While itís easy for a property to excel at land or sea, visitors to Fiji soon learn that the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort manages to do both. Founded by the son of diver Jacques Cousteau, this eco-luxury resort on the island of Vanua Levu makes the most of the secluded coastline and neighbouring barrier reef, while also delivering a serene onshore experience.
The tranquillity of this 25 bure (villa) property, an easy 20 minute drive from the small town of Savusavu, is also on offer for those travelling with children. Somehow, while gathering accolades for its strong environmental credentials, JM Cousteau has perfected the art of a luxury family holiday. Kids under five are quickly whisked away to hang out with their private nanny (one each for all kids under five); parents can choose to eat with the kids in the separate family dining area, or simply leave them to it. The approach, combined with the resortís clever design and a packed kids program, means those travelling kid-free could almost mistake this for an adults-only retreat.
The first place to indulge in the serenity is your private bure. With bures spread over 17 acres of coconut plantation, youíre unlikely to hear or see your neighbours except during meals or activities. There are six room configurations on offer, and while all are spacious and beautifully appointed, those with ocean views are even more compelling. This is particularly the case on day one, because as part of the wellbeing philosophy of the resort, all guests receive a complimentary foot soak on arrival.
If the foot soak and its accompanying lower limb scrub on your balcony doesnít do the job of resetting your body to Fiji time, itís likely a massage will. The spa program has been designed by the spa director of sister property Post Ranch Inn, and treatments like the coconut and pineapple wrap are enjoyed in small massage huts set along the shoreline.
For those willing to sacrifice a holiday sleep in, itís worth getting up early for the daily 7am yoga class (included). Held every morning on a grassy knoll overlooking the resortís nearby private island, just a short kayak away, local teacher Torika Tabua will have beginners and experienced students stretching, twisting and saluting the sun in no time.
Itís an activity which inevitably builds an appetite. In the restaurant overlooking the Serenity pool, meals (also included) are sensibly portioned. In theory, thereís no challenge eating healthily here: entrees like crab meat and coconut curry soup are followed by a lightly grilled fillet of New Zealand salmon or a grilled breast of corn-fed chicken. However, with three courses for lunch and dinner you will need to exercise some self discipline if youíre planning on declining the delicious desserts.
Still, thereís always life at sea for keeping off the kilos: Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort is poised on the edge of Namena Marine Reserve, and hence some of the worldís best dives can be had by heading out with the instructors from on-site dive shop, LíAventure.
Snorkellers are also well catered for: the resortís marine biologist offers two adult snorkelling trips a day to the best spots on the surrounding coastline. Donít worry about bringing your own Ė the resort will loan you a set during your stay. In fact, with most items taken care of here, itís easy to travel light: the resort even has an extensive pillow library to ensure every nightís rest is a good one.
Sue White is Author of Yoga Holidays Worldwide.