Too often, the excess of a luxury vacation may be hard to stomach for anyone with an ecological conscience. That’s not the case at the Jean- Michel Cousteau Resort (JMCR) in Fiji, where respecting the land is just as important as the comfort of the guests. The brainchild of Jean-Michel Cousteau, noted oceanographer and, yes, the son of Jacques Cousteau, the resort was designed as an island paradise that focuses on preserving the ocean and educating guests about the beautiful natural resources that surround the resort. Organic gardens, sustainable building materials and even an in-house marine biologist are amenities you won’t find at every tropical resort, but at JMCR, they’re all part of the charm.
Savusavu, island home to JMCR, is not exactly easy to get to (the only non-stop flights from the U.S. come via the newly rechristened Fiji Airways), but once you’re there you’ll be overwhelmed with the natural beauty of the property and the genuine friendliness of the staff who mostly come from local villages and outnumber guests by a two-to-one margin.
The family-friendly resort is built on a former coconut plantation, and designed to look like a lush Fijian village.Guests are assigned their very own bure, a thatched hut made from sustainable, indigenous timber with no metal, glass, or concrete involved. Soon after you settle in, one of the massage therapists will stop by to indulge you in a complimentary Fijian foot massage using coconut milk-based products made by Pure Fiji, a local company dedicated to sustainability. Other treatments occur in one of the open-air spa bures scattered along the coast of the resort. You can feel the ocean breeze pass through as you experience the authentic Bobo massage or one of the nine other treatments available.
With a huge organic garden on-site, it’s no surprise that the food is fresh and delicious, but the real draw here is the aquatic program. Make sure to go for a snorkel or dive with Johnny Singh, the resort’s resident marine biologist. As you swim by the various sea creatures, Singh writes their names on an underwater whiteboard so you can keep track of all the feather-mouthed sea cucumbers and yellowfin fusiliers that you pass along the way. Just don’t expect to eat anything you see. JMCR cares so much about its community that they won’t serve any seafood or reef fish – they leave that for the locals.
Conservation is a huge point of emphasis at the resort, but so is the positive experience of every guest. According to Singh, “the whole point of this place is to show that you can lead a fabulous lifestyle in balance with nature.” So fabulous, in fact, that you’ll never want to leave. fijiresort.com