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Thursday 5 September 2013

Mr & Mrs Smith Review: Qamea Resort & Spa Fiji

HK Mouse zipped over to Fiji a few weeks ago where she stayed at island paradise, Qamea Resort & Spa, on a Mr & Mrs Smith reviewing mission. Here's the full write-up...

A good snooze can cure a whole suitcase full of ills. It can wipe out the stresses of a week of pre-holiday desk clearing; ease the exhaustion of twelve hours of long haul travel and even alleviate a bout of teeny-tiny-propeller-plane-induced air-sickness.

Luckily Qamea Resort & Spa is well aware of the power of the snooze and more importantly, that one snooze doesn’t fit all. From the moment Mr Smith and I step from the nine-seater Sea Otter which zips us from Fiji’s capital, Nadi, to a hop, skip, and a short boat ride from the white shores of Qamea island, everyone’s main priority is to get us horizontal.

As there’s no check-in desk to contend with, we’re whisked from boat to beachside bure in thirty seconds flat. Plane drained, I immediately eye the big four-poster bed, which, with it’s Princess & the Pea-style mattress, has five-star snooze written all over it. Our mind-reading, welcoming committee has other plans for us though. Quicker than you can say forty winks, I’m bundled into the oceanview hammock strung from our Bure porch for a shady snooze while Mr Smith is ushered for a sun-dappled nap atop a lounger perfectly positioned a short tumble from our very own personal stretch of the shore.

Several dozen blissful snores later, we’re gently roused from our respective siesta spots by the distant rumble of drums. As the drums echo the sound that our sleepy stomachs make, we’re delighted to discover that drums mean lunch.

Cheery shouts of “Bula! Mr & Mrs Smith” greet us as we amble towards a crew of smiling staff who engulf us in a flurry of hugs as though we’re long lost friends. But we’re the ones grinning as we’re presented with dishes of smoked marlin sushi rolls swiftly followed by lime-dressed fillets of fish pulled fresh from the sea that morning by the fisherman from the local village.

Food inhaled in record time, we’re just scoping out post-lunch snooze spots when a couple clutching snorkels and flippers ask if we’re joining the guided reef tour. A glance out at the turquoise waves is enough to erase all lazy, sleep-soaked thoughts and have us into the dive shop and getting kitted out ready for an afternoon of finding Nemo.

We board a little speedboat and zip five minutes from the resort before drawing to a juddering halt. I glance worriedly at the motor assuming we must be having boat trouble just in time to spy Mr Smith gleefully plunging overboard. As I’m assured that this is our destination, I dive from the boat and am submerged into a picture book perfect underwater world where crayon-bright shoals of fish dart inches from my mask. It soon becomes apparent that a short glide from Qamea’s shores lie some of the most pristine reefs we’ve ever seen. 

Once we’re all snorkeled out, we cruise back to shore just as an ominous looking bank of grey clouds scud across the sky and blot out the sun. We decide that there’s nothing for it but to dodge the marble sized raindrops and dart to the shelter of the Jungle spa that nestles in the lush green treetops overlooking the island. Hopping onto a pair of massage beds we’ve soon drifted into angel-fish filled dreams as every last aeroplane-induced knot is massaged away.  

We emerge an hour later to discover that the palm trees have had a good drink, the storm has passed and the sun is slinking through an amber and scarlet smudged sky towards the horizon. Time to dart back to the Bure and scrub up under the outdoor shower before heading off to seek out the first round of sundowners of our stay.

Luckily over in the bar Qamea’s resident mixologist, William, Hibiscus flower tucked behind his ear, cocktail shaker in hand, is whipping up a round of frothy coconut cocktails generously laced with rum. A chorus of “Bula! Mr & Mrs Smith” goes up and a handful of guests lounging on sofas chatting to one another look up and wave. The atmosphere is much more friendly guesthouse than stuffy hotel and before long we’re recounting tales of starfish spotting and seashell massages to a group of fellow travellers.

After a couple of rounds of rum, the dinner drums herald suppertime and we gradually peel off, couple by couple, to feast by candlelight on coconut lobster wrapped in banana leaves and roasted fillet of beef with honey glazed potatoes. While we devour every last scrap of dessert – an ambrosial pineapple and ginger crumble - a local band strikes up in the bar area and a cluster of guests gather beside them in a circle around a large bowl of murky-looking liquid.  When William informs us the liquid is Cava, I look at him with ill-disguised mistrust – there’s not a bubble in sight and it’s being downed from a half coconut shell rather than sipped from a flute – I’m no fool. But it turns out I am. This is Kava, Fiji’s national drink. Made from the ground roots of the Yaqona plant, we’re told Kava tastes like bitter, peppery, mud and makes your mouth numb. On the plus side, it relaxes you to Hakuna Matata point and makes you sleep like a baby with none of the hangover ill-effects of rum. We’re sold.

A couple of Kavas down, we weave a little tipsily, hand in hand, along the moonlit shore back to our Bure where we’re soothed into a deep slumber by a lullaby of crashing waves and chirruping cicadas.

As promised, the next morning, as the sun peeks over the palm trees, we spring straight out of bed with clear heads ready to take on a morning of diving with reef sharks and an afternoon of swimming under cascading, liquid diamond waterfalls.

The rest of our idyllic stay passes in a languid blur of mornings swimming in the impossibly blue surf in search of the resident Daddy Lionfish and the piano sunken just offshore followed by sun-soaked afternoons lazing on deserted stretches of perfect white sand.

When the time comes to sorrowfully pack our cases and head back on the speedboat, we’re garlanded with leis and waved off by the entire staff who stand singing on the beach until they’re nothing more than tiny dots. Just as Mr Smith insists that his eyes are watering because of the ocean breeze, a giant sea turtle lazily pops his head up right next to the boat. Looking a few Kavas worse for wear, he gives us a sanguine look before disappearing back to the indigo depths below.

The perfect farewell to our trip of trips - a patchwork of jewel-toned tropical adventures stitched together with snoozes.

Rooms at Qamea Resort & Spa start at US$550 per night.
We flew direct from Hong Kong to Fiji's capital, Nadi with Fiji Airways and from Nandi to Viti Levu with Pacific Air.

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