Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fiji for beginners...

So Fiji seems to be totally 'on trend' at the moment, so why not post this fabulous thoroughly enjoyable and in depth review of Fiji, and one that I've had tucked up my sleeve for a while.

Sue, Mike and their little man Matteo travelled to Fiji a few months ago, and were generous enough to provide us with this hugely excellent review. Thanks in advance Sue and family for such a well written and article write up of Fiji. My little hip family and I totally want to go there NOW!

So here we go...over to Sue (many thanks).

Bula Fiji !!!
So tell us a bit about your family
There’s three of us – me (Sue), hubby (Mike) and our little hip (Matteo – 14mths).  Although we live in Sydney, our families are based in Perth and New Zealand, so Matteo is quite the avid traveller already. This, however, was his first international holiday not to go see family....... and what a holiday he had!
Where have you been of late with your little ‘hips’?
Having previously worked in the travel industry, Mike and I indulged in years of carefree travelling the globe, but now with a ‘little hip’, choosing a family holiday took on a whole new perspective and some serious consideration.
In the end we chose to go follow the sun and head to Fiji. I’d been there a few times before and loved it but this was to be a new adventure for the boys.
How did you get there?
We flew to Nadi with Air Pacific and they were great. 
You know you are truly on holiday when you step into an aircraft and hear the soothing sounds of Island music playing and are greeted by beaming Fijian smiles and a resounding “Bula”. Ahhhh...farewell Sydney!
 We had our bassinet cot confirmed for Matteo. Matteo is about 11kgs and was probably just about the right size for the cot. They say it will hold a child up to 16kgs but I have my doubts the cot would be long enough for a child of that size. The staff were fantastic on board and very attentive with our cot put up straight after the seatbelt sign going off (as with the half a dozen other cots).
With sleeping child, Mike and I had plenty of time to watch our own TV screens and eat our yummy meal. Having a child too small for activity books and asleep over meal times, I can’t comment on what other children received in way of services but there was a cartoon movie on one of the channels that looked good.
I would highly recommend Air Pacific, a full service airline for the same price as some of the budget carriers and staff who genuinely seem to love their job.
Where did you stay?
We stayed at the Outrigger on the Lagoon – and this was the true centrepiece to our holiday. Recommended to me by one of my Fijian friends for being the most kid friendly, this place did not disappoint. Located about 1 hour south of Nadi Airport and at the top of the Coral Coast near Sigatoka, this is a manageable distance for a transfer and a brilliant kid’s resort.
We took a prearranged seat in coach transfer with Coral Sun tours to get to the resort. After a 3 ½ hour flight the coach took the ‘mail trail’ and 2 hours to get there stopping at all the resorts to drop people off on the way. I don’t recommend doing the seat in coach option. In actual fact on our way back to the airport we used a company called Pacific Destinationz for our transfer, in a beautiful private car and they provided a baby seat (unlike a coach).  One hour after leaving the resort, we were at the airport. A word of warning though – the roads in Fiji are atrocious so always give yourself more time than needed to get anywhere!
The Outrigger on the Lagoon satisfied all our needs. Hubby got the largest pool in the Southern hemisphere, a golf driving range and course, loads of water activities and four restaurants to choose from to eat.
 I just wanted some time to myself (I’m sure you can relate) so the exclusive Bebe Spa did it for me.
We stayed in the Superior View Room which is their standard room in the main wing. This was all we needed and apart from having a ground floor view, it was just like the Ocean view rooms but cheaper. Two double beds and a supplied portacot, and there was still plenty of room for our son to run around. For larger, more vocal families I would consider the Bures (house huts) located throughout the resort.
Kids are treated like Kings and Queens at this resort.  Aside from the fact that all staff pass by you with a vivacious ‘Bula’, don’t be surprised if everyone from the gardeners to the porters stop to say hello to the kids and ask for a ‘high five’. Our son absolutely loved the attention and didn’t shy away from the kisses and cuddles from the ladies too.
For those that have older kids this resort offers a ‘Kids under 12yrs Stay and Eat Free’ plus access to the free kids club. They have two kids club groups – Ages 3-7 and 8-12yrs and a special fenced in kids club area complete with a play area for the little ones. You name it, they had it when it came to the activities. I saw some of the older kids on the beach learning to fish, having watermelon smashing competitions, t-shirt tie dying lessons, crab racing, and coconut throwing, just to name a few. The little ones were doing all the sorts of things they would at child care – except with copious amounts of singing and dancing Fiji style. 
Sadly Matteo was too young to take advantage of the club activities but here comes another option for others like us. The Outrigger offers a personalised Meimei (nanny) service. For about $40 a day (min 4 days) one of the trained nannies becomes yours for up to 8 hours a day. They meet with you on day one and run through a complete child debrief before you book them in for the days/hours you want. The great thing with this option is you dictate where and what you want your child to do. The nanny will even spend the entire time pushing your child around the pool in the pram if you really wanted it! 
The one thing we personally did take advantage of was the casual babysitting service offered by the nannies. Matteo spend an hour with a nanny (costing us a measly $9) for an adult’s only dinner. It was bliss to not have to warn fellow dinners of incoming ‘grape or cheese grenades’ from our son in his highchair.
Speaking of eating, the Outrigger on the Lagoon has four restaurants and as many bars. The main restaurant is a full buffet option, including a separate kids buffet complete with all time favourites like Spag & meatballs, fish and chips and hot dogs. There’s three other restaurants including a more upmarket adult’s only option. Themed dinners and entertainment are available at the buffet restaurant every night.
When booking we were offered a meal package. We took the breakfast only option given it wasn’t great value otherwise for just two of us, especially since we are not big lunch eaters. For those going with a couple of hungry little munchkins, take the full board package for the adults (at around $600 pp) as this entitles the kids to eat all meals free and at most restaurants. Other than that there is always a child’s menu available offering some surprisingly good food options. The food is not that cheap at the resort if you are just buying a meal at a time, although we walked away only spending around $100 a day for meals and drinks.
This resort is probably the most family friendly resorts I’ve come across. Not a recommendation for a couple of honeymooners, but certainly one for families with kids of all ages and mums/dads that are ready to relax.

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