Many happy returns
From the first greeting, a familyfriendly Fijian resort feels like home
Vinaka, kerekere, yadra, moce. Thank you, please, morning, bye. These are just some of the Fijian words my fiveyear-old is sprouting after a few days at lovely Malolo Island Resort, and that’s not to mention the ubiquitous greet-and-grin, bula.
It’s not difficult to understand why visitors to Fiji adapt so readily to what’s universally known in the islands as bula time. It’s near impossible not to relax and be beguiled by a setting so picture-perfect, serene and utterly charming. Malolo is about an hour’s boat ride east of Port Denarau, near the gateway city of Nadi, and is nestled in the Mamanuca Islands group, where turquoise waters lap at palm-fringed crests of sand and craggy mountain silhouettes dot the horizon. Arriving at Malolo Island Resort’s pier on a breezy afternoon earlier in the week, we were met by a trio of guitar players and two words that immediately began to shake off a layer of urban detritus: “Welcome home.”
With its 46 whitewashed plantation-style bures (cottages) strung along a curve of picturesque beach, waterfront open-air restaurant, tranquil outlook and chilled ambience, there’s plenty at Malolo Island Resort to encourage dreams of a Fiji seachange. And there’s another reason why, at the very least, a repeat family visit is now top of our wishlist. Malolo Island Resort has deftly mastered the balance between child-friendly and adultfriendly, and the result is a treat for both.
Star attraction is Tia’s Treehouse, the kids’ club for juniors aged four to 12. Being novices to the kids’ club caper, I have been a little unsure about the idea and my son has been far from keen. That is until I mention the magical notion of snorkelling lessons. It is the start of a slow-burning love affair that by day four has him sporting a traditional men’s meke skirt, holding a newly handcrafted spear (not sharp, I’m assured) and steering the conversation to coral, coconuts and how to properly pronounce kerekere.
Beyond a tall gate just a few metres from the pool precinct, the club’s sandy play area has equipment worthy of any island adventure, including a pirate ship playhouse and the shell of a yacht. Upstairs, the open-fronted deck is