Fiji has a wide range of accommodations, from deluxe resort hotels on their own islands to dormitories with bunk beds.
Bring a Face Cloth -- All South Pacific hotels and resorts supply bath and hand towels, but many do not have face towels (or wash cloths) in their bathrooms. Just in case, bring your own.
Types of Rooms
My favorite type of hotel accommodates its guests in individual bungalows set in a coconut grove beside a sandy beach and quiet lagoon. If that's not the quintessential definition of the South Seas, then I don't know what is!
Hotels of this style are widespread in Fiji. Likuliku Lagoon Resort is the first in Fiji with romantic bungalows actually standing on stilts out over the reef. Others are as basic as camping out. In between they vary in size, furnishings, and comfort. In all, however, you enjoy your own space and a certain degree of privacy. The bungalows are usually built or accented with thatch and other native materials but they contain most of the modern conveniences.
An increasing number of these accommodations are air-conditioned, which is a definite plus during the humid summer months from November through March. All but a few bungalows have ceiling fans, which usually will keep you comfortable during the rest of the year.
Fiji's major tourist markets for the island countries are Australia and New Zealand. Accordingly, the vast majority of hotels are tailored to Aussie and Kiwi tastes, expectations, and uses of the English language.
The standard Down Under room has a double or queen-size bed and a single bed that also serves as a settee. The room may or may not have a bathtub but always has a shower. There will be tea, instant coffee, sugar, creamer, and an electric jug to heat water (that's usually what I mean by "coffeemaker" in my hotel descriptions). Televisions and telephones are numerous but are not yet universal; and most hotels have radios whose selections are limited to the one, two, or three stations on the island.
Rooms are known to Fiji reservation desks as "singles" if one person books them, regardless of the number and size of beds they have. Singles are slightly less expensive than other rooms. A unit is a "double" if it has a double bed and is reserved for two persons who intend to sleep together in that bed. On the other hand, a "twin" has two twin beds; it is known as a "shared twin" if two unmarried people book them and don't intend to sleep together. Third and fourth occupants of any room are usually charged a few dollars on top of the double or shared twin rates.
Some hotel rooms have kitchenettes equipped with a small refrigerator (the "fridge"), hot plates (the "cooker"), pots, pans, crockery, silverware, and utensils. Having a kitchenette can result in quite a saving on breakfasts and light meals.
Surfing for Hotels
In addition to the online travel booking sites Travelocity, Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, and Hotwire, you can book hotels through Hotels.com; Quikbook (www.quikbook.com); and Travelaxe (www.travelaxe.net). Frankly, I always go to the hotels' own sites before booking, since many now offer their own Internet specials, which often beat the big-site prices.
The best independent website for Fiji hotel discount shopping is www.Travelmaxia.com, where properties post their specials. You can search for resorts, hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, dive operators, and cruises.
The Australian-based Whotif.com (tel. 300/88 7979, 866/514-3281 in the U.S., 0845 458 4567 in the U.K.; www.whotif.com) discounts rooms in Fiji.
Headquartered in London, www.pacific-resorts.com often slashes rates for Fiji resorts.
Backpackers and other budget travelers can book inexpensive rooms and dorm beds at hostels in most island countries at www.hostelworld.com.
Other websites have reviews and comments about accommodations worldwide. Hotelchatter.com is a daily webzine offering coverage and critiques. Go to TripAdvisor.com or Hotelshark.com for independent consumer reviews of hotels and resort properties. (Anyone can post reviews on these sites, including hotel owners themselves and "guests" who have never stayed at a property, so I read them with a proverbial grain of salt.)
It's a good idea to get a confirmation number and make a printout of any online booking transaction.
Saving on Your Hotel Room
The rate ranges quoted in this guide are known as rack rates, or published rates; that is, the maximum a property charges for a room. Rack rates remain the best way of comparing prices, but they are becoming less meaningful as more and more hotels change their rates almost daily depending on how many people are booked in for a particular night. They change so frequently, in fact, that many hotels refuse to divulge their rack rates to travel writers like me. In other words, you may not know what the price of a room is until you call the hotel or book online for a particular date.
Another tactic is to check with inbound tour operators. In addition to selling tours and day trips to visitors already in the islands (that is, at hotel activities desks), these companies put together the local elements of tour packages -- such as hotel rooms and airport transfers -- for overseas wholesalers. They have the advantage of being on the scene and thus familiar with the properties. Some sell directly to inbound visitors as well as other tour companies.
In Fiji, two small companies specialize in discount travel arrangements, including hotel rooms: Impulse Fiji (tel. 800/953-7595 in the U.S., 672 0600 in Fiji; www.impulsefiji.com) and Sun Vacations (tel. 672 4273 in Fiji; www.sunvacationsfiji.com).
It Could Pay to Ask -- It never hurts to ask politely for a discounted or local hotel rate. Many Fiji hotels have local rates for islanders, which they may extend to visitors if business is slow. Most pay travel agents and wholesalers 20% or more of their rates for sending clients their way, and some may give you the benefit of at least part of this commission if you book directly instead of going through an airline or travel agent. Some wholesale travel agents reduce the commission and sell directly to the public.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.