Image from Travelonline.com
Nights stayed: 14
Time of year: December (Christmas)
Guests: 2 Adults, 1 Teenager, 1 Tween
Room Type: Frangipani Bure
Holiday Type: Family
Theme of this Review:
To enjoy your stay at Hideaway Fiji, you need to leave your expectations at the front lobby and literally go with the flow. When you think about that, isn't that what being on holiday's is all about anyway?
I am finding it hard to write this review because I could write a million little things which were frustrating and annoying, but in a complete contradiction to that - we are desperate to go back to Hideaway and enjoy another holiday there.
So that is my predicament.. do I include those little things or do I keep them to myself? In the spirit of giving a well-rounded review, I think I will include them, but not dwell on them. Of course, this is based on my family's experience and is entirely our own opinion.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Hideaway, and it was because we chose the mindset of not getting caught up in the 'annoying'. I believe it was that mindset that enabled us to have a really great holiday, and we can't wait to go back. We also went at Christmas time, so emotions were heightened as Christmas is such a family oriented time, so I think the Hideaway did a marvellous job of getting us to feel 'at home'.
We stayed in Frangipani Bure (the cheapest of the room standards). The way in which the accommodation is set out is quite clever - all rooms can take advantage of the breeze, and some sort of pretty view. There are rows of Bures along the sea wall - the ones at the front being the most costly, due to beach/ocean views. Our room was in the third row back, and even then we had lovely views and a nice breeze. Each bure of our standard shared a common wall with another bure. We did not hear our direct neighbours once.
Image from travelonline.com - vinaka
The bure itself was large and spacious, especially given there were four of us. We had a queen bed ensemble and a single ensemble, as well as a roll-out single bed. There was a desk, a small dining table, two chairs inside, and a patio table with two chairs outside. The large bathroom was fairly dated and old (and a bit mouldy in spots) but it did the job. It had an external outside 'open-air' shower off the bathroom, which was a novelty for a few nights. There was an internal shower too which was huge.
On the whole, the room was dated, but absolutely fine and functioned well. Our neighbours, not in the adjoining bure, but across the path, were noisy each night and we could hear every word. So the bures aren't very sound-proof across ways.
We would choose this exact bure again, it was about half-way down the accommodation row from the main resort area, so we couldn't hear music or revellers at the Bar at night. I loved this room and location.
There is a buffet breakfast each morning, which we had included in our room rate. There was plenty of food, no variety over 14 days - but tasty enough. All hot foods (bacon, dedicated egg chef, pancakes, hashbrowns etc) and continental foods too (cereal, toast, pastries, yoghurt, fruit etc). Some days we had music playing to provide a bright, happy atmosphere, other days it was deathly quiet, like Mr Music had died. On those days I wanted to join Mr Music (dead) so depressing was the atmosphere.
Kids eat free lunch from a small buffet, simple foods like mini pizza, fruit, hot chips, some sort of fresh salad. Adults who aren't on the meal plan can order off the menu which is reasonably priced. There is also the Dilo Bar, outside near the pool, which serves burgers, hot chips and wraps - these are delicious, freshly cooked while you wait and very reasonably priced (burger and hot chips $15fjd). I would choose these over the main restaurant - yummy!
Aside from the meal plan - there are 3 options for dinner; A-la-carte or Buffet in the main restaurant, Mongolian/Pizza in the restaurant overlooking the beach (beautiful view), Grill (overlooking the pool).
The food is good. Pricing for the A-la-carte is incredibly reasonable. I was shocked at how reasonable it was and expected it to be more expensive being a Resort. Plus there is free entertainment most nights (repetitive if there for more than a week but I understand the logistics behind that!). We were excited to meet up with our friends from the Lei Entertainment group, who do amazing Fire Dancing and Polynesian Dancing.
We personally did not enjoy the Mongolian restaurant, and the pizza served there was similar to a McCains frozen pizza (if you're after pizza, head 10 mins down the road to the Eco Cafe instead). But the staff in this restaurant were great, especially Siteri. (Bula lewa, if this post ever makes it to your eyes). The a-la-carte was yummy, my favourite the Mushroom Risotto and Chicken Spring Rolls.
You can purchase a meal plan, which includes alcohol, or meals only, but to be honest after weighing it all up at the end, I don't think we would purchase it. We didn't eat dinner that often (see my Blog Post "Top tips for Fiji on the cheap") but when we did, the average cost for 4 of us for dinner was $140fjd - with one or two getting entree, or a dessert. Brekky really fills you up so you could possibly even skip food till dinner (we did this heaps of times). I can't comment about the alcohol component, as we don't drink much - the cocktails were expensive (out of plan).
Coffee: (yes this needs a category of it's own!)
Coffee is available at the Coffee Hut from 9am, and it was great. I was worried about it beforehand, but happily discovered it was yummy. Coffee was $8.50fjd. I ordered a long black over ice, with milk on the side, and the awesome cafe lady Eta had my order down-pat by the 2nd day, and had it ready for me each morning, just as I was heading past to the pool. Vinaka lewa.
Upon arrival at the resort, there is a sign which offers a complimentary Foot Ritual at the onsite Day Spa, which is externally managed by Senikai. We took advantage of the free foot spa, and it hooked us (I guess that's what is designed to do!). They had a special deal on at the time we were there, $500fjd for 5 or 6 x 1 hour treatments. We shared these between the two adults and the teenager (who had saved money from her part-time job). We delighted in facials and massages.
It was pure relaxation, pure delight, pure heaven. The girls working there were skilled, delicate and graceful. I asked one girl how she got so graceful (think of a ballerina gliding past) and her sweet reply was "it's natural I guess". LOL - she was very sweet. In all honesty, I would go to the Hideaway Fiji again, just so I could have these treatments again. It was super relaxing on the days I had a treatment, after spending the morning at the pool, then heading to the hammock overlooking the ocean and reading, or sleeping. We also got very sunburnt one day (I know how naughty that is!) and the girls there had a special sunburn treatment which I took advantage of, and it really helped. I think it was cucumber based? I don't know for sure, but I know it worked. Big shoutout to Lita, Sheetal, Mita and Tura - very lovely, professional beauty therapists. Thank you!
The Activities staff are bright and bubbly, if not a little obnoxious and arrogant - should I dare say that? Young Fijian men whom a lot of young tourist girls (and a few too many older tourist ladies) drool over. Vommit. (At the older ladies).
However, I am aware it is their job to be loud and bubbly, and fully inclusive, which they do well. They do many activities each day to keep people entertained and busy and do a good job of getting all the pool dwellers up to do a "sun dance" which is full of laughter. They play pool games all morning - basketball, volleyball, aqua aerobics, races. If you're in to group activities (which I am not!) then it looks like there is fun to be had.
One thing which always surprises me at resorts in their pool games, is how agressive and pushy the middle-aged tourist men get. It's like they missed their chance at rep basketball or volleyball, and will do anything, hurt anyone to get their time in the limelight and win at any cost. I certainly would not let my kids in the pool when they're 'playing'. One poor elderly lady copped a ball to the head when she was relaxing by the pool, with no apologies from any of these 'reliving my youth' men. You're embarrssing yourselves guys, calm down a bit!
There is a Dive operation there, as well as Stand Up Paddle boarding. Village tours, and daily walks. There is plenty to do. And if you aren't up for 'doing', there are plenty of spots along the sea wall to lie in a hammock and chill; plenty of space on the Resort's beach to lie in the sand; and pool chairs to take advantage of.
There is an on-site Laundry Service which was awesome and only $10fjd per wash and $10fjd per dry, which I thought was amazingly cheap for the service. We happily handed over our washing every three days for that. Vinaka to the laundry staff.
Housekeeping was good and consistent. However, we seemed to have trouble getting four towels each day, which I thought was annoying and weird, given there was clearly four people in the room. Most days we got two or three and either had to share, or go searching for some extras. We left a Christmas treat on our bed on Christmas Morning for the housekeeper who had been assigned to our room for the previous week, but she had the morning off, so somebody else received her gift. Oh well, at the end of our stay, we gave her some plastic ware, food, and toys for her kids. She was delighted - but if you are going to do this - make sure you write the staff member a letter saying exactly what you have gifted them, so they get to keep it, and don't get accused of stealing it. (This didn't happen to us at Hideaway, just drawing on my knowledge of Resorts across Fiji).
Smoking was an issue for me. The 'smoking' zone was near the bar, which unfortunately looked over the pool area so we could smell the smoke often. Twice the smoke smell drifted into the restauant when we were eating. As non-smokers this was disgusting.
We stayed at Christmas time which is generally an emotional time of year in which extended families spend together. So it was a credit to the Hideaway for making it's guests feel so loved on such an important occasion. On Christmas morning we were woken up to the most beautiful singing outside our bure of the local village singing caroles. Santa made an appearance and hillariously, he 'lost' his face as he was riding past us on his horse. The staff did a superb job of festively decorating the restaurant. Differently (and thankfully!) to a lot of resorts at Christmas/New Years we did not have to commit to an expensive meal in the restaurant which was great. We also were given a surprise box of cakes with a lovely note, left in our room. Each Christmas we write a list of goals to achieve throughout the year and lock the envelope up until the next Christmas to read it. What a lovely location to read last years list - at the pool! I failed in my goals, LOL, but the others managed to achieve most of theirs.
The majority of guests whilst we were staying, and each time we've stayed, have been families and large groups of families/friends. Mostly Australians and New Zealanders. Lots of kids running around. I wouldn't call it a Honeymooners resort. But I could be wrong, given I've never had a 'honeymoon' - hello, someone tell my Hubby to rectify this please!! It seems like a great resort to go as a big group.
I really thought this holiday was affordable. All prices, including Accommodation rate with Buffet Breakfast, are fairly reasonable, except for the cocktails (rip-off). The onsite gift shop is expensive too, but it is run by an external company.
As a guide:
Can of softdrink $7fjd - bit exxy but you kind of expect that in a resort setting.
Burger and Hot Chips $15fjd
Main meal $20fjd - $30fjd
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
The Hideaway is on to such a great thing (being fully Fijian owned and operated) and I really want them to just fix the little things which will make it even better. To be honest, I feel like shaking the GM (in a nice way of course!) to get him to act on simple little repairs which have been needed for years, would come at a minimal cost to the Resort, but would result in huge benefits for his guests. Please Mr GM, fix the little things so your Guests want to come back. Some things like:
General maintenance of the pool area is so badly needed
Cushions on pool loungers need replacing or given a solid clean - they've been there for years, as long as I can remember and they are showing their age, they feel dirty to sit on - mould, stains, gross
Blue/white pool towels need a new home in the bin - ripped, stained, yuck (the brown towels are great!)
Buffet utensils - need to replace the tongs badly, when we were there not only was plastic casing falling off into the food, the tongs which had already shed their plastic were too hot to touch being full metal in a steaming bainmarie
Like I have mentioned in my Theme, you really do need to 'get over yourself' and 'go with the flow' if you are wanting to enjoy your holiday at the Hideaway. Things are not perfect, but weirdly, that is what makes it so homely, so enjoyable and super relaxing.
Ladies, you do not need makeup, you don't even need your hair straightener (why do I always travel with it, when I never end up using it?). Travel with your swimwear, sarong, and a few casual outfits for dinner - nothing else required. The kids will have an absolute ball at the Kids Club, or in the pool and the Activities staff will keep them entertained.
The beach is lovely, although the tides are fast changing. The resort is located about an hour and twenty minutes from Nadi International Airport, which is a pretty drive through villages and the outskirts of Sigatoka town. You can get to the town via a local bus as well, which is fun and cheap for the family to do at least once.
If you want fancy and luxurious - head to one of the big brand Denerau's resorts. Hideaway is not huge like ShangriLa or Outrigger. What it is though is homely, and super relaxing. So much so that we did not want to leave, and we have already booked again for next Christmas - so perhaps that says it all!
See you next year Hideaway Fiji Resort and Spa XX