Our journey from Hawaii to New Zealand would involve a 24-hour layover in Fiji, where I was tempted to try out one of the many Marriott-branded resorts on the island.
In This Post
- Overwater Bure Villa
- Pools & Beach
- Breakfast & Dining
- Other Facilities
Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay – Booking
Most travellers arrive into Fiji via Nadi, a city on the western side of the main island of Viti Levu. Most tourist-oriented areas are therefore concentrated around here as well, with the national capital, Suva, located on the opposite eastern side of the island and playing host to more elements of local Fijian day-to-day life.
Consequently, there’s a cluster of Sheraton and Westin resorts in the Denarau district close to Nadi International Airport, including the Sheraton Fiji, the Sheraton Denarau Villas, and the Westin Denarau Island. From online reviews, though, none of these resorts struck me as particularly outstanding.
Meanwhile, I thought the Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki Island looked quite nice, but it was located in the outer islands away from Viti Levu, and would require a boat transfer in both directions, which was far too inconvenient for our short 24-hour stay.
That left the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay, which was a longer drive from the airport than Denarau, but looked quite a bit nicer. Notably, the resort also had overwater villas among its room types, and while they didn’t look nearly as luxurious as the ones in the Maldives or Bora Bora, I still thought it’d be cool to stay in one.
The resort is a Category 5 property within Marriott Bonvoy, and my visit fell on a date that was designated as off-peak, so I paid 30,000 Bonvoy points for the stay. The cash rate was slightly over $300 after taxes, so my valuation of Bonvoy points at 1 cent per point was just about being respected here.
Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay – Location
Momi Bay is located about a 40-minute drive away from the airport, and the taxi fare is very much subject to negotiation, but usually falls between FJD 60–80 ($38–50). We paid FJD 70, and our taxi driver was quite the chatty type, asking us about our journey and telling us a little bit about his country.
I was pretty surprised to learn that Fiji has a very significant ethnic Indian minority of nearly 40%, having descended from the Indian indentured labourers that British colonizers brought over to the island over 150 years ago.
Our taxi driver pointed out a number of Hindu shrines along the drive to the resort, and mentioned that both he and his father, as Indo-Fijians, had always kept their Hindu customs alive in the family despite never having been to India.
Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay – Check-in
We arrived at the resort at about 9pm, pulling up at the entrance bure (a Fijian term for a wood and straw hut). The resort staff greeted us with a ferocious “Bula!”, the common Fijian greeting phrase that means “hello”.
A bellhop took care of our bags and guided us through the lobby towards the check-in desks, where we were helped by an associate in what must’ve been, sadly, the most unpolished check-in process that I’ve ever encountered at a Marriott hotel.
I had previously redeemed one of my Suite Night Awards for an upgrade from my base-level room to the Overwater Bure Villas, so I was expecting to hear something like “Welcome Mr. Zhang, we’ve been expecting you and are happy to confirm that your Suite Night Award upgrade has cleared into one of our overwater villas.” You know, the standard stuff.
Instead, the staff member took my passport, typed a few keys on her computer, and opened with: “I don’t see your reservation. Can I have your confirmation number please?”
Wow – I can’t remember a single instance of the staff not being able to retrieve the reservation on their end. I pulled the number up on my phone, before she typed some more on the computer and confirmed that she saw my reservation for the Overwater Villa.
She handed me a folder that supposedly contained the details of my Titanium Elite benefits, and invited us to wait by the main entrance for a staff member to bring us to the room via buggy. I sat down and opened the pamphlet – only to find a sheet of paper that states “We are delighted to welcome you to our resort as a valued Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite member.”
While I’m normally not the type to go on tirades in the style of “Do you know who I am?!”, I headed back to the check-in desk this time around, because a list of Sliver Elite benefits was genuinely useless to me as a Titanium Elite member. After realizing her mistake, the staff member promptly printed off a separate sheet for the correct Titanium benefits, which included breakfast in Goji Kitchen & Bar restaurant and a space-available 4pm late checkout.
That wouldn’t be the end of the mishaps, though: someone eventually came around to drive us to our villa on a buggy, and only by the time we had made it halfway there did I realize that the check-in staff had never given me the room keys!
And so, we drove all the way back to the lobby, and the buggy driver went to retrieve our keys, before embarking on the journey to the villa once again.
Overall, it was a decidedly poor start to the stay, service-wise – and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t usually ask for too much in terms of service.
Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay – Overwater Bure Villa
Anyway, we were pretty excited to check out our Overwater Bure Villa, which is among the highest-ranked room types here at the resort. Our buggy driver brought us down the long, winding boardwalk that leads into the manmade lagoon, stopping in front of Room 133, our home for the night.
The villas are a pretty good size, and are made to feel even more spacious than they are by the lofted ceilings of the bure construction style. After a short hallway from the entrance, the king-sized bed and main sitting area are found facing each other.
The bed came with a few cute decorations when we arrived, while there was also a complimentary bottle of champagne on ice as a gesture for my Titanium Elite status.
The room also came with a desk, which I really appreciated, especially since I had thought a leisure-oriented place like this would be unlikely to offer a desk.
There was a television mounted on the side wall, which didn’t really make for the best viewing angle, and adjacent to that wall is the open-concept bathroom (with a sliding door should privacy be required).
The bathroom featured a free-standing bathtub in the middle, along with a countertop that had enough room for double sinks, but only offered a single one.
The shower and toilet were found in two separate chambers behind frosted-glass doors.
A walk-in closet connects the bathroom with the room’s entryway, and that’s where you’ll also find the pantry and minibar, which contained a Nespresso machine, kettle, glassware, and a few complimentary bottles of water.
Of course, the best part of the villa was the fact that it stood above the water, and the balcony is the best place to soak in your surroundings. The deck furniture consists of a large circular daybed, as well as a set of chairs and an outdoor table.
A set of steps leads down into the manmade lagoon, and you can either take the steps down, or take the more direct route and jump straight into the water – it’s easily deep enough for you to jump in from above.
All of the Overwater Bure Villas have steps descending into the lagoon, and you can also swim across to the beach on the opposite side. You’d technically be encroaching on the territory of the resort’s Beach Villas, but nobody seemed to mind too much.
After sipping on our champagne and getting some much-needed rest after our Fiji Airways mini-Island Hopper on the night that we arrived, Jessy and I mainly spent the following day relaxing on our deck, jumping in and out of the water, and swimming across to the beach.
While it was a very enjoyable day, I should note that Jessy ended up getting quite a bad ear infection from swimming in the lagoon. Having said that, I’m hesitant to place any blame on the resort, since I feel like it’s the kind of thing that could happen when swimming anywhere.
Overall, I think of the Overwater Bure Villas here at the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay as a “budget” version of the overwater villas you’d find in the Maldives or Bora Bora – there’s nothing too luxurious about this place, but you do get treated to that unique overwater experience, so it’s definitely worth upgrading to these villas if you can swing it (whether via a Suite Night Award or through good old suite-talking).
Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay – Pools & Beach
Like many other resorts, the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay has a few different outdoor pools for families with young children and for adults.
The family-friendly set of pools are clustered near the centre of the resort grounds, between the lobby pavilion and the boardwalk leading to the overwater villas.
These pools are relatively shallow, with a few fountain displays shooting water into the air and keeping the kids active. There’s also a swim-up bar and ample seating dotted around the poolside area.
Meanwhile, the adults-only infinity pool and the adjacent Fish Bar are located at the very far end of the resort.
This was definitely the nicer pool to hang out, offering a mesmerizing view of the Pacific Ocean beyond the infinity edge, with about a dozen deck chairs and a few cabanas available for suntanning.
In terms of the beaches at the resort, there wasn’t really a public beach available to all guests, save for a thin stretch of sand between the main pool and the restaurant; instead, the twin beaches along both coasts of the peninsula (one facing the lagoon, the other facing the ocean) would belong primarily to the occupants of the resort’s Beach Villas. But as I mentioned above, no one seemed to mind if you took a leisurely stroll through their stretch of beachfront.
However, the resort is largely constructed on reclaimed land, so the sand doesn’t feel very organic at all, slipping away very easily underneath your feet. For that reason, Jessy and I hung out on the beaches only very briefly, before swimming back across the lagoon to hang out on our deck instead.
Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay – Breakfast & Dining
The hotel’s breakfast buffet is served in the Goji Kitchen & Bar. There’s a wide range of seating options, including a few seats right by the water, with splendid views of the overwater villas across the lagoon.
The buffet itself primarily consisted of a mix of Western and Asian items.
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Some of the specialty items included a barbecue station with ham, meat loaf, and roasted pineapple; the customary egg and omelette station; and a noodle station, which unfortunately produced the most watery and tasteless bowl of noodles I’ve eaten recently.
The rest of the breakfast was pretty tasty, though, and Jessy and I left feeling pretty satisfied.
We weren’t too hungry for the rest of the day, so the only other item we ordered was a mixed slider plate when we were hanging out by the pool at around 2pm, shortly before our checkout time.
The prices of food and drinks at the resort were, expectedly, slightly more expensive than usual – our slider plate came to FJD 22 ($14) – but the resort does participate in the Marriott Restaurants & Bars Benefits in the Asia-Pacific, which gives a 10% discount to Silver Elite members, a 15% discount to Gold Elite members, and a 20% discount to Platinum Elite members and above.
Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay – Other Facilities
The resort grounds are kept in beautiful condition, and it was a real pleasure to wander around in the Fijian sunshine during our brief time there.
Even though buggy service is provided throughout the resort, the pathways span quite a large area from end to end – it takes about 15 minutes to walk from the overwater villa boardwalk to the Fish Bar at the far end of the main pathway.
In addition to the Beach Villas and Overwater Bure Villas, the base-level rooms here at the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay are found in a few individual blocks of guest rooms, located between the welcome pavilion and the boardwalk, near the main swimming pools.
The lobby pavilion also plays host to a few table games, like pool and foosball.
There was also a WH Smith boutique next-door to the Goji restaurant, which was quite a rare sight to me, as I’ve never seen these stores outside of the UK.
The fitness centre is found pretty close to the overwater villa boardwalk, sharing a building with the Turtles Kids’ Club. I particularly liked the outdoor exercise area, which featured a few sets of parallel bars for pull-ups and dips, and I found it very motivating to exercise in the bright sunshine with the sound of gently lapping waves in the background.
The gym itself was pretty basic, consisting of the usual exercise equipment and free weights in a small but well-air-conditioned room.
The resort also had a watersports shack, where snorkels, paddle boards, kayaks, and jet skis could be rented for a fee. We didn’t really have time to partake, although we did see quite a few other guests kayaking through the lagoon from the comfort of our deck.
Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay – Service
Despite many good things about the resort, I must point out that the service here was among the worst I’ve ever experienced at any resort, let alone a Category 5 Marriott property.
It’s one thing for stuff to happen on “island time”, where service tends to be a little slower and more laid-back than what you’re normally accustomed to, and is somewhat understandable at a tropical resort location.
But here, everyone seemed, for lack of a better description, as though they didn’t have a clue what they were doing.
From the check-in associate who looked at me blankly when I handed her my passport and asked if I could provide the confirmation number (oh sure, I totally have that memorized for every stay…), before handing me a Silver Elite pamphlet and then forgetting the room keys; to the numerous members of the wait staff who “forgot” to apply the 20% Titanium Elite discount on the bill and needed reminding every time; to the staff at the Fish Bar being unable to charge my bill to the room because the front desk had forgotten to apply my 4pm late checkout, I could barely get anything done at the resort without a service mishap or two.
Neither Jessy nor I are normally the type of people to take issue with a hotel’s service, but in this case, we both found ourselves actively disappointed at the poor service we were receiving. It wasn’t a one-off either – I happened to meet some Australian friends who were staying at the resort at the same time, and they echoed similar experiences as well.
The most disappointing part was probably the way our stay ended – one of the buggy drivers offered to hook us up with one of his cab driver contacts for the drive back to the airport, at a reduced rate of FJD 50 ($31) compared to FJD 75 ($46) if booked directly with the resort.
That sounded fine with me, except the cab drive insisted that the price was FJD 70 when we got into the car. I had to yell at the driver that his friend had assured us it was FJD 50, and only after we convinced him to call his friend and verify did he ultimately relent.
Ultimately, I can’t fault the hotel staff in terms of how friendly they were – everyone said a very enthusiastic “Bula!” to us when we walked by, and seemed like they wanted us to have a great time at the resort – but the actual quality of service, for a resort of Marriott’s calibre, left a lot to be desired and put a bit of a damper on my impressions of this place.
Thanks to the recent discounted Alaska awards on Fiji Airways, I imagine quite a few of my readers will be headed to Fiji sometime soon. And based on my short time here, I think you’d have an enjoyable time at the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay if you can score one of the villa upgrades, and if you keep your expectations modest, particularly as it concerns the service you receive as a guest.
Even though there are overwater villas here, the resort really doesn’t hit nearly as high a note as the luxurious resorts of the Maldives or Bora Bora. It’s still a Marriott property rather than anything higher like a JW Marriott or a St. Regis, so while you’ll enjoy some nice sunshine by the pool and in the lagoon, don’t expect to be pampered too much, especially since the service principles here seem to take the concept of “island time” to the extreme.
With the right expectations in mind, I probably wouldn’t be opposed to staying here again on the next trip to Fiji, but I’d also definitely like to try out some different resorts around the island as well.
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