Family Friendly Luxury In Fiji At The Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort

3 years ago I wrote about an article about romantic and family friendly luxury hotels. In it, I included the magical sounding Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji.  Why so romantic? Aside from the fact that it’s in the South Pacific, every child gets their own nanny/buddy.  Yes you read that right, each child gets their own nanny! Now I still haven’t made it to Fiji to confirm if this is actually the case. But lucky for you dear readers, our Asia luxury contributor, Celine visited over Easter.  I’ll give you a spoiler, she concluded that it was the best family holiday she’s ever had!

Who went?

Us with Edouard (6) Hugo  (4) Arthur (18 months)

When did you go and how was the weather?

Easter (early April), weather was fantastic, one shower over 8 days, sunny otherwise. Apparently October is also a good time to go to Fiji but do check Australian school holidays as it can get busy.

How did you book the trip? What was included in the package?

Plane to Nadi: Fiji Airways website…  Direct Flight 9-10h

Hotel and Transfer, through the Cousteau booking team (based in Melbourne) who were extremely reactive and helpful.

Jean Michel Cousteau resort is an all-inclusive place so EVERYTHING was included except spa and alcoholic drinks

Did you request anything from your accommodation in advance e.g. baby cot, sterilizer?

Baby cot which was set up when we arrived

Did you need a visa? 

Nope, “common” citizenship don’t.

How was the flight? Any tips?

HK-Nadi is a 10h night (leaves at 5pm) flight, pretty easy

Nadi HK is a 10h day flight (leaves at 8am!)… kind of PAINFUL with kids!

Note that this flight requires you to sleep over in Nadi, highly recommend the Fiji Gateway Hotel, walking distance from the airport, pool with a waterslide and family rooms with bunkbeds.

We flew business, very good service, very good with kids, staff offered one of their own lunch because there was no pasta left for my kids and the remaining dishes were kind of spicy

FLIGHT TIP! Flight has a code share with Cathay so is also bookable through Cathay website… except that Cathay charges a good 2 times the price compared to the Fiji Airways website! We literally flew business through Fiji airways for 20% extra than Cathay economy price.

How far was the hotel from the airport?  Did you arrange airport transfer in advance?

You need to take a small plane from Nadi to Savusavu, about 1 hour… There was a JM Cousteau staff waiting for us at the domestic flight terminal, we initially were supposed to have a 4 hour wait but they managed to move us to a flight that was leaving in the next hour, which was awesome.

Note that if you do have to wait, JM Cousteau has an agreement with the Gateaway airport hotel and you can hang out at the pool waiting for your flight if it s several hours later.

Transfer from airport to hotel is about 20 minutes, car came with adequate carseats without requesting it. Not that the ride is scary .

How was your room?

We stayed in 2 different rooms because the family villa was not available the first 3 nights. So we first had the honeymoon villa that fits 5 (don’t ask) and then we moved to the family beach villa that I would highly recommend for a family as it has a master bedroom with ensuite,  huge, and a separate bedroom with twin beds and a separate bathroom.

Rooms are traditional Bures, note that the resort is an eco resort so that there is no aircon in the room. I am an aircon gal, I like to sleep with aircon under a duvet and I must say this was absolutely no problem at all, fans and the way Bures are built made it totally comfortable.

How were the hotel facilities?

The Jean Michel Cousteau resort is an all-inclusive luxury eco resort. At first you might be “disappointed” by the level of luxury given the price… it only lasts about couple of hours but don’t expect four seasons style, fantastic buffets, state of the art gym and infinity pool.

So the hotel has 2 pools, one adult only, one family one with a water slide inside the kids club. It has only one restaurant  serving buffet bfast, lunch from 12 to 2pm and dinner from 7pm to 9:30pm (but wait and see below for the food review… and times just work with the lifestyle!).

It s right on the beach, provide snorkeling equipment for the whole family, has stand up paddle boards, catamaran, kayaks, a private island, crystal clear waters and a kids club (again see below!)

There is a spa, that I got to use twice thanks to the kids club… highly recommend

How was the beach?

The beach is nice however since the water are full of colorful corals there are lots of broken corals on the beach and the sand disappears at high tide. The water is crystal clear with exotic fishes just right there. Baby sharks come to swim next to the shore of the private island.

The hotel has a marine biologist onsite that goes snorkeling with the families and a dive center.

How was the Kids Club?

I’m not sure Kids Club actually does justice to the actual facility… kids heaven would probably be more appropriate! This place takes the concept to a whole new level and has been voted best kids club in the world by several travel experts over the years for a good reason!

In terms of facilities, you have 2 pools (one proper one where you welcome to have fun with your kids one paddling one) both with waterslides, a massive trampoline,  a kiddy house on stilts with a slide to come down,  a mushroom waterfall,  showers and bathroom, a full kitchen and open air dining area, a zip line in the trees, a massive tree house with slides and hanging bridges, swings in the trees, a private beach, an open air lounge area with TV (for night time movies) and a ping pong table… and… the best of it all… the price does include one nanny per kid under five and one per 3 kids for kids over five yo, from 8am till 9:30pm, yes you read it right!

So my 18 month old was taken care of by an amazing Fijian mommy, Susanna, who would do anything with him from water slide to crab hunt to take him back to the room for a nap and read stories. My eldest two were “given” Kam as a buddy, an 18yo guy, who would basically do anything they want from going 100 times down the water slide, taking them snorkeling, kayaking or putting them to bed after movie at night if we were having dinner. All my kids cried when they left.

Kids can have lunch and dinner at the kids club, parents pre-order the food, or at the main restaurant… ours came the first lunch with us and then asked if they could do kids club as they could go and play after 10min, they had a group of Fijian musician coming to play for them and their friends around.

In terms of activities, there are 2 family snorkeling trips a day (in a glass bottom boat so younger kids can join) organized a day with Jonny the onsite marine biologist who goes in the water with a special board where he can write what he sees under and let the kids know. Parents are super welcome to join, the adult snorkeling trip is for 13yo and above. There was even a night snorkeling trip organize, my kid could not book it in time and when he told Jonny he was disappointed not to have gone, the biologist took him privately with his dad the next evening!

Kids Club activities include coconut planting, sword carving on the beach, how to count in Fijian classes, Robinson Crusoe beach shed building, hermit crab races, recycling workshops etc… nothing indoor here, just eco fun.

The hotel also organizes afternoon trips every second day where families, kids only with their nannies or parents only can join, among which, mangrove discovery, rain forest and waterfall hike and village tour with 1 hour inside the local school with the kids.

They usually play a movie at night, till 8-8:30 and there is a second round of festivities for older kids/teenagers after till 9:30.

Unrivalled experience (and we are NOT kids club persons as for us holidays is family time especially for my husband who works full-time), seriously when holiday can get any better than handing over your kids at 5:30pm, shower as long as you want and head to the bar for fabulous cocktails over sunset while your kids are being showered, fed, put in pjs and entertained in kids paradise the whole time?

How was the food at the hotel/restaurant options?

There is only one restaurant with fairly limited hours, again as compared to all day dining style by the pool… and for lunch and dinner you have the choice between 2 starters, 3 mains and 2-3 desserts. Again at first we were a bit “disappointed” as food is a big deal for us… By the third meal we were glad to have so little choice because every single dish was amazing and never had twice the same dish on the menu over the week. The hotel aims at using homegrown products so your veggies are grown behind the kids club and the fish is fished in the morning and the chef is brilliant. Note that liking coconut is a must as lots of Fijian food is coconut based.

The bartenders are brilliant, they make the most amazing cocktails.

Did you do any excursions? 

We have not, we should have, next time… Do bring sneakers as I only took flip flops and mangrove or waterfall hike require close shoes

Did you eat outside of the hotel? 

No but there is nothing outside

What tips would you have for someone planning the same holiday?

Don’t hesitate and go. The hotel manager has a former experience as a butler and she took care of many very VIPs and she provides a level of service that we never experienced elsewhere.

Don’t overpack, laundry is included… so as she said, just give us everything the day before you go and you bring back home a suitcase full of clothes ready to be put back in the wardrobe, cleaned and ironed.

Would you return?

Yes in a heartbeat, it’s in our travel plans for 2018 or 2019! It s a bit of a trek but so worth it and we don t even dive, it’s supposed to be a fantastic diving spot as well.

Probably the best holiday we have had with kids

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