Well, it DOES rain in sunny California occasionally and when it does, it’s good to escape, if only virtually. Enjoy this escape to Fiji!
In November 2012, Tourism Fiji invited us to visit Fiji and share our insights about the North American wedding market with hotel operators, travel agents and other destination professionals. We expected to find a beautiful tropical place. What moved us the most was how kind, generous, warm and friendly Fijians are. Thanks to Jim Selkin, our photographer and guide, for introducing us to this amazing land. Thank you Tourism Fiji and all the gracious hosts for making it so easy for us to fall in love with Fiji. Bula!
Fiji has 333 islands with something for everyone – sandy white beaches, luxurious spas, fine dining and water activities. The images you see in magazines and on web sites are of an exotic and tropical paradise, but how is Fiji really different and what makes it a great place for your destination wedding and honeymoon?
The answer is simple – “Fiji is where happiness finds you”. It’s no wonder that Tourism Fiji uses this phrase as part of its logo. Fiji is the ideal place for romance.
The fantasy wedding that you have been planning since you were little may collide with the reality filled with restrictions and cost implications. For example, couples are surprised to learn that most beaches in the US have restrictions – limited number of guests, no alcohol allowed, no open fire, no structures and sound restrictions.
In Fiji, such restrictions simply don’t exist – anything is possible, particularly when you take into account the diversity of its 50 resorts.
This includes large resorts that can accommodate a wedding of 300 and exclusive and very private spots where you can have the entire island to yourself. Fireworks, fire dancers and torches are all possible.
You also have the flexibility of incorporating the essence of Fiji into your wedding and honeymoon to create a one of a kind experience for you and your guests.
Picturesque scenery provides lots of choices for décor and mood, with tropical flowers and characteristic architecture and designs.
In terms of activities, there is lots of flexibility, too – spa treatments, hiking, boating, snorkeling, diving, and simply relaxing, all within easy reach.
Hospitality and the “Bula Spirit”
Fijian hospitality is one of a kind and makes it easy for the bride and groom to be the most gracious hosts. Fijians wrap each guest in the “Bula Spirit.” “Bula” is a greeting. It’s both “hello” and “good-bye”. It’s “Welcome!” Always accompanied by a warm smile, a big hug and any number of other gestures that lets you know that you are an honored guest. Lemongrass-scented cool washcloths are offered to wipe away the stress of travel and a cool drink of mango and pineapple juice is readily available to refresh your pallet.
And a song. You would think that when a group of staff at a resort come together on queue and break out in a song, that it would feel staged, like in a Hollywood musical.
But it’s just the opposite – very natural and spontaneous because it’s heart-felt. It’s just part of the local culture.
Selecting a beautiful backdrop for your wedding is one thing, but having each picture highlighted by memories of warmth, care and amazing people that give you the gift of tranquility and love is altogether a different level of luxury. Luxury is the pleasure of knowing that someone you trust is taking care of you.
Fiji has a rich culture and traditions that truly transform you. Some examples are: the Kava ceremony, the wedding processional that involves Fijian warriors carrying the bride and the release of baby turtles into the ocean. Then, there is the local cuisine, which is heavily influenced by Indian flavors as well as the artisans that create distinctive fabrics and patterns.
Also a part of the local culture is to connect with people and experience the simple pleasure of being alive. All electronic gadgets seem irrelevant here (although you will be pleased to find high-speed internet in many resorts).
You quickly learn about the phrase “Fiji time” which means that nothing earth shattering will happen if you are running a few minutes late. Paradise does not need Swiss-precision timepieces.
Time is measured in glimpses of the palm trees swaying in the balmy breeze, the waves gently stroking the white sand beach, birds chirping happily and spa-treatments that take all the pressures of ordinary life away.
Fiji is peaceful and calm; remarkably, even little children act differently here. They are simply content. For families with children, Fiji is stress-free. Not only are there amazing nannies and kids club staff, but every staff here is quick to take a fussy baby from Mom and Dad to give them a break. Fijians have a special touch when it comes to handling the little ones.
With the US Dollar worth nearly two Fiji Dollars, you get a great deal for your money. Another important consideration is that when arriving from North America, you also get great value for your time – no jet-lag (21 hour time difference). You go to sleep in US and wake up in Fiji, maximizing your time to enjoy Fiji.
Returning, it works the same way, with flights leaving Fiji late in the evening.
Photo credits – Jim Selkin Photography