Working remotely in Fiji
I rarely have the opportunity to write my own blogs as I’m usually tied up writing for clients – which is of course a good thing! Although I should probably concentrate my attention on industry-specific articles when I do find the time to blog for Rose Writes, I much prefer to document my travels as I wander around the world working remotely.
This week I wanted to share my recent experience in Fiji, much loved and well known as one of the most beautiful holiday destinations on earth. It’s been on my bucket list for a while – and when we came over to Australia its close proximity and relative affordability made it a must-visit for us. Whilst it’s a coveted location for casual travellers and honeymooners, I hadn’t heard much about working remotely there. As expected, it was the most incredible place I have ever been fortunate enough to work in. Read on to learn why – and how you can do it too.
Where is Tokoriki?
Fiji is made up of larger main island Viti Levu (where Nadi, Fiji’s international airport is situated), along with hundreds of tiny islands and archipelagos, segregated into groups that can contain up to fifty smaller islands and islets each (there are over three hundred in total). This can be overwhelming when you first start researching a trip to Fiji. Which group should you choose? Where is the best location? It’s important to begin by saying that whilst Nadi itself is beautiful, it isn’t the typical ‘postcard picture’ Fiji so many of us are used to. As soon as you venture into the South Pacific you begin to pass dozens of small islands, each comprised of lush palms stretching towards the sky atop stunning golden sand, surrounded by crystal clear turquoise
waters. As we cruised between them I realised that it’s difficult to go wrong when you choose to venture beyond the mainland. Tokoriki itself is part of the Mamanuca islands, situated North West of Viti Levu.
From a personal perspective, I wanted the full Fiji experience. The desert island dream, the South Pacific paradise. Yet from a professional perspective I also needed somewhere I could work from easily. Having worked remotely in the Maldives a couple of years ago I wasn’t too worried about opting for a remote setting – but the conditions had to be perfect. We searched and searched for somewhere that met our criteria – remote, truly Fijian, calm and quiet, yet connected. Eventually we found the ideal location.
Nestled between a silken strip of white sand and lush green palms, the Sheraton Tokoriki resort is intimate, exclusive – and absolutely ideal for remote workers. It’s only an hour away by catamaran, or less if you opt for helicopter or seaplane transfer – making it close enough to prevent inconvenience or long travel times, but adequately isolated and breathtakingly beautiful as a consequence.
Natural beauty like no other
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit some of the most naturally beautiful places in the world – and yet Fiji topped them all. Tokoriki is truly traditional, quiet and unspoilt. It fully lives up to the Instagram-perfect representation – soft, golden sand littered with colourful shells. Softly waving palms bowing against a gentle island breeze – bright hibiscus flowers dancing above vibrant green foliage. A crystal blue ocean with rippled waves softening nuggets of coral etched with nature’s most intricate designs.
The resort itself is intimate – comprised of a few dozen low-level huts on carefully landscaped lawns, punctuated by lush palms and vegetation rising and flourishing into thick jungle behind. The main building is cool, shaded, open and airy by day with every door flung wide making the view part of the venue. At night warm lights illuminate the hallways and geckos chirp from the eaves. It truly is a secluded slice of paradise – and we were lucky enough to experience it during a quieter moment, which made our stay all the more special. Even though our time in Fiji coincided with a particularly large project, I was able to balance work and play with ease, taking refuge from the heat in the late afternoon before heading to dinner as the sun sank low in a spectacular display of pink and amber each night.
The power of people
It wasn’t just the surroundings that made our stay so special. Stepping wearily (and less than gracefully) from the boat carrying us from the catamaran to the shore we were met by five or six staff cheerfully singing a traditional greeting, embracing us to welcome us to the island with necklaces beaded with delicate shells. Straight away, I forgot all about how tired I felt.
This joyfully warm welcome turned out to be the definition of Fijian hospitality. Every person we encountered (locals and staff) let on with huge smiles on their faces. The waitresses remembered our names and always greeted us with genuine warmth, asking about our day, ensuring that I was able to eat (many places still aren’t happy about accommodating dietary requirements – here nothing was too much trouble). The hotel manager took the time to introduce himself personally, and stopped to ask us how we were with sincerity and interest each time we saw him.
Few of us can work when we are feeling stressed, anxious and frustrated – all emotions that can naturally occur when running a business and travelling simultaneously in a new location. One thing that struck me about Fiji was the powerful affection of people we met everywhere we went. It made me feel at ease, like family – a sentiment I suspect influenced Tourism Fiji’s main motto – ‘Welcome Home.’
If you’re going to work remotely, you need to stay connected and in constant communication with your clients. This can be problematic, as whilst most hotels and resorts now provide Wi-Fi coverage, it’s often sketchy, and descriptions of availability given when making a booking can be misleading. Sometimes internet access is only available in public areas – when you need privacy for a client call, or a quiet setting to
concentrate without interruptions or distractions. At other times the Wi-Fi is painfully slow or cuts off completely for indefinite periods of time. One major benefit of staying at the Sheraton on Tokoriki was the excellent coverage available throughout the resort – even though the tiny island is over an hour’s catamaran ride from the mainland. You really do feel isolated in the best possible way – yet even in this secluded spot internet connectivity is not a problem. This for me makes it an excellent destination for remote workers who simply cannot afford to leave access to communications to chance.
The resort also has a guest lounge – a small, cosy room with ambient lighting filled with comfy chairs (and plug points). This is absolutely perfect for remote workers who quickly get bored within the four walls of their room and want to sample a different setting to work in during their stay.
When to visit Fiji
Tropical Fiji does have seasons – so if you’re planning on working remotely there, it’s best to plan ahead. We headed over in early April, which signals the end of the wet season, and we were blessed with beautifully hot sunshine each and every day. If you don’t want to risk the rain, opt for sometime between May and September. October is a ‘cold’ month – but it’s also dry, perfect for those who prefer a little less heat. November heralds the start of cyclone season, which ends in April.
How to get there
The Sheraton Tokoriki is available to book directly via www.sheratontokorikiisland.com. We booked our stay and flights through Expedia.com.au. The SPG membership scheme offers fabulous benefits for frequent travellers when booking directly – and also provides a 15% discount on food at the resort itself.
The world is your oyster. Why not make it your office too? Take a look at my related remote working blogs here:
graphics Maldives, Mexico, Cape Verde, SoF