Set on a dinky, crocodile-shaped island in the easy-to-reach Mamanucas, jaw-dropping Vomo Island Fiji offers pure shores, a crystal-clear sea and a second mini isle for romantic picnics. Sleekly designed with stylish local touches, it's also that rare thing: a sophisticated Fijian escape that seamlessly integrates children into its seductive setting. Snorkel, paddle board, hike up the hill or circumnavigate the whole island – it only takes around two hours.
11am; check-in, 2pm, both flexible subject to availability.
Double rooms from £855.40 (FJD2,321), including tax at 14 per cent.
Rates include à la carte breakfast, all meals, select non-alcoholic and minibar soft drinks, fruit and a bottle of wine on arrival, laundry service, non-motorised watersports, sunset canapés in the bar, weekly meke performance and cocktail party.
Adult-only beach club the Rocks (open daily from 10am) is on the western tip of the island – sundowner spots won’t get any better than this. Float in the sprawling sea-view inifinity pool, lounge about on the over-sized day beds and order poolside drinks and light bites – sashimi, poke bowls and salads – from Rocks Bar straight to your side whenever the mood strikes.
At the hotel
Private-island beaches, Kui Spa and fitness centre, adult-only beach club, swimming pools, watersports, PADI dive centre, 9-hole golf course, tennis, volleyball and badminton courts, croquet, petanque, gym, gardens, two restaurants, two bars, kids' club, Chiefly Bure with computer, TV, DVD and book library, free WiFi throughout. Expect a new adults-only pool, on the island's more secluded west side, soon. In rooms: CD player, iPod dock, minibar, L'Occitane toiletries, outdoor deck and dining area. The larger Royal Villa and Residence both have cable TV, a DVD player, kitchen and a private pool; the Residence features butler service.
Our favourite rooms
All Vomo's digs have simple mod-Fijian styling, ensuite showers and spa baths. If views are your bag, aim for the lofty, more private Hillside Villas. We like the ocean-hugging Beachfront Villas best though, with some interconnecting options and outdoor dining decks and sunloungers just a sashay from the sea. Families or friends can take their pick from the luxe three-bedroom Royal Villa or four-bedroom Residence, which both boast kitchens and private pools. The 28 standard villas each sleep two adults and two children.
The sleek, spacious main outdoor pool is flanked by Vomo's Reef Restaurant and Vuda Bar with inviting contemporary loungers for soaking up sun and sea views, and chic white parasols if you need shade. There’s also an adult-only infinity pool in beach club the Rocks; it has submerged in-pool seating and is flanked by a sea-view terrace topped with sunloungers and daybeds.
Kui Spa has two couples' treatment rooms, outdoor rainshowers and tempting Sodashi treatments carried out by skilled Thai therapists. Facials with marine plants and Himalayan salts, algae and green tea-infused body treatments, head-to-toe massages and mani-pedis round off the indulgent menu, and signature treatments are designed to lull guests into deep relaxation. Packages and in-villa treatments are available too.
Snorkellers should bring a rash shirt to avoid sub-aqua sunburn or scrapes. Landlubbers, pack trainers for island walks or hitting the tennis court.
Transfer costs from main island Viti Levu are extra. A bed (and meals) for an extra adults is FJ$830 a night.
Welcome. Vomo provides free baby cots for infants; extra beds for older children age four to 16 are covered by their food charge (FJ$260 each a day). Babysitting costs FJ$15 an hour, with a day's notice required, and there's a fab free kids' club.
Vomo Island Fiji welcomes children and manages to blend them seamlessly with adult guests, without diluting the stylish feel of the hotel.
Kids of all ages will love the butter-soft beaches and pool, but you'll need to watch youngsters around water.
Up to two kids can share your villa, or opt for interconnecting Beachfront Villas for older children. The private three-bedroom Royal Villa or four-bedroom Residence are ideal for larger families, with multiple bathrooms, a kitchen and dining areas.
Vomo's five-star, purpose-built, air-conditioned Kids Village caters to juniors of all ages. Open year-round, from 9am to 9pm daily, it’s free and supervised by carers, but children under four must be accompanied by a parent or guardian (or a Baby Butler, available from FJ$11 an hour; one is required for each child under four). The club has a large outdoor play area, with plans afoot for a pool zone in future. Entertaining activities span shell collecting, arts and crafts, coconut-leaf and basket weaving, cooking classes, ball games, sandcastle building, disco and movie nights, Fijian dance and language lessons, storytelling around the bonfire, and much more. Creature features include learning about the island’s turtles and hunting for crabs. The under-4s room sports craft tables, a dressing-up area, a kitchen for cooking classes and outdoor play zone. Both children and their parents are welcome to dine on the shaded Kids Village deck each evening; Vomo doesn’t feel like a resort where children are segregated away, so you’re welcome to join them at any time.
Vomo's Kids Village is guaranteed to entertain juniors of all ages. Elsewhere, children can enjoy swimming, snorkelling, sailing, stand up paddle boarding or kayaking in the pure, turquoise sea, or on land there's walking trails, tennis, badminton, volleyball, croquet and golf. Don't miss fish feeding at the activities bure daily at 10.30am. This is also a private island, with only a few staff vehicles, so kids can roam safely. For indoor entertainment, you'll find TV, DVDs and a computer in the Chiefly Bure lounge. The two larger private residences also come with cable TV and a DVD player. Kui Spa welcomes well-behaved children, too. Kids aged 4–10 can have a ball with Prince and Princess treats, including mini-manicures, pedicures, massages, a combined 'superstar' package, and 'mother and daughter' and 'father and son' packages. The in-house dive centre's Bubble Blowers courses (for 8–12 year olds) give kids a safe introduction to scuba diving.
There's no dedicated kids' pool, but children will enjoy the large main pool, or can take dips in the sea. The two largest villas come with private pools, although they're not fenced.
Vomo's restaurant offers an extensive children's menu, from 11am to 7.30pm, and kids are welcome any time. They can also dine on the shaded deck of the Kids Village (usually around 6pm–7pm), with or without parents, before their evening activities. Highchairs are provided and the team is happy to heat up baby food or milk. Beachfront Villa 16 is near the restaurant, if you're keen to use a baby-monitoring device while you dine, but the resort recommends hiring a babysitter to look after infants in your villa if you're venturing out.
A Baby Butler costs FJ$11 a child an hour, with at least a day’s notice required – ideally request one earlier during high season and school holidays. A minimum booking is one hour, from 9am to 9pm, with one Butler needed for each child under four.
No need to pack
Baby cots, cot bedlinen, highchairs and swimming aids, which are supplied for free.
Vomo provides free baby cots for infants age 2 or under, or extra beds for tots aged 3 or under for FJ$50 a night; food and drink is free. Extra beds and food for children age 4–12 are covered by a FJ$200 a night charge each; over-12s pay the full adult FJ$700 rate. A maximum of two infants or children can share a parent or adult’s room.
The hotel grows organic herbs, vegetables and fruit to serve in its restaurant and has propagated more than 50,000 plants to create native gardens on Vomo. Plastic water bottles are recycled, with proceeds supporting the villages of local staff.
Bag a table poolside or nearest the sea for the best views. For serious people-watching, perch near the bar. Private dining options around the island – from your villa deck to the beach – are only limited by your imagination, so don't be afraid to ask.
Go glam. There's a hip Sydney feel to this dining pad, especially when it's illuminated by candles at night. Elegant labels and heels won't feel out of place.
Stylish Reef Restaurant is set around the hotel's sleek, linear pool with soothing sea views and a choice of covered or open-air dining. Trained in Napa Valley, executive chef Erwin Joven – and well-travelled, Italian chef de cuisine Michele Bellotto – whips up fresh, eclectic dishes that star local produce (including fish and seafood, dressed with 'raw' sauces) and reflect his Filipino/Asian heritage, his formal culinary training in Napa Valley, and the seven countries he has lived in. Sip on free soft drinks and juices during meal times, or order a tipple off the global wine list, backdropped by mellow tunes. A local acoustic band sometimes supplies the sounds.
Vomo spoils you with not one, but two sexy bars. We love Vomo Rocks Bar, a stylish ringside seat for quaffing cocktails (or Rocktails) at sunset with dreamy views over nearby Vomo Lailai Island. An airy, laid-back lounging den, with oversized, shaded day-beds, it's perched in a tranquil, beachside spot at the western end of the island and opens from 5pm to 7pm nightly. After that, repair to main watering-hole Vuda Bar, beside Reef Restaurant and the pool, which serves smart wines and snacks. Pose on a stool by the colour-changing bar, or relax in come-hither seating on the deck. Lounge tunes keep the mood chilled.
Dinner is served at Reef from 7pm to 9.30pm; Vuda Bar keeps pouring all day until the same cut-off. Rocks Sunset Bar sees action from 5pm to 7pm nightly. Adults-only beach club the Rocks is open from 10am.
Available during restaurant hours (7am–9.30pm), with a FJ$10 service fee for all deliveries. There’s currently no separate room service menu at Vomo, so dishes mirror those at Reef, but the chef can create something special for private dining requests.
A privately owned 225-acre island in the South Pacific, Vomo is within easy reach of Fiji's main Viti Levu Island. Just 30 kilometres north-west of capital Nadi, Vomo is the last island at the top of the Mamanucas group, before the Yasawa Islands begin.
Fly into Fiji's Nadi International Airport (www.airportsfiji.com), on the west coast of Viti Levu. Fiji Airways, which codeshares with Qantas, offers direct flights to Nadi (pronounced ‘Nandi’) from Australia and New Zealand, Hong Kong, Honolulu and Los Angeles – also a main hub for connecting flights from London or Canada, for example. Vomo has a fast-track customs and baggage clearance service. From Nadi Airport, Vomo is a 15-minute flight north by seaplane or helicopter; the hotel has its own helipad and can help arrange transfers, although they're not included in rates (each way, it's FJ$350 each adult if there are two of you or $700 if you're travelling solo, FJ$175 for children aged 4–16, free for younger children; let the hotel know your travel plans and a driver will pick you up, with up to two car seats for under-4s available free). For helicopter transfers, call Island Hoppers or Pacific Island Air, which also runs seaplane flights to Vomo; prices and information are subject to change.
The only cars on rustic Vomo Island belong to hotel staff; guests can't bring their own hired wheels. Private car transfers from Nadi airport and Port Denarau can be arranged for FJ$75 for one to four guests, FJ$100 for five to eight guests, FJ$150 for nine to 12 guests, FJ$200 for 13–16 guests, and FJ$250 for 18-20 guests.
Worth getting out of bed for
With its butter-soft beaches, dreamy ocean and pool, Vomo Island Fiji has all activity bases covered. Adventure hounds will love the pristine snorkelling. Just swim out right off the beach or join a free, guided daily excursion at 11am to explore local reefs; May to October is manta-ray season, and guests can book a guided excursion to the Yasawas channel to see fevers of them float by. Watersports, including windsurfing, Hobie Cat sailing, stand up paddle boards, single- and double-kayaks, and glass-bottomed kayaks, are all included in rates. The resort's in-house dive centre offers snorkelling lessons and trips, deep-sea and local fishing and Padi scuba-diving courses of all ilk (including Bubble Blowers courses for 8–12 year olds). Or you can ride thrilling surf breaks at famed Cloud Break, and take a more sedate sunset cruise or visit Yalobi or Yamata villages (both a 30-minute boat ride away) to learn about Fijian culture. Active types can work up a sweat over tennis (flood-lit at night), badminton, golf (on the 9-hole, par-3 chip and putt course) or a volleyball match with the staff, or enjoy a spot of croquet or petanque.
If you're very lucky, you'll see baby turtles hatching on protected pockets of beach (May to July is hatching season). There's also fish-feeding at 10.30am daily at the Activities Bure. Spa fiends can savour treatments in Kui Spa, where there’s a pampering mix of massages, facials, and foot and hand therapies, as well as beauty essentials. There are two couples' treatment rooms too.
Our top tips include taking the 15-minute walking trail up the island's main peak, for gorgeous views over the reef, outlying islands and ocean.
To rev up the romance, request a private picnic on deserted sister island Vomo Lailai, where you'll discover a tiny beach, day-bed and dining platforms for lounging in peace (staff will drop you off by boat with a two-way radio, drinks and a champagne picnic). It's just two minutes away by boat – and has a button-cute beach; staff will drop you off for a few hours with a gourmet picnic, chilled drinks and a two-way radio. Just call when you want to come 'home' or swim back. You can also arrange picnics elsewhere on Vomo Island, which boasts lounger-dotted beaches on both sides, so you should always find a breeze-free spot. For cultural capers, don't miss the weekly Lovo Night, when there's a meal cooked in an earth-oven (lovo), meke dances, stories and songs, and a torchlit kava ceremony, Fiji's national, slightly narcotic drink which is shared among guests with ritual flourishes. You can also arrange island-hopping tours around the Yasawas or Mamanucas after your Vomo sojourn; try the Yasawa Flyer or South Sea Cruises.
The only restaurants and bars on private Vomo Island are the hotel's own, but for drinking and dining inspiration in Port Denarau, Nadi or main island Viti Levu see our Fiji Islands destination guide.
‘Welcome Home’ is the greeting song as you arrive at Vomo Island Fiji… oh, if only my home offered gourmet three-course meals three times a day (that I didn’t have to cook!), friendly childcare at a moment’s notice (for next to nothing), and a deluxe bedroom that stayed immaculate thanks to twice-daily attention from someone apart from myself (well, from Mrs Smith at least). Bula Vomo, I’m moving in!
Vomo is a mirage for parents. Children are so seamlessly integrated and welcomed that you’d almost feel out of place if you didn’t have a Wiggles-loving mini-me by your side. It’s as if the owners worked backwards when creating the resort – assume that parents will be bringing kids, and then nut out how best to create a luxurious, peaceful and effortless holiday for the adults, while keeping the little ones happy – a balance they’ve somehow perfected.
About 150 hungry backpackers headed to the more remote islands join us on the shuttle boat to Vomo, which is quite a shock. Thankfully, the ‘Captain’s Lounge’ on the upper deck of the Yasawa Flyer is far more civilized – the business class of Fijian cruising! A scenic but choppy 75-minute journey later, we drop anchor about a kilometre offshore from Vomo Island, ready to be transported there by a small waiting vessel. Now, if the thought of your two-year-old being passed from one Fijian boat-hand to another perched precariously on a bobbing tinny, across a metre or so chasm of open water, is enough to get your heart racing, then you may want to consider another method of transport. The frail, elderly and those with infants would be better opting for a private speedboat or helicopter transfer. Although we enjoyed the adventure, the Smith family kids loved the more costly private speedboat back to the mainland at the end of our stay.
The Man Friday resort manager (come Jack-of-all-trades host, guitar-strummer, coconut-tree climber, basket-weaver, turtle carer and child entertainer) makes the inconvenience of arriving a few hours before check-in seem like an opportunity – more time to start exploring the island (we did wish we had our bathers handy though). By the time we access to our Hillside Villa, we feel right at home, and wow, what a home.
Breathtaking balcony views are reward enough for the steep walk up (even carrying a tired toddler). The villa itself is stunning – stylishly furnished, thoughtfully provisioned (think L’Occitane bath products) and ultra comfortable. We feel part of the surrounding treetops, and the open bathroom louvres frame the rugged and remote but utterly spectacular island landscape perfectly. Described as one-bedroom, the villa is large enough to comfortably house a decadent canopied king-size bed, comfy two-seater couch, full-size single bed and cot brought in for the kids, and still leave plenty of room for dancing and jumping about.
Everything has been anticipated – so when I casually mention that I fancy a biscuit with the tea that Mrs Smith is making (as I check emails on my iPad with lightning-fast WiFi), there they are – huge, delicious, chocolatey home-baked cookies in a jar right next to the kettle – with compliments. That’s just how it is at Vomo – you think of something you need or want, and there it is, provided with a smile.
Paddle-boarding has been on my wish-list for ages, but I never really found the time to try it… or, rather, didn’t feel like making a fool of myself in front of Melbourne’s bayside onlookers. So what better opportunity than at Vomo – private beach, calm waters, just me and my board, and of course Mrs Smith to laugh at me as I fall off (onto some fairly spiky coral), and climb on, and fall off again. I notice a few Vomo staff also gather to watch as I drift out to sea – no matter, I finally conquer the sport, and the nasty board-shaped scrapes on my stomach are nearly all healed a fortnight later! Note to self: a rash vest is a must when boarding or snorkelling in coral-encrusted waters.
All this romantic ‘couple time’ is made possible by some seriously organised childcare. The Smith family kids can’t wait to run across the bouncy-bridge leading to the Kids’ Village, to put on their fairy dresses and wings and play with all of the new toys. With an air-conditioned play area, daily visits to the Turtle Sanctuary and structured island activities for kids of all ages, I’m sure I sensed hesitation when we asked them to come swimming! Outside the Village there’s a huge cubby house and sheltered eating area, where at 6pm all the families come together for the kids’ buffet – a chance to feel good about the fact that you’re not the only one whose offspring won’t eat anything except chips. With a Baby Butler to watch over them, the kids are then whisked up to the villas and tucked into bed, while the parents head off for dinner – and a well deserved glass of wine (or two) at the bar.
‘Three-course meals, thrice a day… I deserve it as I’ve just climbed Mount Vomo/swum to Vomo Lailai Island/hit the gym/played a set of tennis/circumnavigated the island on foot/been flat out in the day spa/worked hard on my tan by the pool…’ These are the justifications you can see going through every guest’s mind as they take a seat at the poolside Reef Restaurant for yet another gourmet feast. With everything except alcohol included, we feel happy to have as little or as much as we like, and with plenty of meal options for the kids, there are even times when we’re able to finish off our meals without having to share. We nearly jump for joy when we look at the wine list (after a week of slim pickings on mainland Fiji). Succinct, well selected options, at extremely reasonable prices – too tempting not to opt for that second bottle – oh well, surely the Baby Butler can come back at 7am…