here for my feature on the equally brilliant adventures to be had at the Sigatoka Sand Dunes National Park. Enjoy the photos:
Website: The Shangri-la Fijian Resort & Spa