Bula – Fiji Land Of Smiles
Friday 6th March 2015
We flew from Sydney to Savusavu via Nadi. The flight from Nadi to Savusavu was very scenic, if you can get a window seat the view is spectacular! The dense and lush forest and the coral cays were breathtakingly picturesque. The Savusavu airport is the smallest airport I have ever experienced and the location on the water’s edge really puts you in holiday mode.
It was a 20 minute drive to Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort (JMC) along the coastline. On arrival at the resort we received a huge ‘BULA WELCOME HOME’ and it made you feel so special. The smiles on the staff made you feel like you were at home and truly welcomed. Every adult on arrival receives a lovely foot scrub which is absolutely bliss!
The grounds of JMC are immaculate. We visited the Bula Kids Club and I would have to say it is the best kids clubs I have seen in Fiji. It is situated away from the main area and you would never know it was there. The facilities for the children are impressive. Every child under 6 receives their own personal nanny for up to 12 hours each day! Children 6 – 12 years are allocated to a small group (approx 4 – 5 kids) and have their own Fijian buddy. The teenagers are not overlooked at JMC, they also have a great interactive program daily.
JMC from our snorkelling boat
All meals are included with your accommodation and on the first night, I tried the local fish Walu and it was moist and succulent, cooked in coconut and served on vegetables local to the region. Dessert was also memorable. I enjoyed a fresh coconut cheesecake! Lunch and dinner included a three course menu which changed daily. The cocktails are to die for and those looking for a non-alcoholic beverage, I would recommend the home-made lemonade (delish & refreshing!). They split the dining between adults only section and a family section making it suitable for all types of markets. A nice touch!
All rooms are free-standing bures set among lush gardens – there are 25 in total. The rooms are not air-conditioned, however all the rooms have many louvers allowing the breeze from the ocean to come through. Each bure is also surrounded by tall gardens, providing privacy for each room. I was lucky enough to spend my nights in The Villa equipped with my own plunge pool and separate lounge room. The Villa is the only bure that has air-conditioning.
Saturday 7th March 2015
Breakfast is served a la carte along with daily specials. You can order as much as you want off the menu and you can swap and change things. Nothing was ever a problem. There is also a light continental buffet to help yourself in case you are still hungry! Coffee is made to order and the coffee is great.
That morning, most of us ventured out to Savusavu township, about a 15-20 minute drive along the coastline. Savusavu is a lovely little fishing village located right on the water’s edge with one main street spotted with little shops and a market open 6 days a week (everything is closed on Sundays). Some of us tried Kava from a local which was fun. The produce was straight from the farms or from the ocean (caught that morning!). Savusavu is renowned for crabs and there were species I have never seen before. The avocados and ocra were huge – double the size that we see here in Australia. There were Indian products galore. You can purchase the seafood and have it taken back to JMC where they will cook it for you if you like.
Mid morning we went on a private boat trip out to JMC’s private island – what a gem! We had a picnic morning tea with fresh coconut and freshly baked cookies. This was followed by a snorkelling tour where I saw beautiful tropical fish and soft coral.
After a fabulous morning, we were absolutely famished and lunch did not disappoint! A 3 course meal! After lunch some of us enjoyed a traditional Bobo massage in a bure on the beach just metres from the waters edge. The Fijian women have the hands of god. WOW! Loved it while enjoying a beautiful breeze and listening to the water lapping. Others went on a rainforest and waterfall hike just behind the resort for a few hours.
In the evening we had a private dinner on the jetty’s edge and the sunset was spectacular. Again a three course meal fit for a king!
Sunday 8th March 2015
We headed off to Namale Resort (about 20 minutes away) for lunch and a site inspection. This is another 5 star property for Adults only. It is located on the other side of Savusavu facing the open waters (JMC is sheltered by a bay). This is the perfect property for those looking for something more intimate, it is great for honeymooners. Every bure is very private and secluded and many have their own plunge pool. The resort is all inclusive (includes all food and beverages). The only thing you have to pay extra for is for Spa treatments and diving. Everything else is included. Namale is huge and spread out with golf cart service to take guests around. For those rainy days, Namale has an indoor bowling alley (single lane), apple TVs, gold simulator, pool table, gym and air hockey. This resort is very popular with the American market. They have a huge spa which was very impressive.
In the evening at JMC, we tried our luck at the crab races, where we purchased a crab for FJ50 which was donated to the Savusavu community (great cause!). This was a lot of fun and it was great to see a little boy from Australia take us all out. The crab racing was followed by a great dance performance by the local children who finished by having us all join them. If only I could move my hips the way those young ladies did! So much fun!
Monday 9th March 2015
Today it was time to say goodbye to all the beautiful staff of JMC. I would have to say my highlight was the warmth of the people – just beautiful!
It was a short 50 minute flight back to Nadi where we were collected by Pacific Destinationz and transferred to The Westin Denarau Resort, a 5 star resort with a Fijian feel about it. If you are looking for a more traditional Fijian style resort in Denarau, then The Westin would be my recommendation in Denarau. The Westin is part of the Starwood group and the facilities at The Westin, neighbours Sheraton Villas and Sheraton Resort Fiji all share the facilities where you can charge back.
On arrival we enjoyed cocktails and a light lunch around the pool with a relaxing afternoon.Before dinner we enjoyed Fijian Rum tastings at the tasting room at the Golf house at the resort.
We dined at the the buffet restaurant at Sheraton Fiji Resort for dinner and it was huge and contained a massive selection of dishes and an interactive cooking station. There were so many choices in the dessert section that we almost rolled out of the restaurant. Our rooms at The Westin were the Ocean View Rooms, located along the front opposite the beach. The rooms are spacious with a balcony overlooking the ocean. The beds were very comfortable and I slept like a baby.
Tuesday 10th March 2015
We enjoyed breakfast at The Westin overlooking the ocean. A highlight was the make your own juice bar which was fun and delicious. Eggs were made to order and breakfast came with sparkling wine.
We were collected by Pacific Destinationz for their tour of the ‘Flavours of Fiji Cooking School’ for the next 3 hours (well we went for 4 hours!). The school is located about a 5 minute drive from the resorts in Denarau. We learnt how to make fresh coconut milk whilst enjoying a refreshing drink straight from a coconut. We cooked 7 dishes… the first round was three traditional Fijian dishes followed by four traditional Indian dishes. You can make a special request in advance if you want to cook a particular dish or you are a repeat visitor. We devoured all the dishes we made. For the Fijian dishes we made a spinach coconut dish, Walu fish in coconut milk and Cassava Balls in coconut caramel. The Indian dishes consisted of dahl, chicken & potato curry, roti bread and finished with a coconut loose fudge (delicious with fresh fruit). Loved this tour and I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys food and wants a short tour.
In the evening we made our way to the Fiji Beach Resort & Spa, managed by Hilton, for a site inspection and dinner. The apartments and the grounds are huge! You need a buggy to get around (this is a complimentary service for clients who do require buggy transfers). I was very impressed with the Kids Club at the resort – great facilities. Dinner was overlooking the ocean at Maravu Restaurant offering Pan-Asian dishes. The main dishes are huge and we struggled to finish them off after a selection of shared entree dishes. We did have room for a little dessert! The food was superb and I recommend this venue for anyone staying at Denarau (just jump on the Bula bus or a taxi to enjoy a lovely Asian meal).
Wednesday 11th March 2015
It was a very early start for us and The Westin arranged breakfast boxes for us to have at the airport.
We had 5 wonderful nights in Fiji and it’s the people that make the destination that extra bit special. Smiles are everywhere and usually accompanied by a confident BULA to greet you.
Thanks Pacific Destinationz, Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Namale Resort, The Westin Denarau, Fiji Beach Resort & Spa by Hilton and the Flavours of Fiji Cooking School for a wonderful time, we felt absolutely spoilt.
By Maria Marendy, Fiji Product Specialist – Infinity Holidays