Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort
- Style The Life Aquatic
- Setting Seaside coconut plantation
With diving run by the son of legendary scuba-pioneer Jacques Cousteau, shoreside eco-retreat Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort is all about underwater exploration, and even boasts a marine biologist. The free Bula Club for kids and dawn-to-dusk nanny service means families flock to this coastal sanctuary on tropical Vanua Levu Island, too, while adults-only dining and the seductive spa will please romantics.
Need to know
- Rooms 25, including three suites.
- Rates Double rooms from $809.68 (AU$895), excluding tax at 20 per cent.
- More details All-inclusive rates cover à la carte meals, non-alcoholic drinks, kids' club, nanny service (8am–9pm) and Fijian buddies for older children, most resort activities, meet and greet at Nadi and Savusavu domestic airports, and return Savusavu transfers.
- Facilities Bula Club for kids, nannies and buddies, private beach and mini island, four swimming pools, spa, dive shop, marine biologist, watersports, fishing, mountain bikes, tennis and volleyball court, table tennis, trampoline, restaurant, bar, library, TV and video room, board games, boutique, playground, gardens, concierge, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: minibar with free soft drinks and bottled water, fridge, black-out curtain, pillow menu, own-label toiletries, beach bags, umbrella, flowers.
- Poolside The adults-only oceanfront Serenity Pool by the bar is a sleek, infinity-edge number flanked by orange day-beds and a shady pergola for a sociable scene. It only welcomes teens age 13 or over, but younger kids can choose between three dedicated pools, including the Family Pool with a 20-foot waterslide alongside the Bula Club, the Junior Pool or the cascading Water Mushroom Pool for toddlers.
- Check–out 11am; check-in, 2pm, both flexible subject to availability. Free breakfast and lunch for early arrivals, and lunch for late departures.
Children Welcome: babysitting is free from 8am–9pm (then FJ$3 an hour, 9pm–11pm), and the free Bula Club offers endless kids' activities. Baby cots and extra beds for two kids under 13 are provided gratis (for a third child, a bed costs AU$170 a night).
- Hotel closed The resort will close from 27 January–13 February 2014 for renovations.
- Eco‐friendly In tune with the hotel's Cousteau credentials, ocean conservation is key here, with an in-house marine biologist, reef protection programme and a giant clam-breeding project. Modelled on a traditional Fijian village, the resort was designed to suit a tropical environment, with natural, flow-through ventilation, sustainable timber and roofs thatched from local reeds. Produce from the organic garden is served in the restaurant, eco-friendly Pure Fiji toiletries are used in the spa, and water is recycled through lotus-dotted lagoons.
- Also Three-night minimum stay; five nights from 22 December–5 January inclusive. Smoking is allowed outdoors only, not in rooms or dining areas.
In the know
- Our favourite rooms For soothing views of Savusavu Bay, we like the Oceanfront Bures and Suites, which are closer to the beach than the Garden View Bures (pick one of the more private rooms, furthest from reception). For extra seclusion and space, treat yourself to a stay at one of the three split-level Point Reef Bures, or the luxe Villa, which boasts its own walled garden with spa tub and waterfall. Styling is traditional Fijian, with thatched roofs, plantation shutters and bright bedding.
- Packing tips Mossie repellent is always handy in the tropics. Bring your dive certificate if you're a scuba devotee, and your mask set if you prefer to use your own gear. An underwater camera is a must for persuading fish to say 'cheese'.
- Also Tap into Fiji's healing heritage at the two beachfront, open-air Ocean Spa Bures, where the signature Bobo Massage harnesses generations-old combinations of sweeping hand strokes and tropical nut oils. Daily yoga, and rainforest and waterfall hikes, are also wellbeing boosters.
Food and drink at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort
- Hotel restaurant Chef Raymond Lee keeps the pans flipping at the open-air restaurant, which stars international and Fijian cuisine that's strong on locally caught fish and seafood, and organic produce from the hotel's garden. Typical dishes on the daily changing menu include New Zealand lamb or chargrilled wahoo with sweet corn and prawn salad. Set under a soaring temple roof, the dining area serves up appetising sea views, too, or you can dine out poolside or in a separate adults-only sanctuary. Musicians may serenade you come evening, and there’s a weekly Lovo Feast, where traditional Fijian food is cooked in an earth oven. Don’t miss the tasty afternoon tea. You can also request a beach or island picnic, or a private barbecue by the pool.
- Dress code We feel a kaftan coming on. Bright and breezy should suit this laid-back South Pacific scene.
- Top table Poolside at the restaurant, or opt for romance-revving private dining by lantern light at the pier's end, on seductive ocean decks, or in one of the thatched beachfront bures (all at extra cost).
- Last orders Breakfast is served at the resort restaurant from 7am–10am, lunch from 11am–2pm and dinner from 6pm–8pm. The bar keeps the cocktails coming from 8am until 11pm, but is at its busiest from 5.30pm–7.30pm.
- Room service Available from 8am–8pm, with dishes from the restaurant menu during meal times, and light snacks at other hours. Free drinks include speciality loose-leaf tea, ice tea, all types of coffee, soft drinks and bottled water.
- Hotel bar Mojitos and margaritas are the order of the day in the poolside bar, which overlooks the ocean and blue-tinged hills beyond. During cocktail hour, expect to be serenaded with tunes from the local 'Beach Boys' band.