The kind of awesome, and sometimes insane, thing about press trips is that sometimes you get to do things would never otherwise get the chance to do. Like zip-lining or shark diving or, in this case, staying in really, really nice hotels.
In Fiji we stayed in some pretty spectacular places. Everything from private islands to family hotels to luxury backpacker resorts. The luxurious highlight specifically was the Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort, a stunning five star resort on the island of Vanua Levu. The only way to get there is by boat or private 8 seater plane. Not only did we get to stay here, we got to stay in the private luxury villa, the most expensive, most opulent room in the entire resort.
At JCM, which I mentioned last week is a pioneer of sustainable tourism, the basic rooms start at 800 Fijian dollars a night and go up significantly from there. This includes delightful 3 course meals and a free nanny for every kid under 12 (not much use to us, but still nice!). As a result their primary patrons are families and honeymooners. The villa is obviously more appealing to honeymooners, although really it was nicer than any honeymoon I’ll ever be able to afford.
Usually Mike and I feel really opulent and kind of guilty if we splurge for a hotel room at all, so to stay in the “No. 1 Suite in Fiji” as voted by the World Travel Awards was so out of character we actually kind of felt like con artists. Someone had made a mistake. This is the room they put celebrities in, not backpackers.
Still, I am nothing if not professional (the things I do for you people) so I thought I’d give you a peek into exactly what kind of luxury that entails.
The villa was 2000 square feet, big enough to almost get lost in. Outside there was a delightful patio and day beds, there was a hammock down by the ocean where there was a terrific view of the resorts private island. And of course there was the private pool (my skinny dipping dreams were dashed by the rain).
Inside was split into two buildings separated by a thatched roof porch area. On one side was a spacious sitting room, with a fridge full of food and beverages, a gorgeous view and a kitchenette (do people who stay at these places actually cook?).
On the other side it get’s crazy. An enormous stone bathroom featuring a two person hot tub sunk into the floor. Outside is your very own private waterfall. There are also two indoor showers and two outdoor showers. Upstairs is the opulent bedroom with not one, but two walk in closets.
So how did it feel? I know you may be shocked, but staying at a five star resort feels pretty awesome. I see why celebrities like it.
Nice, but kind of stressful. There was just no way to fully take advantage of a place with 4 separate showers, six different places to lounge outside and over 35 places to sit (I counted). Not ot mention the pool, the hot tub, the ocean. And that’s just what we had before even leaving our room. How can you appreciate it all? Not in two days at least.
We did enjoy it though. We enjoyed our complimentary foot massage on arrival, and the free cocktails and snacks delivered to our room at 5pm daily. We enjoyed the entire mini-fridge full of Fiji Water and the really good chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen. We enjoyed watching the stars that crowded the unpolluted Fijian sky, and we definitely enjoyed our waterfront massages.
In fact, I think we got spoiled. I certainly wouldn’t mind being a luxury traveler, although only once in awhile. It’s certainly not as exciting and unpredictable as hostel life. I mean, you can’t meet anyone interesting inside of your private villa, except maybe that lizard who dropped on my foot one morning. I’ve talked about the pros and cons of all-inclusive resorts in the past. They are fun for sure but you don’t get the community atmosphere or the crazy stories, it’s definitely not the same vibe. Plus, as Mike has written about, Fiji can definitely be done well on a smaller budget too.
It’s not the same, but it sure has it’s merits. Like jacuzzis.
“Maybe we should just become luxury bloggers,” I told Mike, as we sipped our complimentary pre-dinner drinks in the hot tub. I mean, where do you go after this anyways? It’s all downhill for us accommodation wise. I’ll never be able to afford to stay here again, but I suppose it is part of my travel ethos to “enjoy it while it lasts.”
After all, anything can be an adventure.
Thank you to the Fiji Tourism Board and of course Jean-Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort for hosting us. All opinions are my own.