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FIJI FOOTSTEPS 

Following in their parents' footsteps, on family week children are welcomed in Fiji's exclusive adults-only resorts.


WORDS Sheriden Rhodes

Many of Fiji's most exclusive resorts are adults-only, meaning their luxurious trappings, sprawling bures, pristine waters and impeccable service are off limits for those with children - often until they turn 16. Except, however, for a few precious weeks a year when two of the destination's most luxe and secluded resorts put out the welcome mat, letting little ones run free and allowing resort staff to indulge their passion for family.

YASAWA
Hidden among the palms on a stretch of pristine white beach, facing west towards the setting sun, Yasawa Island Resort is among the most remote and untouched isles of Fiji. There are 18 traditionally thatched, air-conditioned beachfront bures with white stucco walls, featuring the best of barefoot luxury. The resort's two-bedroom Family bure and one bedroom Deluxe bures are most suited to five star families. Each bure has a discreet outdoor shower for a rinse off after a swim, and an expansive deck with daybeds.

The resort's 'Family Weeks' coincide with Australian school holidays and the next time children can stay is December 2012 and the month of January 2013. At this time, a Kids' Club operates for children four to 12 years (kids under five require a nanny or babysitter) involving a daily program of games and entertainment, including water play, fish feeding, crafts, and a sing along, drawn from the traditions of the Fijian people. Being a small boutique resort, meal times are family friendly. International chefs present meals sourced from the freshest, regional ingredients of the day and seafood just plucked from the surrounding waters of Yasawa Island.

Main image: Creating their own footprints along the stunning white sand at Yasawa
Above: Yasawa's restaurant

Resort owner James McCann said family weeks are some of the most popular times of the year, with a high percentage of return business. "Naturally we go from being a very romantic couples' retreat, to a more inclusive feel with kids and parents enjoying the resort beaches and importantly the local village."

McCann said the resort's relationship with the local village and school, and the experience it offers guests, differentiates it from other five star resorts. "We like the kids to not only enjoy the incredible snorkelling and beaches, but to also give them a fun appreciation of life, and expose them to the Fijian culture and a different way of doing things."

As kids enjoy organised play, cultural experiences and expeditions to explore the region's natural assets such as the famed Blue Lagoon Caves, parents can relax in their luxury beachfront bure, take a stroll hand in hand along the pristine white sand beaches or succumb to a soothing massage at the resort's magnificent Baravi Spa.

Despite its seclusion, Yasawa Island is only a 35-minute flight from the international airport at Nadi and reached via its own private airstrip, inaccessible to other travellers.

Offering either static or mobile tours, each morning will typically begin with a few hours riding, leaving you to relax in your luxury tent with lunch while the sun is at its peak. Heading back out in the wild sage scented early evening almost guarantees you'll spot elephants and hippos splashing in their pools at sunset and perhaps catch a glimpse of a leopard.

Tucked away in the extreme southeast of Botswana is the vast private game reserve, Tuli. Here you'll find Limpopo Valley Horse Safaris wedged between the Shashe and Limpopo Rivers, bordering South Africa and Zimbabwe. Specialising in small groups, there's potential for making this an intimate family adventure and with a minimum age limit of 16, these safaris are suitable only for very strong riders.

The more adventurous among us should try the classic style Tuli Safari, a seven-night mobile adventure sleeping either under the vast African night sky or in luxury walk-in tents, complete with hot showers and eco toilets.

For a more comfortable rest after a hard day in the saddle, try the Limpopo Lodge Ride. Your nights will be spent relaxing in a range of accommodation from gorgeous rustic chalets to The Limpopo House, a big colonial property overlooking the Limpopo River.

Above: friendly locals at Yasawa

From above: Dolphin Island’s beautiful pool
Turtle Island activities
What better palce to relax than a hammock overlooking the beach at Dolphin Island?

TURTLE
With possibly the most picturesque setting of any of Fiji’s resorts, on a stunning crescent shaped bay overlooking “The Blue Lagoon” and the Yasawas, the five star, all inclusive Turtle Island embraces parents, grandchildren and kids three times a year. There are 14 spacious bures large enough to accommodate a number of children in a second room, 14 private beaches, personal ‘bure mamas,’ top-shelf liquors, wines, and champagnes and world-class fishing, diving and snorkelling.

Many bures are named after past guests, including ‘Brooke's Bure’ (Brooke Shields) and "Ratu Mara Bure", the former Fijian President. Vonu Point is Turtle's premium bure—a traditional, two-room thatched cottage crafted by Fijian artisans, enjoying total privacy and panoramic views of the lagoon and neighbouring Yasawa Islands.

Gourmet meals are taken in the shade of a sprawling baka tree and other locations around the island at a long, communal table where many family friendships are made. You can also have private dinners under the stars or on a romantic, floating pontoon. The menu features fresh, locally caught seafood like yellow fin tuna, succulent lobster and crab, imported high grade Australian beef and vegetables from the resort's own organic garden picked that day.

Turtle Island made the decision to bend the rules and allows families (December 15, 2012 – January 13, 2013 is the next family period), in part due to the number of guests saying; “I wish I could bring my family here”. Family time at Turtle is magic for everyone including the island’s own staff who foster a nurturing, educational and fun-loving time for parents, grandparents and kids.

During family weeks, every child five and under is provided with a nanny at no extra cost, while those six and over have their own ‘Bula Buddy’ as a companion and playmate. On CC’s Beach an open bure is set up as a special dining and activity area for children with its own chef, dining room staff and meal times for kids. It’s also the departure point for the children’s fun island excursions and activities which include clam digging, crab hunts and races, fish feeding, hand-line fishing, nature hikes, sandcastle building, swimming, sail boarding, soccer, tug-of-war and volleyball.

DOLPHIN ISLAND
If you can’t wait for family weeks, the exclusive use Dolphin Island is another option to play Robinson Crusoe and can be booked anytime of the year.

Owned by Dutch multimillionaire Alex van Heeren, who made his money from shipping and banking among other things, the lush 13-acre private atoll is part of Huka Retreats, which includes New Zealand’s iconic Huka Lodge and Grande Provence, in South Africa. And while Huka recently refurbished Dolphin Island – adding additional accommodation to house eight guests at a time, increasing the bathroom size, contracting renowned interior whizz Virigina Fisher to swish up the décor and adding an infinity pool – it’s retained its unpretentious yet luxurious style. Located a short boat ride across the channel from Raki Raki to the north of Fiji’s main island Viti Levu, it can be home to your family on an exclusive basis with your own personal staff on hand, recreational equipment and tours and aquatic adventures with select operators.


Stay: Yasawa www.yasawa.com 
 Turtle Island www.turtlefiji.com
 Dolphin Island www.dolphinislandfiji.com 

 

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