TRAVEL: Time for fabulous fun in Fiji
SO YOU want a holiday somewhere special but you don't want to be on the go once you get there.
And you don't want to have to be anywhere at a particular time. You just want to go with the flow at your pace for once.
Fiji's first 5-star resort may be just what you're looking for. Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort on the Coral Coast combines traditional hospitality with the modern facilities and conveniences of a world-class resort.
Everything is at your fingertips and staff are at your beck and call - even your own private butler who will unpack for you.
You can live a little without having to dress up and put on airs and graces ...and everyone is smiling. Paradise found is a three-hour plane flight from Brisbane and a hassle-free transfer to the Coral Coast.
Here's 10 ways to slow down and relax at Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort:
1. Indulge in a spa treatment at the multi award-winning Bebe Spa Sanctuary. The sanctuary lies next to the wedding chapel high above the resort on the ridge known as Heavenly Hill. If you need to take away the tension, re-energise tired muscles and revitalise the skin, perhaps the Cabe massage will do the trick (meaning "to ascend", Cabe sees the skin prepared with a sugar scrub before the body is soothed with mandarin oil, applied using ancient South Pacific techniques).
2. Dinner at Fiji's leading restaurant, Ivi, sees modern Fijian cuisine meet food theatre. For entrée, try Fijian Ika Kokoda - the nation's beloved national dish uniting lime juice marinated island fish with coconut cream and a hint of chilli, created by your host beside the table, or mangrove crab wonton bisque slow-baked in a freshly cracked coconut bilo. For dinner, you can't go past Fiji's deep sea snapper and shelled mud crabs (fish wrapped and poached in a banana leaf with ginger and coriander, plus crab meat braised in coconut "miti"' sauce with caramelised onions and kumala) or slow roasted, five-spice duck breast (vichy carrots, brie and duck spring roll with orange sauce). Dessert calls for the Ivi tasting platter.
3. Talai Butler is a five-star butler service with a Fijian twist that operates from 7am-11pm for guests in Deluxe Ocean View rooms, suites and bures. Not only do they deliver champagne or your drink of choice and canapés about 5pm to your room daily, they also are available to unpack and iron your clothing, recommend tours and activities, and make restaurant reservations.
4. Meimei Nanny Service gives parents and grandparents peace of mind while their children, aged six months to 12 years, are entertained with a host of fun and educational indoor and outdoor activities under the smiling eyes of their Fijian nannies. They learn more about the Fijian culture and hospitality through games, arts and crafts, and simple language lessons. The children can also meet new friends through the Kids' Club and teens' programs.
5. Stroll more than 16ha of grounds and meandering paths past tranquil water courses and thatched-roof bures as well as traditionally decorated, plush hotel complex to the blissful lagoon area that is ideal for snorkelling, kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming and lying under beach umbrellas.
6. Take time out at Vahavu (meaning "to relax") adults-only area. As well as a 20m lap pool, 35m lagoon pool and comfortable lounge and dining area with sundeck, the complex features a swim-up bar for refreshing cocktails on shaded seats out of the tropical midday sun.
7. If you like to use exercise to unwind, the resort has a golf driving range and training facility, huge family lagoon pool, 24-hour fitness centre and fully-lit tennis courts.
8. Try a char-grilled steak or wood-fired pizza after watching the sunset on the flaming torch-lit deck of beachfront Sundowners Bar and Grill.
9. Reclaim your 20-something zing with dancing to the resident band and perhaps a "Russell" cocktail (named after the resort manager Russell Blaik) into the wee hours at the resort's Vakavanua bar and nightclub.
10. Stare out through panorama windows over the sprawling grounds of the resort to the turquoise waters of the lagoon, without a care in the world, as you sip sunset drinks at the Kalokalo Bar above Bebe Spa Sanctuary.
*The writer was a guest of Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort.