Sunset sail at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji
Earlier this month I visited the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji on assignment for Glamping.com. You can read my full daily trip reports on the Glamping.com Blog here. I don’t want to repeat myself, so this post is a more traditional hotel review for readers of this blog.
Poolside at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Resort
The last time I visited Fiji I was on my honeymoon. Having just celebrated a milestone anniversary, my husband and I thought it was time to re-visit the South Pacific island country we had such fond memories from. I was thrilled to find a Glamping.com property in Fiji, so started pinned down dates at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in early October. The resort is one of the world’s first eco-resorts and has, as one would assume with the name “Cousteau” attached, an excellent reputation for it’s SCUBA diving program.
The Musical welcome at JMC Resort Fiji
There are not a lot of flights from the US to Fiji, so we booked business class on Fiji Airways direct flight from LAX to Nadi, Fiji. For the record, Fiji Airways rocks. The 11 1/2 hour flight was painless and the the airline has extremely friendly flight attendants and a gorgeous, minimalist livery with tribal accents. We spent a few nights in Nadi to recover from jet lag before hopping on the smaller plane to the island of Savusavu, where the resort is located.
We were greeted at the Nadi airport by Mini, a representative from the resort who helped manage to pull some strings to get us on an earlier flight to the island. It was our first interaction with the personalized service for which the resort is known. All the staff was helpful and very friendly. I also liked that they all wear very legible name tags, so you don’t feel pressured to memorize everyone’s name. There is high staff-to-guest ratio, so it’s a thoughtful touch.
Garden Bure #18 was our home away from home
We arrived to a musical greeting and a lovely message of “welcome home,” which sets the tone for the resorts laid-back-yet-attentive management philosophy.
Our room, a thatched room traditional Fijian”bure,”was not ready when we arrived so we just chilled out near the pool in the adults-only “serenity area.” Wifi worked on the day beds and staff checked on us frequently to make sure we had everything we needed… including several fresh, young coconuts to drink.
Note: EVERYTHING tastes better when served in a coconut
The seated hammock for our Garden Bure
A seaside seating area
The rooms upscale yet simple thatched huts (called bures), cooled by fans. The bathroom was suitably luxurious with dual sinks and a good shower. The staff put out mosquito coils every night and will hang mosquito netting above your bed upon request (we requested it). There are no televisions or telephones in the rooms, but you don’t miss them. Our garden bure was not the quietest room, as it was situated close to the Bula club (the on-site club for young children) and family pool. Couples might prefer booking an ocean front bure should you want more solitude.
Simple island elegance is the vibe in Garden Bure #18
Overall the resort did a great job keeping both families and children happy. Each child is assigned a Nanny during their stay, and their are activities for both younger children as well as teens. Basically EVERY family member has a good time at the resort. I shocked to find myself enjoying the crab races that were intended for the kids. The kids programs have a eco-education theme to them that I thought was a nice touch, and the resort employs a lot of locals so it gives you a great sense for the warmth of the Fijian people.
Plenty of seating areas and a well staffed activities center are big draws at the resort
September and October are high tourist season in Fiji (due to Australian school holidays) and are known for having the best weather. My stay experienced unseasonable rains, but that didn’t hamper the fun as much as my tanning and photo opportunities. The thatched roofs above the poolside day beds kept me dry and there were plenty of umbrellas available if you wanted to dash to your bure.
Visiting the private island belonging to the resort was one of the highlights of the trip
One of the resort’s not-to-be missed features is a visit to it’s private island, which is about 10 minutes away by boat. The island can be booked for a picnic lunch or a romantic dinner for an extra charge at this all-inclusive resort.
A kayak on the private island
Palm tree shadows on the private island’s private beach
The activities staff packed us a cooler full of beers and water (bottled Fiji, of course) and gave us a radio in case we wanted to be picked up earlier than our pre-arranged time. It was fun to explore the small island with it’s perfect sandy cove beach and covered dining area. A few beers in we were giggling and screaming “Wilson” a la Tom Hanks in Castaway. Our return ride arrived right on time and we were shuttled by boat back to the resort in time for happy hour.
Just in case you were wondering… no tresspassing allowed!
The resort has a different theme each day… be it Fijian Culture, Ecological Awareness, or Rainforest Exploration. This is a nice touch and keeps the routine from getting monotonous. There are various excursions both on the resort grounds as well as off the property so you can get a hit of culture even if you never leave the resort’s grounds. It’s a great program.
One of the views from JMC Fiji’s Private Island
There were daily snorkeling trips for both adults and teens, and the activity center had plenty of catamarans and upright paddle boards available for those who prefer to stay above the water.
The resort’s pool is the social hub
The center of the resort’s social activity is the resort’s pool and dining Vale ni Vakayakavi. The evening activities (such as dance performances and the aforementioned crab races) also take place in this space.
Perfectly ripe papaya for breakfast
A corn cake with bacon, tomato, and greens
The food at the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji resort was local, fresh, and excellent. It was far better than any of the food I had in Nadi and the portion sizes are perfectly sized so that your well fed but still fit into your bikini.
Daily Specials listed on the board at breakfast
Trying the daily breakfast specials
All but alcoholic beverages are included in the room rate and the crazy delicious Mai Tais were well worth the splurge.
A cooking demonstration during “Fijian Culture” day
Soup and salad at lunch
A table set for a family at the dining vale
The coconut braised plantain we learned to make during the cooking lesson
Two of the resort’s standout dishes: the thinly sliced pork with island slaw and the tuna udon
Enjoying a Kava Ceremony with the Kava boys, who performed nightly
The most memorable night was on Fijian Culture day when the proteins for dinner were cooked in a traditional Fijian lovo pit, and served buffet style in palm frond serving baskets.
The traditional Fijian Lovo cooking pit “before”
The “after” shot of the lovo cooking pit
The nightly torch lighting ceremony
Most of the guests at the resort are from Australia and New Zealand, with the US being the third strongest market. The guests were all friendly and I felt a tad guilty that I could not engage in their convivial cricket and rugby rivalry banter, as I do not speak either cricket or rugby.
A table set for 2 for dinner at the resort’s vale
Chicken drumsticks at dinner
Braided palm serving bowls on the buffet at the lovo dinner
Poolside lantern glowing at night
All inclusive rates start at $980.
Address: Lesiaceva Point, Savusavu, Vanua Levu, Fiji
Reservations (toll free in USA & Canada): (800) 246-3454
Direct: +1(415) 788-5794
Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort features 25 bures (Fijian bungalows).
Disclosure: Much thanks to the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Resort and Glamping.com for partially sponsoring my stay. All opinions expressed are my own, based on my experiences during my stay at the resort.