THE Sonaisali Island Resort near Nadi in Fiji has been one of the more popular destinations for Australians and New Zealanders for the best part of 20 years.
It offers a range of packages for both couples and families in a wonderful island setting with serene beaches and a great outlook over the blue Pacific.
But what sets it apart is the Fijian flavour of its layout and building designs which feature the attractive high-peaked ceilings.
And that authentic Fijian feel extends through to the resort staff.
I was telling Sereana in the resort's dining area just how expensive bananas had been in post-Cyclone Yasi Queensland.
"Twenty Fijian dollars a kilo," I told her, doing some quick arithmetic.
Next morning, she delivered a plateful just for us. Pure heaven.
Sereana went on to explain that after many years with the resort, including her role as wedding planner, she had chased a job in one of the leading hotels in the upmarket Port Denarau area in 2010 - in a moment of weakness.
"You know, Scott, it just didn't offer the same Fijian feel," she said.
"It was all very corporate, but I could have been anywhere in the world.
"I missed Sonaisali and the Fijian feel, so I came back."
She's right. If I go to a country, I like to experience its very essence.
Holidays are about recreating and immersing and there's plenty to immerse yourself in at Sonaisali, let me tell you. Start with the Pacific - so much warmer in Fiji.
Then there is the main pool area which wraps round the central dining and bar area, or if you are too contented in the water, a swim-up pool bar is available.
There are plenty of activities on offer, though. Fiji enjoys the reputation of being one of the top-five dive sites in the world, so various snorkelling or scuba options are close to Sonaisali.
And if you've always wanted to take a scuba course, that's available, too.
Cruising is also very popular, whether to Cagi Malua or an island-hopping flight of fancy.
Now all that activity will get you hungry and the resort's main dining area is very relaxed but highly regarded. But for something extra special, the inner sanctum of the Plantation Restaurant is the place.
Of course, it offers top-shelf a la carte options, but I was keen to try the famed degustation dinner - nine mini-courses featuring chef's signature dishes. Now it sounds a lot, but the presentation over a couple of hours makes this dining experience one to remember.
Sonaisali also offers a full range of facial and massage services at its Frangipani Spa.
Nadi Town is just 25 minutes away and well worth a visit to buy those holiday mementos and also to get a taste of Fijian island township life.
For more visit Sonaisali.
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