After last weeks interlude following Kanise's African experience, I remain out in the world and have traveled from England to Australia, with a side trip to Fiji. It has been several years since I saw my brother and his family (below) who live in Melbourne, so this is more a journey about reconnecting with them than focusing on the luxury travel possibilities, but if you know me, I always find something worth sharing with our readership.
As the world reopens and Covid restrictions continue to be lightened, Australia is now an easy destination to visit again, and from last week testing is not required to enter anymore. Fiji was a little trickier with a negative antigen test required 24 hours before travel and a follow up test 2 days after arrival, but all 5 of us negotiated this with no issues. Just as an aside, New Zealand will also open up again to US travelers from May 1st!
Australia & Fiji part 1 - Top 5
A business class award booking is always a hard find, and I usually have to get a little creative to make it work. Date flexibility helps of course, and so for my outbound I finally landed on London - Helsinki - Singapore - Melbourne with AA points redeemed to fly with Finnair and Qantas. Finnair are a stand out for me among European airlines and they have even just released their new longhaul business class seats (above) which really coccooned you for the journey. They have also upgraded their flagship business class lounge in Helsinki, which was already one of my favorites. While I managed to complete a lot of work on the longest flight from HEL to SIN, I also slept for a full 7 hours.
2. St Kilda
We spent a few hours wandering around the beachfront area of St Kilda in Melbourne. It turned into a bit of a cake fest as I discovered Monarch Cakes, a Jewish inspired bakers that is the oldest in the city. Their famous Chocolate Kugelhoulpf is famous for a very good reason, it's delicious. Some of Melbourne looks like a 1970s throwback small town with shopfronts often basic in design, but it's always worth investigating behind the front door as in many instances there is charm and superlative fare inside.
3. Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay (above and below)
Only 3 days after arriving in Melbourne, I took flight again with family to Fiji for a 6-night break. For Aussies, who endured the strictest Covid lockdown rules on the planet, they are only just emerging from hibernation and so for my brother's family this was their first trip anywhere in well over 2 years. Even inter-state travel had been just about impossible. We decided to try out to premium family friendly hotels. The Fiji Marriott impressed me. Considering how much we have seen service levels suffer globally as the current swift travel recovery has left many hotels and restaurants short staffed, that was not the case here, and we felt very welcomed indeed over Easter weekend which must be the busiest it's been here since the start of the pandemic. Great rooms, varied dining options all at reasonable value, and a lot of beach space.
4. Intercontinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa (above and below)
The Fiji Intercontinental is 45 minutes further south of the Marriott on the coastal road from Nadi. It's on a grander scale and has an epic 2 mile beach with the whole property circled by a coral reef just over a mile offshore. With the nearby championship golf course, there is a very wide range of activities available. Intercon kindly upgraded the 5 of us to an enclosed 2 bedroom suite option. We all loved this resort despite a couple of service slip ups with missed dining reservations. The space is magnificent, the beach huge and idyllic and this really is a perfect family resort with a great split between family and adults-only pools.
5. Fiji Sunsets
I have been spoiled in the last year with incredible sunset views in Thailand, Namibia and now Fiji. After a full day of heavy rain on Tuesday, somehow we were treated to one of the most spectacular sunsets I have seen yet. Three photos here, as I just can't resist an epic sunset.
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