Yes! It is possible to have a holiday of absolute luxury, fine dining and candlelit dinners every night when holidaying with kids. In the past I’ve found that to achieve this level of luxury there is a trade off in terms of satisfying everyone’s desires, but Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort (JMCR) offers it all…and more.
Every client I have sent to this island paradise has always come home raving about the resort itself, as well as the seeing, doing and complete experience that JMCR offers. Delivering the gifts of quality time out for mums and dads as well as more than satisfying the needs of high-energy kids, the resort is a destination in itself, with a well-deserved 5 star status.
JMCR is located in Savsavu, an hour’s flight on a small plane from Nadi. It has been built on a former coconut plantation and ticks all the boxes of being eco-friendly, child-friendly and most of all parent-friendly. Our family has visited four times now and I know we will go back again.
Every child five years and under has a dedicated nanny for their entire stay. The nannies are available upon requirement from 8am until 9 pm, or longer. The older kids 6 years and above have a buddy with a ratio of 5 kids per buddy, which allows for plenty of opportunities to make new friends. We had no concerns about leaving our four kids with the specially trained nannies/buddies, who are mostly from the local village.
The Bula Club has everything from a toddler pool with a small slide, a mushroom pool, family pool with slide, trampoline, sand pit, cubby house, arts and crafts, flying fox, giant chess board, tennis court and more… There are two programs; the Lei Lei Holiday programme (0 to 5 years) and the Maua Holiday programme (6 to 12 years).
Activities included daily trips on the glass bottom boat; kids can also go with nannies and buddies and parents are welcome too. Those who want to snorkel can. The littler ones just look through the boat, and Johnny, the marine biologist will bring things up for them to see, touch and learn about – an educational plus.
The list of things to do includes tennis, chess, kayak races, fishing, crab races, cookie-baking (using a sun oven), sand castle contests, table tennis, face painting, tee-shirt painting, and coconut painting. Not only will your kids have an amazing time, they will also learn about Fijian culture, and the amazing natural environment around them.
Having said this, we go on holidays not to ditch our kids, but to spend time with them, and this was also possible. While there was plenty of quality time for my husband and I to go off for a snorkel, hike, read a book or just lie by the adults’ only Serenity Pool and enjoy the peace, there was also so much to do as a family: picnicking on a private island, taking out the catamaran, heading for an adventure on the kayaks or stand up pandle boards, fishing, visiting the local town of Savsavu as well as snorkelling, either out to one of the sites nearby, or just off the pier – even scuba-diving. You can also check out the local village, rainforest hike and swim, or enjoy some simple beach combing – it’s amazing what you can find!
We also spent lots of time in the family pool, our kids couldn’t get enough of the water slide and we never knew there were so many ways to flip and turn down a slide – on your knees, lying down, head first, backwards! The joy of seeing happy kids is priceless.
Our eldest son, aged 10, did his Padi Dive Certification during our stay at JMCR and my husband joined in too. They did five incredible dives over three days in one of the best locations in the world and our son is now a certified diver! We are not sure if he knows exactly how lucky he is to achieve this at such a young age. I had not done any diving for over 20 years, but found it was an incredibly memorable experience being able to dive with my husband and son for their first certified dive. I enjoyed it even more once I remembered to stop being a mum and following him around! Our eight-year-old had a go at scuba in the pool (called the Bubblemaker program), so I am sure he will up for the fun of being certified on our next visit.
The food at JMCR is exceptional. Extremely fresh and healthy with just the right portion size. Most of the fruit and vegetables come from the resort’s own organic garden, and the fish are caught locally, very often by the guests.
The kids can either eat at the Bula Club or in the family restaurant, and unlike most other kids’ menus I have seen, they eat extremely healthy three-course meals. As parents we were very impressed.
In comparison to other resorts in Fiji, JMCR seems to have more expensive upfront costs, although I believe it is unquestionably worth it. And having spent some time at other resorts on the mainland, we found all the extras that are included at JMCR all add up: buying lunch and dinner, bottled water for the kids, soft drinks, ice-cream, babysitters, etc. At JMCR the only extras we paid for were alcoholic drinks, diving, fishing and massage – essential! There are packages available which included a couple of dives and massages.
A sign of a fantastic holiday is when you see families leaving and the mum and kids are crying because they have to leave. I didn’t see any Dads crying, but I am sure many have shed a parting tear – on the inside!.
Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort is luxurious, romantic and effortless. The staff is the friendliest in the world. I cannot recommend it highly enough. I know our family will be back.
Kate from Fiji for Families visited Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in 2014/2015/2016/2017/2018 with her family including 4 kids.