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“Mixed review, dive shop is below standard”

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Garden Island Resort
Ranked #8 of 11 Hotels in Taveuni Island
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 16 October 2012

We spent almost two weeks in Fiji, at both Garden Island (Taveuni) and
Wananavu Resort(Raki Raki on Viti Levu, Bligh Waters).

Diving at both locations was excellent, quality of dive operations was
dramatically different with Garden Island rating poorly.

We chose Garden Island on Taveuni primarily because it is the closest hotel
to Rainbow Reef in the Somosomo Strait. The location and friendly staff were the best parts; dive operation was the worst and one of the poorest I've seen.

I will comment separately on the hotel and the dive operations, which in
our view were of different service standards.

First, the hotel. Overall solid accommodations and incredibly nice,
friendly staff. The rooms are updated and quite comfortable. We stayed in a
"spa" room which is on the ground level, with a nice patio
overlooking the strait. The kitchen staff does a good job, especially
considering the relatively remote location. Staff, especially in the
restaurant, went out of their way to learn our names, preferences, etc.

Hotel is in a beautiful location, right on the water, and watching sunset
every day is a highlight. There is no beach but there is a pool and a nice
sandy area with lounge chairs.

The hotel was pretty quiet while we there. This was a good thing, because
our impression was that, due to the layout of the rooms (all in one
building) and limited size of the restaurant, it would have felt quite
crowded if the place had been full.

We spent a day hiking the Lavena coastal walk and the waterfalls at Bouma,
both highly recommended (although we felt this outing was significantly
overpriced at Garden Island, especially when we saw pricing for similar
outings at Wananavu, a nicer overall resort).

The diving. In terms of location and access to Rainbow Reef, no question
Garden Island is ideally located and we dove there every single day (15
minute boat ride to most sites). Surface interval either on beautiful beach
or on the boat. Typically back for lunch around 1pm. Diving conditions
ranged from dead calm with no current to a bit choppy with fairly strong
currents, which were more challenging for my dive partner as a new diver.

Reefs very healthy, beautiful soft corals (make sure to dive Great White
Wall) and amazing variety of small tropic fish especially in the shallower
areas, nudibranchs, other small critters. White tip sharks on every dive,
but aside from a single turtle over 10 dives, no "big" stuff
(Zero rays, no pelagic fish. We got the sense at both Taveuni and Wananavu
that the big stuff in Fiji has been fished pretty hard).

The dive operation at Garden Island was a real disappointment, and due to
the way this is managed I doubt we would return.
-DM's could hardly be bothered to interact with divers. Boat was not full,
max day was 6 divers. One DM in particular, with whom we dove all week,
seemed annoyed to have to dive at all. Not the vibe you want on a
vacation.
-Operation is advertised as "full service," which is a joke. I
had to change my own tank several times. Staff couldn't be bothered to help
my girlfriend off the boat with her gear, despite fact that we were often
the only divers on the boat. Instead, I did it myself. Thanks, guys...
-Several instances of inadequate safety and inadequate attention to proper
dive procedures:
No oxygen on boat.
Nitrox tanks being used for air.
Tanks repeatedly coming loose on the boat with regulators landing on the
deck. O-rings on tanks had to be changed literally every day.
DM insisted that my dive partner, a new diver, insert 12 lbs weight zipped
into her BC pockets (not a weight-integrated BCD) because they forgot to
bring a weight belt from the dock (of course they don't keep any extras on
the boat...). I insisted they make the 5 minute trip to the dock to get a
belt and they were annoyed.
Never had a proper briefing re safety procedures. We were not confident
that the staff had any idea what to do in case of emergency or were
properly trained.

I rated this operation a "1" for environmental sensitivity for
the following specific reasons:
-One two occasions, DM's grabbed puffer fish and made them inflate to show
the divers. This is stressful for the fish and not appropriate.
-DM squeezed a sea cucumber until its guts came out. Literally.

These were two different DM's and neither seemed to have any sense that
this is unacceptable behavior. Worse, the hotel manager was present and
witnessed both events and seemed entertained. I mean, REALLY??? I truly
regret that I didn't say anything at the time.

Also concerning: The hotel manger (mentioned above) was on our boat for two
days of diving. This person is recently-certified (less than 10 dives),
having just moved to Fiji. The manager seemed to have absolutely no idea
that anything was wrong with the operation (how could he, it's the only
operation he has known!). One has to wonder what is going on here...

Bottom line: In terms of diving, you have to decide whether the trade off
in terms of location and access to Rainbow Reef is worth dealing with the
Garden Island dive op. I say probably not, especially if your group is
less-experienced. I have read other, positive reviews of this operations,
and perhaps we were unlucky, etc., but I don't think that is the case.
Other divers shared our concerns and the problems here seem to be systemic.
I have seen many dive operations and this one just does not make the
grade.

Room Tip: Book a spa room.
See more room tips
Stayed: August 2012, travelled as a couple
5  Thank dcJ34
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CHI_Intl, Public Relations Manager at Garden Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 19 October 2012

Thank you for taking your time to write such a detailed review, and we are glad to know you enjoyed our hotel services and facilities.

We sincerely apologise for your unfortunate experience with our dive operation. There have been some recent changes, but safety remains high on our priority list, and we will ensure that this is clearly communicated and expressed. We are always taking steps to improve and develop our service, and have had marine specialists in to talk to the team about environmental sensitivity.

Your feedback is appreciated and please do not hesitate in future to let us know of any concerns and we can address them at the time. We hope we will be able to dive with you again.

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136 - 142 of 251 reviews

Reviewed 11 October 2012

We were quite disappointed after reading the many positive reviews. Our main reason for visiting Fiji was to dive and relax. While Garden Island has nice rooms and beach loungers overlooking the ocean, my praise for this place stops there. In a place where fresh water is in limited supply, this resort has large soaker tubs on each patio (however, the water wasn't hot so they made for a good place to rinse scuba gear) and each shower has FIVE shower heads. It's the oppositve of eco friendly. Not to mention that when everyone gets back from a dive and each person is using FIVE times the amount of hot water as a regular shower that hot water runs out very quickly.
There are new operators and they seem to be in over their head. We ordered tapas one evening by the pool and a half hour later I enquired as to their whereabouts. The server completley forgot. They try to pressure guests to order their over priced and boring lunch and dinner while eating breakfast. When I'm on an island, I want to eat fresh fish and veggies and not pizza and pot pie. Yuck. Last but not least is the disaster of a dive shop. I have never dove with a more disorganized group. They were taking out 26 ppl in two boats to one dive site!!! We were asked to show up at 8:15am waited approx 45 to get on the boat and then another 15 min while the crew figured out if they had enough gear and weights. Gong show. Poor dive briefings, no sweepers for groups of six divers, the dive captain was not strong enough (or willing) to help get my gear back in the boat. Absolutely a disaster. However, we heard from people we met at the airport that they stayed at Nakia Resort and had the best experience of their lives. We were envious and hope to return to dive with them. Whatever you do, DO NOT STAY AND DIVE WITH GARDEN ISLAND.

  • Stayed: October 2012, travelled as a couple
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8  Thank scubagirl302
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CHI_Intl, Public Relations Manager at Garden Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 15 October 2012

We're sorry to hear of your unfortunate experience at Garden Island and we appreciate your feedback. We have discussed your situation with management and will be addressing issues that need to be improved. We hope you will give us the opportunity to extend our hospitality to you again.

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Reviewed 24 September 2012

Lead a trip to Garden Island Resort last week. What a great operation! I take large and small groups to dive destination vacations, and this one was a no-brainer for me. They took crazy-good care of everyone, by the end of the first day, the staff knew everyone's name and made us all feel at home. The dive operation is great and we could see the plans they had for getting better. Everything was wonderful even down to the resort's dog "Otot".

Room Tip: The spa rooms are on the ground floor and a very reasonable upgrade, well worth it, with a hottub on...
See more room tips
  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled with friends
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Thank diving4mo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CHI_Intl, Public Relations Manager at Garden Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 15 October 2012

Thank you for your encouraging review and we're glad you and your group enjoyed your stay and the dives. We look forward to welcoming you back when we have our new and improved operations running.

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Reviewed 23 September 2012

Lovely recently renovated hotel on the beach, a superb dive spot by all accounts but we were a birding trip and thus of not so much interest to the dive-centric management. Lovely rooms, very nice staff, pleasant restaurant but trying too hard to be trendy with the menu- the fish soup was a disaster! Sad to see the new American manager trying to drive away the long-established colony of flying foxes (fruit bats) from the trees in the grounds by firing a catapult at them- why not see them as a wildlife attraction and not a noisy nuisance? Many of the guests were very taken by them when we explained what they were. Anyway, it's ideally placed for birding Des Voeux Peak, the 180 degree meridian and Nabogiono Farm, and the excellent dive staff can arrange a good boat trip for pelagic birding in the Somosomo Strait. I've been staying here for years in its various incarnations and i can recommend it.

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled on business
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1  Thank Phil G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CHI_Intl, Public Relations Manager at Garden Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 28 September 2012

Thank you, we appreciate you taking the time to write such an encouraging review. We're glad you were able to enjoy all the beauties of Taveuni Island and our amenities to compliment it. In regards to the fruit bats, it is Garden Islands' policy to treat all wildlife as part of the beautiful landscape of the island and definitely an added attraction. I'm sure our manager, Sean would never do anything to harm any animal large or small but if he accidentally did or there was some misunderstanding, you can rest assure that it will never happen again. We thank you so much for being a regular guest at Garden Island and we hope to have you back with us soon

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Reviewed 14 September 2012

We can't say enough good things about Garden Island Resort. Fiji is a world-class destination for diving. If the diving is excellent, we are not very picky about the accommodations, just needing a good bed, a good shower, and good food. However, GIR surpasses this by a LOT. The most wonderful thing is the staff, and in fact all the Fijians we met, who really made us feel that they were happy to have us there. We felt incredibly cared for. The food was great, the rooms comfortable, with good air conditioning when we needed it, comfy bed, fluffy towels and excellent "spa" shower. Rainbow Reef was gorgeous, and the dive staff was great. The dives were pretty intense, lots of current. We appreciated relaxing each afternoon.

  • Stayed: September 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank Wendy-and-Andrea
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 September 2012

I miss everyone at the Garden Island so much! My new husband and I were married this past August 18th 2012 at the Garden Island Resort villa, which is their second location: a beautiful 4 bedroom home just above the sand overlooking the ocean (see the picture of our magical gazebo!) And please just imagine two whales breaching in the background during our ring ceremony - spectacular or what!? This was our second vacation to Fiji and Garden Island for their world-class diving, breathtaking views and top-notch service and hospitality, two years in a row. 
What made this vacation extra memorable for us was the new management team and hospitality extraordinaire (s), Sean & Diana + the kind and nurturing care from the resort staff. During our wedding ceremony, the Garden Island team went out of their way to make us feel comfortable and like family. Diana helped me with my hair in a private room while Sean kept my hubby laughing and smiling with the ceremony warriors (our dive masters) who walked us down the aisle at sunset as we passed by our friends seated on the lawn in front of the gazebo. The opulent skyline and sapphire blue ocean was surreal; still brings tears to my eyes. BTW - if you're looking for an extra special dive spot with professional dive instructors (love you all!) and dive masters who will take care of you and make sure you're comfortable at ALL times – I recommend Garden Island to your dive map as soon as possible.

  • Stayed: August 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank Marri V
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CHI_Intl, Public Relations Manager at Garden Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 15 October 2012

On behalf of everyone at Garden Island congratulations again, and thank you for your kind review. We're happy to have made your special day extra memorable and hope you enjoyed the rest of your stay with us. Thanks again, and we look forward to welcoming you both back to your tropical island home.

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Reviewed 24 August 2012

This is a great story of how we ended up at Garden Island Resort.
My husband and I went on our honeymoon and stayed at The Koro Sun Resort on SavuSavu for 2 weeks. By the end of the second week, we had about 4 days left and had to get out of that place. The Koro Sun was terrible (check out my review on that resort as well). We took a 4 hour bus ride, while my husband had food poisoning from the Koro Sun and was literally throwing up out the window every hour. We then proceeded to get on a ferry that included more sea sickness and vomiting. We finally arrive to Taveuni Island hoping to find something better than what was back at SavuSavu. We check into this awful little hole in the wall motel in town and that is when I started crying. I couldn't believe this was our honeymoon after everything we'd been through and hating our other resort. My husband asked the owner if there were any surrounding resorts near by we could get a taxi to.

Now for the great part! We arrive after this day of pure hell and are greeted by the nicest, kindest people we'd come into counter with yet. The owner and his wife (from Boston) could tell we had been through the ringer when we tried to check in expecting we could afford the rates. I again began to cry when I realized it was a little bit out of our budget since we were still paying for our villa back at the Koro Sun! The manager quickly took us aside and asked us what was going on and why we were so upset. The wife came by my side and gave me a great big hug assuring me that everything was going to be okay. My husband and the manager talked about what he could do for us and we were able to get a room! We both began to cry because now we were in good hands and could relax. The wife showed us around and we felt like we had just arrived in heaven! The bar area, the restaurant, the views...everything was pure perfection and beauty. The best part about it all was the amazingly kind staff and service which we didn't experience at all at our other resort. We were so relieved and felt like family! I have never felt so cared for by complete strangers! They literally took us into their arms and made sure we had a drink in hand (tums for my sick husband) and a smile on our face.

The room was incredible. Brand new and beautiful! The shower is unlike anything I have every seen! 5 shower heads and HOT water...yes!!!! The views are spectacular and rooms insanely clean. We only stayed two nights since it was the end of our trip and we had to rush back to catch out flight, but this place saved our honeymoon. It was everything we should have experienced in the first place! We are so thankful and grateful to the husband and wife who treated us so kindly and welcomed us with literally, open arms. As we left, the wife even gave me a pair of her socks since she knew we were going on the ferry where they make you take off your shoes on the carpet (disgusting). These people and this resort was literally an answer to our prayers that day!

  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Mandy F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CHI_Intl, Public Relations Manager at Garden Island Resort, responded to this reviewResponded 28 August 2012

Bula Mandy,

Congratulations to you and your husband on your recent wedding and thank you for taking the time to share the story of your honeymoon with us. All of us here at Garden Island are so pleased that after days of disappointment and heartache you were able to find comfort, relaxation and the honeymoon you deserved, if only for a short while.
We're glad that all the staff were able to make you feel at home in the resort and were able to make your stay as memorable as possible, we will be sure to pass along all your kind words to Sean, Diana and all the staff at the Garden Island.
Again, thank so much writing such a kind review and please do let us know if you ever plan to return to Fiji, we would love to have you back with us.

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Additional Information about Garden Island Resort

Address: Waiyevo | Waiyevo, Taveuni Island, Fiji
Region: Fiji > Taveuni Island
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#5 Top resorts Hotel in Taveuni Island
Price Range: £123 - £165 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Garden Island Resort 3.5*
Number of rooms: 30
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Wake up to beautiful panoramic views of the ocean and be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves at award-wining Garden Island Resort on Taveuni, Fiji. With world class dive sites only moments away, and a coastal 9-hole golf course at your pleasure, there are a bevy of recreational pursuits to be enjoyed including coastal walks, bird watching, hiking, natural waterfalls and horse riding to name a few. Comprising of 15 Ocean front suites with a private patio, and 15 Ocean view rooms fully refurbished with private balconies, each room offers a private space for luxurious comfort and personalised service making Garden Island Resort your home away from home. Garden Island Resort is a PADI 5 Star Dive Resort with a fully equipped dive centre on site with professional and friendly dive crew offering PADI courses, and nitrox for advanced divers. Only 15 minutes away from the Rainbow Reef and over 20 dive sites, you are only moments away from world class diving and amazing soft coral. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Garden Island Hotel Taveuni Island
Garden Island Taveuni

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