Located on a secluded peninsula near the beautiful unspoiled harbor town Savusavu on Vanua Levu (Fiji’s second largest island) sits a beautiful, luxurious, socially responsible and eco-friendly resort by the name if Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort (JMCR). JMCR built in the style of a typical Fijian village is fringed with tropical palm trees and pristine blue waters. I’ve previously written about my incredible family experience here (click here to read), but this post is a little different.
On the 20th of February 2016, Tropical Cyclone Winston devastated the Fijian Islands. It was the most severe tropical cyclone to make landfall in the southern hemisphere. Cyclone Winston ripped apart the country and its people.
But if I have learnt anything from my extensive time in Fiji, it’s that the country and its people are incredibly optimistic and resilient. JMCR was one of the resorts damaged by Cyclone Winston, and recently reopened their doors after extensive restorations. What makes JMCR even more special is that it stayed closed for over 6 months in order to help its 180 staff members and wider community pick themselves up before beginning their own restorations.
My family and I were lucky enough to visit the revamped Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort on our recent trip to Fiji and it looks like a brand new resort, possibly even better than before (and it was previously voted the best 5-star all-inclusive luxury resort in Fiji and the South Pacific!) It was our fourth time staying at the resort (can you tell how much we love it?) and over the years we have become very close to many of the staff members there. Around 2 weeks after Cyclone Winston hit, my husband and four other men who we had previously met at while staying there started a fundraising campaign and then flew to the local village of Nukubalavu where many of the staff from the resort live. Over the course of a week, my husband and the other men fixed roofs, rebuilt homes and helped the locals get back on their feet. The guys said it was one of the hardest yet most rewarding weeks of their lives.
So, we were all so excited to visit the ‘new’ Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort after it reopened in early September. As we arrived, we were greeted with beautiful smiles from the familiar staff as they said, “welcome home.” While to us it seems like only yesterday we were here, for the staff, it’s a much different story. However, you’d never know how badly they or the resort was affected by Cyclone Winston. Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort is back and better than ever! On our first night, we and a few other guest gathered at the bar for pre-dinner drinks, listening to the spine-tingling stories of what happened on the fateful 20th of February. After hearing about the extensive damage, it’s hard to believe that this resort made a full recovery. As we chatted with the other guests, it was clear there was a really warm and friendly feel surrounding the whole place. Many of the guests were wondering how they could change their flights to stay a few more days and saying how great it would be to take their Fijian nannies home (each family is provided with a dedicated nanny for each child under the age of 6 years). After drinks, we spent some time wandering around the new resort, marvelling at how beautiful all the upgrades and restorations looked. Here is a list of just a few of the new features:
One of the best things about Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort is that it’s a 5-star luxury (and eco friendly) resort, but completely family-friendly. There are not many other places in the world where you can have romantic candlelight dinners while on holiday with your children (and know they are going to be very happy). Our kids (all four of them) absolutely love the Bula Club, so much so that I actually started to miss them because we hardly got to see them. I always insisted that the kids had lunch with my husband and I, but before desert was even served, they were just itching to get back to the Bula Club! And in all honesty – why wouldn’t they be? With their huge list of activities and children’s programmes they’d be silly not to. The complimentary Bula Club for Kids runs pool games, crab racing, sand-castle making competition, table tennis, snorkelling, kite flying, Fijian lessons, basketball and soccer games, rainforest hikes, bamboo rafting, village trips and so much more. If I were a kid, I wouldn’t want to hang out with me either if I had all of the above on offer. There is even a tree house in the gardens.
With the kids off at the Bula Club, we had plenty of time to relax and sip cocktails by the adult’s pool. And, when we missed the kids, we would head over to the family pool to hang out there (not that they even noticed us – they were having too much fun on the water slide). A few other highlights of our recent trip included a newly run kayak adventure along the Qaloqalo River through lush mangrove and past red coral to the stunning Salt Lake. We even stopped in the middle of the lake where there was a pontoon for the kids to jump off and play around in the water. Our family also spent a day in the nearby rainforest, which was a great afternoon out for everyone. After about a 20-minute hike we were treated to a very rewarding swim and water-fall on the other side. Another thing we love doing when we are at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort is going to the Saturday morning markets, which is close by to the resort in the town of Savusavu and definitely worth the trip. We even picked up some lobsters, which the kitchen at the resort was more than happy to cook up for us! Now that’s what I call service.
All in all, if you’re after a luxury getaway, mixed with a homely and friendly feel that’s perfect for families (and even couples), I cannot recommend the all new Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji highly enough.
Take advantage of our Dive & Rejuvenation package at Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort Fiji special which includes all meals, soft drinks, bottled water, tea and coffee, plus up to 2 free nights and bonus diving and massages (when you stat a minimum of 6 nights). Also included are most resort activities, snorkelling trips, guided excursions, and morning yoga. If that is not enough what about ALL kids aged 5 years and under have the luxury of their own dedicated nanny from 8am – 9pm daily, plus the older kids get a buddy to hang out in the Bula Club with (they are in groups of approximately 5 kids per buddy). Massages and scuba dives – there is not much that is not included! (of course conditions and black out dates apply!)