My wife and I recently traveled to Turtle Island to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We'd thought about visiting the resort for years and finally got around to it. We had a fantastic time - a gorgeous location, friendly and attentive staff, great group of fellow travelers, and a unique opportunity to re-connect with your spouse. It's not a place for everyone and has some rough edges but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and would love to return.
First the highlights:
- Absolutely the highlight of the trip was the picnics we had on the various beaches around the island. We were dropped off around 11 with a cooler of various drinks ("Would you like champagne? How many bottles?") and our lunch (lobster, chili shrimp, etc) and then picked up around 4 and would literally not see anyone else all day. Our favorites were Devils and Honeymoon Beach. I don't know of anywhere else in the world that offers such an experience and in our opinion was much of what we were paying for. One bit of advice: make sure and use lots of suntan lotion for those places that normally don't get sun!
- The Fijian staff was wonderful: friendly, constantly smiling and laughing, interactive with the group, and always looking for ways to make guests comfortable. Unlike most resorts, the staff interaction with guests is an integral part of the experience. There's no formality, everyone uses first names and makes you feel like part of an extended family.
- Our bure was clean, comfortable, and always stocked with whatever we wanted. Our bure mama was fantastic - she decorated our room and bed for our anniversary and would figure out what we liked and make sure it was always available (in our case a constant supply of fresh squeezed lemonade and brownies).
- Snorkeling was easy (equipment in your bure) and the scuba diving (through a nearby resort) was effortless and world-class. Make sure and go snorkeling with Arthur - he's knowledgeable and hilarious. Deep sea fishing was also easy and fun - we caught a small tuna, others did better or worse but all enjoyed it.
- Other activities (horseback riding, etc) were fun and very flexible - no need to book way ahead or get in line - our bure mama took care of everything.
- We loved getting to know the group of guests through the communal dining.
- The seaplane ride back was terrific! For the first half of the flight we were no more than 100 feet above the water (sometimes much less!) as we swooped around past beaches and over lagoons. Just ask the pilot to do this - I think they enjoy it as much as the guests do.
- There are a lot of small touches that make the trip special, such as the book of photos that our bure mama put together for us, a DVD of videos taken thru the week, and a CD of photos. One of the highlights for us was having drinks delivered to the middle of the lagoon while we relaxed on foam floats.
A couple areas for improvement:
- Most guests felt that the sales pitch for the "return plan" was somewhat annoying (they pre-sell return trips at a 20% discount). With that said, they took our "no" without much pushback and at least a couple of the guests did re-up so I doubt they'll change.
- The food was spotty. Their raw ingredients (fresh seafood and produce from their garden) sometimes came together perfectly, at other times not so much (overcooked lobster, almost inedible anniversary cake, etc). Overall more than acceptable, but don't expect world-class dining.
- The complimentary massage was nice but far too much oil... we both felt slimy for hours afterward (there was talk about bringing in more spa services in the future).
- Good wine assortment and plenty of it.
Perhaps the biggest thing for potential guests to understand is the "casual elegance" of the island - it's NOT the Four Seasons with it's well known formality, punctuality, and perfection. Things happen on "Fiji time" (plus or minus a half hour or so), meal orders are often mixed up (sometimes comically so), questions are often answered somewhat mysteriously, and the resort shows some age and the effect of being so remote. Anyone expecting perfection runs the risk of being disappointed, but those who can forgive these imperfections and laugh off small problems will have a great time. Ultimately much of what you're paying for is the privacy of the beaches, gorgeous remote location, and friendly and attentive staff - all the other stuff isn't as important.
We thoroughly enjoyed our week on Turtle Island and would absolutely like to go back, perhaps for our next big anniversary.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to Turtle Island - located in the Fiji islands. You have found one of the most unique all-inclusive private islands in all the world. Be one of only 14 couples sharing the most beautiful and lush 500 acre private island resort… where each couple can have their own private beach and is assigned a dedicated personal concierge, your bure mama. We provide our guests one of the most intimate, private and romantic experiences. Your private island includes private beach picnics, romantic private dine outs, spa treatments, horse back riding through the winding island trails or on your own private beach, scuba diving, champagne sunrise breakfasts, an amazing and friendly Fijian staff is ready to make all of your dreams come true. This exclusive private island paradise awaits you and your partner for a romantic week to remember. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Turtle Island Hotel Turtle Island