Anyone who has young children knows that going on holidays with them is far from relaxing. Just like at home, they are still the boss and you end up trapped in your hotel room during naptime, wading in the kiddy pool, and going to bed every night at 7pm. It makes anything except for theme parks seem like a waste of time. That’s how I always felt until my recent trip to the Jean-Michel Cousteau resort in Fiji.
After my stay at JMC, I know what Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt feel like. No wonder they travel with all eight kids in tow, it’s so easy with one nanny per child!
As soon as our bus pulled up at JMC, the door flew open and our children, Lachlan (age 2) and Noah (6 months), were whisked away by two smiling Fijian nannies, Lynda and Kessaia. Simon and I hadn’t even stepped foot into the resort yet and our kids were gone.
This might sound like too much, but we soon realised that it made them feel instantly comfortable; like they were visiting family members.
The best thing about JMC is that you can spend as much or as little time with your children that you’d like. The Bula Club (Kids’ Club) is set up with endless activities for all ages including three pools, tennis courts, board games, baby toys, and a sand pit.
One of our favorite activities was the hermit crab race, which raises money for the local community. Lachlan found his competitor on the beach in the morning and we were all thrilled to watch him crawl past the finish line in first place. (winning mum and dad a bottle of wine!)
Although we had a few days where we went on long snorkel trips without the boys, on most days we spent the majority of time together as a family.
We always ate breakfast together and spent at least a few hours bombing down the massive waterslide in the kids’ pool every single day.
But the best part was that while the boys were asleep during the day or at night, Simon and I enjoyed several hours of peace sharing romantic meals alone or cocktails by the pool.
I even had a few spa treatments without feeling the usual guilt that all mums place on themselves for taking some ‘me’ time.
Besides the incredible childcare, JMC is well known for having one of the top restaurants in Fiji. The menu is creative and resourceful and certainly doesn’t feel like an average resort meal. Even the breakfast buffet is a step above the usual hotel offerings; the made-to-order purees for the baby impressed me the most.
While JMC is one of the more expensive resorts in Fiji, I think it is worth every penny. Having visited more than 52 countries, I’m usually the kind of person who doesn’t like to go anywhere twice. So, you can imagine my husband’s surprise when I suggested we make annual pilgrimages to JMC. Now that is a sign of a good vacation.
- There are no TVs at JMC. Bring an iPad or DVD player to entertain the kids when you need it. My son doesn’t watch much TV at home, but there were moments (like our 3-hour layover in Nadi) where we wouldn’t have survived without it.
- Buy some alcohol when you go through duty free on the FIJI side. It is cheaper than in Australia and everything is included at JMC except for alcohol. The resort is very accepting of people bringing their own, and will even allow you to chill it at the bar with a room tag on it.
- I didn’t pack nearly enough snacks for our toddler to survive the time it took for us to get from Sydney to JMC. Next time, I will be packing more substantial food for the travel days, like sandwiches and crackers.
- Don’t bring a travel cot for the baby. The one provided by JMC is perfect. It even comes with a mosquito net!
- Bring a stroller. Even though we never left the resort, it allowed the nannies and us to take the kids for a walk around the grounds.
- Pack lighter clothes in your carry-on baggage. It was really hot when we landed in Nadi (but cold when we left Sydney) and thankfully we were all able to change.
- Bring all of your nappies, medicines, toiletries, etc that you may need. There is only a tiny gift shop at JMC so if you need anything else, you’ll have to go into town to get it.
- Check flight connections and times from your capital city – if you book the early (6am) flight out of Sydney and you will be able to fly all the way to Savusavu in the same day, avoiding an overnight stay in Nadi.
Guest blogger, Jennie Sager, has visited more than 52 countries. She was accompanied on her recent visit to Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort, Fiji, by her husband and two young boys, Lachlan, aged 2, and Noah, 6 months.