Jandals, Candles and Sundowner Cocktails
It’s the magical smile that beams from a child’s face when they get to experience something new for the first time. This is what happened when a new kindergarten building and outdoor climbing frame was officially opened at the Conua Kinder School in Fiji’s Sinatoka Valley, as all the young kids clambered on to the climbing frame to use the slide. With 95 jandal wearing seniors watching on and 30 barefoot kindergarten kids aged 4-6 years…it was a project that was heartfelt by everyone.
The Community Tourism Project is one of the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort’s most recent initiatives for the surrounding community on the Coral Coast. Since 2010, they have helped build a bus shelter for the children, a covered walkway, fenced the entire school, repainted the school building and built a community hall (meeting bure).
One of the most popular guest activities at the resort is to help participate in the community construction and painting projects. A donation of $100 Fijian dollars from each participant goes towards funding each project. On average about 40 guests spend half a day every Thursday at the school when a project is in process. Every guest staying at the resort also donates $10 Fijian dollars per room-stay to each project, which is then added to the guest’s final room bill. Rarely does anyone refuse.
Some leisure guests and visiting groups have been so moved by the projects that they have offered additional assistance. Jennifer McDaniels from Omaha in Nebraska was one such guest. When she learned that there was no library at the school she returned to Omaha
with her husband and began fund raising and arranging book drives. It resulted in a complete learning library for the school children that she then had shipped at her expense from America.
Another group of children visiting the resort with their parents observed there were no computers at the school. So these young Aussie kids went back home and pulled together friends and family and put on school fund raisers, eventually donating 12 laptops, desktops and servers that now sit adjacent to Jennifer’s new library.
The people who live in this valley are by and large subsistence farmers, so luxuries such as computers, and books are unheard of. Even basic farm equipment is non-existent as everything is done by hand or on horseback. Very heavy work is shouldered by bullock teams. A visiting Aussie truck driver, Mr. Gregory Hilder, and wife Patsy, were staying at the resort and helping one day with one of the projects when they realised that the only Sinatoka Valley tractor needed a $3,000 oil-pump repair job.
Once back home he found a mate with a tractor just lying idle, so with the help of another friend who donated a container, Greg had the tractor crated and shipped (at his expense) to the Sinatoka Valley community. When the container was opened Greg had also included ropes, barbed wire, fence posts, a canoe to help with their water pipes that run across the Sigatoka River and other farming tools like spades, shovels and digging equipment – now the whole community have the use of it.
These are all heartwarming, feel good initiatives that the resort’s General Manger, Peter Hopgood simply says, “It’s our way of repaying the community.” It gives guests the added experience of interacting with locals, which is both a win-win for the guests and the local village people of the Sinatoka Valley.
Most leisure guests expressed that it was the best day of their holiday working on the projects. Outrigger’s next community project in 2017 will be to help rebuild a Special Needs School in the area.
If you haven’t travelled to the Coral Coast region of Fiji before then you are in for a pleasurable and relaxing treat. Located in the heart of the coast on the western side of the main island of Viti Levu, 80 km along the Queen’s Road from Nadi airport, is a luxury resort which embodies the Fijian traditions of friendliness and hospitality – the place of choice here is the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort.
The resort offers 207 rooms and suites and 47 bures set among 16 hectares of gardens on the shores of a reef-fringed lagoon, a perfect place for swimming and snorkelling or stand-up paddle boarding.
Resort facilities include five restaurants and bars, a tropical swimming lagoon, activities centre, kids clubs, boutiques and gift shops, fitness centre, floodlit tennis courts, private beach, golf training facility and Bebe Spa Sanctuary. There are also five specific adult-only zones throughout the resort including a sun lounging area as well as a dining terrace, a large pool with swim up bar, restaurant and function space.
The resort’s award winning Ivi Restaurant is located adjacent to the 100 year old ‘Ivi’ tree from which it gets its name and serves creative Pacific Continental cuisine featuring fresh local and international fare for dinner only, delivering a la carte dining with a menu attuned to the seasons.
Ivi Restaurant is an adults-only domain designed to provide an intimate setting for couples looking to enjoy fine food and wine amidst the ambience of the resort’s signature restaurant. Many of the resort’s staff are trained not only in silver service but also in providing gueridon service for table-side preparations such as Caesar salad, crepe flambé, traditional kokoda and liqueur coffees.
One of the outstanding features of Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort that sets it apart from other resorts is the Talai butler service provided by staff trained by the Australian Butler School which is available to guests staying in traditional bure, deluxe ocean view rooms and suites.
Unique to the resort is the Kalokalo Bar, located on the highest point of the resort, on the hilltop of Vakalomalagi Hill – Heavenly Hill – with breathtaking views overlooking the resort with sweeping views of the Coral Coast and sunsets for which this part of Fiji is famed for.
Sharing the hilltop is Bebe Spa Sanctuary, pronounced ‘behm-beh’, is the ultimate pinnacle of luxury in Fiji. Bebe houses eight treatment rooms, uniquely suspended from the main structure, which feature private balconies and open-air showers or sunken spa-baths. A range of face, body and massage treatments, some of which are uniquely Fijian – such as the Bobo massage, in which the masseuse uses warm coconut oil and arm, elbow and forearm movement to relieve muscle tension are available on the menu.
Visiting Fiji in the wetter winter months of December to April, the humidity is higher but then the nights and days are warmer. The drier winter months from May to November is probably the best time to enjoy consistently fine, warm days in a place where you can kick off your jandals, and sip on a sundowner cocktail surrounded by flickering candles.
However, no matter what time of year you visit, the Coral Coast and the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort is one place that should be on everyone’s list of definitive holiday destinations in Fiji.
Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort: This 5-Star hotel on the Coral Coast is designed in a style of a traditional Fijian village. The resort boasts 207 air-conditioned deluxe rooms and 47 air-conditioned bures set on 16 hectares. Resort facilities include five restaurants and bar options, a large tropical swimming pool, adults only swimming pool and bar, plus private beach and spa. All Deluxe Ocean View rooms, suites or traditional bures receive a VIP Talai Butler Service.
Sinatoka Conua Kinder School
Sinatoka Conua Kinder School