A review of
Fiji Marriott Momi Bay
Back in May of 2017 my husband and I, along with my business partner and his wife, spent 11 days in Fiji; four of which were spent at the Marriott. Knowing that it was a brand new hotel, we all came into it with open minds and expecting there to be hiccups. Saying that the hotel has hiccups to work out is an understatement. From a customer service standpoint, it was a disaster. But with that said, there are a lot of positives about this hotel as well and it really has the potential to be great.
The first issue arose immediately upon arrival. We had come in from an 11 hour redeye flight from Los Angeles, so we were tired, jet lagged, and
desperately in need of a shower and to be able to change our clothes. There were four of us (two couples) traveling together so we had two rooms. I booked both rooms and had checked in for both rooms ahead of time using the Marriott app and had indicated that we would be arriving at 10 am. Now, let me make this clear: we absolutely in no way expected them to have a room ready for us at that time. Not at all. I do not think that expectation would be reasonable.
What I do think is unreasonable is to be dishonest with a guest about the time the room will be ready, fail to communicate an accurate estimate, and then actually get of us into our rooms after dark, well after a time that is appropriate. Standard check in is usually around 2 pm and rooms are supposed to be guaranteed by 4 pm. While they got one of our rooms ready around 4:30, they did not have the other room ready until after 6:00 at night. 6 pm in Fiji at that time of year was AFTER DARK.
So the fact that they didn't have our rooms ready when we arrived was not the problem. The problem was that they said our rooms would be ready by noon (we thought "great, earlier than expected!") and then did not get us into both rooms until after 6 pm. When we first checked in, they also apologized for the rooms not being ready and offered us the use of the hospitality room, which they said that we could use to take a shower or even nap while we wait for our room. Again, we thought "great, that's a good perk." But then they prefaced it with, “Someone is using that room right now, but you can have it as soon as it is available. We will let you know. Please come back at 12:00 so we can check you into your rooms."
Well, not only did we never get to use the hospitality room at all (apparently someone was using it the whole time), but when we came back at noon they said the room wouldn't be ready until 2 pm. Mind you that at this point we had been just sitting around, with all our bags just sitting out front where the cars come in (apparently they don't have a proper baggage storage area) and still had nowhere to go or really nothing to do until we could get situated and changed. So at this point we said "okay, fine, no problem" and we just got our swim suits out of our bags and used a nearby restroom to change and go to the pool.
When we checked back at 2 pm, they said our rooms were still not ready. This time they finally said that someone would come find us when our room was ready so we wouldn't have to keep checking in every couple hours. That, of course, was never done. It was not until we came back again at 4 pm and made a fuss that they said, "someone is cleaning it and it will be ready really soon." It still was not ready for another half an hour at least. And to top it off, the other couple traveling with us had to hang out in our room for another hour and a half because their room was not available until after 6. They just kept saying that someone was cleaning it. So according to the Marriott, someone was cleaning our rooms from 12 to 6 pm. Nonsense.
I think that had they been honest from the beginning it would have been less of a problem. But they first told us our rooms would be ready by noon, then said 2, then said 4 and then only after asking did they finally get us into rooms at 6 pm. It's unfortunate that our day started off poorly, but we really did try to make the most of it and still have a good time. We actually ended up spending the day having cocktails by the pool (there was really nothing else to do) and the staff there were all really friendly and very apologetic that we didn't have rooms.
And one big positive I will say is that the entire resort has free WiFi and that you don't even need to put in your room number and last name to access it like at most Marriott hotels. This was even more important for us because it meant that we could at least use the internet on our phones during the 10 hours we spent at the property before getting into our rooms.
Another positive is that the property and the rooms are really, really beautiful. This is one of the things they have done really well. And it will look even better once all the plants and flowers start to grow in. The property is also really well laid out and even though it's a bit of a trek to get from the overwater bures on one end to the adult pool and Fish Bar on the far end, it's actually quite nice because it makes the resort quiet and rather peaceful. And if you really can't bear the walk, there's almost always a "buggy" (aka staff member driving a golf cart) to pick you up and drive you there.
The room we stayed in was also really fantastic. Now, we stayed in almost the nicest room (the only nicer rooms were the two Royal Suites at the end), so I can't say how nice the standard rooms or the Lagoon Bures are, but our room was really great. The Overwater Lagoon Bure that we had was HUGE. When you walk in, you instantly have a direct view of the water, facing either the resort or the other end of the lagoon. There are glass counters on the sides of the bure (which apparently is pronounced "boo-ray" as if the E has an accent on it) entryways, where you can see the water underneath. Our room had an open walk-through closet on the left, which led to the toilet, shower, and large open tub in the bathroom. Then the main room has a king size bed (with water views) and a large seating area. Then the best part is the balcony with the lounger and chairs with a ladder into the lagoon. While the water isn't the clearest (maybe it will get better with time?), it's still really beautiful and nice to be over the water. (Side note: That does bring up an important point--if you book an overwater bungalow, do not expect the kind of overwater rooms that you often see in photos of Fiji, Tahiti and the Maldives. The water here is very murky and even though some of the photos they posted on the website make it look light blue-green and clear, it is not. Not at all.)
Once we finally got into our rooms, it all started to get better. The beds were comfortable, so we got a good night's rest and started the next day fresh without thinking of the issues we'd had the day before.
Another positive is that the adult pool is REALLY FAR away from the main pool and the kids pool, so it actually provides a really quiet ambiance. And the Fish Bar (located next to the adult pool) was awesome. The food was excellent.
We also really loved the breakfast. It's a buffet, so if you're not into a buffet-style breakfast, I think that is the only restaurant that serves breakfast (it's possible that another one of their restaurants does, but we didn't see one). Since our Elite privileges gave us free breakfast, we opted to eat there each day--which is a good thing since I think they were charging like 60 FJD per person per day. Had we not been given free breakfast, we definitely would not have wanted to eat there each day because it would have gotten rather expensive after a few days. So the included breakfast is a definite perk. They have a good selection of fruits, cheeses, meats, granola and yogurt, made-to-order omelettes, fresh juices, and even a dim sum and ramen station.
Unfortunately the hiccups just kept coming though. On the second day, we asked for bath robes (because our room didn't have any) and extra hangers. Later that day, they brought extra hangers but no bath robes. On the third day, they failed to restock the bath salts, shampoo, lotion and towels. The blue towels at the adult pool stained my brand new (and rather expensive) bikini. Sometimes the phones didn't work (like, at all--completely dead). Often times you would call the front desk and it would ring for minutes on end, with no one picking up at all. The food at every place other than the Fish Bar was awful (we would have just eaten there every night but unfortunately they had closed two of the nights for a private event). And the cocktails were not only WILDLY expensive but also weak. 30 FJD for a mediocre cocktail with very little booze in it at a resort where you're stuck out there is completely unacceptable. Our bartender had to pull out a book at one point to make one of their "signature cocktails" because he had never made one before.
We had asked at one point whether or not we could purchase a bottle of rum for our room. They didn't know how much it would cost and said they would call us back. When we got a call back, they told us it would be 530 FJD for a bottle of Mount Gay rum, which is usually about $12 USD. We opted not to go with a $300 bottle of cheap rum. Again, this was clearly just a communication issue, as no one in management explained to the staff what to do if a guest wants to order a bottle. We caught them looking up the price of rum drinks and then doing the math for what it would cost if we ordered X amount of mixed drinks to cover the bottle of rum.
We encountered another fairly large issue is with their water sports people. On our third day, we had asked about either a group or private charter out to Cloudbreak (just a 15 minute boat ride away) so that my husband could surf. Even though he would be the only person surfing, we were happy to either go on a group boat and have three spectators or charter the whole boat (and pay for it) ourselves. When we first asked about a charter, they said there were no waves and the winds were too strong and told us to check back the following morning (our last day). They were right about the wind but there were definitely waves (we spoke with people later that day who said they went and the surfing was excellent). The following day was not supposed to have any wind, so we decided to do the charter the following morning.
When we checked in that morning at 7 am, they again tried to dissuade us from going out by saying "No waves today" but then reluctantly told us we could go out if we did a private charter and paid for the whole boat. We said that's totally fine--we would be happy to pay for the whole boat--but we just want to get out there. So they told us to come back around 8ish to get everything settled for a 4 hour charter that would go out around 8:30 or so, which would easily get us back to the resort in time to check out on time and leave for our next destination.
As we were getting ready for our charter, they called our room and told us that they actually didn't have a captain for our boat. They told us they might be able to call someone in, but that it would take at least 30 minutes and would mean we couldn't get out there for at least another hour (which on Fiji time probably meant two hours). At that point, since we were moving to another part of the island and knew the waves were supposed to be good that day and flat the rest of the week, we told them to do whatever they needed to do to get a captain and get us out there, even if it would make us late. They said okay, we will find a captain.
Then about a half an hour later, when we went back to the kiosk to finalize the charter, they said they just couldn't do it. Then for good measure, the guy added "besides... no waves today." So the Marriott completely failed us on the charter.
No thanks to Marriott, we actually were able to do the charter with another company and not only were there waves, but it was good enough that at least a dozen professional surfers were out as well. Since I was skeptical about the Marriott coming through at all, I called another charter company that morning as soon as they told us they didn't have a captain. Thankfully they came through and had a boat at the Marriott dock in 30 minutes. How easy it was to get a boat there and find someone to take us out actually made it that much more baffling that the Marriott didn't even make any efforts to accommodate us. It ended up being an epic day on the water--no thanks at all to the Marriott water sports company.
The final straw was checkout. As Marriott Platinum Elite members, we know that we are entitled to at least a 2 pm checkout. Checkout normally is at noon so we didn't think there would be any issues asking to get a late checkout til 2 pm so we could do the surf charter. We had our driver (picking us up to go to another location) scheduled to arrive at 2 pm. When I called and asked for a checkout for both rooms until 2 pm, I was absolutely shocked when the front desk operator told me that we could have late checkout for one room but not the other. When I inquired why--and reminded her that we were Elite rewards members--she said that there is no way that we could have late checkout, even just two hours, because someone was coming in at noon. Once I reminded her that we did not get our room until 6 AT NIGHT, she gave in and gave us a "complimentary" late check out. It was not until I made a fuss about it though that she caved.
Believe it or not, after all of that, I still probably would have left with a somewhat decent taste in my mouth if not for the gratuity issues, which I only found out about a few days after leaving the Marriott resort. My biggest complaint about the Marriott is the automatic gratuity charge on everything. Please don't get me wrong--I think that automatic gratuity at a resort is usually a great idea to alleviate the need for tipping and make sure that the staff gets taken care of appropriately. However, that is not AT ALL what the Marriott does in Fiji. The staff does not get a single penny of that automatic gratuity, EVEN IF YOU ADD IN A TIP. It's bordering on criminal if you ask me. What they will likely say is that they compensate their employees by paying them higher wages and that's how your tips go to them. The truth is that they pay their employees SLIGHTLY higher wages and then pocket the rest.
What makes it even worse is that they do not tell you that it is a "No Tip" resort and that they add a 25% charge on top of your bill for gratuity. Not once did they tell us. Apparently they put it somewhere on their website. Since I booked our rooms through the Marriott app on my phone (like I book almost all of our rooms), I never saw it. Since they didn't tell us, we tipped on top of every single drink, every meal, and every single time someone carried our luggage or brought something to our room. We literally spent over a thousand US dollars on tips that not only didn't go to the intended recipients (other than the small cash tips that we handed to the staff directly), but were IN ADDITION TO A 25% CHARGE THAT HAD ALREADY BEEN ADDED. I am quite baffled that Marriott thinks they can get away with something like that. They need to at least tell people that is their policy. Write it on the menus. Put it on a sign. Do something.
I really hope that the management at this hotel can get their stuff together because it is a beautiful property with the potential to be great. I hope that in a couple years time I can come back and visit a more well-run property. Unfortunately I will not be going back anytime soon though.