Adults-only and family-friendly: Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa is splitting itself in two

Republik, Fiji's only nightclub on Denarau Island, is bouncing. It's way past midnight on Saturday night and the party has just started. Fortunately, Republik is also superbly sound-proofed so I'm cocooned in my hotel room, blithely protected from any dance floor noise.

Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa is a familiar and much-loved Australian favourite, now midway through a $35 million renovation. It opened in 2005, and is the only hotel in Fiji owned by Fiji Airways.

As regular guests know, this brings with it a major advantage. If you're flying on the national airline, you can check in your bags for the return flight at a desk in the lobby.

Michael Bell, the hotel's director of sales and marketing, says tourism in Fiji is changing.


Australians and New Zealanders are often content to stay on Viti Levu - the main island,  which is home to the capital, Suva, and the nation's largest international airport, Nadi. Denarau Island (which is actually attached to the mainland) and the Coral Coast are two  of Viti Levu's highlights with golf courses, "western" food, fabulous beaches and kids clubs on offer.

However, a new generation of tourists - particularly Americans who have outgrown Hawaii - want to spend their Fijian getaways on the outlying islands. There are 330 of these and about 100 of them are inhabited. 

 As such, Sofitel is being repositioned to cater not only for the fly-and-flop family market content to stay on Denarau but also more discerning guest who will stay on the mainland for a night or two on their way to - or from -  other islands.

The hotel is being divided into two resorts in one. The more familiar product is the family-friendly eastern half with Niu Kids Beach Club, a new open-air facility aimed at kids aged between three and12, which offers entertainments including a flying-fox slide, climbing wall, trampoline, water-fountain park and activities such as hair braiding, arts and craft.


The kids club is "cashless", but it's not free. Meals, activities and babysitters will be charged to your room.

But if that means parents can escape for a bit of me-time for a couple of hours, the minimum FJ$30 (AUS$20) entry price - two kids for two hours - might seem a bargain.

The resort's new western side has been completed and it's "adults-only", which is a highly revolutionary concept for traditionally family-focused Fiji. .

Here, you'll find the Republik nightclub; Suka, a beachside bar  serving 100 rums, most of which are distilled locally; and Solis, a restaurant that specialises in local seafood.

  When I first visited in 2016, the hotel's Waitui Beach Club was new: an adults-only retreat with infinity freshwater pool overlooking a fabulous beach where you could relax with a novel.  It's now almost unrecognisable: roughly double the size, with  an extra lawn and 36 new beach cabanas.


The wooden shack that once housed the gym has become a separate check-in/out area for adults staying in the surrounding Waitui rooms.

The wedding chapel has also been reinvented as the Chapel Bar and Waitui Grill.

"We still do lots of weddings," Bell says. "But most brides want to be married overlooking the beach, with their nieces and nephews. What's a wedding without kids?"

He's right, obviously. But there's also something to be said for a sun lounger where you can sip a rum cocktail, read your thriller, and not be soaked by a kid too young to read the "No dive-bombing" rules.



Fiji Airways has daily flights from Sydney, Melbourne and connections from other Australian cities. See


Rooms at Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa start from about $220 a night. See

Steve Meacham was a guest of Fiji Airways.