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First Landing Beach Resort & Villas 3.5

Lautoka, Viti Levu, Fiji

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Affordable family-friendly hotel along the water
  • Charming bures have screened-in porches and mini-fridges
  • Spacious apartments and villas available, some with shared or private pool
  • Outdoor pool surrounded by cushioned loungers
  • Two restaurants and three bars
  • Continental breakfast is included; meal plans available
  • A kids' club, plus free use of kayaks and snorkel gear
  • A spa with couples’ treatment rooms
  • Walking distance to Vuda Marina 
  • Event space for conferences and weddings

Cons

  • Beach is unappealing at low tide
  • Some areas of the resort feel a little run-down
  • Bathrooms and some furnishings are worn
  • Fee for in-room Wi-Fi; free Wi-Fi at bar is unreliable

Bottom Line

This friendly, upper-middle-range 41-room hotel near Vuda Point opened in 1995 and provides an affordable alternative to Nadi's pricier Denarau Island. Most of the rooms are in plantation-style duplexes (think wood floors and screened-in porches), while larger apartments and villas have kitchens and living rooms. A continental breakfast is included in the rate, and available meal plans can help keep costs in check. There's not much of a beach here, so the medium-size pool gets most of the attention. Because of this, First Landing may not satisfy Fijian expectations; for a beach-centric getaway, consider the (pricier) Treasure Island Resort within the Mamanuca Islands. 

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Scene

Genuine service is a standout at this laid-back and somewhat well-worn resort.

The entrance to the resort is a long open-air hallway leads to an easy-to-miss reception area. At check-in, arrivals usually get some sort of voucher for the spa, and if the room is not quite ready, are led to the cafe for a drink. The hallways are lined with letters and photos sent from previous guests -- a personal touch that serves as a reminder that this is a small hotel, despite the sprawling grounds. A walkway with mosaic floors leads to the pool and grounds where most of the bures and spa are held (the villas and apartments are on the other side of the property, sort of tucked away). Along the beach are dozens of outdoor tables and a tiny section of sand with a volleyball net. A footbridge connects to Left Foot Island (it is in fact, a footprint shape) topped with patchy grass where weddings or kids' club activities might be held.  

If the weather is overcast and the tide is low (revealing brown, gravely sand), First Landing's landscape can feel dull and worn. But when the sun shines bright and the tide is up, things tend to look a bit better. The staff also help make up for aesthetic shortcomings, and often know guests by their first names -- not typical at the larger Denarau Island resorts bearing chain names. For instance, evening entertainment occurs in the form of Fijian music and dancers, and restaurant workers make it a habit to serenade guests who are departing the next day, followed by hugs and handshakes. 

Location

On the northern side of Nadi Bay near Lautoka, the sugar capital of Fiji, and a five-minute walk to Vuda Marina

The resort is located halfway between two towns: the sugar capital of Fiji called Lautoka, and Nadi (pronounced Nandi) -- both on the western side of Viti Levu, the largest of 330 islands in Fiji. Since the biggest airport in the country is based in Nadi, it has become the transit point for nearly all destinations in Fiji. Note that the resort is near an oil refinery and guests may be turned off at the sight of the plant nearby. Water views from the resort may include freighters coming and going, taking away from the tropical appeal. On the plus side, there will be fewer crowds than in Nadi. 

Those with a vehicle will have free parking near the entrance, which is protected by a security guard. For those who do not have a car, airport transfers via taxi can be arranged through reception, and the trip takes about 30 minutes. Vuda Marina is a five-minute walk from the hotel and it has a few additional restaurant options and a general store for stocking the fridge. Lautoka, the second biggest city in Fiji, is a 20-minute drive away and popular for visiting cultural sites and shopping. 

Rooms

Charming plantation-style units have screened in porches and mini-fridges; apartments and villas have full kitchens.

The resort isn't that big -- 41 units -- and offers three categories: bures, apartments, and villas. The charming plantation-style bures look like little cottages, built from solid timber with polished timber floors and high ceilings. Wooden and plastic wicker furnishings are simple and showing some age, but pops of color in the throw pillows and tropical wall art add personality. The rooms include tea and instant coffee, hot water kettles, and mini-fridges with pitchers of drinking water. The lovely furnished front porches are completely screened to keep out mosquitos. Bathrooms have worn wooden counters, and walk-in showers with local toiletries. Deluxe Garden Bures are more spacious with a kitchenette, making them ideal for small families. Beachfront Spa Bures are more romantic, enjoying ocean views and access to loungers and hammocks overlooking the water. 

On the other side of the resort is where the apartments and villas are located. The Oceanview Studio, One-, and Three-Bedroom Apartments are located in a newer building with a shared private pool. These are more modern, featuring large bathrooms with separate bathtubs and showers, flat-screen TVs, and kitchens. Villa options are more private and offer fully equipped kitchens, laundry facilities, and private pools in enclosed tropical gardens. There is one beachfront unit called the Royal Villa, which has hosted Prince Charles in the past. 

Features

Outdoor pool, a lackluster beach area, spa, and free use of kayaks and snorkel gear

The outdoor pool is a good size and has umbrellas, but the cushioned sun loungers and surrounding concrete are worn. The resort's location has water views, but the beach is not a highlight. It's quite shallow with rough sand, and when the tide is out, it is really far out. There are areas to lay out next to the beach, though, with cushioned lounge chairs and hammocks. 

Activities include a kids' club, Fijian cooking classes, nature walks, and free use of snorkel gear and kayaks. An indoor Balinese-themed spa includes several treatments for couples or individuals. There's also a private event space near the restaurant for weddings and conferences.

Wi-Fi is free at the main bar, but it can be spotty. For in-room Wi-Fi, guests will have to pay a fee.

Food

Two restaurant, three bars, and free continental breakfast

Two restaurants include an international buffet, and an a la carte menu for sandwiches, salads, steaks, pastas, and wood-fired pizza. Quality sushi-grade seafood can be handpicked through a see-through cooler. The dining areas sort of run into each other with indoor and outdoor seating in several sections, including tables next to the water. Lunch can be served by the pool and room service is available for all three meals. A free continental breakfast includes cereal, toast, pastries, fresh fruit, smoothies, and coffee; a cooked breakfast can be ordered for a reasonable price. Guests also have the option to purchase a meal plan that includes a one-course lunch and two-course dinner. 

Three bars serve local and imported beer, Australian and New Zealand wines, and specialty cocktails. Happy hour is held at the main bar every night and there are flat-screen TVs for sporting matches. The cafe, Coffee Spot, has fresh pastries and cakes, espresso, herbal teas, milkshakes, smoothies, and iced drinks. A selection of sandwiches and wraps are also available.

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Address

Vuda Point Road, Vuda Point, Lautoka, Fiji

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