Destination Spotlight: Fiji

Bula! Visitors to Fiji will hear the friendly and boisterous greeting from the locals once more when the South Pacific island nation reopens to fully vaccinated travelers Dec.1. It’s hard to pin down exactly from archaeological evidence, but people have been living in the islands of Fiji for at least 3,000 years, with Austronesians, Melanesians and Polynesians contributing to the culture. British colonization brought indentured laborers from India, many of whom stayed, with almost 40% of Fiji’s inhabitants today claiming Indian ancestry.

More than 300 islands stretch across 600 miles of ocean, though the vast majority of Fiji’s million or so residents live on the larger islands of Viti Levu (home of Nadi International Airport and the capital, Suva) and Vanua Levu. With a great surf and dive scene, rainforests and waterfalls to explore and some of the friendliest people you’ll ever encounter, Fiji is a fantastic destination for couples and families alike.

Fiji’s national parks and marine sanctuaries are a model of sustainable tourism. Resorts work hand-in-hand with park officials and environmental organizations to preserve the unique ecosystems that draw visitors in, making sure each visit showcases the same unspoiled beauty for generations to come. You can hike through lush valleys past native flora and fauna and stop for a dip in a natural pool, just as the visitors of yesteryear did and those to come will.

You can climb giant sand dunes or float down the Sigatoka River on the Coral Coast, riding modified e-bikes along an old sugar cane railway in between. There are waterfall tours, jet ski safaris and an eco-adventure park among the rainforests and lagoons of Pacific Harbour and Beqa Island. Snorkeling with manta rays, in the world’s “soft coral capital” and with tropical fish through seagrass are all possibilities, making it an anytime adventure.

Make your base on land or on a cruise ship. Either way, leave yourself enough time to explore all that the hundreds of islands of Fiji have to offer.

COVID-19 entry protocols

From Dec. 1

  • Provide proof of  your full vaccination with a Fiji-recognized vaccine (Astra-Zeneca, Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines)

  • Produce a negativeRT-PCR test taken within 3 days prior to boarding your flight.

  • Present a confirmed booking (at least 3 nights) with a certified CFC  accommodation provider before boarding your flight.

  • Download and activate the care FIJI contact tracing app to use in Fiji. Defer travel if you’re symptomatic or feel unwell.

  • Travellers entering Fiji must have medical travel insurance, with international coverage that covers COVID-19 before travelling.

  • Take a rapid COVID-19 test at your certified CFC accommodation provider 48 hours after your arrival in Fiji.

  • Use only CFC approved tourism operators and experiences in the first 48 hours.

  • Follow Fiji’s COVID-safe protocols (mask, social distancing, check in care FIJI app QR codes.)

  • Please avoid vulnerable communities in“low vaccination” zones.

  • Be prepared to provide proof of vaccination on request.

Where to stay

Laucala Island

Laucala Island offers unspoiled rain forests, mangroves, beaches, and unparalleled levels of luxury living, from 1,500 to 11,000 square meters per residence. With an all-inclusive rate, guests enjoy privacy and seclusion in the 25 traditionally designed villas. Featuring an iridescent kaleidoscope of activities – scuba diving, sailing, fishing, tennis, cycling, golf, yoga, culture nights, tours, and water sports – the resort’s integral philosophy incorporates the island’s resources into guest experiences, with products and ingredients raised and grown on the island for use in the Spa and across the five gourmet restaurants and bars.

Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort

Built to resemble a traditional Fijian village, Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji is a multi award-winning, inclusive, eco-sensitive boutique resort, and one of the most renowned vacation destinations in the South Pacific. Guests of all ages enjoy recreational, immersive cultural, wellness, and nature activities, with ecological exploration, understated luxury, and traditional Fijian hospitality. Surrounded by a marine sanctuary, this resort boasts world-class snorkeling and diving, a private island for exclusive use by couples and families, two resident marine biologists, and family facilities offering educational kids’ programs.

Six Senses Fiji

Six Senses Fiji is ideal for ocean enthusiasts looking for their own piece of tropical paradise, with world class surfing, snorkeling, and diving just a stone’s throw from the resort. For guests who prefer to keep their feet planted on the ground there are sumptuous spa treatments or wellness journeys to embark on. Foodies can indulge in dishes that create delicious memories, and will tease taste buds to be a little adventurous. And for the little ones? It’s Grow With Six Senses kids club, where children can connect with themselves, others, and the environment. There really is something for everyone in this slice of paradise!

Royal Davui Island Resort

Private … romantic … remote, the adults-only Royal Davui Island Resort occupies its own ten-acre island in Fiji’s Beqa Lagoon and is host to just 32 guests at a time. Each of the 16 vales (homes) that dot the landscape features a large deck and a private plunge pool. Despite its petite size, the resort offers myriad island activities, such as snorkeling, diving, kayaking, and attending a traditional kava ceremony. In the center of Banyan Restaurant is a towering Pacific banyan tree, which shelters guests as they dine on fresh seafood and other Fijian delights.

Destination Spotlight: Thailand

Having already reintroduced tourism to the popular islands of Phuket and Ko Samui, Thailand will allow fully vaccinated travelers to go anywhere in the country. Visitors must present a negative COVID test to enter the country, then test again on arrival and spend one night in a government-approved hotel to await results. When that test comes back negative, travelers are free to roam the entirety of this enchanted land.

A journey through Thailand encompasses spectacular beaches on the islands in the Andaman Sea and in the Gulf of Thailand, floating markets in Bangkok, beautiful temples and majestic elephants. It’s a spiritual journey even if you eschew the temples and worship only at the stalls of street food vendors.

You fly into Bangkok, a city of approximately 11 million residents, the central hub of the country, full of bustling streets and waterways along the Chao Phraya River. Must-sees are the Grand Palace, built in the 1780s when King Rama I moved the capital to what is now known as Bangkok, and the adjacent Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which houses a 15th-century statue of the Buddha (actually made of jasper) that has long been a symbol of the nation.

About 60 miles outside the city, a series of small canals leads you right into the heart of the busy Damnoen Saduak floating market. Vendors sell colorful fruits and vegetables from their boats, and you can grab a snack of noodles from one of the many cooks making street food, or should we say boat food.

South of the capital, Phuket, Ko Samui and the Phi Phi islands attract beachgoers seek out the clear waters and otherworldly landscapes. At times, the islands have become too popular, leading to a degradation of the beauty that brought people there in the first place. The Thai government has taken great care in recent years to restore and preserve the natural environment, at times closing certain islands to tourism.

Northern Thailand forms part of the Golden Triangle, where its border intersects with Laos and Myanmar. This is the land that gives us the famed Thai cuisine we know so well, and you can learn to make your favorites with a cooking lesson in classic Thai cooking. It’s also home to temples such as Wat Chedi Luang, which hundreds of years ago housed the Emerald Buddha that now resides in Bangkok. And of course, it’s the land of massive elephants, and you can walk alongside these gentle giants as they lumber through ancient forests in this golden land.

COVID-19 entry protocols

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) would like to confirm that Thailand is all set to welcome fully vaccinated foreign visitors, including returning Thais and foreign residents, from the approved countries to enter the Kingdom by air with no quarantine requirements from 1 November, 2021.

  1. A Certificate of Entry (COE) or a proof of registration for entry Thailand via specified platform. Currently, the COE can be applied online https://coethailand.mfa.go.th/.

  2. A Medical Certificate with an RT-PCR lab result indicating that COVID-19 is not detected issued no more than 72 hours before travelling.

    • A Medical Certificate of Recovery is also required from those having a lab result with COVID-19 detected to show that that have recovered from COVID-19 no later than 3 months.

  3. An insurance policy, with coverage clearly identified as no less than US$50,000, which should cover the cost of the treatment and other medical expenses associated with being infected with COVID-19, including in-patient hospitalisation for the whole duration in Thailand. *Except for Thai citizens who are entitled to the national health insurance system.*

  4. A payment confirmation for no less than a 1-night stay upon arrival at the approved quarantine facilities (Alternative Quarantine – AQ, Organisation Quarantine – OQ, or Alternative Hospital Quarantine – AHQ), or SHA Plus-certified hotel.

    • The prepayment should cover both the 1-night accommodation, the required RT-PCR COVID-19 test, and an Antigen Test Kit (ATK).

  5. A Certificate of Vaccination (fully vaccinated).

    • For those fully vaccinated, proof includes a Certificate of Vaccination with a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) (see here) or the World Health Organisation (WHO) (see here) no less than 14 days before their travel date.

    • and a Certificate of Vaccination with at least one dose of the approved vaccine at least 14 days before their travel date.

    • Travellers under 12 years of age, travelling with their parents or guardians, are exempt from this vaccination requirement, but must have a Medical Certificate with an RT-PCR lab result indicating that COVID-19 is not detected issued no more than 72 hours before travelling.

  6. Undergo the entry screening (health screening and Immigration procedures) upon arrival at Thailand’s International Airport, and submit all the required documentation to the officials.

  7. Then proceed directly by the approved airport transfer to the pre-arranged COVID-19 test centre, or the reserved accommodation and undergo the required RT-PCR COVID-19 test on Day 0-1.

    • Travellers must download and install the specified alert application (MorChana), and must wait within the accommodation only for the test result, which should be available within the day.

    • If testing negative for COVID-19, travellers can go anywhere in Thailand

Where to stay

Rosewood Bangkok

Rosewood Bangkok’s visually striking design is inspired by the wai, the graceful Thai hand gesture of greeting. Such creative, cultural expression is emphasized in every element of this contemporary hotel and its 158 residential-style accommodations, which include a host of one-of-a-kind specialty suites and houses featuring plunge pools and expansive terraces. Dining options include the 19th-floor Nan Bei, serving authentic Chinese cuisine and sweeping views; an elegant European brasserie; and the upscale G&O café, with a farm-to-table ethos. The spa calms with ancient Thai healing rituals.

Banyan Tree Samui

Escape from all traces of the outside world at Banyan Tree Samui. Set above sapphire-blue Lamai Bay, the resort occupies its own secluded cove, so you can snuggle in a beachside cabana with nary another soul in sight. The 88 contemporary Thai villas are staggered about jungled terraces for optimal, gasp-inducing views; each has its own pool. Take an electric buggy up to Saffron restaurant for a spin on local cuisine; for added romance, reserve a private pavilion on the beach. Aquatic adventures include kayaking, windsurfing, and stand-up paddleboarding; or go snorkeling on the house reef of the resort’s private bay.

Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp & Resort

Perched on a jungle ridge in northern Thailand overlooking the border with Myanmar and Laos, Anantara Golden Triangle immerses you in once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Wake up with Elephants in our unique transparent Jungle Bubbles. Enjoy the “Discovery package,” offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as round-trip transportation from Chiang Rai airport and an opium-museum visit. Choose your activities: walking with elephants, a three-country tour, a spa treatment, or a cooking class. Rest in luxurious accommodations: a Deluxe Three-Country View Room, Three-Country View Suite, or Three-Country View Family Suite.

Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai

A haven of well-being set in a valley of rice fields, Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai offers 64 elegant pavilions with outdoor decks, as well as 23 residences ranging from one to four bedrooms, and 12 one-bedroom pool villas, each with gardens and a private pool. Inspired by the social harmony of Thailand, The Spa offers rituals based on ancient native herbs, spices, and oils. Indulge in private dining at the Orchid Nursery or a culinary journey at Khao, Rim Tai Kitchen, or Terraces. Wellness experiences, ranging from active to cultural, include lessons with an in-house yogi, rice planting, and cycling around Mae Rim Valley.