Sunday, March 3, 2024

A Three-Star Family-Friendly Fiji Resort at a Five Star Location. Here’s Where to Take the Kids Next Holidays That Won’t Break the Bank

“OMG, exciting. Have you joined the Facebook Group?”

It wasn’t quite the response I had been expecting when I told a friend that we were heading away the next week for three nights at Fiji’s Plantation Island: I mean, a Facebook group for a holiday resort?! Really?! Now, I’m very good at going down a Google rabbit hole, researching where I’m travelling to in minute detail in the weeks before I land, but even I hadn’t thought of searching for Facebook groups.

But, of course, I immediately picked up my smartphone, found ‘’We Love Plantation Island Resort Fiji’ and requested to join. And heck, what a treat it immediately became.

The fact that there is a very active, 20,000 strong group, moderated by frequent visitors to the resort, who discuss every facet of it, day and night, is testament to just what a special place Plantation Island Resort is.

For the next few days, I studied the group – there’s shared info from everything on the best flights/ferry timings to get (Plantation is on Malolo island – about 45 mins on a ferry from the mainland), to exactly what to pack, to where you can find the coldest, cheapest bottled water on the island. There’s seasoned travellers – who return to the island every year who swear by packing a toaster (seriously. I scoffed at first, and then happily scoffed my toast in out hotel bed feeling very smug and happy with my life choices), clothes pegs, plenty of duty-free and snacks – and are so well-versed on Plantation (or PIR to those in the know) that they have to remind other users on the group that they don’t actually work for the resort and can’t help them change their reservation.

The more I read, the more I was sure we’d chosen the right destination for our first international trip with our young toddler.

PIR is as family-friendly as they come. With plenty of activities for kids of all ages, a wonderful kids club, several restaurants (where kids eat free with paying adults), and sheltered, calm and shallow beaches, it’s perfect for taking the whole family. And, it just happens to be set on one of the most postcard-perfect locations, with swaying palm trees, fluffy white sand and crystal clear seas. Many of the posts described it as a three-star resort set on a five-star location, which feels totally apt. It’s unpretentious, affordable fun, but all housed on a luxury setting.

Armed with plenty of information, we timed our flights and ferries perfectly, arriving late morning in Nadi for a 2pm ferry to Malolo. As the ferry pulled into the marina, we could hardly believe our eyes: the perfect colour of the water, the white sand and the swinging hammocks, ready to be claimed by us. Every ferry is met by the gorgeous staff who greet you with music, leis, a cool drink and a beautiful greeting of, “welcome home”.

The three of us were shown to our room – a Beachfront Hotel Room, which, as the name suggests, was just a few steps from the beach. The hotel rooms are the newest on the island, having reopened in September 2019, and come in blocks of two, with an upstairs and downstairs room available. Upstairs, you’ll find a balcony with a view stretching across the resort, while downstairs you have a small patio area, leading to a grass area (where you can request a hammock!), and sandy beach.

Each room is split level, with a queen-sized bed (and plenty of room for a cot), then two steps down to a lounge that comes with two day beds (which can easily be converted from sofas to actual beds for youngsters).

The room was perfectly sized for our little family, but it’s far from the only choice on the island, with several different bures available, ranging from poolside studios, to two-bedroom garden bures and spacious beachfront bures for large families or groups of friends.

But really, where you’re staying doesn’t make too much difference because it’s not where you’ll be spending the majority of your time. There’s almost too much to choose from at PIR. Every day you’ll find a list of changing activities, ranging from basket weaving and crab races to native medicine lessons. Then there’s the facilities – two pools, volley ball court, tennis court, rugby oval, a spa (you can opt to have your massage inside the spa or on the beach), snorkeling, kayaking and a giant inflatable waterpark.  

Or, you can just park yourself on the water’s edge, lay in the sun, read a book and take the occasional dip to cool off. You can really do as much, or as little as you like on Plantation Island.

There’s three restaurants to choose from for dining – buffets at Copra (set in the heart of the resort, overlooking the ocean), Tavola for light breakfasts and family lunch and dinner favourites (all overlooking the lagoon) and Black Coral Grill – a more sophisticated restaurant with fresh fish, meat and poultry from the char grill, or available to cook right in front of you on hot volcanic stone.

Thankfully, we booked ahead, as – if you’re going during school holidays like we did – things can get booked out. There is a bit of a trick to it – you need a voucher which you can book through the travel desk. The folks at reception will steer you in the right direction when you arrive. You’ll never go hungry though – a seat at the buffet is always available, or you can pick up takeaway pizzas, salads or burgers from the Snack Bar.

And, while the resort was apparently at capacity, somehow, the resort never seemed particularly busy – there was never more than a few people in the pool, we had plenty of space at the beach and could always find a seat at the bar to sit outside and enjoy the view.

Meal times were busy, but never too chaotic.

But, if you did find you wanted some time away from children, PIR’s sister resort, Lomani – an adult’s only resort – is located just next door. To really unwind, my partner and I took turns each day during our son’s lunchtime nap, to venture to Lomani, where we could have  a delicious meal, a dip in the pool and an ice-cold beer in a cabana, with nary a child’s shriek to be heard. In fact, when I popped over, I only crossed paths with one couple. It’s the perfect addition to a relaxing holiday for the whole family.

We’ll certainly be back – and in the mean time, I’ll be regularly checking in on the Facebook group to see what’s been happening on the island and to be totally in the know for next time.

Alice and her family were guests of PIR

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