Welcome Home – Fiji Style

Misha reports on our recent sojourn to Fiji.. November 2023

Our wonderful pool Bure, Tokoriki
Andy and I love our trips to Fiji and we usually schedule an annual trip to work with our distributor, Victoria Wines, and visit the many hotels and resorts there that serve our wines.

In recent years, we’ve tagged a few days R&R on to the end of the trip but this year, we started with a few days break at Tokoriki Island Resort in the Mamanuca Islands The first warm greeting you receive from the team at Tokoriki Island Resort is when you transfer from the South Sea Cruises ferry and step onto the island’s own small boat which then whisks you the last few hundred metres to the island. Your onboard greeting is one of “Welcome Home” which is the start of a series of welcomes that finish with a full rousing musical rendition of Bula Maleya, the traditional Fijian welcome song.

Beachfront Breakfast on Tokoriki
The ‘Welcome Home’ greeting is one that conveys the genuine Fijian hospitality and is rooted in the desire to ensure guests feel at home when they are there. Although the first few days were purely R&R, we did end up doing a little wine training with the resort team, which was absolutely a pleasure to do. Tokoriki Island Resort is Fiji’s most awarded adults-only boutique luxury island resort winning the 2023 Condé Nast Travelers Readers’ Choice Top 15 Resorts and is also TripAdvisor #3 Top Hotel in the South Pacific and 2023 winner of LUX Global Excellence Awards Best Luxury Adults-Only Beachfront Resort.

Staff training at Victoria Wines
A few days later we were back on the mainland – well technically on the island of Viti Levu which is the largest of Fiji’s 300 islands. We started our work week with some training with the Victoria Wines team just above one of their retail shops in Denarau, to ensure all the team members, including some new ones, were up to speed with our range of wines. Hamish Black is now heading operations for Victoria Wines and it was great that he could join for the training.

Poonam & Eva from Victoria Wines with Misha
We spent much of the week with the lovely Eva who is now leading the Victoria Wines team for wine sales, and also with Poonam, who looks after the broader range of beverages that Victoria Wines carries. They have a great relationship with the various hotels and resorts and seem to know everyone on Fiji! The next two days we visited quite a few of the Denarau based resorts and hotels, meeting staff and some of the F & B Managers. It was wonderful to see how Fiji has bounced back so quickly from the effect of covid and is now back to the vibrant and busy paradise we love.

We then headed south to Natadola Bay to the InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort & Spa, with a quick visit to the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay on the way.

Our “Misha’s Vineyard Beach Bar” at the Intercontinental Hotel & Gold Resort
Once again the first activity for the visit was staff training with the F & B team at The InterContinental, and then we set up for our “Barefoot Vines” event in the evening. What a location! In front of our Misha’s Vineyard Wine stand at things got pretty hot for a while with a traditional Fiji Fire Dance and fire-eating display! The guests were treated to an array of food stalls with a selection of local and international dishes to then sit on the beach-front and enjoy with a glass of our wine. We really enjoyed our brief stay at the InterContinental Hotel – such a beautiful location and a fantastic team to work with. This was our third event at the hotel and each time it has been a different style of event.

BULA! The welcome at Nanuku
The next day we drove further south arriving at the very bottom of the island at the luxurious Nanuku Resort near Pacific Harbour. The new Executive Chef at the resort is Shaun Thomson, who began his career under Chef Neil Perry at Melbourne’s famed Rockpool Bar & Grill. Since then he has worked with Peter Kuruvita at Flying Fish in Sydney and Fiji, earned his own Chef’s Hat at the Lola Restaurant in Victoria, was the Head Chef at the exclusive Kokomo Private Island, and led the culinary team at the famous Ungasan Villas in Bali. We knew his ‘Degustation Menu’ was going to be incredible with that a background like that. Soon after arriving at the Nanuku, we took the F&B team through a detailed tasting of the wines. Shaun also dropped into the tasting to do one final check to ensure his food matches were absolutely perfect.

The Nanuku team!
We had previously hosted a wonderful event at Nanuku some eight years ago. It was great to see that Logan Miller was still there – or rather had returned to Nanuku Fiji, but not as Director of Food and Beverage, but now as General Manager, after spending some time in the US.

I’d love to say we spent much of the next day enjoying the resort, however the reality is much of it was spent in our incredibly luxurious villa catching up on the backlog of our Misha’s Vineyard work that had accumulated!

A welcome note in our private pool
However the views, wonderful food, brief dips into our own plunge pool and the tropical temperatures, didn’t make for a tough day ‘in the office’! The attention to detail at Nanuku Resort, event went to delivering us a welcome out of white pebbles in our private plunge pool.

The highlight of our Fiji trip was definitely the final dinner at Nanuku Resort. We dined on the sand next to a beachfront bar. Logan was happy to pass MC responsibilities to me for the event. After a welcome, we started the multicourse degustation with Chef Shaun coming out to explain some of the courses, and then Andy and I talked a little about wines but mainly about our story and how our brand was inspired by the theatre and music.

Misha with our Opera Stars – Justin & Jedidiah
However the highlights between courses was the incredible singing provided by The Fiji Tenor Justin Hickes along with soprano Jedidiah. As soon as Justin & Jedidiah started singing, people were simply spellbound. We talked a little about ‘The High Note’ Pinot Noir, and then Justin exemplified just how adept he was at hitting some incredible tenor high notes. His singing sent chills down the spine with a couple of guests having tears in their eyes as they were so moved by the music.

The whole evening was sublime — from Shaun’s incredible degustation menu which perfectly matched the range of wines, the fantastic team at Nanuku who delivered our multi-course extravaganza onto the sandy beachfront location, and then the singing from both Justin and Jedidiah that absolutely entranced us all.

What a marvellous trip to Fiji – we can’t wait for the next one! There’s a huge thanks owed to our amazing distributor, Victoria Wines, for all the logistics help and on-the-ground support – especially to Hamish and to Eva and Poonam – the dream team!.

Vinaka vaka levu. Sote tale. See you next year!