We’ve been talking about it for years and now it’s about to happen – our first multi-generational family holiday. For sister-in-law Sharyn and children Matthew, 17, and Sarah, 14, it’s their first time in Fiji and for Nan, June, it’s her first trip overseas. That’s a swag of firsts! As regular visitors to Fiji, Paul and I are hoping that the family will love the place and the people as much as we do. We’re crossing fingers for great weather, fun times and wonderful memories. Our destination … Plantation Island Resort.
So far, so very goodWe’re still in Nadi airport when I anxiously check out the family’s individual reactions to this new place. It’s big grins and wide eyes all around and not long before I hear our little group returning regular and hearty “BULA”s to the welcoming airport staff.
So far, so good! The Malolo Cat boat transfer to our destination only takes 40 minutes and the afternoon set-sail transitions to a beautiful twilight cruise, arriving at Plantation Island Resort just as night falls. There’s a traditional Fijian welcome for the new guests as fairy lights twinkle around the resort and although all won’t be revealed until daylight, I check again on our travelling companions – even wider-eyes and excited Christmas-morning faces!
So far, so very good!
Dining delightsWe check out our ‘cool’ bures and freshen up, deciding we’ll sample the fare at the Black Coral Restaurant for dinner. Plantation Island Resort offers several dining options including buffet and the a la carte Anandas Restaurant (we enjoy a great dinner here on our last night). A recent addition to the resort, (along with the new FJD $200,000 ‘Boatshed’ recreation area, upgraded convention centre and soft refurb on all bures) Black Coral has an extensive menu that caters for all appetite sizes and tastes (including kids meals) and we place a mouth-watering order of fish and chips, chicken schnitzels, pasta and toasted sandwiches. Matt decides his first night in Fiji deserves to be celebrated with a mocktail and opts for a blazing red, fruity non-alcoholic Red Riding Hood, which he declares to be delicious.
Fiji turns on her very bestOur first morning greets us with glorious sunshine, a cloudless expanse of brilliant blue sky and a balmy 28 degrees. Once again Fiji does not disappoint and has turned on her very best for our holiday!
Only two of us make it to the buffet breakfast and after a rundown of the tantalisingly tasty food the sleepyheads missed it’s unanimous that we’ll all be first in line tomorrow morning to try everything. Wooden sun beds are scattered along the grassy beachfront, hammocks strung between majestic coconut palms. There’s no rush-and-grab here, there are plenty of both for everyone. Families are paddling at the water’s edge, kids are splashing and cavorting and we’re cozzied-up and ready for a whole day by the water. The tranquil lagoon is fringed with palm trees and shimmers in all shades of blue. It’s irresistibly warm. This is paradise.
Beach towels are provided, so we sign-out our six for the day. Matt dons snorkel gear and heads off to explore the newly established Coral Garden, abundant with vividly-coloured marine life. Sarah takes a kayak and leisurely paddles across the clear blue while munching on a chunk of fresh pineapple she says is ‘the best I’ve ever tasted!’
Something for all agesNan has her swimsuit on for the first time in years and wears a smile so broad it’s infectious. The warm and oh-so-friendly Plantation Island staff LOVE Nan and, already, the feeling is mutual! She’s brought the snacks and cold drinks to our chosen spot and settles herself into watching the kids, supplying sustenance to all of us when requested and venturing into the water, whenever she feels like it, a mere ten steps or so away.
Sharyn has brought multiple cameras. She’s compelled to capture all the beauty of Plantation Island; the yachts bobbing on moorings at the marina across from our resort, the spectacular sunrises and sunsets and Nan, always smiling. The kids scrawl “We love Fiji” in the sand and adorn their message with shells. Mum moves in with the big camera for a stunning close-up.
The fully supervised Kids Club is buzzing with t-shirt painting. With an indoor and outdoor playground there’s plenty to keep kids of all ages occupied and having fun here. Others settle into comfy seats in the cute movie theatre, complete with walls colourfully emblazoned with an underwater Nemo-esque scene. From the beautifully landscaped children’s pool area come constant squeals and shrieks of delight. The resort’s supermarket has everything from fresh bread to nappies, pharmacy items and vegemite tubes – at mainland prices. The Mini Mart provides milkshakes, ice-creams and ice-blocks, lollies and chocolates and chips plus healthier alternatives! There’s also the Coco Hut serving fresh fruit smoothies, cappuccinos and lattes. For a family on holiday on a Pacific island these food conveniences get a huge tick. Kids aren’t always hungry at set meal times and the all-day availability of well-priced food favourites on Plantation Island Resort keeps kids happy and makes life easy for mum and dad. (There’s also a convenient token-operated laundry with washing machines and dryers.)
Sarah gets hair braids, Mum and Nan have relaxing facials and Sarah and Matt experience their first-ever kids half- hour massage!
Sun-kissed and blissed outIt’s only Day 1 and already everyone is relaxed, happy and sun-kissed. We sit on the bure porch eating tropical fruit and sipping fresh coconut juice through a straw, thanks to the ‘cracking’ efforts of a friendly (and talented!) Fijian grounds man, keen for us to try the local fare. The sunset is out-of-this-world and provides the perfect Fiji holiday backdrop for a family photo. We enjoy a beautiful Mongolian BBQ buffet for dinner, the kids are invited to join the band for dancing and singing and traditional dancers and fire twirlers entertain guests young and old after dinner.
The sensational weather holds for us throughout our stay. We remind ourselves, out loud, several times a day – ‘How lucky are we?’ One of the original Fiji island resorts, Plantation Island’s reputation is legendary. Catering primarily, but not exclusively, for families, the resort’s facilities and beautiful location on the island of Malolo Lailai, are, according to this family, ‘awesome’.
Successful Fijian family holiday? … tick … may there be many more!