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Fiji, NZ & French Polynesia via Fiji Airways, Air NZ & Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

Fiji, NZ & French Polynesia via Fiji Airways, Air NZ & Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

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Old Aug 26, 17, 12:10 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
Programs: Aeroplan, Alaska MVP, Marriott Platinum / Lifetime Gold
Posts: 4,161
Fiji, NZ & French Polynesia via Fiji Airways, Air NZ & Air Tahiti Nui Business Class


Fiji, New Zealand and French Polynesia via Fiji Airways, Air New Zealand and Air Tahiti Nui Business Class

YVR-SEA-LAX-NAN-AKL (Alaska Mileage Plan Award)
AKL-BHE (paid)
BHE-AKL-PPT (paid)
MOZ-BOB (paid)
BOB-PPT (paid)
PPT-LAX-YVR (AAdvantage Award)




In this report:


Alaska Airlines First Class: Vancouver - Seattle
Alaska Lounge - N Satellite Sea Tac Airport
Alaska Airlines: Seattle - Los Angeles
Los Angeles International Lounge - Tom Bradley International Terminal, Los Angeles
Fiji Airways Business Class: Los Angeles - Nadi
Sheraton Tokoriki
Westin Denarau
Fiji Airways Tabua Business Class Lounge: Nadi, Fiji
Fiji Airways Business Class: Nadi - Auckland
Air New Zealand Domestic Lounge: Auckland
Air New Zealand: Auckland - Blenheim
Marlborough Vinters Inn, Blenheim
Marlborough Wine Region
Nelson
Air New Zealand: Blenheim - Auckland
Air New Zealand International Lounge: Auckland
Air New Zealand Skycouch: Auckland - Papeete
Le Meridien Tahiti
Sofitel Moorea La Ora
Air Tahiti: Moorea - Bora Bora
Le Meridien Bora Bora
Air Tahiti: Bora Bora - Papeete
Air Tahiti Nui Business Class Lounge: Papeete
Air Tahiti Nui Business Class: Papeete - Los Angeles
United Club - Los Angeles Terminal 7
American Airlines First Class: Los Angeles - Vancouver


Background:


After several awesome RTW’s and adventures to SE Asia, MrsWT73 had her sights set on going to Tahiti. I didn’t relish the fact that it was among the hardest of places to get to on points and miles. Add the fact that it is also quite an expensive destination and there has been good reason that we haven’t stopped by for a visit. Never deterred by a challenge, I started extensively researching the options.

After some substantial research, I put together two award tickets on both Alaska Mileage Plan and AAdvantage. I figured it would be cheaper to use Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan over AAdvantage as it would offer a point savings of 27,500 points per person, get us to Fiji for a stopover and onward to New Zealand.

Heading down, I located award space on Expert Flyer on Fiji Airways. Unfortunately, Alaska Airlines was unable to book all seats showing as available on Fiji Airways and I had to locate a day with “4” expert flyer seats available (with Alaska only getting access to 2 business class seats). I booked these at about 6 months out and paid $250 in taxes and fees and 55,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles per passenger. The flights with Alaska Mileage Plan included a free stopover in Fiji. I was able to find seats on their wide body aircraft; Airbus 330’s all the way through to Auckland. I wasn’t able to find Alaska Airlines connecting flights between Vancouver – Los Angeles (our overseas gateway) in First Class so I set seat alerts on Expert Flyer and award seats opened up at about the 4 month mark. I called into change the tickets, which was handled promptly and without fees as it was more than 60 days before travel.

I had to pay for a revenue seat between Auckland and the Marborough wine region. I was going to book Premium Economy between Auckland and Papeete but by the time I got around to booking the tickets about 4 months out, the fares had jumped considerably to the point that it was only a few hundred dollars away from business premier. Since the business price point was three times an economy fare, and with Star Gold Status in hand, we just settled for economy for the 5 hours flight. Thanks likely in part due to Air New Zealand’s Airpoints frequent flier program, the fare categories in the Tasman / Pacific Islands area booked into non earning Star Alliance frequent flier programs.

Coming back, I located awards space on Expert Flyer on Air Tahiti Nui. There were no problems finding business seats at the 6 month mark with two seats of availability almost every third day. I couldn’t find any American Airlines connecting business award space between Los Angeles and Vancouver. I booked the French Polynesia to USA legs of the trip. I again set Expert Flyer seat alerts between Los Angeles and Vancouver and at about the 3 month mark, 4 seats opened up on an American Airlines Compass Air non stop flight later that evening. I called in to get the tickets changed but it took several calls as the tickets would show as “on request” for about 6 weeks. These cost $79 USD in taxes and fees and 82,500 AAdvantage Miles per passenger.

When it came to planning the hotels, I was surprised at how busy French Polynesia was. Most hotels were sold out of the cheaper advance purchase rates well over 4 months in advance and most of the over water villa options had quickly disappeared. We ended up paying for our hotels and earned a stack of points as there were several promotions running at the time of our visit and the redemption rates for a reward stay were astronomical.

Although the trip didn’t feature the world best lounges or business class products, I hope you’ll join us on this trip to a remote part of the world.


Links to my previous reports:


Mileage Running to New York via Delta Airlines First Class for Alaska MVP Status, Dec 2016
Havana and Varadero Cuba via Westjet Holidays from Canada (WJ Y) Nov 2016
Malta (and the island of Gozo), Venice, Italy and Oktoberfest in Munich, via Air France Business Class (AF J, LH Y) Sept 2016

South Africa, Namibia, Victoria Falls, Mauritius & the UAE via Emirates First, Qatar Business (QR J, EK F, BA J, SA J, SW Y) April 2016

Dodging Volcanic Ash: A family trip to Bali / Singapore with my 11 year old (DL J / OZ J / KL J / JL J) July 2015
RTW#3 (J): Vietnam, Maldives, and Tackling India’s Golden Triangle. (AC/OZ/SQ/AI/TK), May 2015
Experiencing flying as a "Non-Rev", Australia Wine and Beaches, (AC J/Y, QF J) November 2014
Alaska Airlines First Class to Las Vegas, and a stay in the Aria Sky Suites “Penthouse” (AS F), August 2014
Family trip to Kenora Lake of the Woods Ontario via Air Canada Business Class (AC J). August 2014
Cathay Pacific First Class to New York, a sombre visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum & 4 days of eating in NYC. (CX F) May 2014
RTW #2 (J): The Khors of Oman - via Japan, Poland, & the UAE. RTW in Biz (NH J 787, OZ J, TG J, EY J, TK J, LH J). April 2014
South Africa, Safari in Maasai Mara Kenya, & Mauritius (UA J, SA J, XAK, LX J, AC J) Nov 2013
A family trip to Westin Playa Conchal, Liberia Costa Rica, (UA Y) Aug 2013
Buried Treasure: UAE Empty Quarter and Beyond to Huvadhoo Atoll, Maldives (UA Y, EY J/Y, Q2 Y), Nov 2012
RTW #1 (F): The Time Share Presentation, Spain, China, Thailand, (AC J, OZ F, TG F, LH J, LH F, AC Y) May 2012.
A visit to Macchu Picchu and Valle Nevado, Peru and Chile. (AC J, LA Y) Sept 2011
Travel after the Revolution of January 25, 2011. Egypt. (MS Y) May 2011
A Step Back in Time: The Twilight of Burma, a visit to Myanmar (MI Y) Sept 2010

Last edited by worldtraveller73; Oct 20, 17 at 10:20 pm
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Old Aug 26, 17, 12:20 pm
  #2  
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Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
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Alaska Airlines
First Class (A)
YVR-SEA (Vancouver International Airport – SeaTac Airport)
AS 702
June 2, 2017
Booked: Boeing 737-900
Flown: Boeing 737-900
Departure: 11:58 AM
Arrival: 12:54 PM


We had a terrible 24 hours before this trip started. We were both traveling on separate tickets for work related reasons on Air Canada back to Vancouver; myself from St John’s, Newfoundland and MrsWT73 from Ottawa. Both of our flights had mechanical issues and my flight leaving The Rock was cancelled outright. I ended up flying standby out of St John’s and had to leave a co-worker behind as he had checked bag and I had carry on only.

As I work shopped contingency plans that included purchasing a full fare revenue ticket for one of us to Los Angeles get to our midnight Fiji Airways departure flight, I made it back to Vancouver after 20 hrs of travel at about 2:30 AM, only to turn around for this flight at 11:58 AM. Ugh! I wouldn't have typically booked it so close together but the lack of reward availability was the deciding factor. We made it however. . .

We took an Aerocar to the airport; a Ford Expedition today. We arrived to a quiet departure zone with Alaska Airlines occupying the space immediately under the Fairmont hotel Vancouver International Airport.







The pleasant Alaska Airlines staff checked us in at the First Class MVP counter. Bags were checked to LAX as we had a 7 hour layover and MrsWT73 was concerned about luggage content theft since we had some bag luck on our last long layover through there.



MrsWT73 for the fortunate “SSSS” and free massage that went along with it. Despite our Nexus / Global Entry, she was not permitted to use the lane and was re-directed towards the regular screening. She was able to by pass the queue thankfully, which was at least 150 people.



There is no lounge available to Alaska Airlines First Class passengers so we hung out at the busy gate area. There was no plane on arrival; usually a bad sign for an morning flight.







The flight posted at major delay of 1hr 12 minutes and we immediately mis-connected. This was blamed on SEA Air Traffic Control. The gate agents in Vancouver pro-actively started re-connecting passengers but unfortunately did not get to us before we boarded.



Finally the plane arrived.

We got on board and settled into the usual blue Alaska First Class recliner seat. There was a small bottle of Dasani water that was waiting for us.







There was available in seat power from the center console.



On board we were offered an open bar pre-departure beverage with the advice and information that there would be no offerings in service due to the short length of the flight (27 minutes). Look’s like it’s a Gin and Tonic for me to start the holidays in a plastic cup. We had pleasant crews otherwise.





We departed promptly. As we were pushing back, I checked the Alaska App on my phone and we were proactively re-booked on to AS 410 departing Seattle at 3:50 PM.

A nice climb out of naturally green Vancouver…





With a very short flight down to Seattle. We had some nice views of downtown on our pass over the city.





We were on the ground quickly and taxiing to the gate. Not a bad flight overall but there isn't much advantage to first class seating on this short leg since there is no food and beverage service aside from a pre-departure drink made more comfortable by a wider seat.
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Old Aug 26, 17, 12:24 pm
  #3  
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Alaska Airlines Lounge
SeaTac International Airport – North Satellite Gates

We arrived to the North Satellite Gates. We would have had 6 minutes to make our original connection and since the plane was leaving from the “D” Gates (involving a two stop train ride) we just headed to the nearby lounge to get us sorted out.

Unfortunately, the lounge was not super helpful in keeping us in First Class. They were able to issue our boarding cards for our new flight, but sadly we were involuntarily downgraded from first into economy. The lounge directed us to Alaska Customer Care desks just down the way.



We left the lounge and went to Customer Care. I asked if there were any other confirmed first seats available on later flights but they were completely sold out for the day. Instead of opting to miss our Fiji Airways business class seats, we reluctantly accepted the downgrade into economy for the 2 hour and 15 minute ride down to Los Angeles. We were wait listed for First Class, with a caution that we were “low” on the list. I checked the app again later on wifi and it seems that we were very low. LOL; number #15 and #16 out of 16 on the list.



We returned to the Alaska Lounge and explained the situation involving the economy downgrade. They had no issues with admitting us and we went into the new lounge located at the North Satellite Gates.





The new Alaska lounge has recently been refreshed and is a much more welcoming space compared to the Alaska Boardroom’s that I’ve been in during the past. There was a water feature immediately at the entrance with some light snacks consisting of cubed cheese, celery and a pancake machine that was still available during our 2PM visit. I had some of the clam chowder soup that was available, which was tasty but very rich in texture.













The drinks were available from the bar. House drinks, including sparking wine for MrsWT73 were complimentary and premium drinks were available starting at 7$.







The staff throughout the lounge from the dragons to the bar staff were very friendly and surprisingly sympathetic to our experience considering the number of passengers that they have to deal with that mis-connect throughout the day.

There were bright windows available throughout the lounge allowing for some great plane spotting activities with unobstructed views. MrsWT73 even commented that you didn’t get to see a plane arrive and get unpacked with this much clarity. It was a massive improvement from the old dungeon United Red Carpet club that was downstairs in the basement of this building that we used to regularly visit on our travels through Seattle.





We left the lounge at T-35 over to our gate for boarding.

Overall the Alaska lounge was a pleasant place to hang out for a bit. It was much nicer than the Alaska Lounge in Los Angeles, which was sadly in need of a major update on our last visit. The friendly management staff at the front were also surprisingly accommodating to deal with.
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Old Aug 26, 17, 12:31 pm
  #4  
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Join Date: Oct 2010
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Alaska Airlines
Economy Class
SEA-LAX (SeaTac Airport – Los Angeles International)
AS 410
June 2, 2017
Booked: Boeing 737-900
Flown: Boeing 737-900
Departure: 3:50 PM
Arrival: 4:28 PM

We were supposed to fly First Class on AS424 but instead were downgraded to economy on AS 410. After all was said and done, we ended up in row 17 B and 17 E, which were emergency exit rows in the middles.

We were in group 2 to board as Alaska MVP’s and we found our way onto the plane behind all the kids that were boarded first along with paid first class and MVP Golds. A random comment here, I find the North Satellite terminal at Seattle to be among the most drab and dark airport facilities out there. This is despite the fact that there windows almost all around the entire building.







We settled into the emergency exit row seats. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t first class (laughing)





We had a straight forward flight down with pleasant crews. Drink service was provided twice along with a buy on board offering. It was Pringles snack time with some movies through the Alaska App on the iPhone.





There was free chat available on the wired plane – the perfect thing for those separated families! LOL.



We landed on the North runway of LAX and had a quick taxi over to terminal 6 without any stops or waits for other aircraft. Before we knew it, we were in the terminal.



Bags were put out without any issue and thankfully arrived despite the mis connects. We decided to pick up our bags as it was suspected MrsWT73 had her bags rifled through on a previous long layover at LAX.



All in, a few mess ups this morning; a one hour delay, a downgrade to economy. Not the greatest start to our trip. At least everyone was pleasant about it. . . When I got back home, I wrote into Alaska Mileage Plan and they offered some generous compensation for the downgrade. This more than made up for the downgrade. With that, Fiji Airways awaited!!
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Old Aug 26, 17, 12:42 pm
  #5  
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Los Angeles International Lounge
Tom Bradley International Terminal
Los Angeles, California.


We took our last breath of Los Angeles Air just outside the Tom Bradley International Terminal. It was a warm summer night and we were enjoying the last of it between the smokers.



We checked in at the Fiji Airways counters at B139-142 at the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The counters thankfully opened at 7:30 PM (four hours in advance of departure).









Our bags were re-tagged and our boarding cards were re-printed on Fiji Airways ticket stock. We were also given a second boarding card, which doubled as the lounge invitation.

We headed through the premium security screening line within the TBIT terminal and there were only about 20 people in front of us; one of the shortest lines ever that I've experienced leaving here. MrsWT73 in a terrific mood. “You’re not taking me to that horrible Bali place!”. Ouch - a blow to hotel reward redemption opportunities there.

We wandered past the time Tower and into the food court area of Tom Bradley for some dinner. It was 8 PM and I was starved at this point and we had some chicken tacos at the Border Grill in the food fair area of TBIT.









After dinner, we headed up to find the International Lounge that was located on the sixth floor. MrsWT73 handled the entry procedures while I was taking pictures. The International Lounge is the best of what's left; all the odd carriers that need a lounge that don't have their own. For the life of me, I can't imagine why you'd visit here if you were flying Japan Airlines and had access to that swish One World Business Lounge elsewhere in the terminal.





The lounge is a medium sized place. It’s fairly new and has a combination of inside and outside terrace seating. The place was pretty packed tonight with not a lot of seating choices.









We took up some spots on the terrace with a view and within ear shot of a live band that was playing on the concourse. The concourse was packed for a Friday night at the beginning of summer and as a result the whole place had a feel of Las Vegas to it; excitement and crowds.











The lounge offered a full bar but was a little light on the food offerings. There were some wrapped sandwiches, bags of chips and that sort of thing. On the food side, it was nowhere near an international lounge or even realistically an option to eat in the lounge prior to departure. We were happy that we had taken dinner elsewhere.











MrsWT73 described the lounge as “It’s not bad”. I enjoyed a gin’s tonic or three as I settled in, the stresses of the last 48 hours slowly evaporating away. One major draw back of the lounge is that the terrace does not have any power plug ins. We were out of electrons at this point and dumped laptops and phones inside and had to keep an eye on them from outside.

Towards the end of our visit, the lounge emptied out as the Philippines Airlines flight left, leaving lots of empty seats.







In summary, a reasonable place to hang out in a proper lounge chair, but there was nothing here that was above average for an international departure lounge. The highlight were the interior views from the outdoor terrace, whereas the food offerings in the lounge were the low point.
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Old Aug 26, 17, 12:59 pm
  #6  
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Fiji Airways
Business Class (U)
LAX-NAN (Los Angeles International TBIT – Nadi)
FJ 811
June 2, 2017
Booked: Airbus 330-200
Flown: Boeing 330-200
Departure: 11:30 PM
Arrival: 05:50 AM + 2


We left the lounge at T-50 and walked over to Gate 130. The concourse had thinned out quite considerably as we neared 11 PM. Boarding time was set for 10:45PM

The boarding line management was pretty much a mess tonight and it was an Indian or Middle Eastern crowd rushing into the boarding gate. The gate agents weren’t making announcements or really enforcing the boarding priority. Surprisingly, there were also no signs, ropes or boarding zones, which really made it for a disorganizing process. Like having a microwave, you certainly noticed it when it was gone.









Once we were through the scrum, it was a proper, but unmarked double jet bridge boarding today with business class boarding through 1L.

On board, the business class cabin makes a beautiful first impression; nice light colors and the signature patterned cushions on the seats. The Airbus 330 cabin is configured in a 2-2-2 configuration. The seats are similar to the product on the Singapore Airlines A330’s that are used for mostly regional flights from Singapore.











We found our seats 3K / 3J which we had selected in advance. The seats are an angled flat seat that does not fully recline. The load in business today was 20/24. Being an A330 aircraft, the overhead bins on the outsides are smaller than the bins on the Boeing’s. I had to turn the carry on rollie lengthwise of the plane to get it to fit. It wasn’t an issue as there was tons of space. I checked out the features of the seat, which included a reasonably sized screen, some gimmicky storage compartments under the monitor screen, a remote, and in seat power that actually worked.









On our seats were an amenity kit, Fiji Water and a pillow. The pillow was firmer than usual pillows; similar to a memory foam type. The amenity kit had was lightly branded with some Pure Fiji lotions, which I haven’t been able to locate anywhere for purchase outside of Fiji.









Blanket packs were handed out, in addition to printed dinner menus and a self scribe breakfast order (check sheet). Both these food orders were promptly taken at the gate.









The breakfast card for food orders in the morning; with the order taken at the LAX gate.



They had some okay Australian and New Zealand wines on this flight. Unfortunately, there was no Shaw and Smith (a winery that we had previously visited) like on past Fiji Airways flights.





A pre-departure beverage was offered of the Paradise Cocktail (Fijian Rum, Liqueur Rare, Fiji Coconut Rum Liqueur, lemon syrup topped up with ginger ale), a mocktail (lemon and barley syrup, squeeze of lime and orange, lemonade finished with cherry), or ice water off a tray. All were served in a proper glass. It was a refreshing change other than the usual orange juice or water? During the pre flight service, Fijian newspapers were also offered.





The cabin purser made the departure announcement of our flying time to Nadi of approximately 10 hours and 40 minutes. The cabin purser sounded Australian based on his accent.

We got underway immediately with a departure from LAX over the water. At about midnight our time, I was pretty tired from the travel today and from the day earlier (my cancelled Newfoundland segments) and nodded off to sleep as we climbed to altitude.

Once we were at altitude, a towel service was offered. The towel was unusually thick compared to the tired towels that you usually get on an plane. It had a hotel resort type feel to it-the quality of something you’d find in a hotel resort bathroom.

The crew was exceptionally pleasant and service oriented. It was far more enjoyable that our last flights on Air France and even on First Class on Emirates. The dinner service started about 45 minutes into the flight. It started with pretzels and champagne.



It went with the seared scallops with mesculin, endive lettuce, artichoke heart and julienne sun dried tomato. It was just okay.





I had the main of braised miso sea bass served with miso sauce, steamed seaweed rice, rice, sugar snap peas and carrot florets. Not bad – I picked away at it. The miso intertwined with the rice made it have an odd taste to it which I still remember to this date.



I fiddled with the entertainment system but there wasn’t too much there to keep me interested.



I skipped on dessert and opted for sleep right afterwards.

The angle flat seats are tough for tall side sleepers like me. I don’t find them comfortable at all. The seat seems to recline to about 172 Degrees; it’s described on the Fiji Airways website as an 8 degree lie flat bed. Despite this, I slept for about 6 hours as I was pretty tired. The volume of the cabin was pretty loud throughout the night. I remembered my sleep being punctuated with lots of flight attendant chimes and other travelers accessing the clicking of the overhead bins. I would attribute the noise to the actions of other travelers and not on the part or of any fault of the crew. It made it a bit hard to get a proper deep rest.

I woke up about 3 hours from Nadi as they started the clinking and clanking of the breakfast service. A second towel service was offered. Breakfast was served in a two course offering. It started with a yogurt parfait which wasn’t on the menu (but welcomed regardless).



Surprisingly, the coffee was powdered; even though it was nicely presented in a jazzy Fiji cup. I had to switch back to the default of Buck fizz of champagne and orange juice to start.

A cheese omelette with seared chipolata sausage, blistered tomatoes and roasted potatoes.





After breakfast service, there was a very through preparation of the cabin for landing, including all items being put up in to the overhead bins. These included all pillows and we’ll have that sleeping blanket, whether you are done with it or not, thank you!!

We landed and pulled up next to one of Fiji Airways Boeing 737’s.



As we stepped off the plane, we were welcomed off the plane by 5 ground crew agents on the jet bridge welcoming us all to Fiji. It was definitely a first for me to be individually welcomed by ground crew; usually it’s a general announcement via the plane’s public address system. It was a great first impression. Fiji airport has outdoor walkways so I was able to snap a few photographs of the plane before heading to immigration.





Once inside, we had a live band playing music in the hall welcoming us to Fiji. This was an impressive feat as it was 5:50 AM. They were more dedicated that I am to be at work at that hour. LOL. Unfortunately, the immigration queue was quite long and it took us about 30 minutes wait to get stamped in to Fiji; my 62nd country!



We collected our bags, changed some money and purchased a few bottles of wine at the Fiji Duty Free on arrival where there was plenty of staff available to help with selections. The wine selections were pretty mainstream, but I think that’s to be expected when you’re in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.





We had a bag x-ray and an arrival into the public side of Fiji Airport. We met our driver who took us straight to the marina for our transfer to the Sheraton.

Overall, the Fiji Airways flight impressed me. I had some pretty low expectations going in. What can you expect from a carrier that only has 4 wide body jets and flies only to a few destinations? Despite the angled flat seats that just don’t cut it anymore in today’s long haul travel, the crews were excellent. They seemed genuinely interested in their jobs and were keen to serve. The whole experience was much more pleasant than our recent Air France flights and the service was more personable than our Emirates First Class flights when the cabins were full and the staff are running around trying to deal with everyone.
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Old Aug 26, 17, 1:27 pm
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For a direct flight to Fiji, that J cabin didn't look half-bad! I guess a little hard product sacrifice is worth cutting out an additional leg on the trip.

Nice pics, keep it coming!
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Old Aug 26, 17, 1:35 pm
  #8  
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Sheraton Tokoriki
Beachfront Retreat - King
Tokoriki Island, Manumaca Islands, Fiji

Based on research, it was recommended to stay in the outer islands (off the main island) when visiting Fiji. Although most of the resorts in Nadi are around Denarau, Denarau is man made and the beaches are not very spectacular.

This Sheraton resort was badly damaged in Cyclone Winston, which occurred in 2014. It’s taken the team about 3 years to clean up the resort as it was permanently closed for about 2 1/2 years. It has had a 25 million dollar upgrade and renovation since then.

We met our driver (booked through the hotel) who took us directly to the Denarau marina. There was a bit of confusion here as the hotel websites suggest arriving to the mainland Sheraton Denarau that handles check ins on behalf of the Sheraton Tokoriki. We ended up just going straight to the marina, figuring we would sort it out when we arrived to the Sheraton Tokoriki.







When we arrived to the Denarau Marina about about 7:30 AM, it was a much more developed facility than I had expected. There was a grocery store, several take away places and even a Hard Rock restaurant. We took in a breakfast on the shore at the Lulu Bar and Restaurant while we waited for South Seas Cruises to open up business for the day.











We departed on the 9:15 AM scheduled boat to Tokoriki. On check in, they asked for a voucher that we were never provided. I had some printed emails saved from the hotel that seemed to satisfy them. There was supposed to be separate boats headed to different Manumaca Island groups but we were combined into two and ended up having a 2 stop trip to the Sheraton Tokoriki. There were some nice views and despite wanting to get there and shower, it was great to get in some scenery on our way. It wasn’t the best weather on our arrival day and it was mostly cloudy for the better part of the day.







On arrival to the Sheraton Tokoriki, we transferred from the catamaran to a shore tender and had a wet landing on the beach. I wasn’t really prepared for that as I was in street shoes but I just rolled up my pants and made a great time of it. Our bags were tendered to shore on a separate boat.







We were lei’d on arrival and us, and had the lovely experience of another singing trio on our arrival. We were checked in, along with our other guests (about 7 other groups) were processed. An orange welcome drink was provided.



I had applied Suite Night Awards to this booking and they had cleared at the 5 day mark into a Tokoriki Beachfront Retreat Room- the highest available room category on the island. The Suite Night Award pool at the time of our visit consisted of the Tokoriki Beachfront Retreat Rooms and the Tokoriki Ocean View Retreats rooms in both king and two single bed configurations.

During the check in, I had asked for a 4 PM check out and they asked us to remind them the night before to guarantee. We took the SPG Platinum Breakfast Benefit in lieu of the 500 points or the local amenity. The property does not participate in “Make a Green Choice” The receiving check in host indicated that the property was at about 60% occupancy.

We identified our bags and were led on foot by a member of the reception team to room 111. I was still barefoot from the water landing in my dress pants but I didn’t really get any opportunity to change.







The Beachfront Retreat Room is a 450 sq foot duplex that sits almost immediately above the beach. The room was a little compact but was completely brand new after the renovation and had very little wear and tear. The room had fresh flowers sprinkled all over the room for our arrival.









The sea side of the room had wide open windows and a sliding door that led to am medium sized out door deck. There was a small plunge pool on the deck, in addition to a private outdoor lounger.









The bathroom was massive and had lots of room for two, almost at the expense of the other living space areas. There was no bathtub – a stand up Westin type rain shower and shower wand only with natural light views to the outside.







I grabbed this photo for other travelers as I found the room categories at the room quite confusing on the website. It shows the difference between the categories of room and how far apart you would be.



In summary, there aren’t many properties that allow the use of a Suite Night Award into the highest available room category. I thought this was a great use of one of these certificates and made the stay all that more comfortable.

Property.

The property itself was quite small in format for a Sheraton resort hotel. This was both an advantage and a disadvantage. The advantages were that it was always easy to get a lounge chair and the sun decks were practically deserted for most of the time. There was also a unconfirmed rumor floating around the property that the upcoming Survivor Fiji was using this place as “sequester – ville” for those contestants voted off the show early and had to stay in place until the end of the filming of the series. I don’t follow the show so I can’t say I recognized any stars in the making.

The disadvantages were that there were limited things to do other than lie at the beach. Although there were water sports available, most of the days on our visit, the sea was too rough to kayak or snorkel. You can only make so many visits to the spa and the gym, which was tiny.

Aside from this, we enjoyed several days by the pool when the weather co-operated. In a design flaw, there aren’t any sun tanning areas other than the grass at the villas (the villa decks are tiny), so we ended up at the main pool deck most days.



















The beach itself was nice, although we didn’t spend much time on the beach itself. There were no lounge chairs down there so we opted for views from the deck instead. The views are looking South Westerly over some of the other nearby islands.











There are views of Tom Hank’s Castaway island from the resort; it’s the flat topped cone shaped island in the photo below.









There also did not appear to be many walking trails around the island. I ran up to the helipad about three times during our visit just to get some exercise and to take photographs.







This was the sole thatched roof on the villas. I am guessing at some time after they are finished with the hurricane refurbishment, all the white roofs will be recovered.




Food


The food at the property was upscale but not super fancy. The SPG Platinum Breakfast was more than reasonable, and thankfully free. The dinners were a bit over the top- in that there were very few simple dishes available to order. The usual casual options of North American comfort food such as hamburgers and pizzas were totally absent at dinner time. All the dining here was high end with entrees starting at about $36 AUD. There were no pizzas or other light fare available, which were missed by us on our arrival day after an overnight flight when some comfort food would have hit the spot nicely. The Flying Fish version was nice – we steered clear of the meats which were starting at $46 AUD for lamb two ways and stuck close to the Fijian Chicken Curry; one of the only ethnic dishes available that showcased the local food culture. I think we had cheaper food in the Maldives looking back at it. I was on the lookout for other seafood dishes, but didn’t have any on the menu that were regularily showcased. The Platinum Breakfast Buffet is featured below. There was no up charge for hot items.









This is what two versions of $36 AUD pasta looks like. They were both quite heavy on the tastes… Fresh tasting but also quite strong.





We had several days of doing nothing. With days of relaxing to keep us entertained, we had several great sunsets from our ocean front room. You can see how small the villa deck's are from these photos; there is almost nowhere to sun bathe here unless you move to the lawn.













Weather


We were a bit unlucky with the very windy and rough weather during our visit. We were informed that it was not seasonally normal. We were lucky to have a few hours of sunny skis each day but we also had a fair amount of cloudy skies.

House reef.


I brought my snorkling equipment and found the house reef to be quite mossy. The corals themselves were in reasonable but not excellent condition. The fish themselves were a bit hunt and seek; there weren't that many of them from where I was. It wasn't a plentiful experience. I did see some angel fish, some similar to angel fish (not quite sure what they were) and some eels.

The seas were also quite rough on our visit. It wasn’t worth me going out again so I’d mark this as an added bonus and not a destination to visit for snorkeling itself.









We didn't take the snorkling trip offered by the property so I can't comment on the other reefs in the area.

Departure:


On the day of our departure, the resort was nice enough to extend us a late check out until 4 PM so that we could have our room until the afternoon boat back to the mainland. We enjoyed the last of the room, including a glass of wine on our patio savouring the last of the views.

Our tender was prepared and we set off to catch the catamaran for the South Sea Cruises. We had a guitar song send off with the traditional Fijian departure song.





We had a much larger boat this time around for the way back. We didn’t get the helicopter transfer which we saw from the neighboring Tokoriki resort that shared the island with the Sheraton.











On the ride back, we past by the Tom Hanks Castaway island. The sun was on the wrong side of the island for photographs but I took some anyway.



It was straight back to the Denarau Port where we boarded an included transfer bus over to the Westin Denarau. The Denarau Port Marina was actually a much nicer place than I had originally anticipated as it had a number of waterfront restaurants for tourists.





We actually checked into our hotel at the Westin and came back here for dinner at Lulu’s Bar where a live band was playing on the promenade.


In summary:


In summary, the Sheraton Tokoriki was a great place to visit for a few days. The ability to use a Suite Night Award to upgrade into the nicest possible room was the best feature of this property. The property was isolated, which was both a good and bad thing. The isolation did not make it feel super exclusive like properties in the Maldives as the lodging arrangements were duplexes and during the course of the stay, you'd see other guests on a regular basis. The food was "just okay" and priced a bit dear; probably because everything needs to be shipped in. Ultimately, the property was nice but it just didn't wow me they way that I expected. Having said that, I would easily return as a repeat guest if I was in the area for a few days.

Last edited by worldtraveller73; Aug 28, 17 at 9:38 pm
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Old Aug 27, 17, 9:48 am
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Amazing report so far! What a trip experience thus far - I'm glad you made everything okay on the outbound, that sounded very stressful to only have a few hours prior to heading back to the airport again!

Great photos from Fiji. That Sheraton property looks really nice, and the views look great.

Looking forward to the next part!
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Old Aug 27, 17, 11:49 am
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Wow worldtraveller73 - fantastic report so far - I think you have whet my appetite for Fiji..... the sunset looked spectacular! Looking forward to the rest!
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Old Aug 27, 17, 12:39 pm
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Did you enjoy Fiji?
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Old Aug 27, 17, 12:40 pm
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Looking forward to the rest of the report but especially Sofitel Moorea. Mrs.I and I stayed there for our honeymoon in 2012 and am
looking forward to see if anything has changed. :-)
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Old Aug 27, 17, 1:23 pm
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I guess you can´t do much wrong with such a journey I fully understand your judgement and enjoyed your report. I´m interested in visiting French Polynesia one day, but it´s not easy from Europe.
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Old Aug 27, 17, 1:27 pm
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This make me want to visit Fiji more.
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Old Aug 28, 17, 9:08 am
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Excellent TR so far! Looking forward to the rest!
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