Three teenage boys (14, 16 and 17) and I began our 5-week trip to Fiji and Tonga by spending the first week at Koromakawa Resort. We should have saved Koromakawa for the last week, because nothing else can compare to Spence and Karin's unique resort and hospitality. Indeed, we WERE spoiled. Spence and two (of their seven) staff members met us immediately upon arrival at the airport in Vunisea, and then transferred us in Spencer's boat (the same one we later would use for diving) to Koromakawa, on Ono Island. We were treated with fresh fruit and cheese and crackers during the 90-minute boat ride. Spencer's enthusiasm for Kadavu, Ono, the Astrolabe Reef and the surrounding islands was contagious and kept us riveted to detail. Mrs. Kissler (Karin) and the other five staff members were waiting for us on the beach in front of the resort to greet us with Fijian welcome songs, a fresh coconut drink and warm hors d'oeuvres.
The (only) bure -- the one pictured on the website -- is nestled among tropical flowers, shrubs and trees, about 30 feet above the beach. One bedroom has both a king-sized and a single bed; the second bedroom has a superbly comfortable double. The bedrooms are connected by a large bathroom, with a central glass encased shower, which the boys thought was "awesome". Teenagers aren't known for quick showers, but Spencer's solar hot water system won the challenge. The bure itself is both cozy and cheery, and open on all four sides with expansive louvered (and screened) windows. Each room has a large ceiling fan, which was more than adequate for keeping us comfortable. "Eclectic" describes the tastefully appointed rooms in the bure (which is more like a luxurious cottage) as well as the furnishings in the Kissler's home.
Meal times were at the guests' leisure. Breakfast could be served out on the deck or in a nook within the living room. Brady (the youngest) wanted his eggs cooked (fried) somewhere between "dippy" and "over easy". (The kid and Karolina had such a serious discussion about cooking an egg!) I'm not sure of the difference, but Brady enjoyed exactly what he tried to describe the evening before. The meals were fantastic, varied, beautifully served, and always prepared to our liking. A week before our departure from the U.S., Spence sent an email saying that he and Karin had had no success locating (in Suva) a jar of mint jelly--which I had previously mentioned I like with lamb. However, by the time we arrived, mint jelly turned up on the Kissler's dining room table! Our evening meals--except for one--were served over in the Kissler's dining room, where we also took part in exciting and colorful meke and kava ceremonies. Dinner was served using Karin's family's heirloom china, crystal, candlelight--and great conversation. Elegant!
Although all of the meals were special, one in particular is unforgettable: Stephen's 17th birthday. Not too many boys from rural southwestern Pennsylvania will celebrate a 17th birthday in Fiji; I doubt any has had one as elaborate and distinctive. Karin, Karolina and Ita spent most of the afternoon decorating the thatched-roof table out on the bure's deck with tropical wildflowers, hibiscus and colorful croton leaves, not to mention dozens and dozens of candles. Steak and lobster. Karin's exquisite table setting. A Fijian serenade and "happy birthday". More music. And a bottle of champagne.
Scuba diving and snorkeling were excellent. (Incidentally, the water temperature was 81F in late June.) Spence went out of his way--way beyond the call of duty--to help Brady (the youngest) feel comfortable in the water. We dived with pilot whales and with manta rays on more than one occasion. The boys used kayaks to paddle up a small stream to a nearby school--then climbed UP to the top of a waterfall. One of the staff took us to the nearby island of Buliya so that we could attend Sunday morning church services. Late afternoons were spent playing beach volleyball with the staff and the Kisslers. Looking back, there was so much to do and not enough time. Note to myself: plan on two weeks next time.
The night before we departed, there was another kava ceremony, followed by singing and dancing in the Kissler's bure. Karin and Spence gave each of the boys a simple necklace, each with a single piece of polished coconut shell. I notice now that in all of the photos taken after we left Koromakawa, the boys were always wearing their prized possession. Four weeks later, at the Nuku'alofa airport, I found similar necklaces in the duty free shop. I thought it would be a good idea to purchase a few more as replacements, as boys have a tendency to misplace things. All three declined my offer because, as Brady said, "They (the necklaces at the airport) wouldn't mean as much to me because this one--pointing to the one around his neck--was given to me by my friends." (heavy emphasis on the last word.)
The Kisslers are a world-class host and hostess. They and their staff ARE Koromakawa. When it came time to say our good-byes, Spence put an arm around me and thanked us "for sharing a week of your lives with Karin an me." He got it wrong.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Koromakawa Resort offers first class service and all the amenities of a tropical environment plus ultimate in privacy. We cater to one family or one couple at a time. Imagine being the only guest, with no schedules, everything you do is decided by you. Our resort is designed for pure relaxation. International menus are specific to each customer. Our goal is to satisfy each customer, one customer at a time with the best possible service. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Koromakawa Hotel Ono Island
- Koromakawa Resort Fiji/Ono Island