I’ll start this review by admitting that we booked this hotel literally the day we left for Fiji. Due to some changes with our itinerary, we ended up having to book a last minute place and thank goodness for Chase Ultimate Rewards. We booked Serenity for 10,000 points per night- click here to learn more about our favorite credit cards and how we use them.
That being said, we were absolutely stunned when we arrived at Serenity and it truly was, Serenity.
A 15 minute drive from Nadi International and a 30-minute ferry ride from Port Denarau transports you to the cutest little island with perfect blue water. It’s hard to go wrong with this location. Serenity is located on a private island that is largely undeveloped, allowing guests to explore the spectacular nature on their own.
While the ferry isn’t cheap at around $50 USD a person each way, you quickly forget about the cost when you pull up to the staff loudly singing the welcome song to greet you on the shore.
Lobby & Check in experience: 4/5
The lobby is an open air pagoda with comfortable seating and music playing in the background. The property is very small, so this serves as the main focus point for all activities, dining and concierge related activities.
Several of us arrived on the same day, so we all sat down on the sofas and filled out our check in paperwork. We were provided cold towels and a delicious juice, which was a huge treat after the hot ferry ride.
I think the check in process was a bit confusing because there were so many of us, so we ended up hanging around and chatting for a while while the staff sorted out the rest. We didn’t mind, we were officially on Fiji time. The best part was that all our rooms were ready. It was 10am. This hugely impressed me. Not going to lie, for around $100 a night in such a spectacular resort destination, I was completely blown away by the service thus far.
Shortly after, we followed the front desk agent to our beachfront villa.
We walked up to our beachfront villa and fell in love. Every room at Serenity is a bungalow and the majority of them are directly on the beach and include a hammock and a little deck.
The bungalow is 258 square feet, with a king bed, chair, small desk area, tv, WiFi and a small bathroom at the back. The room does have AC (thank goodness), but it also has wrap around windows in the traditional Fijian shutter style. We loved this and left our windows open all day and night. The king bed was comfortable and had a duvet! This was a huge surprise, a welcome one at that. We find it’s very rare in tropical places for any hotel under 5 stars to provide duvets. Even many 5 star hotels don’t have duvets!
There is a minibar with complimentary Nespresso coffee and tea. This was another huge plus for us.
The bathroom was small, simple but had everything you needed, including delicious coconut products.
While many elements were simple, the room was incredibly comfortable and we loved waking up every morning to the sound of the sea and the waves just steps from our bungalow. The area outside our bungalow was a bit rocky, but we found it acceptable to swim there in high tide.
Also, a note about water and other items. Water is sold in the gift shop and it’s super reasonable. If you want to bring a few bottles of wine or liquor, make sure you purchase them at the port before heading over to the island. They do sell everything you need at the bar and restaurant, but we love sitting out on the deck in the afternoon with some wine and chips. We brought a few bottles with us and were very glad we did.
Serenity has a great pool right on the beach as well as a nice bar with ample seating right next to the pool.
Serenity also has a turtle rescue program, and daily feeding activities that the guests can be a part of. They are working to protect the endangered hawksbill turtles and we were lucky enough to watch several of them be released on the last night of our stay.
They also offer a number of activities throughout the week, such as a traditional dance, daily kava ceremonies and Fijian lessons. They have a sign with these activities in the lobby and it’s updated every day.
They did not, however, have a gym, spa or activities like scuba diving. We had an odd moment when we realized that while they do advertise scuba diving on property, they didn’t actually have any gear or way to take you scuba diving. I do believe this is a newer property that has recently been updated so I’m sure these things are coming.
Serenity offers one restaurant on property and they update their menus daily. It’s a very “no-frills” kind of place, but they offer a lot of variety in food and beverages. We found a lot of the food to be delicious, but some of it was a bit inconsistent. My favorite dishes were the ones with scallop and steak. They did offer a lot of gourmet dishes, so it’s clear they are really working to turn this into a luxury experience.
A few nights, the staff came and sang to the restaurant and it was a blast! A common theme with this hotel is that every single staff member was amazing and kind…and had an incredible voice. They did things just because they wanted to be nice, including singing songs and simply saying hello.
Service at Serenity was difficult to evaluate. In the traditional sense of the word, I’d rate service to be 3 stars. There’s not a lot of refinement or “luxury” service experiences. However, the staff were kind, genuine, humble and generally amazing people. They tried so hard to get to know you because they genuinely wanted to and we even made some friends during the course of our stay. One staff member in particular, Misa, took us to get fresh coconuts off a tree, invited us to the staff quarters for their special kava ceremony and even brought us coconuts with flowers pinned to it on our last morning. He even tried to have a bonfire for us but the rain came in and we had to cancel. When they sang their goodbye song, no matter how many times they’ve sung it before, they sang it with all their hearts. It’s the type of place I’d go back to just simply because the staff is so incredible.
Therefore, in the non-traditional sense of the word, their service was 5 stars. We were so sad to leave this beautiful paradise, mostly due to the kind employees who work there.
As usual, we look at style in a few ways: refinement, consistency and authenticity. The large, open pagoda that houses the lobby was incredible and very Fijian. The bungalows all had the Fijian shutters and felt very authentic. The activities, service and overall experience felt authentic and this property could not exist in any other place than this little island. It was true to Fiji and it was true to itself.
Across the whole property, the style was very much Fijian. Everything was outdoors, the landscaping was incredible and it is clear they are going for an authentic experience. I will also note that their walking paths were outstanding. The entire pathways around the property had beautiful wooden “boardwalk” style pathways. They were clearly brand new and it was stunning.
If you’ve read any of our previous reviews, you may have noticed that we have never had an “experience” section before. We felt that we had to add this in because there is just something so magical about Serenity Island Resort. From the moment we arrived to the moment we left, we felt a part of the Serenity family. We had some incredible experiences that go so far beyond what we expected and what we’ve ever experienced at any property before.
There were small things like the coconut hunt with Misa, or the beautiful choir on Sunday night at dinner, but there were also incredibly genuine and unplanned experiences like our evening with the staff. On our last night, Misa came to our door late at night and invited us to join him with all the staff at the property for a kava ceremony. We then went to the staff’s quarters and sat next to the chief of the village and were welcomed with open arms to their private ceremony. We proceeded to learn all about their village, their customs and were treated like a part of the family. We sat with them and drank their kava for hours while they sang songs, told us stories and treated us to an experience we will never forget. We were not the only ones who got to experience this. There were several other guests who had come and gone to the ceremony that night. We were utterly shocked and humbled to have taken part in this experience.
This experience was so indicative of how everything else was on property: the staff welcomed us like family and wanted us to get to know them, genuinely. The experience we had at Serenity left a lasting impact on both of us and it was one of the most unique experiences of our lives.
Overall, Serenity Island Resort is a true gem. I almost regret writing this review as I speak because I am so afraid that others will discover this hotel! With an amazing location, incredible staff and private bungalows, you cannot go wrong. Not only that, but it’s an incredible value at just over $100 a night. If you’re going to Fiji and looking for an affordable luxurious experience, don’t look past Serenity Island Resort.