Business Travel Fiji’s Denarau Island – The business traveller’s retreat

The Denarau destination story began more than 30 years ago. The outcrop of raw Nadi Bay coastline, separated from Fiji’s main Island Viti Levu by just narrow causeway, has been transformed into 600 acres of stunning beaches, tropical landscaped gardens, top-class resorts, residential precincts, an 18-hole championship golf course, tennis courts and marina. And it’s less than half an hour’s drive from Nadi International Airport.
New Zealanders and Australians make up the majority of Fiji’s annual tourist traffic. Hardly surprising when the destination is just three hours flight from Auckland. And Denarau attracts the greatest percentage of business travellers – for obvious reasons. It’s got everything the business traveller could ask for, whether on holiday or assignment. And it’s getting better.
Sheraton Resorts Denarau began $12.6 million refurbishment of its five-star resorts complex at the beginning of last year. Included were the traditional-style Sheraton Royal Denarau, the oldest resort in the group, opened originally as The Regent in 1975 and my personal favourite; the Sheraton Fiji Resort, more modern international-style beachfront resort that opened in 1987, and its Denarau apartment-style Villa suites opened in 1999 and popular both with families and those bent on doing business.
The latest refurbishments include the recently opened Pacific Pasta Kitchen restaurant at the Sheraton Royal Denarau. The eating concept is based on “Kana Vata” or “art of sharing” which offers, as Sheraton Resorts’ marketing communications manager Linawaty Ko (Lina) puts it, “pasta with Pacific twist” that picks up on an Asian influence and shared dishes. The positioning and layout of this restaurant allows diners to take advantage of those magnificent Fijian sunsets as well as all the action in the open display kitchen.
The Ocean Lanai restaurant at the Sheraton Fiji has been expanded, recreated and renamed The Blue Vonu. (Vonu is sea turtle.) The restaurant’s beachside dining has been both upgraded and increased, offering choice of three dining sections – thatched bure style; feet in the sand under the stars, or al fresco on an elevated wooden deck around the pool. And the cuisine has been enhanced to match. The international selection of dishes includes “sun cuisine”, dishes from around the world with Pacific edge; Spanish-infused “Island Paella”; and Thai and Japanese influenced dishes.
Guest accommodation too has been refurbished and upgraded. “The new designs are in keeping with the architecture and character of each resort,” says Ko. “And the ballroom at the Sheraton Royal has undergone soft refurbishment and critical air-conditioning upgrades have also been completed.”
Millions of dollars have been poured into the Denarau development because it works as convenient, well-equipped, stunningly presented business travel and holiday destination. There are now 17 different restaurants, bars and clubs to choose from – from fine dining at the Sheraton Fiji’s Ports O’Call to the Steakhouse Bar and Grill at the Royal. And in addition to all the recreation facilities there are meeting and conference rooms.
“We are picking up excellent conference bookings,” says Ko. “Conferences now account for about 30 percent of our business at the Royal and we expect it to keep growing. And because we can take up to 1100 for meetings we are also attracting more event business.”
Incentive and conference travel to Fiji works well for New Zealanders. Fiji’s proximity, the increasing regularity of airline services and the comparable currency all conspire to make it an easy choice. And promoters are taking four-day golf packages and coaching sessions to The Denarau Golf and Racquet Club. The championship golf course is centrally sited for easy access from all three Sheraton resorts. Beautifully presented, it is also challenging and good enough to test the keenest golfers while still providing an enjoyable experience for novices. The tennis centre boasts six lawn and four all-weather courts.
Even though the expansion and upgrade plans for the Resorts complex are extensive, the objective is to retain the authentic and special flavour of the hotels and the villas, says Ko. “The whole complex works so well together and we don’t want to lose that. The average stay here is seven days and the aim is to provide something for everyone and to have them stay for as long as possible.”
Tabua Investments, the company responsible for the overall development of Denarau Island, is driving new projects that will open up opportunities for individual investors to participate directly in the ownership of the island through apartments and residential land.
The Sheraton Denarau Villas was the first successful individual investment option. It offered 82 apartments and was sold out in 18 months. Recently, Tabua has focused mainly on residential property on freehold title. The first four subdivisions have all sold out.
But most business travellers to Fiji want to stay at the Resorts complex and enjoy the food, relaxation and stress-reducing activities this conveniently located Pacific Island bolt-hole provides.
For more details email: [email protected]

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