The villa’s master bedroom // © 2010 Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort
Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resortwww.fijiresort.com
The resort is located on Fiji’s second-largest island, Vanua Levu. All-inclusive rates for the villa begin at $2,470 per night, based on double occupancy.
While it isn’t uncommon to be welcomed to a Fijian resort with a relaxing foot scrub, getting this service next to the private pool in Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Islands Resort’s luxury villa was a special treat. What really had me wiggling my toes, however, was that I had been unexpectedly upgraded to the villa during my stay.
Set at the end of the 17-acre property, the 2,000-square-foot villa made me feel like I had the entire resort to myself. While the villa is made up of two buildings — a massive master suite and a living area — it is unwise to spend much time anywhere else but in the gorgeously appointed outdoor areas. While the private plunge pool is the most immediately noticeable feature, the wooden upper deck also comes complete with a dining area, lounge chairs and a cozy daybed. From the patio, a series of stone steps lead onto a lower patio, which feeds onto the beach.
The stretch of beach in front of the villa is far enough away from the resort’s 24 bure (bungalow) accommodations, and very few guests wander to that side of the resort. In fact, during the hours that I spent lazing on the hammock or snorkeling around what felt like my own private coral reef, I never once encountered another guest.
While the temptation to completely ensconce myself within the villa was strong, Cousteau offers far too many activities to stay hidden away for long. Because the resort is situated within a protected marine reserve, its snorkeling is out of this world. Native fish thrive around the coral reefs that front the resort. There is also a glass-bottom boat and an on-site marine biologist to give guests a variety of ways to learn about sea life.
For me, one of the highlights was heading out for an afternoon of fishing, just beyond the resort’s protected boundaries. The knowledgeable captain and crew pointed out landmarks from the boat, while giving us in-depth information about the marine life in the area. We caught several walu, which to my great excitement, the chef later prepared in a traditional Fijian dish known as kokoda (Fijian ceviche). This turned out to be a vacation I wouldn’t soon forget.