James Shrimpton escapes the woes of winter – and the cries of children – at an adults-only, sun-kissed resort in Fiji.
From winter woes in Australia to this hot, tropical island paradise of Fiji, it takes less than six hours to drive in total.
After the flight and a quick 25km ferry ride by South Seas Cruises from Port Denarau near Nadi, we arrived at the unique and serene Likuliku Lagoon Resort in Fiji, on Malolo Island in the Mamanuca group bathed in Sun.
A musical welcome from the Fijian staff as well as cold drinks awaited us at the resort’s pier on Masima islet, 150m along a promenade from the reception.
In a few minutes, we had swapped our Australian winter clothes for summer clothes and were enjoying our first Fiji Bitter, lying on our backs to admire the postcard landscape with the only sound of the gentle lapping of the sea on the water. white sand foreshore.
No splash-loving kids here, and none of the other childhood noises.
The five-star Likuliku (it means “place of calm waters”) hotel is designed for couples only, with a minimum age of 18, and proves popular with honeymooners – civil wedding ceremonies on the beach. beach can be arranged.
It’s not that the owners have anything against the kids, but they and other like-minded tour managers have recognized a niche market for mature adults who prefer vacations without the screams and the sobs that are part of childhood.
There are many others specializing in family vacations, many offering supervised kids’ clubs with a wide choice of activities, while others compromise by offering certain areas where children shouldn’t go, like swimming pools reserved for adults.
The Rosie family-owned group of companies, which operates Likuliku through Ahura Resorts, itself owns such a family-friendly beach hotel just a few miles away, which is named after the island they share, Malolo.
Likuliku has more than a touch of class, but why “unique”? It opened in April 2007 with the first bures (cottages) on stilts in Fiji, a style long popular in French Polynesia.
Accessible by another promenade 150 m from the island, these 10 bures are very similar in design to the 18 luxury bures lining the beach (each with its own outdoor terrace and plunge pool), except that they have two panels of Glass floor lounge area through which guests can watch the fish swimming below.
Eighteen other seaside bures make a total of 46.
Golf carts are used to transport luggage – and sometimes guests – to trails lined with colorful tropical foliage.
Regular resort prices are for two and include all meals, imaginatively presented by Australian Executive Chef Brett Kryskow, from Merimbula on the south coast of NSW.
Special packages are also available.
Bures on the water have proven particularly popular with guests, according to Rosie Group chief executive Tony Whitton, who says bookings have generally improved in recent weeks after dropping earlier this year mainly due to the crisis. global economy.
Likuliku was first designed in 2002, became a project in 2004, with construction starting the following year.
The concept, says Whitton, was for a resort offering a unique and authentic cultural experience on an island where some of the first Fijians to land 3,000 years ago after their sea voyage from Asia or Africa – according to the theory you prefer.
Likuliku was built in the style of an authentic Fijian village, using local hardwoods such as wild mahogany and pandan palm thatch, all with the cooperation and assistance of the island’s traditional landowners. .
Minimal concrete or metal was used in the construction, although concrete and galvanized steel were required for the bases of the water-based bures.
The reception area was modeled after a traditional canoe house.
Combined with the resort’s “celebration of Melanesian culture” and the always cheerful and helpful local staff are the modern refinements needed for an upscale 21st century resort, from the spacious air-conditioned bures with well-equipped bathrooms, to the list. daily diving and snorkeling activities amidst varieties of colorful corals.
Those who need to stay in touch with their business or family, however isolated they may be, can click on the Internet on two computers near the reception, available at no extra cost.
Cell phone reception is okay, but considering peace loving guests, the resort requests that they be used only in bures.
There is no television in the bures, but there is a tray in the Isa Lei living room with DVDs available from the library; there is also a daily faxed event information sheet in four regional editions: Australia, US, UK and Asia Pacific.
Tatadra Spa (meaning “House of Dreams”) can take away any lingering stresses from home with a Fiji style massage and a variety of body treatments using Pure Fiji products.
Whitton says his guests are around 30% from Australia, 25 from North America, 20 from Europe / Britain and eight from New Zealand.
Despite being just over two years old, Likuliku receives many “repeat” bookings, and a couple have visited five times already.
Activities? Lots of them – guests can do as much or as little as they want.
The profusion of corals and marine life makes diving and / or snorkeling to the nearby reef, where there is a marine reserve, a rewarding excursion.
Fishing is not allowed inside the reserve, but outside its limits it is possible to hook tuna, billfish and a variety of coral fish, while on a smaller scale, you can also try your luck with a hand line on a small boat cruise.
Guided walks from the resort include a walk to Jona Viewpoint, on top of a hill, a ridge trail to Naroba Point, and a walk along Naivaka Beach.
Malolo Island has two villages, Yaro and Solevu, which vacationers are welcome to visit – especially on Sundays for the Methodist church service in Yaro to experience one of Fiji’s superb village choirs.
Visitors to the village should respect local protocol: both men and women should dress modestly (resort provides full details) without wearing hats or backpacks; if you are invited into a house, take off your shoes at the door.
In addition, it is customary for the village chief to receive a gift: the roots of a pepper tree, which will later become the powder of the traditional Fijian drink called yaqona, also known as kava.
Legends and stories abound about Malolo and his place in Fiji’s history.
Centuries ago, settlers watched the sun set behind Malolo, believing that the island was created by the gods for the sun to come to rest after a day spent wandering the sky.
There are a number of archaeological sites, including a “sacred rock” where centuries ago the Yaro priests made sacrifices to the sea gods with the products of their land, including yaqona roots.
On this promontory is a “magic cave” once occupied by a Kalou Vu (spiritual god) who had the power to bestow blessings on his adherents such as bountiful harvests; only a “bete” (priest) could enter the cave.
Another sacred site close to the Likuliku Resort is called Ki Ni Wai (“the keys to the ocean”) where the supreme rulers of the Mamanuca Islands have been given control over the land and marine resources of the region.
And Vatu Tagi is a legendary rock which, if struck, would make a ringing or moaning sound – the rock was used as a “lali” (drum) by the elders of the tribes to announce meetings.
The writer was a guest of the Likuliku Lagoon Resort, flying to Fiji from Brisbane via Pacific Blue then sailing with South Sea Cruises to the resort.
IF YOU ARE GOING TO:
Likiliku Lagoon Resort is located in the Mamanuca Islands, 25 km from the main island of Viti Levu, Fiji.
It can be reached by South Sea Cruises (wwwssc.com.fij), with three ships making five daily connections to the Mamanuca Islands from Port Denarau, approximately 10 km from Nadi International Airport.
Helicopter transfers to Likuliku from Nadi Airport and back can also be arranged.
Likuliku offers a number of special packages starting at F $ 2,327.50 per person (approximately A $ 1,362) for three nights between November 1 and March 31, 2010 including all meals and a one hour massage plus a credit of $ 300 F (180 A) to spend on the spa, boutique or activities.
Standard rates are F $ 2,310 (A $ 1,383) per couple per night for a bure on the water, $ 1,871 F (A $ 1,120) for a luxury seaside bure, 1,651 $ F ($ 989 A) for a seaside bure and $ 1,375 F ($ 823 A for a seaside garden bure.
These prices include all breakfasts, lunches and dinners, daily specials, non-motorized water sports, a management cocktail on Friday, a bottle of water twice a day and a free sulu (sarong).
Pacific Blue offers direct flights to Nadi from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne with one-way fares starting at $ 269, $ 289 and $ 349 respectively. Front “Blue-Zone” seats cost an additional $ 45, while for an additional $ 15, passengers can rent a personal digE (digE) player with movies, TV shows, and a variety of music. Visit www.flypacificblue.com or call 13-16-45.