The minute you arrive you realise this is not your average family holiday. Comparing this resort with any other based on value for money or convenience of location is simply not relevant. Greeted with a welcome song by strangers from the staff and a welcome drink, you will be farewelled with a Fijian farewell song by your resort family.
You arrive on this little island on inter - island plane and discover that you are about to have a unique holiday.
Maybe you are used to travelling first class or maybe this is your first holiday in 10 years. Either way, you will be so thrilled with your experience at the Jean-Michel Cousteau resort. No matter how you feel the day you arrive, you will instantly be nurtured and treated with genuine kindness and care and eventually leaving renewed and refreshed.
My husband travels for his work. He knows his way around airports and flash hotels. He has stayed in exclusive places and penthouse suites. Let's just say he's a hard tourist to please. His focus is always pure relaxation and we only go on holidays where true relaxation is possible.
I also have 4 mini critics who although they love camping and caravan parks also love great food and fabulous scheduled activities. My kids range from 5 to 14 and have very different ideas on what constitutes a good time. All love other kids and the attention of different adults (people other than us, that is). That's why the nanny and bulla buddies are so fabulous. My five year old girl had a wonderful nanny Savihra, who greeted my daughter who had recent plastic surgery on her toe, with a wheelchair and huge smile. Needless to say, my daughter couldn't swim and spent many hours playing games from a wheelchair which took special care and support by her nanny and other nannies. It would have been difficult to provide for her but they did.
The kids staying at the resort had 3 pools between them, I am told the capacity of the bula club is 40 children, there were 20 kids the week we visited. Both big pools had a slide and the little one a water fountain. Adults can play here with ther kids amongst the 2 story cubbyhouse and trampoline. At dinner time the local band the ' Bulla boys' played local and western favourites at the kids' club and continued the music into the adults and family dining areas. We loved their nightly serenades.
Everyone says Bula here. Every gardener, childcare assistant, dive instructor, bar tender and maintanence man. And...everyone is there for you. They pride themselves on their appearance, their attentiveness to guests and their professionalism. Every day we watched as Mario readjusted towels and chairs based on guest requirements. Tia offed to take us fishing and sailing. Activities staff provided us towels and water the minute we reached the beach after snorkeling. Remembering what we liked from the day before and ensuring we were left to read and relax when we wanted to. Osea was always checking in on us, quietly offering to make our holiday better. Peter telling us about the weather report, activities and options. All sharing their culture and their lives with strangers who become family for a week.
My sons, 14, 11 and 8 had male Bulla Buddies, my 5 year old daughter a female nanny. A bulla buddy is nothing like a nanny -he is more like a cool guy to protect to kids and provide them with safe adventures. I had read about bula buddies but had no clue of how fundamental they would be for my kids' enjoyment. My two big boys, Nathan and Tyler had Meli as their buddy. Every morning the 3 of them negotiated a day full of sport and games I could never think of despite my years as an educator. They went snorkeling, spear fishing (with rods they helped make) kayaking sailing played basketball and chess and laughed more than they have ever. Meli had the temperament and athletism to keep them on their toes. This is what we are missing in the west - big boys teaching small boys to challenge themselves, take chances, be adventurous and explore the world.
My little boy edyn seemed to have a bulla buddy with a tribe of 7-9 year old boys. Alec and the nannies convinced a timid edyn that he should learn to snorkel in deep water. Our whole family snorkels and I really needed a loving adult other us support edyn in this as he was always reluctant. I am happy to say that edyn is now a competent snorkeller and can even kayak.
My boys are very urban. Although we live at the beach. It is 15 minutes from the city of Sydney and we have never been fishing-types. I don't know a macrel from a mango. So we were thrilled when the buddies taught the boys to fish (they even taught my husband) and my 8 year old caught a fish which was cooked and we ate for dinner. He felt like a rockstar returning to the beach to show everyone he was a fisherman!
The food. Every day it was fresh, the vegetables crisp and healthy, the meat and fish - cooked to perfection. I found myself choosing everything from vegetarian curry to local fish. I have never eaten fish in my life but the chef is a genius with seafood.
The spa. Before we left I spent three night sleeping in the hospital in a chair next to my daughter. I had also done my hip and back in carrying her everywhere. Thanks to viri in the spa I am able to move freely. One day I had 2 1/2 scrub, facial and body massage with my husband and felt 10 years younger (possibly looked it too).
The spa bure is an outdoor bure facing the ocean. The fan above and the slight breeze from the ocean ensures you are cool and relaxed. The lapping of the ocean replaces the customary rainforest or mediation type music in many indoor spas. Booking early is paramount as the spa is very popular with the guests.
Every morning the activities manager pete chats to your family ensuring their vacation is free from stress and full of joyful activities and relaxation in adequate amounts. Complementary tours are offered every second day. The cost of these for a large family of 6 such as ours would be expensive. They include the local farmers market, the cultural town tour and the waterfall. The waterfall is our favourite with a stunning natural environment to experience as a reward for a hike through rainforest.
The rooms are all bures or little villa type houses with traditional thatched roofs and natural stone and wood everywhere. There are no TVs or phones. Perfect for a family who are all addicted to technology in one form or another.
Our kids felt safe and yet independent, secure and yet adventurous. I could enjoy the company of my husband and clear my head of the clutter of work and housework. These people love their work and gave us a trip of a lifetime, but I hope it is not my only 'trip of a life time' and I hope to visit again soon. As we left in our mini bus all six of us craned our necks to wave until our resort family were no longer visible. Yes we'll be back!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Luxury Boutique Eco-Resort ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Hotel Savusavu
- Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji/Savusavu