Fiji’s many island resorts truly offer a little tropical bliss for everyone, but especially for families. The first clue is when you arrive at Nadi International Airport, where families are often ushered through ahead of others in the immigration queue. So for special treatment, be sure to bring the kids.
Kids are neither an infringement nor an obligation, but pure joy. Here they can run barefoot and free, build sand-castles while you enjoy a romantic dinner under the stars, experience the magic of their first scuba dive, and make new friends at kids club.
The FSF was very excited when we touched down in Fiji, having already made friends with three kids on the flight. Turns out they were also staying at our first stop, the InterContintal Fiji Golf Resort and Spa….music to FSF ears! Throw in the kids club and pools and it was akin to offering her open slather on the lolly shop, Toys ‘r’ Us and a Wiggles concert all in one hit!
FSF has a gruelling schedule of kid club reviews while we are here – InterContinental Fiji Golf Resort and Spa , Castaway Island, Malolo Island Resort, JMC Fiji Island Resort.
Look out for her updates at Facebook.com/FrequentSmallFlyer. Moce (see you later), FSF.
Last week I enjoyed a cup of tea with an elephant. It’s not something you do everyday. And he was good enough to carry the pot of tea himself, using his very adaptable trunk. This gorgeous, new experience is available at the Sofitel Krabi Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort, a beautiful colonial style property overlooking the Krabi Islands, where the James Bond film ‘Man with the Golden Gun’ was shot. The staff set up a decadent spread near the pool, including chicken sandwiches, chocolate and strawberry jelly cakes, rice paper rolls, iced tea, espresso and more. Then the special guest, four-year-old male elephant Som Chai (meaning strong man) made his entrance. This is a wonderful experience for Frequent Small Flyers (FSF’s) who get to feed the elephant bananas and have their photo taken with him, while mum and dad enjoy a decadent high tea. I must say Som Chai, who lives at a local elephant orphanage, was a delightful afternoon tea guest – even if he did give me a cheeky whack in the back with his ear. Why not add it to your itinerary when next visiting Thailand!
Most of us would have heard of Aspen and Vail, but the lesser known ski resorts of Crested Butte and Steamboat are fast gaining popularity with Australians. Last week I got the chance to ski at both Steamboat - popular with families and officially the home of Champagne snow – and Crested Butte, ‘newly discovered’ by the international market with stylish bars and a fab restaurant scene in its historic mining town with old storefronts that recall the era of prospectors and mules. Steamboat has a fabulous kids’s ski vacation centre for frequent small flyers (FSF’s), where kids as young as two can hit the slopes and littlies as young as six months can be cared for in the fantastic Kiddie Corral. All kids in Steamboat’s kid’s vacation centre wear jackets with handlebars so instructors and parents can easily lift them up if they fall and nifty GPS tracking systems so they’ll never get lost. Oh and it also means they can then show you where they skied on the mountain.
You don’t even need to ski to enjoy this magical winter wonderland. There’s horseback rides in the snow, ice bars, sleigh rides, snowcat driving, the Bridgestone Winter Driving School, the magical Strawberry Hot Springs and more. Or why not take the FSF to a dude ranch like Home Ranch, where they can play cowboys and indians, feed the horses in the snow and try tubing. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful place to experience a White Christmas. Have a great weekend everyone!
Who remembers family holidays in caravans by the sea? The entire family squashed in to small quarters, traipsing to the amenities block in the middle of the night, sunburn, ice cream and playing by the sea all day. For many, these holiday memories are among their happiest. Wellnow you can return to those simple holidays of your youth, but do it in style. Many caravan and holiday parks across Australia are now providing stylish, cabin-style accommodation including this one that we’ve just checked into with the Frequent Small Flyer (FSF) at Stockton Beach Tourist Park,near Newcastle. Think neutral, beachy interiors, comfy queen size beds, flat screen TVs, kitchens, sparkling new bathrooms and cute bunk beds for the kids. But the best thing is we can hear the waves crashing on the shore just across the dunes on Stockton Beach. Stockton, although just a short ferry ride from Newcastle City, almost appears trapped in a seventies time warp, with a quaint ‘Sea Change’ feel. I half expect torun into Diver Dan down the shops. We’re going to catch the ferry later and have dinner tonight on the harbour at the fabulous Nor’East. Now all we need is a Paddlepop, a couple of ice cold beers on the deck and we’ll be sorted. Have a great weekend everyone.
This weekend the FSF (frequent small flyer) and I are preparing for our next big adventure. Our dream of diving with Jean Michel Cousteau – the son of the famed Jacques Cousteau – has come true. Next week I’ll be diving into the coral-filled waters off Savusavu, Fiji’s second biggest island with the ’Dive Master’himself which I alluded to in an earlier post. I kind of have to pinch myself. It’ll only be my third ever dive and to be diving with someone of Cousteau’s calibre feels surreal. But even more exciting for me is I’ll be diving with my best friend, and one of the FSF’s very special God Mothers. That got me thinking: travel and adventure is always best when shared with people you love and are closest to don’t you think? Sure there are times when we crave solitude, but when we experience something amazing or beautiful, we want to turn around and have someone by our side seeing and feeling what we are. This is how memories are made – through shared experiences. We hope you find your own beautiful adventure with friends and family this year. For inspiration stay tuned, or like the new Five Star Kids magazine’s new Facebook page. More about that new adventure for me and the FSF next time.
As we fast approach the weekend we’re dreaming of our next house swap. Last year we signed up with Luxe Home Swap (now Love Home Swap
) and did our first ever swap in Candidasa, Bali, which I wrote about for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald Traveller
. It was a wonderful experience, living in a beautiful two-bedroom villa, Villa Sasoon, in a small village in rural Bali. Some of the highlights included having coffee in the courtyard of Vincent’s, visiting a school set up by a Dutch expat for disabled children and seeing the FSF play with the local kids. We enjoyed a memorable meal at Seasalt restaurant in the Alila Manggis
resort, a short drive from Candidasa – tucking into the signature dish, the megibung, a shared meal on a platter unique to east Bali, with pickles, fish skewers, a mountain of fragrant yellow rice, snapper wrapped in leaves, chicken satay, young jackfruit salad and duck soup. By the time we finished our coconut ice-cream, the FSF who was being taught to make a kite by one of the patient Alila staff members, got it airborne. We also visited Amankila
, a striking resort with the best cliff-top location in the area overlooking Lombok Strait. We visited just before sunset and took a swim in the three-tiered infinity pools before dining in the candlelit restaurant, with New Zealand chef Guy Stanaway in the kitchen.
Other highlights are more everyday but no less memorable: the sweet smell of incense; the sound of a baby crying, a rooster crowing; and the garden outside the kitchen window. I wonder where our next swap will take us?
Happy weekend everyone.
I only took my first official dive last year. The next time I slip on a tank, it could be to dive with the Master himself – Jean Michel Cousteau. The first son of the late Jacques Cousteau, Jean Michel’s commitment to oceanography and the environment is unparalleled. If it comes off, it’ll be wonderful to share his passion for the underwater world. I have a sneaking suspicion there’ll be no turning back for me then when it comes to diving. Regular travellers can’t obviously dive with JMC, but they can experience the same waters of Fiji that Cousteau loves. I’m hoping to do a few dives with him and convey what makes this part of the world so special. The place where I am hoping to dive with him is the waters surrounding the resort that bears Jean Michel’s name in Savusavu. I learned to dive here late last year and it’s an incredible experience, with patient and experienced diving instructors and a full-time marine biologist to help impart their knowledge of the ocean to guests. Children as young as 10 can learn to dive in Fiji. The resort is very special as any parent knows who has been lucky enough to stay here. Even if you’re child isn’t of diving age, they still learn a lot about the ocean through the resort’s excellent Bula Club program – possibly the best kid’s club in the South Pacific. I, in fact, think Jean Michel Cousteau Fiji Island Resort is one of the world’s best family resorts. But hey I am a bit biased. I married here and have now visited twice with the frequent small flyer (FSF). She loves it. You can see a pic of the FSF here dressed in a Fijian dancing girls’ outfit hand-sewn by her nanny Joana for her second birthday party held at the Bula Club. By day parents can explore the underwater world while the little ones are in the best possible hands. Stay tuned here where I’ll hopefully report back on what it was like to dive with Cousteau himself.
Today me and the frequent small flyer (FSF) scored some bargain tickets to Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia who are launching their first Sydney flights in April. It’s got me excited about taking the FSF to both Langkawi and Georgetown, Penang, which I wrote about last year for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
It was one of my favorite trips, staying at the boutique Bon Ton Resort’s Temple Tree property on Langkawi and seeing the exciting things Australian ex pats are doing in the UNESCO world heritage listed Georgetown – a rare glimpse of Old Asia which is fast disappearing. I cannot wait to get back to the verandah at Temple Tree and dine on Narelle’s fabulous fried rice, see what Christopher Ong has done with seven shophouses at the eastern end of Stewart Lane, which will open shortly as a luxury Peranakan guesthouse in Georgetown, and explore indepth the narrow laneways and interesting shops of Penang’s old town. Oh and it’ll be SO fun taking the FSF on her first trishaw ride. Why don’t you grab a flight over. At $99 one way, you can’t beat it!