Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Great Sleeps: Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji, Coral Coast, Viti Levu, Fiji

Outrigger on the Lagoon Fiji On Queen's Hwy., 3 miles east of Sigatoka, in Korotogo, ?800-688-7444, (679) 650 0044. 207 rooms + 47 bure. Pool; hot tub; fitness room; full-service spa; 2 tennis courts. 3 restaurants; 4 bars. Other hotels also have a bula greeting, but it is likely that the one here is the most impressive. Though this atmospheric lagoon-side resort no longer has much of a beach, you can kayak, spy board (ride face down on a board with a plastic window for fish-viewing), and snorkel at high tide. And it does have a lovely central pool. A majority of the accommodations are hotel rooms in 5-story hillside buildings at the rear of the property. They all have balconies, and the upper floor units have spectacular sea views. In the area below, jungle-like landscaping includes 17 varieties of native palm and countless flowers, as well as thatched-roof guest bures and restaurants that evoke the feel of a traditional Fijian village. Rooms in the Reef Wing, a 3-story lagoon-side building, are smaller than their hillside counterparts and better suited to couples than families. Butler service is provided in the bures, which have masi-lined peaked ceilings, and in some of the hotel rooms by the lobby. Restaurants include an intimate fine-dining space, a large open-air bure buffet dining room, and a pool-side cafe. The exceptional Bebe Spa sits atop a hill and offers a stunning sea view from its treatment rooms and even higher-up Kalo Kalo Bar and tearoom. You can purchase a package that includes helicoptering from here to a sister resort offshore—Castaway Island Resort--a private island resort on a lush 174-acre island with white sand beaches.  Malevu Village owns this resort’s land, and most villagers work here.

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Friday, May 27, 2011

Things to Do: Pottery Village, Sigatoka Town, Viti Levu, Fiji

Lawai Village, "Pottery Village" 1 mile from town. Situated on the Sigatoka River here for more than 1,000 years, this was once the richest village in Fiji. Residents make authentic Fijian pottery using no wheels, just hands, and sell it to visitors. I bought a pig family composed of one mama pig and four piglets as a souvenir and just adore displaying it in my kitchen and playing with them. A visit includes dancing—don’t miss the ladies’ fan dance--and singing by villagers.

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image and video c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Things to Do: Sigatoka River Safari, Sigatoka Town, Viti Levu, Fiji

Sigatoka River Safari 0800-6501-721. Getting to the dock for this tour takes you through Sigatoka Town and into the Sigatoka Valley, where you see scenic fields of vegetables that give the valley its nickname--Fiji's “salad bowl." The pavement ends about ½ mile from town, when it become a bumpy dirt road to the landing. History says the only tribe in Fiji that never lost in traditional warfare lives here—the once feared “kai colo” Mountain People from this area. Also, “Avatar” was shot in the cliffs along this river. The 4 ½-hour tour speeds up Fiji’s longest river--the Sigatoka River--deep into the country’s heart, in jet boats made to order in New Zealand. The ride lasts about 30 minutes each way and covers about 10 miles. You’ll see women washing clothes in the river and collecting fresh-water mussels, and maybe even see kids swimming across the river to school. Cruisers disembark at a village to observe the traditional Fijian way of life. Villagers welcome guests with a kava ceremony in the chief’s bure, a traditional lunch in the community hall, and a lot of singing and dancing. The jet boat company contributes 10% of the ticket price to the village; some participants do choose to make an additional donation, but there is no obligation.

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Monday, May 16, 2011

Great Sleeps: The Fiji Orchid, Lautoka, Viti Levu, Fiji

The Fiji Orchid Saweni Beach Rd., in Lautoka, 679 664 0099. 6 bures. No children under 12. Unheated pool; restaurant. Located 15 minutes north of Nadi International Airport and 10 minutes south of Lautoka, and about a mile down a dirt road, this exceptional lodging features 5 acres of mature tropical gardens and is a good spot to spend the night before a flight, or to hire as a day room before or after a late night flight. Set in the foothills of the volcanic Nausori Highlands and close to Saweni Beach, one of Fiji's most beautiful stretches of sand and sea, it was once the estate home of Raymond Burr, who was famous for his role as TV’s Perry Mason. Burr was a connoisseur of orchids, and the property still has some (about six), but the majority have been moved to a nearby attraction—Garden of the Sleeping Giant.

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Sights to See: Firewalkers, Fiji

Once the firewalking ritual in which Fijians walk on white-hot stones was performed only on special occasions in Navakaisese Village on Beqa Island. Nowadays, the Fijians perform the ritual at hotels on Viti Levu and on the island of Beqa, where according to legend they were first given this gift. Firewalkers are men only; they are not permitted to have sex or to eat any coconut product for two weeks prior to a performance.

learn more: http://varrtravel.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/fijian-firewalking-a-toe-curling-experience

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video c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sights to See: Firewalkers, Coral Coast, Fiji

Once the firewalking ritual in which Fijians walk on white-hot stones was performed only on special occasions in Navakaisese Village on Beqa Island. Nowadays, the Fijians perform the ritual at hotels on Viti Levu and on the island of Beqa, where according to legend they were first given this gift. Firewalkers are men only; they are not permitted to have sex or to eat any coconut product for two weeks prior to a performance.

learn more: http://varrtravel.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/fijian-firewalking-a-toe-curling-experience

Monday, May 9, 2011

Things To Do: Bouma National Heritage Park, Taveuni Island, Fiji

Bouma National Heritage Park 888 0390. Daily 8-5. F$5/US$2 per person without a guide, F$15/US$9 with a guide. This vast 37,000-acre rainforest park includes rugged mountains, wispy waterfalls, and more than 100 species of birds. It is a hiker's paradise. The popular Tavoro Waterfalls hike (also known as Tavoro Falls, Bouma Waterfalls, or Bouma Falls) starts from the visitor center near Bouma Village. Baby cane toads hop here and there. Three sets of waterfalls rain from down into cool pools, one below each. The area around them is an environmental park. The three levels of Bouma Falls are accessible by trail. A flat, 15-minute walk over an old road from the visitors center leads to the lower falls, which plunges 600 feet into a big pool in which visitors can swim.  Diving is permitted from a cave ledge. I saw an Indian family in saris and pants frolicking happily. From here, a trail climbs sharply to a lookout with a  view of Qamea and as far as the Kaibu and Naitoba islands east of Taveuni. The trail then enters a rain forest to a second set of falls, which some say are not as impressive as the lower cascade.

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video c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sights to See: Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Fort Mackinac 906-436-4100. Hrs. vary. $10.50, 5-17 $6.50. The oldest structure in Michigan, and one of the few remaining Revolutionary War-era ruins in the nation, this fort looms high on a bluff overlooking the Straits of Mackinac. Originally a British outpost, Fort Mackinac was conquered by American soldiers 20 years after the Revolution. In addition to housing historic ruins, the Fort hosts Victorian children's games; bagpipe, bugle, and drum corps music; hourly rifle and cannon firings; and military reenactments performed by costumed interpreters. The Tea Room, operated by the Grand Hotel, serves lunch in a cozy interior sometimes warmed by a fragrant fire, and also out on a balcony overlooking the town and lake.

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Good Eats: Ryba’s Fudge Company, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Fudge Shops:
Don't leave the island without sampling its famous fudge--affectionately known as "fudgies." Many downtown shops sell the island's favorite confection, among them:
Ryba’s Fudge Company 800-44-RYBAS, 906-847-3347. Everyone can watch the yummy fudge dumped from copper cooking kettles onto marble slabs for creaming. Family-operated since 1960, this shop also makes delicious fudge sauce, Victor’s Caramel Corn, and English toffee. The promise here is: “No machine has ever touched it. Never has, never will.” Lard is an ingredient.

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Great Sleeps: Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

Grand Hotel 800-33-GRAND, 906-847-3331. 385 rooms, each individually decorated. Pool; sauna; 2 hot tubs; children’s program; 4 clay tennis courts (rentals available). Full breakfast & dinner included. No tipping. Dress policy. Everyone should experience fine living at the Grand Hotel at least once. From the world’s longest front porch—660 feet long to be precise—guests get a prime view of the straits as they sit in a long, long line of rocking chairs amid more than 2,500 blooming red geraniums in flower boxes lining the entire length of the porch. This National Historic Landmark built in 1887 still presents afternoon tea in the parlor, and the smiling staff greets you as you enter the main dining room. It is also the world's largest summer hotel (it’s closed from November through April). Rates include an elaborate breakfast and dinner daily, horse-drawn shuttle service, and all tips. For non-guests, a small fee is charged to visit the hotel during the day (the ticket price is deducted from any hotel restaurant meal), but after 6 p.m. if you meet the dress code you can visit for cocktails or dinner and take in the scene at no fee.
Rooms are comfortable and individually decorated; some have balconies or lake views. Luxurious suites are named and themed after famous figures and include six First Lady rooms. Resort grounds include a beautiful 220-foot long serpentine-shaped outdoor heated pool, an 18-hole golf course, and formal gardens.
Doorman wears splendid red tails, and guests make a red-carpet entrance. Antiques throughout the hotels make it a lived-in museum.

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image c2011 Carole Terwilliger Meyers