Fiji

Snezana belevska-ben­nell and fam­ily find par­adise with a side of sea life and sus­tain­abil­ity at Jean-michel Cousteau Re­sort.

Holiday with Kids - - Contents -

Snezana Belevska-ben­nell dis­cov­ers par­adise with a side of sea life and sus­tain­abil­ity at Jean-michel Cousteau Re­sort.

Some places in this world seem just too good to be true. Jean-michel Cousteau Re­sort, Fiji is one of them. Sit­ting amid 6.8 hectares of trop­i­cal palms in mag­i­cal Savusavu Bay, this ex­tra­or­di­nary, eco-friendly re­sort is the per­fect spot for an ad­ven­tur­ous yet in­dul­gent get­away, where time stands still and fam­i­lies can truly re­con­nect and recharge.

Beach­front bliss

Just steps from the sand and with breath­tak­ing views of Savusavu Bay, Jean-michel Cousteau Re­sort’s lux­u­ri­ous thatched Fi­jian bu­res can ac­com­mo­date fam­i­lies of up to five (some even sleep six). We en­joy the com­fort of a split-level deck and out­door set­ting with re­lax­ing chairs and chaises longues. Each bure also of­fers gor­geous trop­i­cal gar­dens, to­gether with a sea­side ham­mock to com­plete the pic­ture. From here we watch the sun go down, the kids wig­gling into the ham­mock. For a lit­tle more in­dul­gence, book a stay in Villa 25, which of­fers the ad­di­tional lux­ury of its own pri­vate spa and in­fin­ity pool.

The Bula Kids’ Club

We mums some­times feel like we need a hol­i­day to re­cover from a fam­ily hol­i­day be­cause it can prove dif­fi­cult to make time for your­self as well as pro­vid­ing a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence for the kids. But not, as we dis­cov­ered, if that get­away is at Jean-michel Cousteau Re­sort, which of­fers a real hol­i­day for every mem­ber of the fam­ily.

The re­sort’s com­pli­men­tary Bula Kids’ Club meant that while the kids played, we could en­joy plenty of five-star ‘me’ time. There was no ar­gu­ment from the kids, who ab­so­lutely loved the Bula Club’s abun­dance of fun and games, swim­ming pools, jun­gle gym, zi­pline, ten­nis court, open-air chill-out lounge and more. An­other awe­some fea­ture of the Bula Kids’ Club is that each child un­der five gets a ded­i­cated nanny dur­ing their stay, while chil­dren aged be­tween six and 12 are placed in small groups with a Fi­jian ‘buddy’, pro­vid­ing a per­fect op­por­tu­nity for them to make new friends.

School Un­der the Sea

As part of the Bula Kids’ Club, the kids par­tic­i­pated in the re­sort’s won­der­fully ed­u­ca­tional School Un­der the Sea pro­gram. This in­cred­i­ble im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence meant they could en­joy daily hands-on ac­tiv­i­ties and ad­ven­tures where they learnt about Fi­jian cul­ture and pro­tect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment. This in­no­va­tive pro­gram is per­fect for those who want to in­stil a love of na­ture and a pas­sion for sus­tain­abil­ity into their chil­dren. Taught by the re­sort’s in-house ma­rine bi­ol­o­gists,

ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude snorkelling among in­cred­i­ble sea life, plant­ing coral, hik­ing through rain­for­est, vis­it­ing lo­cal schools and vil­lages and, best of all, spend­ing a whole lot of time with the lo­cal is­land kids.

A feast of Fi­jian de­lights

Culi­nary de­lights await guests at Jean-michel Cousteau Re­sort. Green and sus­tain­able, the kitchen serves up de­li­cious dishes made from lo­cally sourced in­gre­di­ents that com­ple­ment those grown in the re­sort’s very own or­ganic gar­den, mean­ing we could en­joy meals guilt-free.

The lo­ca­tion is as fine as the food, with the main open-air din­ing area over­look­ing the sparkling pool and the bay be­yond. The re­sort also of­fers a ded­i­cated fam­ily din­ing area and, if the kids are happy to en­joy their din­ner in the Bula Club, the friendly staff can or­gan­ise a ro­man­tic can­dlelit din­ner for two on the pier for mum and dad.

Pri­vate par­adise

Many of us dream of es­cap­ing our hum­drum ex­is­tence and flit­ting off to our own pri­vate is­land and Jean-michel Cousteau Re­sort brought the fan­tasy to life for us. Think white sands, sway­ing palms and crys­tal-clear wa­ters all to our­selves on the pri­vate is­land Navi­avia, avail­able only for guests of the re­sort just a short boat ride away, where we en­joyed a day of ut­ter, bliss­ful seclu­sion.

Ac­tiv­ity and ad­ven­ture

The re­sort is in such a stun­ning lo­ca­tion and there are so many ac­tiv­i­ties on of­fer – such as kayak­ing, div­ing and day and night snorkelling – that one could be for­given for want­ing to re­main on site for your en­tire hol­i­day. But we also found a feast of fun ex­cur­sions, in­clud­ing hik­ing through lush rain­for­est, swim­ming in wa­ter­falls, ex­plor­ing lo­cal vil­lages and mar­kets and vis­it­ing a lo­cal school where the kids could join in class ac­tiv­i­ties and make new friends and pen pals.

But of course, Jean-michel’s big­gest at­trac­tion is its un­der­wa­ter world. The full-ser­vice world-class div­ing op­er­a­tion of­fers a va­ri­ety of once-in-a-life­time ex­pe­ri­ences in what is one of the world’s best div­ing des­ti­na­tions.

Warm wel­come

The beau­ti­ful peo­ple of Fiji re­ally make your ex­pe­ri­ence a spe­cial one. We met so many friendly lo­cals as we ex­plored the com­mu­ni­ties and vis­ited lo­cal sites, but the friendli­est of them all were the su­per staff at Jean-michel it­self. There were tears from some guests at de­par­ture be­cause the re­sort nan­nies and ‘bud­dies’ formed such an in­cred­i­ble bond with the chil­dren.

And if that’s not enough to fall in love with Jean-michel Cousteau Re­sort, the won­der­ful life­long mem­o­ries that you and your kids will take home should do the trick.

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01 Luka and Saachi raft­ing at Jean-michel Cousteau Re­sort, Fiji 02 Saachi con­tem­plates pri­vate-is­land life 03 Co­conuts in the villa pool 04 Saachi makes some fishy friends 05 Meet­ing lo­cal kids is a high­light. Im­ages 01–04 © Dave Ben­nell 03

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