I’m a woman of extremes. When it comes to travel, I either want to rough ‘n’ tough it and throw my comfort zone out the window, or I want to be lathered in luxury until I’m literally swimming in it (spa baths, lap pools, private beaches and enough champagne to sink a ship, thank you very much).
While I was in Fiji, I enjoyed the best of both worlds. When it came to planning a weekend of pure indulgence, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to try one of Fiji’s most desirable experiences: it’s five-star beachside resorts. So, before I tucked into a week of bunk beds and backpacking around the Yasawas, I snuck off to Sigatoka and booked myself into Outrigger. I’ll never forget my time in this pocket of paradise, and here’s why…
How did I get to Outrigger?
Travelling to Outrigger can be an adventure in its own right. Sure, it’s easy to hire a car or jump in a cab, but where’s the fun in that? Instead, I decided to master Nadi’s hectic bus interchange, ride with the locals and take advantage of Fiji’s cheap public transport.
I’d read online that general buses were to be avoided for longer journeys. They stopped more often than they moved, picking up every man and his dog en route. The key was to find an express bus, which was easy done once I’d asked around. The journey took less than two hours and cost around $5AUD. The bus driver also went the extra mile, dropping me on Outrigger’s doorstep so I didn’t have to catch a cab from Sigatoka town centre to the resort. It’s little acts of kindness like this one, which really stuck with me at the end of my holiday.
Who’d love the resort?
Outrigger has something for everyone. For this exact reason, I think families and wedding parties would get the most out of their stay. Outrigger is also perfect for first-time travellers or people who want a light taste of Fijian culture in the comfort of a resort setting.
On the family front, there’s enough going on to keep everyone entertained and nurture a sense of togetherness. The child-minding services also allow couple’s to enjoy some quality alone time.
Outrigger is an ideal venue for destination weddings. The picturesque grounds make for glorious photos and the resort’s diverse range of experiences can cater for an entire wedding party. Romance, outdoor action, luxury, local culture, relaxation and family-friendly fun…it’s a case of “choose your own adventure”.
Couples and singles can also enjoy an unforgettable holiday at Outrigger. The bustling resort makes you feel like you’re part of a holiday community but it also provides privacy and tranquility if you need it.
What were the grounds and facilities like?
Nestled discreetly on Viti Levu’s striking Coral Coast, Outrigger has the look, scale and charm of a Fijian village. From a distance, it’s a boundless sea of palm trees and thatched-roof bungalows with a tantalising beach on its doorstep. Hidden amongst the resort’s tropical gardens is a maze of walkways, which all lead to a world of pleasure.
Families seemed to be drawn to Outrigger’s heaving lagoon pool, with its promise of sun-kissed deckchairs, technicolour cocktails and water-filled fun. I was a little jealous of the resort’s younger guests, as the kids’ club schedules were packed with entertainment (I really wanted to get my hair braided!).
Instead, I spent some quiet time with nature, hitting up the beach for ocean swimming, paddle-boarding, snorkelling, reef walking and kayaking (Outrigger offers complimentary equipment hire). I also found respite in the adult-only pool, with its swim-up bar and chilled out vibe.
Thankfully, Outrigger wasn’t just another completely Westernised resort experience. It provided special encounters with Fijian customs and traditions, from music and fire-walking shows to kava ceremonies and handicraft demonstrations. I ensconced myself in the world of weaving at the Art Cart, where a lovely lady showed me how to make flowers like a pro. I also mastered some fierce meke dance moves with other guests after an epic lovo feast.
For those who wanted to immerse themselves in a luxury resort experience, there were plenty of exclusive facilities on offer (a golf training range, fine-dining restaurant and award-winning spa, just to name a few). At the end of the day, there’s enough going on at Outrigger to tickle everyone’s fancy a few times over. It’s practically impossible to experience everything this “mini-village” has to offer.
What were the rooms like?
During my time at Outrigger, I stayed in a deluxe ocean view room. In my opinion, it offered an understated take on five-star accommodation. The resort delivered escapism and unpretentious comfort with a South Pacific twist, so my room made me feel more “at home in Fiji” than in the lap of ostentatious luxury. The result? I was able to truly relax.
While my room had its advantages (a stunning outlook, private balcony and talai butler service), I loved the look of the bungalows. Their thatched roofs, traditional ceiling designs and private hammocks make guests feel like they’re a million miles from home.
How was the food?
Outrigger is all about options and variety. The resort is home to four restaurants and six bars, some of which are adult-only. If you want hearty beach grub cooked with respect, it’s well-and-truly on tap. If you prefer lighter or more exotic options such as sushi and dumplings, they’re also available and won’t leave you disappointed. If you’re craving a fine-dining experience, Ivi restaurant dishes out morsels of magic.
The breakfast buffet covered all of the important bases, from healthy options to holiday favourites (I can’t say no to pancakes). If you want to try some traditional Fijian fare, ask the staff when the next lovo feast is or tuck into some beautifully prepared seafood. If you’re after a meal in an unforgettable setting, hit up the hilltop Kalokalo Tapas Bar at sunset. The panoramic views of the ocean are completely dreamy.
In terms of pricing, I thought the food and drinks were reasonable value for money compared to resorts back home in Australia. Outrigger also runs happy hour each day, which makes the cocktails kinder to the hip pocket. If you’re travelling with a family and worried about costs adding up quickly, you can always buy consumables at the markets in Sigatoka or venture outside of the resort for a cheap bite to eat. Ultimately, though, when you’re on holiday it makes sense to pick the most convenient option and treat yourself.
What’s the customer service like?
In Fiji, where the people are inherently calm, it seems like customer service goes one of two ways: either it’s so relaxed you’re left feeling frustrated and ignored, or its equal parts soothing, smiley and supportive. Thankfully, Outrigger fell into the latter group. The staff seemed to embrace their guests with a natural and genuine graciousness that can’t be taught (though, I have no doubt they were trained rigorously!). No request was too difficult; assistance was an effortless pleasure.
With around 600 staff on the books, I felt like I wanted for nothing throughout my entire stay. A friendly “Bula!”, free buggy ride and service with a smile were always within reaching distance (even at ungodly hours of the morning). By the same token, the staff presence wasn’t obtrusive, so I could completely relax. Evidently, Outrigger’s service ethos all comes back to making guests (young and old alike) feel completely pampered and sincerely cared about.
From a technical standpoint, the resort’s list of guest services is extensive. Meimei nannies, complimentary kids’ clubs, seamless concierge support, a tour desk and 24-hour room service are just the beginning. The service is also proudly and distinctly Fijian, with staff eager to share their local culture, traditional skills and stories about their lives with guests. This authentic intimacy is what makes Outrigger so memorable. The resort’s hospitality is hard to beat.
What was the main highlight?
I can’t go past Outrigger’s award-winning spa, Bebe. Named after the Fijian word for butterfly, a visit to Bebe is literally like being cocooned in comfort and then released back into the world feeling completely revitalised.
The experience is more like a journey than a quick massage. It starts with a buggy ride up the resort’s highest hilltop, where the spa floats amongst the clouds. The treatment rooms are nestled amongst tranquil gardens, and they all come with a private balcony, “shower in the sky” and sweeping views of the Coral Coast.
At this point of my Bebe experience, I was brimming with excitement. To help shift towards a state of relaxation, my masseuse treated me to a foot scrub, which I’ll be raving about for years to come. It incorporated sugarcane crystals and coconut oil, and left my legs feeling impossibly smooth. My warm seashell massage was just as delightful, and I felt my mind, body and spirit drift further into heaven with each soothing stroke. I’ve enjoyed many spa experiences in my lifetime and few are as memorable as this one.
What’s unique about the resort?
Outrigger is home to a few clever quirks, which will stick with me for years to come. The recurring sound of “Buuuuulaaaaa!” being bellowed at the entrance gate transported me to a world of tropical jungles and tribal chants. I loved the magic of it! The talai butler service was another unique addition, with champagne and canapés arriving at my door each sunset. I couldn’t bring myself to accept the offer of getting my clothes pressed and shoes polished before dinner – it seemed too indulgent. Outrigger’s adult-only zones coupled with its child-minding services were a clever touch, allowing guests and parents to escape the madness and enjoy a little R&R (relaxation and romance).
What’s on offer outside of the resort?
Sigatoka is home to an ornate Hare Krishna temple, which is worth a visit if you have time. Dominating the town’s skyline, it’s easy to find and impossible to miss. Major tourist attractions include the sand dunes near Kulukulu village, the Sigatoka River Safari and Kula Eco Park, which houses hundreds of tropical birds and exotic animal species. The latter is a mere 10-minute walk or quick buggy ride from Outrigger. Check in with the resort’s tour desk for more information on local sights.